On the heels of the carder and also working toward the goal of adding value to my fleece, my second major SSFG purchase was a spinning wheel. I cannot stress enough the value of a good mentor when undertaking a new endeavor! My mentor for spinning was Hillary Jipson, who I met via online fiber groups and then in person when I made the happy discovery that we live only a few miles apart. Funny how life works like that!
Turns out Hillary is a wonderful teacher with the patience of a saint. As she accepted the challenge of helping me to find the right spinning wheel, she spent copious amounts of time assessing wheels I found online, explaining to me the details and intricacies of each. Here in Kentucky, fiber enthusiasts are blessed to have in their midst a store called The Woolery, located in Frankfort. The Woolery does a huge online business, but also maintains a storefront where one can ‘test drive’ all manor of spinning wheels looking for that perfect fit.
Turns out, Hillary was on target when she told me that despite all the pros and cons of different wheels, and regardless of her personal likes and dislikes, I would absolutely, very definitely, eventually find “The One.” Kind of like a husband, one wheel would just click. That wheel for me was the Ashford Kiwi 3, which had the added bonus of being able to fold up compactly for travel or storage. Although purchased at The Woolery right here in KY, the wheel in fact was shipped to me all the way from New Zealand where they are made. It arrived in a mere two days, in a smallish box full of pieces and parts.
My husband was eager to get started on assembly, and looked a tad crestfallen when I told him I wanted to put it together all by myself. We both, I am sure, fully expected me to crawl back with my tail between my legs asking for his help. Step one was to finish the wood by either waxing or using polyurethane to keep the wood from getting dirty and warping with weather changes. I chose to add the additional step of staining parts of my wheel with color, just to bling it up a bit. When I couldn’t readily find my trademark purple, I chose another favorite color—a beautiful aquamarine.
Once the stain and finish were applied and given ample time to dry, I assembled all I needed to turn the pile of parts into a working machine. The instructions sent by Ashford were fairly clear, and within a few hours I had my finished product.
The thought crossed my mind to re-create locally the spinning group that meets down in Berea (the artsy capital of KY!) at a shop called Fiber Frenzy. This would be a great way to offer help and encouragement to each other, as well as form a network of area shepherds, spinners and fiber artists. Off the top of my head I thought of at least 6
area women interested in spinning, and off to Facebook Messenger I toddled to create a group message. Beginning with Hillary, I added the others and we were off to the races!