Getting started on a spinning wheel September 25 2014

We often get asked this question so rather than re-write the many existing articles on the subject, we'll get right to the point and offer our personal opinions and thoughts based on our own experience.

A spinning wheel

Choose a single drive wheel. You'll thank us for this decision later as it is much easier to setup and use. A single drive wheel has a main drive belt plus a separate brake band to apply tension to the bobbin. You simply turn the knob to increase or decrease tension as required... easy!

Single or double treadle is your next decision. This refers to the foot plates that drive the wheel and whether you'll be using one or both feet. It is a personal preference thing but our opinion is that it doesn't matter! You soon become proficient with whichever choice you make in no time.

The finish on the wheel is yet another choice you'll be given (natural or lacquered). Our advice is buy a natural wheel and apply a coat of wax yourself. Then spend the money you've saved on lots of fibre!

Some wheels fold up for easier transportation like the Ashford Joy. If this is a regular issue for you go for it, but if you only move your wheel occasionally our advice would be don't bother with the folding option.

Orifice hook

Needed to pull the fibre through the flyer orifice. This normally comes with a new wheel but they are available separately if (or when!) you lose it. Yes it's just a simple bit of bent wire but you'll be lost without it!


Stick to commercially prepared sheep fibre top to start with. Fibre is normally supplied in 100g skeins, batts or nests and can be natural, dyed or blended with silk, alpaca etc. Popular fibres are Bluefaced Leicester (BFL), merino, shetland, alpaca etc. Just steer clear of raw fleece or home prepared fibre to begin with as you won't have the experience to tell if it has been badly prepared. Feed your fibre stash regularly and you'll quickly get a feel for how different fibres spin, ply and draft.


Lazy Kate

Essential for the plying process the lazy kate holds the bobbins.


Spare bobbins

Aim to have at least 3 or 4 or more bobbins for plying. Most wheels come with extra bobbins. Make sure that you buy the right bobbins for your wheel.

Niddy noddy

Used to easily wind your spun yarn into a neat and measured skein. You can also use a skein winder which does the same job.



Finally, treat yourself to a good book, search for spinning videos on YouTube and  join where you'll always find lots of free, friendly help and advice whenever you need it. 

Spares and repairs

From time to time you'll need to apply a little lubricating oil plus you may need to replace the odd brake band spring or drive belt. If you choose a household name like "Ashford" you'll have no problem getting spare parts and accessories for your wheel down the line.