This is my last post in the How to Pick a Spinning Wheel That You will Love series. Here I’ve put down all my advice for getting a good wheel for a good price.
I think wheel buyers fall into to big categories, those that want to buy new and right now and those that want to wait for a bargain. I’ve tried to include tips for both!
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Buy a new wheel from the manufacturer and you’ll get what you want and you’ll get it within a few days. That is the big advantage in buying a new wheel. When you do, make sure someone in the chain of sale is going to be available for support. If you buy a wheel through a local wholesaler (like your LYS) ask them to include a free lesson. Ask the wheel maker if they offer online assistance. Ask for an instructional video. Always ask for more! Lol. You should not be on your own with that wheel. Find a seller that will help you get set up up and making yarn right away. That is one of the advantages that should come with buying new.
There are many manufacturers out there. Here are some that you can trust to send you a good product, that will be in business for the next decade, and have standardized replacement parts for you if you need them:
Wheels I’ve tried and liked
I’ll start with my two wheels since I know them best.
I have a Louet S75 and that’s my main. Sadly it has been discontinued. I actually bought it because it was being discontinued and therefore got a great deal on it. How was I to know that years later students would love in love with my wheel and then feel deeply betrayed when they couldn’t have one of their own?
The closest wheel on the market today is the S10. Its a bobbin led wheel and like the old S75, very good for beginners. Louet sells the S10 as a “concept” wheel meaning you can pick which style of big wheel you want and single or double treadle.
I also have an Louet S90. It too was discontinued but its been brought back for a limited run. It too is a bobbin led wheel but its portable. Its of sturdier construction and it folds up for traveling. The new S90 has hooks on the flyer that slide and it comes with an autograph from the designer. Other than those two things I think its exactly the same as the old. Which is good; its a nice wheel.
But I have spun on lots of other wheels and there are plenty that I would buy if I won the lottery. Here are some I’ve tried and liked:
I like Ashford Kiwi wheels. Right now they are selling the Kiwi 2’s. These are good flyer led wheels that beginners can jump right into. Actually I like all the Ashford wheels. They are very well made. The Kiwi is the best for a beginner in my opinion. But if you looking for a portable in this line, the Joy is a good choice. Its a bit small and I wish the orifice was higher but small is one of its selling features. Can’t have everything I guess.
The Lendrum Original has legions of fans because its simple and it works. These are the slanted wheels that you see at all spinning retreats and get together. Its a flyer led wheel and it comes with different options so you can customize your wheel. They also fold up so you can take it with you.
The Kromski Minstrel is the best introductory double drive wheel in my opinion. It comes at decent price, its antique-y enough to look like an old wheel and its a Kromski. The double drive band system can be tricky for a beginner but you can use this wheel in Scotch tension mode only until you get more confident in your spinning. Its more work and I caution beginners to think seriously about getting any double drive band wheel. But if you do, its the only wheel you’ll ever need.
Okay. So you want to buy a used wheel. There are many spinning wheels sitting in neglected corners that no one is using. Buying used can be a great idea since plenty of used wheels… haven’t been used much at all. Here are my thoughts:
Don’t buy a questionable antique wheel, not as your first-ever wheel. They almost never work and need repair. That’s why the wheel was put in an attic or garage or barn in the first place, it stopped working. Yes, some need only small repairs but if you are a beginning spinner, you don’t yet understand how they wheel should be working and those repairs will be tough for you to make. Get into antique wheel rescue and repair after you’ve spun for a bit.
If you can buy a used wheel from an actual spinner, go for it. Those are the best deals. A wheel that you buy from the person who actually used it will almost always work and be in good condition. Here is where you can find them:
– At spinning get togethers and guilds – I can’t stress this enough. Go to those meetings, those spin-ins. Get on their email lists. Don’t be shy. Those groups were put together by people who want to meet other spinners. They should be very welcoming. And if its a big group, there will be at least one person with a wheel they want to get rid of. There is a spinner out there who has bought a new wheel and need to make space (or please their significant other) and get rid of the old. Your local group of spinners will know who that person is!
-On ravelry – There are forums for people selling and buying all sorts of used equipment. I watch the Spinners Marketplace and Knit & Spin Equipment Classifieds. As of the morning of this post there were 5 used wheels offered for sale in the last 72 hours. They all seem to have offers so you have to be quick but these are very active boards. Keep an eye out here and you get a wheel faster than you think.
Buying on ebay/craigslist. These wheels are usually offered by people who found them at an estate sale or relative’s house. They are not spinners, they don’t really know what they have, and they aren’t sure if it works. They aren’t even sure if it has all its parts. Beware. Get a REALLY good price and get an option to return it.
On used prices. If you visit the websites that sell new wheels you’ll get a good idea of what the sticker price is for a castle wheel, a saxony wheel, a double drive band wheel, etc. The used price should be at least 30% less than that. I’ve seen used wheels selling for more than the price of a new wheel. That’s only appropriate when the wheel is a very special model or has value as an antique. I don’t think that’s’ what you want in a first wheel. I think, if you are buying a used wheel for a beginner, you should be able to find something decent for less than $400. It might take a few weeks of hunting, but those deals are out there.
On buying a hand made wheel. This can be sketchy. I’d only consider a hand made wheel if I could talk to other spinners who had bought from the builder and vouched for the work. I’ve never met an independent builder of wheels that could produce a satisfied customer, btw. Also if you buy a wheel like this will you be able to get replacement parts? Drive bands break. I replaced one last year and I ordered it through amazon. Could you do that with a hand made wheel? Ask LOTS of questions before you go this route.
Hope that was all helpful. I had fun writing this series. I sit back and imagine all the new people getting into spinning and it makes me smile. Hope it works!