Everyone needs a Sidekick!
For those who have been friends with me for a while, you'll note this is spinning wheel #2. The first one was a Kromski Mazurka from years ago that I loved... bought., brought home, treadled on, and quickly realized that it wasn't right. It wasn't "My" wheel... so I let it go; sent it off to a friend across the country, and focused my fibery passions on things that didn't need to be spun.
Fast forward a few years, and with becoming more and more interested in spinning, my circle of friends began to bring their wheels around when we would gather to knit or crochet. I looked on, envious. I wanted to spin too! They offered to let me try their wheels, but in my heart, I realized what must be done. I must buy a wheel. The time had come.
But wheels are expensive! After careful consideration, I decided to make a list of the elements that would be important to me when selecting my wheel:
1. It needed to function. I dont want to spend a bunch of money on a wheel that's flimsy or might not hold up for years... It needed to "speak" to me...
2. It needed to be flexible. I wanted a wheel where parts could be ordered/added as needed or wanted...
3. It need to travel. When I got a wheel, I'd want to be able to bring it to where the other spinners were... That might mean on public transit or on a plane.
4. It needed to be beautiful. I did love the Mazurka - it was walnut and gorgeous. But beauty comes in many forms.
So, I started to save. OK, let's back up a bit and I'll share something with you: I don't have credit card debt. That's right, I don't owe a credit card company anything. (and it feels amazing) - but that didn't happen overnight or easily. I have worked really REALLY hard to get to this point. I opened a savings account just for my wheel and when I got money for something that was "free" money (money that was NOT part of my monthly budget) it went into the spinning wheel savings fund. I pay careful attention to what I buy and record every purchase. I think hard about what I am spending money for and do my best to consider if I REALLY want/need whatever it is I'm eyeing at the time... this helps me save up! And, with the publication of my Corydon sweater in Knitter's magazine, I had enough in that account to be serious about my wheel search!
Then the research. I checked out wheels at Madrona and Stitches West. I continued to look and ask questions of others... and at Stitches, in the Purlescence Yarns booth, I fell in LOVE with the Schacht Sidekick! More time was spent considering if this was the wheel for me... and it was. It IS functional. It is a workhorse wheel, sturdy and strong. It promises to give me years of happy spinning. It IS flexible. parts can be ordered and added on as needed. It WILL travel. It folds up to a size small enough to carry-on an airplane (or easily put in luggage)... and it IS beautiful. The design is clever (with the spinning wheel turned like a bicycle wheel)... and most of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way it feels. It fits me and it's MY wheel.
What don't I love?
The bobbins. They're plastic and wood. I think they look cheap and I want them to be all wood. No Problem-o! Wood bobbins from Schacht fit the Sidekick and I can use them instead... hooray!
I didn't like the idea that I'd have to check the wheel if I fly - (in a case it'll be a bit too big for a carry-on) -- but after much thought I decided if I'm flying somewhere and taking my wheel, chances are I'm checking a bag anyway... it's not that big of a deal!
Last thing I don't love? There's no bag. It comes with a strap (which is nice) - but I want a bag. I know there are a few out there but I'm waiting... considering my options, just like I did with my wheel... and I'll make my decision, save up for my purchase and buy when the time is right.
With no serious complaints, the decision had been made.
I went last night to Purlescence Yarns in Sunnyvale and worked with the AMAZING staff there. I wanted to buy my wheel but still tried out others to be sure. They gave me pointers about posture, seat height, etc. and questioned me thoughtfully. They are informed about their product, excited for the new spinner, and welcoming EVERY time I walk through the door. After about an hour of evaluation and chatting, I bought my new baby and brought it home safe to San Francisco.
It was assembled last night, oiled, treadled for a good while and then I started to spin on it. I am looking forward to lots of practice and lessons and pointers from my fiber friends as I learn this new craft. Purlescence offers a good amount of "practice fiber" and a free lesson with purchase (which is great because I am always looking for an excuse to go visit them!) If you are considering a wheel, check out the sidekick. I know it's not the right wheel for everyone - but it is perfect for me and it has found a comfortable home in San Francisco!