In the saga that has been the arrival of my new wheel, I last left you with raw nerves, bursting with anticipation as my two boxes sat in a FedEx warehouse in Minneapolis. Would they ever make it to my house? I mean, let’s set aside for a moment that the original estimated ship date was actually today and the delivery date when it actually did ship (a week early) has always been the 8th. When last I left you, the waiting was killing me. Sure, I’d waited patiently for an entire month, excited, but reserved as my wheel was ‘made-to-order.’ No problem. I was more or less cool as a cucumber. Once I got news that it had shipped, though, blammo! My patience was just done. Over. Finito. Finished.
When the “out for delivery” notice came into my inbox yesterday morning (because of course I was signed up for notifications on this shipment), it was everything I could do to not just sit in the front window, eyes glued to the street in front of the house. I was much too antsy for that though so I did some computer work which just so happens to have a view of the front yard (and street). I was catching up in the Ravelry threads when a white truck slowly pulled up from the East. From behind the big pine tree at the edge of our property, I saw the hood and the cab and — my heart skipped a beat, is it here at last?! — as it pulled forward I could see it was a heating and cooling truck. It pulled into our neighbors’ drive way.
Deciding this watched pot would never boil, I got busy around the house. I ironed all my husband’s work shirts and baked a cake. I went outside to water the new plantings and potted plants. I recently learned our giant hose can reach the entire front yard which saves me a lot of time lugging a watering can to our potted plants out front. As I wrestled the hose to the front of the house I saw it. The FedEx truck.
I waved to the driver who smiled and shifted his truck into reverse and hurriedly finished my watering and stowed the hose. I ran to the front of the house to retrieve my boxes.
They were large. And as is usually the case, especially with large boxes, they were left at the bottom of the stairs. So I got to carry them up a flight of steps. It was awkward, especially as I was being comically careful with them. Of course, as soon as I got them inside I took photos of the boxes and sent them to everyone I know. Because this is 2017 and that’s just what we do now, right?!
And then it was really happening.
I opened the first box.
And I saw a leg! Isn’t it the prettiest you’ve ever seen?! I went to get it out carefully and realized it was really packed in there. I mean it took effort to get it out and not a little effort. Not quite as much effort as the wheel itself though…
Which was the single most securely packed item I’ve ever received. I mean, it’s awesome — you certainly want something like this protected from all possible damage, but also it’s pretty nerve-wracking to try to get it out. I was so excited, but had to convince myself to go slowly and methodically. It was not small feat!
It would be pretty funny if the story ended here, with a “They were just packaged too well. I gave up.” Alas, I did eventually get everything out of the boxes. And started the careful process of assembling my brand new Schacht Reeves.
Every wooden nut, every piece I put in its place… it sounds over-the-top, but it was like a religious experience. I’ve been spinning for about 7years and I thought about the miles I’ve spun and how much I’ve learned in that time about the craft, about myself. I thought about how life has changed over that time — my kids growing, adopting Moose, job changes, moving house. It wasn’t until the past year I even thought this wheel could ever be an option.
And now, here it is.
In my house. With my fiber being spun on it. By me.
My mind is blown. I might just be the luckiest lady in the world. Yes, I’m tearing up a little writing this.
Let’s not get sloppy yet, though. Should I tell you about the wheel itself ? Like actual spinning information? Yes, let’s talk shop!
As you probably know, for the last 7 years I’ve been spinning on my trusty Lendrum DT. It’s an awesome wheel. I love it and would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat. It’s so versatile and dependable and a joy to spin on. I intend to keep it for a variety of purposes. I’ll share a little about how the two wheels are different because that’s the lens I’m looking through, the learning process I’m experiencing. Let’s start by looking at the two wheels side by side.
The Lendrum looks so tiny! We talk wheel diameter in spinning a lot because generally speaking, the bigger the wheel, the less effort you need to put forth to add twist to your yarn. The Lendrum has a 19″ wheel diameter, the Schacht Reeves I have has a 30″ wheel diameter. It’s true that both wheels actually can spin with similar ratios, but I will say that 30″ wheel with it’s ultra smooth treadling flies effortlessly. Flies, I tell you.
You can also see the Lendrum DT is a double treadle (hence the “DT”), whereas the Schacht Reeves I purchased is a single treadle. This is the main reason I’ve acquired this wheel. I may have just stayed with the Lendrum forever if it was comfortable for me to treadle with one foot. It can be done with the Lendrum, it just wasn’t for me. In any case, now I’m no longer a slave to my ‘bad’ hip and leg. The huge single treadle of the Schacht Reeves is very comfortable and most importantly, the spin is incredibly smooth. To me, switching to a single treadle that would be hard on my good leg would really be defeating the purpose of making the switch. I spun for probably 3 or 4 hours yesterday evening on the new wheel and I’m no worse for the wear. That’s the magic combination of the big wheel and smooth spin at work.
Another big difference between the two wheels is that my Lendrum is a single drive wheel. It has the one drive band and something called Scotch tension. These two different elements work separately, but in coordination to move the whorl and bobbin in specific ways to add twist and bring the yarn up onto the bobbin. Although it can be spun as a double drive or single drive wheel, the Schacht Reeves comes set up as a double drive wheel. The double drive does the same thing the single drive does, but it’s a closed system — the drive band loops around to spin the wheel and add tension. I can explain this more in another post if there’s interest (let me know in the comments or shoot me a message!), but suffice to say the double drive was a point of confusion for me in the set-up. Having zero experience with the double drive previously meant I was a little out of my depth. It also meant that despite a very careful set-up from the folks at Schacht, I spent about 45minutes moving the loop every which way except for onto the wheel properly.
Thankfully, my spinning guru Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm was able to set me straight after I sent her a message that literally read, “So I have a really stupid question.” Nervous about the whole double drive situation, Mary Ann reminded me that I have the option of setting it up as a single drive and then I could work out my double drive issues later. Agreeing this was probably the smartest option, I took a deep breath and gave the double drive set-up one more try. Hey, I never said I make logical choices.
Reminding myself that a spinning wheel is not rocket science, I thought about the basic mechanics and principles of how they work and voilá! I was spinning with a double drive. Definitely more finicky to set-up than a single drive (especially when you’re clueless about it), but boy-oh-boy, it’s pretty smooth when you get going.
I’m also getting used to the hooks on the flyer as opposed to the sliding hook, but really, in the grand scheme of things, that’s a pretty minor adjustment.
I did get a little frisky after a while with the Medium whorl and had to see how the Hi Speed whorl felt. I normally would not switch out whorls mid-spin, but I couldn’t help myself. I’ve spun with the Lendrum Very Fast Flyer at similar speeds, but the new wheel just felt much more… controlled at that 30.5:1 ratio. I can see this wheel and I, we’re going to get along quite well.
Periodically throughout the evening as I made minor adjustments and continued to get the feel for the new wheel, the crazed look would come into my eyes as it hit me again that this was really happening. Me, spinning on a 30″ Schacht Reeves in my living room. I’d look with the crazy eyes at Mr Knitting Sarah and grin the same kind of crazed grin. I think the third or fourth time maybe it got slightly less creepy. I should say I hope it did. It probably did not. He’d ask if everything was OK, was the wheel good? I’d say something somewhat resembling English and “I can’t believe it’s here.”
As he got up to go to the kitchen though, Mr KS walked over as I spun and kissed the top of my head and said softly, “You deserve this.” Tears welled up a little then as they do now when I think about it, so I will respond in the best way I know how. I’ll keep doing what I do — for our family and our little life. And I’ll definitely keep spinning, too.