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Week 1: Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel

The unboxing

Box is enormous. Comes with a sticker saying “Keep this box!”. Have nowhere to keep it, so broke it down and recycled after the cat had played with it.

First disappointment

Comes with 3x bobbins. Great! Except they give you the crappy brown plastic ‘travel’ bobbins, not the nice wooden ones.


Minimal, and the instructions are clear. You have to attach the treadles to the front leg, and then connect the footmen to the treadles.

When that’s done, you need to fish out the flyer assembly and make sure it’s in place. (I think this is a future how-to video).

I also bought the tensioned Lazy Kate that’s designed for the Ladybug. Again, assembly was very straightforward.

First spin

Woohoo! Looking good! Noticing that one of the spare bobbins I’ve attached to the Lazy Kate seems to be moving a bit as I’m spinning, but not really a problem. Makes a lovely noise.

First problem

Treadling was becoming increasingly effortful over a period of about 20 minutes. I tried a few drops of oil, but still no joy. I stopped, and couldn’t work it out. Then I realized that the aforementioned wobbly bobbin — which had a leader attached, and a length of spun single out of the box — had been unwinding itself while I was spinning. It was entirely wrapped around the axel that attaches the wheel to the drive hub.

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Emergency surgery took approx. 40 minutes. No joke. Used the hook thing for pulling yarn through the orifice, a sharp paring knife and needle-point tweezers to extract the yarn. Still don’t think I have it all out, but the wheel turns effortlessly again, so I think it’s OK for now?

Second problem

Something’s knocking when I spin. I let the yarn wind up completely onto the bobbin and tried just treadling it for a while. No knocking. Pulled yarn back through orifice and started again: knocking. Definitely the bobbin. Tried a bit of oil. More knocking.

Turns out, too much oil will make for a really noisy bobbin (thank you Google). Removed the whole flyer assembly and wiped down the shaft with Fairy liquid to degrease it. Also twisted up some paper towel and threaded it through the bobbin to remove any grease inside. Sounds better already.


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Learning to spin fiber [WIP]

Thought I’d record my path toward spinning on a spinning wheel, for anyone who was interested! I consider myself to be self-taught: I’ve learned using lots of different youtube videos and much trial and error.

Rhinebeck, New York: October 2015

Couldn’t spin, but wanted to learn! Bought beautiful laceweight drop spindle from Stefania Spins at Rhinebeck. Also bought a bag of odds and ends of fiber from Into the Whirled and a bag of untreated fleece direct from the owner of Roger: a belligerent ram with a very soft coat.

Brooklyn, New York: November 2015

Park and draft, park and draft, park and draft.

Watched a LOT of youtube videos and concentrated my efforts on spinning singles. Park and draft was very boring, but at least the fiber didn’t keep breaking and dropping my spindle on the floor. Lumpy and bumpy, not much control.


Videos I found useful at this stage:

London: May 2016

Dug the spindle back out and thought I’d give it a proper go again. Used the odds and ends from Into the Whirled, and concentrated on drafting more evenly. When that happened more often, and I dropped the spindle less, I looked at plying.


Videos I found useful at this stage:

  • Brandi Schoch Andean plying (using a ‘bracelet’ to ply from is particularly useful if you (a) only have a small amount of your singles and (b) dislike spinning from both ends of a makeshift ball)
  • Katniss1986 Chain plying on top whorl spindle (this is the ONLY video on navajo plying that made any sense at all to me. She’s super clear and goes slowly enough to follow!)

London: Summer 2016

Lots of video watching for more advanced techniques. Starting to consider a spinning wheel.

Videos I found useful at this stage:

London: October 2016

Starting to really hanker after a wheel, but wasn’t keen to splurge the cash before researching thoroughly. I bought Amy King’s Foundations of Spinning on Craftsy, and found it really helpful, particularly the theory covered in the first few classes. I watched the first few lessons before taking an in-person course.

You have to pay for classes on Craftsy, but in my experience they’re extremely well shot, and you have access to them forever. You can also ask questions of your tutor, who’ll answer them, and the site works really well across different platforms/screen sizes.

Signed up for a class at the Handweavers Studio in Holloway to actually learn from a real human being (not a video) and to have a go on a spinning wheel for the first time. Got to try a couple of Ashford models: the Traditional and the Kiwi.

Good news: I like spinning on a spinning wheel. Bad news: spinning wheels are expensive.

Videos I found useful at this stage:

London: November 2016

Chose a wheel. This was hard. I think there’s probably a future post in “how I chose my wheel” so I’ll keep this brief 🙂 Mid-month my Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel arrived!