For most of us buying a spinning wheel will be a significant purchase but how do you know which one you should buy? Friends will no doubt tell you that their wheel is the best but the fact is it is a very personal choice and what works for one person may not feel comfortable for another. Here we keep things very simple and to try to help you decide which Ashford spinning wheel you should buy.
Single or double foot treadle?
Your first and most important choice is between single or double treadle. That is to say whether you will be using one foot or both feet to operate the wheel. Get this choice wrong and you will be stuck with a wheel that you feel uncomfortable with! The trick is to try both options. You don't have to know how to spin to do this just sit there and pedal away at a steady pace for a few minutes and go for what feels right for you. If you cannot or do not want to treadle all is not lost as an electric spinner is also available.
Single or double drive?
You will see spinning wheels described as either single drive or double drive. Ultimately in our experience this will not matter too much as you will soon master which ever system you choose but if in doubt choose the single drive system as it is simpler. Briefly, single drive spinning wheels will have a drive band that wraps around the wheel and flyer ONCE plus a separate band and spring arrangement that applies braking pressure to the bobbin. Double drive spinning wheels have a drive band that wraps around the wheel and flyer TWICE that applies both drive and braking pressure to the bobbin.
Why buy Ashford?
Ashford has been a trusted brand around the world for more than 80 years and in our opinion are the best choice of spinning wheel for a number of reasons. They are very good quality, reliable, easy to use, simple to maintain and spares are readily available in the UK. Other brands also available.
Used or new?
If you are going to buy a used spinning wheel then do make sure that spare parts and especially extra bobbins are readily available - that bargain wheel may end up costing you a lot more when you have to get spare bobbins hand made. If you stick with the Ashford brand you will be able to get parts and bobbins off the shelf. Avoid older wheels with loose wheel spokes and massive wheel wobble as this may be very difficult to correct.
Buying a new wheel simply means you can be confident that your wheel will not have any hidden faults or problems so that you can start your life long hobby with a smooth running spinning wheel that will reward you for many years to come. Treat your new spinning wheel to a generous coat of clear wax polish and keep it running tip top with regular drops of a water based spinning wheel oil.
Ashford wheel models explained...
The latest model of the Ashford Kiwi is a double treadle, single drive wheel that now folds for easy transport and storage. There is also an excellent padded carry bag available specifically for the Kiwi 3. It has a modern sliding hook flyer with 2 ratios (speeds). A super flyer upgrade for art yarn spinning is also available. It has a 45cm diameter wheel made from MDF which makes it a very affordable choice with no compromises. This is an excellent, very forgiving wheel which has gained a great reputation especially with beginners as it is so easy to learn on. Older version 1 and 2 wheels do not have folding foot treadles. Spares and upgrades readily available.
The Ashford Traditional wheel is probably the most popular spinning wheel in the world. There are 1000's of these wheels in circulation and spares are readily available. You won't go wrong with this choice. Affectionately called "The Traddy" this is a single treadle wheel that is available in both single and double drive. It has a traditional looking flyer with brass hooks and 4 ratios (speeds). Older models will have only 1 or 2 ratios but can easily be updated with a new standard flyer. A traditional has a smooth and effortless spinning action and you'll find it easy to maintain a steady speed due to the well balanced 22" wheel. The 3 legs give good stability with no wobble on any floor surface including outside. There have been subtle changes to the traditional wheel over the years but all new wheels have metal crankshaft bearings which make for superior running. Spares and upgrades readily available. Avoid older wheels with loose wheel spokes and massive wheel wobble.
The Ashford Traveller spinning wheel is a pretty looking castle design where the flyer sits above the wheel which gives it a smaller footprint saving a little floorspace. It is is a double foot treadle wheel available in both single and double drive. It has a traditional looking flyer with brass hooks and 4 ratios. Older models will have only 1 or 2 ratios but can easily be updated with a new standard flyer. Lots of spares available and the wheel always looks nice sat in the corner of a room. There have been subtle changes to the traveller wheel over the years but all new wheels have metal crankshaft bearings which make for superior running. Spares and upgrades readily available. Avoid older wheels with loose wheel spokes and massive wheel wobble.
This is a folding wheel that comes with a premium quality tailored carry bag so it can be easily transported and takes up little space at home. It has a funky contemporary double framed design and is available in both single and double foot treadle models. It has a modern pinch and slide hook flyer with 4 ratios (speeds), an onboard lazy kate/bobbin store (although we think you'll still need a floor lazy kate) and is fitted with premium quality bearing that give outstanding smooth running. All Joy models are single drive and are fitted with a stretchy drive band. Spares, replacement drivebands and a freedom flyer upgrade for art yarn spinning readily available. A fantastic premium choice.
No treadling required with this compact and reliable electric spinner. Single drive with a modern pinch and slide hook flyer that takes larger capacity jumbo bobbins. Runs off the mains or via a 12 volt car adapter. It comes with a premium quality tailored carry bag, stand alone lazy kate and an on/off foot switch to use if you wish (can easily be used without the foot switch). This latest model is super smooth and has a quiet but powerful motor with soft start and variable speed from 0-1800 rpm. In our opinion this is the best and most reliable electric spinner by far. A super jumbo version for spinning big fat art yarns is also available.
This beautifully crafted, fully factory lacquered wheel has a huge 61cm wheel that contributes to its smooth, effortless treadling action. It has a single foot treadle and 3 legs which give good stability on any surface including outdoors. This wheel has both single and double drive options and can produce a fine firm-twist yarn particularly suited for fine wools and exotic fibres. A top quality tensioned lazy kate with 4 bobbins is included. It is fitted with a traditional style 3 ratio flyer. A beautiful wheel and a truly luxurious choice!
The Ashford country spinner is a specialist wheel designed to spin the extra bulky yarns used in rug weaving and chunky knitting and for plying bulk quantities. It is a double foot treadle, single drive wheel with a big 2.7mm orifice and slow drive ratios with a sensitive leather flyer brake system that are ideal for creating unique novelty and extra bulky art yarns. Version 2 models are fitted with a pinch and slide flyer hook arrangement - older models will have a row of brass flyer hooks (unless it has been updated).