While you usually may see me with different kinds of spindles on videos and spinning courses, I do spin a lot on spinning wheels too. Today I introduce you to the five spinning wheels I have owned, three of which I still have.

A brand new episode of the Long Thread Podcast has been released, with an interview with me. You can listen to it here.

The first spinning course I took was with a suspended spindle. I spun with it for quite a while, but after some time I wanted to try spinning on a spinning wheel too. On the course I got to practice on an Ashford spinning wheel. I enjoyed it and decided to buy ny own spinning wheel. After some researching I fell for the Kromski Symphony.

Ester the production wheel

My very first spinning wheel is the stationary wheel I still spin with almost daily, my Kromski Symphony Ester. She is steady on the ground and I can spin a wide range of yarns with her.

My trusted production wheel Ester, a Kromski Symphony and the first wheel I bought. Note the distaff stand beside me – a carved stick stuck into a parasol stand and secured with cut off bamboo sticks.

I remember when I got her. I picked her up at the post office with my bike. My plan was to tie part of the package onto the luggage carrier of the bike and walk the whole construction home. It didn’t work, the luggage strap didn’t reach around the parcel. I tried to balance the package on the bike instead. This worked very well. For about three steps, before the whole arrangement fell apart. A man walked by and asked me several times if I needed help. I politely declined. Had I got myself into this mess the responsibility was mine to get out of it too.

After another few steps I realized I did need help. Somehow I managed to worm my phone out of my pocket with one hand while balancing the package on the bike with the other and call my husband to ask if he could meet me with the trolley part of our shopping trolley. He did, and after a while the wheel got home safely.

This photo was taken as a test shot for a photo shoot for an article I wrote for the fall 2019 issue of Spin-Off magazine. It is now a canvas on our livingroom wall. Photo by Dan Waltin

That evening I assembled my sweet Ester. The whole livingroom floor was filled with wheel parts together with crumpled up pages of Polish magazines from the 1990’s. In the middle was I, happy as a clam.

After having spun on her practically daily for the past 11 years I know her. I know how she works, I don’t have to think. Still, I learn new things every time I spin with her. I have no intention of exchanging her for a newer model.

Here is a video where I spin on my Kromski Symphony Ester.

Travel wheel Elvis

I did however want to find a spinning wheel I could bring on spinning courses and events. For my 40th birthday my husband bought me a foldable and portable Kromski Sonata. I called her Elvis (this is a word game founded in the Swedish word for spinning wheel – spinnrock – and how she rocks). For a travel wheel she was quite steady and worked very well. The problem with her was the size – she was very large when folded. Since I travel by train I found her too bulky – it was very awkward to take her on the train. I decided to look for a travel wheel that was a little smaller.

Elvis the travel wheel, a Kromski Sonata (video screen shot)

You can see me spin on Elvis the Kromski Sonata here.

Travel wheel Esmeralda

I found the Merlin Tree RoadBug, a small travel wheel that also had the option to spin with a quill. The American maker didn’t have a European supplier, but I decided to take the cost of shipping and import tax. I fetched her from the post office with my bike too, and this time it worked perfectly.

Travel wheel Esmeralda, a Merlin Tree RoadBug (video screen shot).

The RoadBug, Esmeralda, was indeed smaller and more portable than my Sonata and I did bring her out and about. But we never really got along. I decided to sell both the Sonata and the RoadBug and buy a travel wheel that would be steady, portable and smooth to spin with.

You can read a short blog post about when I got Esmeralda here. I did a couple of videos with my Road Bug Esmeralda, on English longdraw and English longdraw with a quill.

Berta the travel wheel

So, my new travel wheel would have to be a combination of the best parts of the RoadBut and the Sonata. I found it in a Majacraft Little Gem. Quite a pricey piece, but the sales of the first two travel wheels paid for part of it. She is a dream to both spin and travel with – smooth, luxurious, petite, yet sturdy. Eventhough I prefer a classic spinning wheel look, I find the look of the Little Gem very appealing. On a first glance she doesn’t look like a spinning wheel at all, but she is still very slender and well balanced.

Berta is the first wheel that I have named after a real person. The real Berta is my only Swedish great-grandmother. She was a crafts teacher and a skilled weaver. She is also the connection between me and my second cousin and sweet friend Cecilia. You can read about Berta the wheel and Berta the great-grandmother in my article Sliding hooks and textile heritage in the fall 2020 issue Spin-Off magazine.

Here is a video where I spin with my Little Gem Berta.

I haven’t used her much, though, since I haven’t felt the need to bring her on travels. But recently it dawned on me that I can use her at home too, I don’t have to stick to journeys to enjoy her. My plan is to get better acquainted with her this year.

Henrietta the flax wheel

So I had two wheels I was very happy with. A thought had started to emerge in my mind, though. The thought of a separate flax wheel. My carved stick in a parasol stand solution for a distaff didn’t feel that appealing. I had no serious plans of buying one, though. But a chance jumped at me. My aunt Harriet had died and my brother and I were driving to Gothenburg for the funeral. Normally we would have taken the train, but on that particular weekend the connection between Stockholm and Gothenburg was shut down due to maintenance. My Gothenburg friend Anna had posted and add about a wheel she wanted to sell. A petite pre-production Kromski Mazurka. With a distaff. So right in front of me I had a sweet wheel from a trusted maker and with a trusted friend in Gothenburg and a car going right there. I decided the wheel would come home with me.

Anna came to the hotel lobby where we stayed in Gothenburg and I got to try the wheel. I fell for her instantly. My aunt Harriet had been named after her grandmother Henrietta, one of my three Austrian great-grandmothers. But Harriet had secretly always wanted to be called Henrietta, and I think her husband did call her that in a very affectionate way. So in honour of both my aunt and my great-grandmother I named the wheel Henrietta.

At the end of last summer I spun a lot of flax on the balcony with Henrietta. While she had a distaff, it was a little too short for my long flax and a little too close to the orifice. Instead of keeping the distaff in the distaff holder, I held it in my hand. I have asked my wood turner to make me a longer distaff and perhaps I will be able to spin with my new distaff for Henrietta this summer.

You can read more about Henrietta the Kromski Mazurka here. And oh, since my grandmother (Henrietta’s daughter) came from Austria to Sweden at age 14 after WW1 with the Swedish Red Cross and got to stay in Berta’s family, Berta and Henrietta knew each other very well.

If you are a patron (or want to become one) you can hear the story of my Austrian heritage in the August 2022 video postcard.

Happy spinning!

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  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.
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  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.
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4 Replies to “Wheels”

  1. I love your wheels and the ability to move on the ones that do not fit/work for you. Sometimes everything feels right!

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed this post, I too have had wheels which didn’t fit with me and sold only to acquire another in their place. One of those was the Majacraft Little Gem which resided here for some time and I used a lot. However, I never felt the spinning connection, she didn’t feel like a wheel, though the portability was great. I sold her and purchased a second hand Ashford Joy, which suits me a little better simply because she has a spoked wheel, go figure. Still, not the fairytale wheels that I love. I did buy the Ashford production wheel which sends me to spinning heaven, and 3 other old handmade wheels, one a beautiful handturned blackwood castle wheel crafted by an Australian woodturner, originally from Bavaria. It is also an absolute joy to spin on but too fragile to cart about.

    As an aside, I have Austrian heritage too, my Mother was from Vienna, and my Father was from Drensteinfurt, Westphalia.
    The podcast was fascinating, Long Thread Media a favourite of mine, while spinning or knitting. Thank you.

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