sock porn for knitting voyeurs.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Advice needed, spinning wheels + beginner = ? (Ashford Joy)


I find it highly amusing that the moment I write that I wouldn't have much to say in the near future and then go and immediately post again. :)

Really though... I have a question/s for yall, esp. those who know spinning. Notice that pic there? Ashford Joy single treadle? Yeah.


So I have the chance to buy a used wheel, and... I know nothing about spinning. I dreamt about it last nite (among other things), waiting to hear if I could buy this or not. There's no way I'd buy a new wheel, couldn't afford it-- but I am looking at a used ashford joy for not nearly retail... Its a perfect size for my tiny place, and I find the Joy visually pleasing. I know there are some other great wheels out there, but if I'm going to get one *now,* it will be this specific one (because of the initial investment is within my reach but really isn't on comparable wheels).

But... I know nothing about spinning! I mean, I'm totally fascinated by it, would love to... Man.

So, onto some real questions.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I know nothing about spinning :) I've never even touched a wheel before. I'm buying the wheel from someone I don't know-- is there something I should "watch out" for? I mean, ergh. I don't even know what to ask! I mean, I'd imagine someone would take care of their wheel-- is there a way a total TOTAL n00b can "test" if it works? Is it possible to buy a bum wheel? Are there parts I should look at to see if they need replacement?

Here's a pic of the wheel...


It looks a bit different than the Joy pictured above-- were there different/older models of the Joy? Is this a good or bad thing?

Do you think I can learn on my own, with some books and help online? I think I'll try and look for a class or something locally, but I don't think I'll have too much luck in that straightaway.

I'm mainly interested in lighterweight yarns (I know it won't happen right away), but are they really possible on the Joy? I see it says it can do fine weight yarns, but don't know if it *really* can.

Am I crazy to start with a wheel?

Any favorite books/links/online information on spinning? I know, broad question... I've been reading the forums @ Knitters Review & knittyboard, but think I need a "hold my hand" walk me thru sort of thing to start with. (I'm going to make some tea and go looking online as soon as I finish this post...)

...blah blah blah. I spent all last nite reading about spinning and know nothing, I still don't know if I'm going to buy it or not. It's quite a ways away as well... a day trip. Hm. (I want it though!)

All comments (even ones that tell me I'm nuts) are welcome & appreciated :), today's the last day to sign up for the Mystery Sock KAL!


loribird said...

You're not nuts!!!
I started on a handspindle, and got a wheel for my birthday a month later. I taught myself from books and the internet (actually, I found it to be very intuitive) AND managed to spin fine yarn rather quickly. I have a Kromski (minsterel) myself, but have heard very good things about the Joy.
You want to physically interact with the wheel before you pay $$$ for it; chances are the previous owner will be able to give you a few pointers. Make sure it has the drive band (string going around the wheel,) and sit down with it and make it go (without wool on it,) to see if you like a single treadle. All the moving parts should turn easily, without too much noise (some squeeking can be normal.) Make sure you have extra bobbins for it, and an oriface hook and some oil.
There are lots of great resources online; The Woolery shop has some informative pages about different kinds of wheels, wools, etc. Check your library for books, and Amazon has a good selection too. Lee Raven's books helped me a lot (lots of pictures) and I also like finding bloggers that spin well and looking through their archives to see what they did in the beginning.
Good luck! You can email me if you'd like.

Alyson said...

If it's a good deal and you really want to learn, I see no reason not to buy it, once you determine that the wheel passes muster. I mean, how else are you gonna learn? I'm in the same boat - there's not really a lot of spinning outlets around me (it's Florida, no one even knits, let alone spins) and my only option for learning is to either travel to some sort of festival (which I'm planning) or to just buy one and wing it. I hear it's important, though, to sit at as many wheels as you can so you can find one that's right for you. If you have any chance to do that (any opportunity to get to a convention or whatever) then you should give that a shot before purchasing one. But if you can't, then you can't.

Does the seller have a bit of fiber lying around so she can show you how the thing works? Or give you a super-quick lesson? You'd think if someone wanted to get rid of the thing, they'd give you a boost. I'd be suspicious if you're not allowed to give it a try before buying.

DebbieKnitter said...

hi! The person you need to talk to is Anne from, she knows TONS about all kinds of wheels. I bought an Ashford Joy and I liked it but I also bought an Ashford Traveler double treadle (2 pedals) and I LOVE that. It is really gonna be what you can afford and what YOU like that will weigh on your purchase. I know that you CAN spin lace weight and sock weight on the Joy, I have seen it done and I spin sock weight on the Joy and the Traveler. It's gonna be whatever floats your boat basically. You also should decide whether or not you actually plan on sticking with it before you make that kind of a purchase. try and find some place that either teaches spinning or a place that can get you an instructor. I will say that spinning was the hardest thing I have ever learned to do. Anne taught me how to spin and I do LOVE it but I have just recently gotten to the point where I can actually USE the yarn I have spun and that is after a YEAR. I would advise researching it heavily before making that financial purchase. I usually use the rule of thumb that if it is over $50, then I research the heck outta it. I dunno if I would want to tackle learning to spin on my own or not,truthfully, knowing what IO klnow NOW, I wouldn't, I would want and need an instructor. There is alot behind spinning, the twist the setting of it ect., you would probably want to know that befoer trying to learn. Again, this is just my .02 worth, I also must state that I wouldn't give up spinning to save my soul, I like it that much. I hope I don't sound discouraging, I am just trying to be objective.

Kristin said...

IMHO, this is one of the best forums on spinning:

... and check out the "Memories" in the left-hand column for specific topics. They also have reviews of various wheels there.

Stacey said...

You are such a nut! :) I know not much about spinning, though my sister started last year. It is a cute little wheel though!

laurie in maine said...

I know nothing about spinning wheels & have just barely gotten within touching distance of a couple.

But I dreamed and Uncle gave me a check for $856.98 and even though I didn't do anything to deserve it wanted to keep it and buy a spinning wheel.

Having never priced one I don't even know it that is ballpark!

Best advice I can think up: Make sure of the reason the seller is giving it their wheel is "I suck at this!" and not "this wheel sucks!"

Bet you'll spin great! ;)

Beth said...

I love the joy. I learned to spin on one. You can't beat an Ashford as a workhores and for traveling to festivals and things it's the best. You'll want it even after you get your second or third wheel - which I know you will. (I have my third wheel on order right now). I think the pictures look different to you because the second picture you showed is of the back of the wheel and the other one is of the pedal side fo the wheel. I currently own 2 ashfords and can't say enough good things aobut the company. The first one - a traditional - I bought from ebay and the second - a traveler - I got new. I don't think you'll be sorry.
It is very versatile and can spin all sizes of yarn - maybe not cobweb.

Rhonda said...

I'm secretly lusting to learn spinning also ... but have stayed away so far due to "time, money & space". My 3 most common problems in life, LOL.

I don't think you're nuts!

lexa said...

I can't help you out in this department, unfortunately. I've never touched a spinning wheel either! It would be cool to learn, though. Good luck! I signed up for the Mystery Sock KAL, too. I didn't pick a pattern or yarn yet, though.

Jennifer said...

I have no advice for you, as I use a hand spindle and haven't graduated yet. I'm so excited for you though!

Mama -E said...

I love love love my joy.
I have a DT.... you will love it.

Sherry W said...

If it's a deal and in working order I'd jump on it. Used wheels in good shape for a good price are hard to land.

It would be nice if you can try the wheel and see if you like a single treadle. As a total n00b, I could teel I hated DT's right off.

BTW, I was able to teach myself to spin with a little patience and a 5 minute lesson from a fiber guild. So your not crazy!

Melissa said...

Go for it! I have been sucessful thus far to resist the temptation of learning to spin. I definitely do not need a new hobby. :)

Jason said...

Aija wants to spin! Yay!

I am currently learning with a Joy. It's working out reallyl great. I haven't tried anything else. I am hoping to do that at the Fabulous Fiber Fest in Santa Monica this weekend.

I watched an excelent video that taught me how to spin on a wheel. "Spinning Wool - Basics & Beyond" by Patsy Zawistoski. Shows you everything to start spinning on a wheel. Including different types of wheels and how to prepare fiber for spinning. She has a website:

Anastacia said...

Hi, Aija! Just wanted to let you know that I started a pair of socks from the yarn you gifted me! If you want to look, I finally got around to posting progress photos on my blog. Go have a look see!

Mme Defarge said...

I bought my first wheel sight and picture unseen off of the internet. I had never spun. Nada.

To this day I can't deal with a handspindle. Well I can but I don't like to.

I figured that I had to have it lying about the house to decide if I would really use it. And if I didn't, I could sell it.

Well I'm on my third wheel, madly in love. And that original wheel? I sold it on the internet for more than I paid for it.

Most folks give you practical advice. I can only tell you that I needed to live with it for a while to decide whether or not I was in love.

the kitchener bitch said...

Check to make sure nothing is wobbly or off-kilter and that nothing rubs against anything else. The wheel should turn smoothly and it shouldn't click or squeak or be loud - my Ashford Traveller is nearly silent and the Joys I've seen have been also. The parts should also all move smoothly without any visible "bump" in movement. Take a close look at the Joy online, and familiarize yourself with the parts so you'll know what's missing. Look around the places where parts move against each other to see if there's excessive wear; if the wheel was regularly oiled it should be fine but if it wasn't, you may have to replace stuff that's worn out.

Regarding laceweight on the Joy: I bought mine directly from the US distributor for Ashford, and she refused to sell me a Joy on the grounds that it was a "hard wheel to learn on" and it "wasn't good for laceweight", which I wanted to spin. HOWEVER - since then I've been told by many, many happy Joy owners that they can indeed spin laceweight, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was only marginally harder to learn on the Joy than it was on my Traveller.

I'm just beginning to spin myself, but I would be glad to help you learn in any way I could! I leaned heavily on and but there are other great sites.

If you're willing, I would highly recommend finding yourself a local mentor one way or another. I looked around for my local spinning guild and found someone who was willing to give me a few lessons. They were all too happy to do it (especially since I had my own wheel and fiber) and just a few hours of lessons has improved my spinning immensely. ...There are also the equivalent of SNBs for spinning (spin n' bitch?) that can be great places to learn too.

Jerry & Maxy said...

If it feels right, and you're going to use it, and you can still pay all your bills and feed you and your people, go for it!!! Wooo hooo!!!

mf said...

It's a great first wheel for beginners, and even experinced. Very easy to learn on and very easy to spin on. GO FOT IT!! If the price is good & affordable don't pass up the great opportunity! You'll be able to spin soon!!

anne said...

hi aija! if this wheel seems to be in good shape (like some people here have said, no rubbing, squeaking or broken parts), AND it is a great price (say, under $350 without a case or under $400 with a case). and you think you will spin, you should buy it.
you can easily resell it if you decide you won't use it—these wheels have HUGE resale value. if the spring on the brake are stretched, or the driveband looks old, don't fret—those can easily be replaced by contacting woodland woolworks or paradise fibers.

i learned to spin on a borrowed joy, and even after i'd bought a traveller wheel, i wanted a joy of my own to tote to guild meetings and the LYS or just to a friends house. i have even bought a couple extra used ones when i saw them cheap to rent and resell to students (not for profit, just to make sure they get something good).

most spinners take really good care of their wheels, and there is hardly anything breakable about them anyway.

you can defintiely spin very lightweight yarn on this wheel—it has a wonderful range of ratios for something this size, with scotch tension.

you should at least join your local guild, or find a blogger or mentor in your area to spin with. most spinners like company and they will be full of info and helpfulness. and a class couldn't hurt!

good luck and i am SO excited for you. i did NOT want to learn to spin intially, but was dragged into it by friends (no lie). within a week, i was an addict. and with your curiosity of how things work, fiber will be a wonderful new foray for you!

HPNY Knits said...

I am very excited for you!! ya! I know nothing of spinning (yet) but the process fascinates me and I'd be watching your progress!

Kim in Oregon said...

Ask the owner how often s/he oiled the wheel and ask him/her to show you where it was oiled (just so you need to oil it regularly to keep it, well, well-lubricated). Also ask when the drive band was last replaced and if she can show you how to replace it.

Spinning isn't hard, but I think it helps to have someone show you how to get started (or else you'll end up with rope). Either an hour private lesson with a spinner or a class would be good.

I like the Joy a need to be sure that you aren't too tall or short for the wheel, so sit in a chair and hold your hands up to the orifice and make sure your arms are in a position that feels somewhat comfortable (the orifice is where the fiber feeds in). You'll be spending lots of time with your hands around the orifice (no,I"m not being dirty!) and you want it to be at a comfortable place.

It probably won't be your last wheel, but a great place to start.

Karen said...

I don't know anything about Ashford wheel so I can't be of much help there. I'm pretty sure you would love spinning though if that is helpful. :) Good luck with it.

Karen said...

My first experience with a wheel was a Schact, and I didn't take to it. Now I've got a Joy in my possession for a few weeks, and its a LOT easier. I like the double treadle. I say go for it, and if you don't like it, as someone else said, you can sell it (just give me notice...I'll pay for shipping! :) )

tatjana said...

Definitely make sure the wheel's in order, but I say go for it! I couldn't resist the deal I found for a Louet, even though I didn't really like my spindle. And I *love* her. I bought 'Hands on Spinning' (Lee Raven), and it gave me enough info to get me started. You will have so much fun :D :D

Brittany said...

See if the person you're buying from is willing to show you how it works. I just sold my wheel and I spend an hour with the person who bought it showing her how it worked, giving her a mini-lesson and answering questions. I'd expect to be able to get that if I were to buy a wheel at the store and if that seals the deal for me, I'll consider it an hour well spent.

Jane said...

You are not insane, or if you are, you have alot of company. I've heard of people learning to spin from information from the Internet but you might still try to see if there are any Spinning Guilds near you that might let you come to a meeting and see alot of different wheels and they might let you try them too. It would also give you an idea of where you might learn to spin in your area. I've heard good things about the Ashford Joy and It would make a good first wheel. I say first wheel because if you really get the bug, you will eventually trade up or just plain own more than one wheel like I do. My first wheel was a Schacht so I'm not the one to tell you to refrain from spending money on a wheel when you don't know how to spin! I have a Lendrum that I can take on the road and my sister has the Majacraft Rose. If you want to do this bad enough, I know you can do it. Totally illiterate people learn how to spin. It just "clicks" at some point, so don't be discouraged initially!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, if I were in your "shoes" I'd look into Carolina Homespun's Thursday spinning get togethers or, see what Deep Color Studio in Kensington offers - this is in terms of learning. Terry

Jane said...

Hello again!

Do you live in the Bay Area? If so, Carolina Homespun has a day where spinners get together to spin. There is also the Spinning Guild, Spindels & Flyers at (

Good Luck!

Laura said...

I don't think you're nuts. Not at all. A lot of people start with a spindle, but not everyone does. Some day I hope to learn to spin on a wheel, and have no real interested in a drop spindle. :-)

The wonderful people at Interweave press have a magazine, Spin Off. I haven't looked at it, as I don't spin either, but knowing them, it's probably a good magazine. Looks like they have a series on basic spinning going, too. They also advertise some spinning books on that page I referenced.

Carola said...

I have no idea about spinning or wheels either but I think you should go for it. First, you show interest, second, you are a gifted knitter and so it might be only a matter of time until you get the hang on spinning, and third: there is the ever so helpful and supporting knitting/spinning community outside there to help you, though a spinning class might be advisable in the beginning, too.
And last but not least, you can always sell it again, if it is no fun at all.

Deb aka Fearless Fibers said...

I hope you buy the wheel - or some wheel anyway - just so that I have the fun of watching and reading about your progress. I don't spin either and am intrigued by it, but I fear between dyeing and spinning I would soon have absolutely no time left for knitting!

SpindleKnits said...

If you have the chance, sit down at the wheel and just take it for a spin without any fiber. If it feels comfortable to you and everything works properly get it. If you have the urge to spin you will not regret buying a wheel. I recently bought an Ashford traditional and love it. Also, check out this forum: ( It is a great place for people to go and talk with new and experienced spinners.

Najmah said...

I am looking for a way to communicate with a seller of spinning wheels in either Australia or New Zealand by e-mail. Najmah

Najmah said...

Please post the e-mail address of any spinning wheel sales person and/or store in Australia or New Zealand. I want to buy a wheel and have it shipped to me from one of those countries.

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon

I Took The Handmade Pledge!