A Spinning Wheel in Good Working Order

I’m leaving today to teach some classes in Iowa this weekend for a guild. I’ve never been to Iowa. But it’s not that far away so I’ll pack the car and drive there. By driving I can stop for as many Starbucks hot chocolates as I want. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.

The classes I’m teaching are a breeds studay and a class about woolen and worsted. The breeds study requires either a spinning wheel or a spindle and the woolen/worsted class is wheel specific. In the notes for both classes when I list the equipment needed I specify a “spinning wheel in good working order”. Many of my teacher friends use the same language. I wanted to just talk for a short time today about what exactly that means.

Most of the time the wheels people bring to class are fine but there have been several times where the a student’s wheel wasn’t fine and then things get hard for me, the student and the entire class. If a wheel shows up in class that isn;t in good working order I often will spend a bit of time trying to get it to go. Since I am often traveling a far distance to teach I don’t have an extra wheel with me to lend just in case. So the best case scenario is where I get the wheel going with just some minor tweeks. Worst case is that the wheel has bigger issues than I can fix in class and the student doesn’t have a wheel to use. If I have brought a wheel along with me I often lend mine.

I have found that most of the time when the worst happens it’s because the wheel in question was borrowed for the class and the student didn’t try it out before bringing it.


Anyway, There are things I check on my wheel before I bring it to class and there are things that should b checked out before trying to use a wheel that you may not be familiar with. So here goes. long draw

  1. The bobbins should all spin freely on the bobbin shaft. Dont just try one bobbin. If the class calls for more than one, try them all out. Spinning freely means that you give it a push and it spins several complete revolutions before you touch it again.
  2. When treadling with no yarn or tension, the wheel spins freely and treadling is almost effortless.
  3. The treadles are actually attached to the footmen and those attachments don’t look like they will fall apart at any moment.
  4. All bolts and screws are tightened and will remain tight oveer the length of the class.
  5. All front feet are present and accounted for. (This pertains to especially Schacht Wheels that have adjustable feet.) I check this before I leave for a class and then again before I put my wheel in the car after a class.
  6. If the drive band hasn’t been changed in the last 6 months and it’s cotton, change it.
  7. If it’s scotch tension, make sure there is a scotch tension brake band attached along with a spring or other bouncy option.

I thnk that’s it. It looks like a lot but it really only will take about 5 to 10 minutes to get it all in order and make sure you’re all set.

Let me know if you have any questions!

While I have your attention, I still have a couple of spots left in one or two of my Plyaway classes so if you can get to Kansas City in April, sign up!


2 replies
  1. Ruth
    Ruth says:

    Nice post! In our HansenCrafts miniSpinner group on Ravelry, we’ve followed your lead by starting a thread about what a “Spinning Wheel in Good Working Order” means in the context of the electronic wheel we all use. Group members have posted a lot of great info, including tools and spare parts to bring with you to a workshop/class/retreat.

    Thanks for the great idea!


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