Why is it so popular? The separate drive band and bobbin brake adjustment is easy to understand and simple to operate. The bobbins are quick and easy to change. Scotch tension and 3 speed flyer allow for a wide variety of yarn to be spun. Horizontal adjustment of the maiden bar allows perfect alignment with the 3 speed whorl.
Ball bearings and large 56cm (22ins) wheel makes treadling smooth and effortless and easy to maintain a steady speed. The wide legs give good stability especially when speed spinning. The treadle is pivoted to allow a comfortable heel-toe action. Lazy Kate and 4 bobbins included.
Ashford Traditional Spinning Wheel (Buy Now)
The Ashford Traditional wheel has been around for over 40 years. In that time it has been refined into the ideal student/beginner wheel.
The “Trad,” as it is popularly known, is used in our spinning group by several spinners – each has a wheel of different vintage and it is interesting to note the small differences in design between them.
Beth’s wheel is the youngest of the three and her experience is the most recent, so it falls to her to report on her purchase.
I began spinning on a 1970s vintage Haldane Hebridean wheel. For a variety of reasons, I found it difficult to learn on. I quickly determined that a more modern wheel was needed. Being a new spinner, I knew little about the various makes of wheel and to be perfectly honest, I was price-driven.
The Trad is very much a base model and was priced acordingly. It fitted my pocket. Of course, at such a keen price, some of the cost is passed on to the buyer. This is a kit wheel – you assemble it yourself, though any complex assembly is effected in the factory.
This is how my wheel, fondly named Constance, looked when she arrived (apologies for the poor photography.) Instructions were pictorial, and reasonably easily followed. Assembly was straightforward although inserting the pin into the wheel hub was somewhat fiddly.
As I was looking for a low price, I chose the “Natural” unfinished model.
I gave each piece three coats of Danish Oil prior to assembling the wheel, allowing each coat time to dry thoroughly before applying the next.
After assembly, my wheel had two light coats of beeswax applied.
She looked wonderful!
What was even more wonderful was the way in which I sat down and discovered that I could spin without effort on this wheel. After weeks of struggling, I could now be a real spinner. The wheel just seemed to know what it was doing all on its own.
Although my “Hebbie” wheel was double drive, I switched to the Trad’s Scotch Tension system without difficulty and I loved the ease and smoothness of the treadling. I also appreciated the wider orifice and larger bobbins than those I had been using.
Constance has been in use for three years at the time of writing this. I am not myself a constant companion of the wheel — I knit far more than I spin and would dearly love to find more time for spinning — so I cannot claim that the wheel has had heavy use. I can admit that it has taken, and survived, a lot of knocks — as most weeks I pack it into the back of the car and cart it off to Spinning Group. It is a sturdy model.
I rapidly became frustrated by the size of the bobbins. I wanted to spin and ply greater length in one go – so I invested in the Jumbo Flyer kit. In retrospect it was perhaps an unclear and possibly unwise decision…
The Jumbo kit included a replacement Mother of All — this we attached to my wheel and it has remained in place ever since. The kit allows for switching between flyers, by insertion of a plastic grommet. I find that this is neither inserted nor removed with any degree of ease. Additionally, when using the standard flyer, a different alignment of the whole Mother of All is required to that for the Jumbo, in order to line up the drive band with the wheel. For that a screwdriver is required and… frankly? I cannot be bothered.
I wish that I had not bothered with the Jumbo kit. I really would prefer to have two wheels, one dedicated to finer yarns and the other to chunky ones – though I do love the larger bobbin size when it comes to plying time, and I do think that I ply better on the Jumbo flyer, with its different ratio.
Overall, I have to rate the Trad highly – although I have little experience with other wheels against which to assess it. It does the job and it does it more easily than my previous wheel did. I became a spinner once I had my Trad. That says it all, I think.
UPDATE: 2012 – Beth’s Trad has gone to a new home to assist a newer spinner to improve her spinning. Beth misses Constance very much, though she has a new companion, named Morgana, now.