I've asked Guild members here.
I'll ask you all. What do you think is the best portable wheel out there?
I'd like to know the reasoning why.
I love my Kromski Sonata! Its the ony full size wheel that is portable. As result it has a high orifice - about 30", compared to the 23" orifice height on most portables. Saves on back strain! It is double treadled - which I love and spins wonderfully. I also have the lace flyer to spin lace weight yarns, the but standard flyer will spin worsted weight to fingering weight with ease.
I really like that it has the feel of a substantial full size wheel. I tried the Ashford Joy and the Lendrum Victoria, but they felt so small, like I was spinning on a child's toy. Plus the Sonata is a beautiful, beautiful wheel - which Kromski is known for. I have the walnut finish and it looks wonderful sitting in my spinning corner in my dining room. It becomes quite the conversation piece.
It comes with a very nice padded bag that can be carried like a back pack on your back (should you need to "hike in" somewhere to spin!)
Anyway, that's my two-cents worth!
I have to agree with Rebecca - I also have a Sonata and I love it. It's my first wheel and I bought it after taking classes on an Ashford Traditional and having issues with keeping the wheel going while trying to spin. The double-treadle seemed easier to me and now that I've gotten the hang of spinning I'm able to spin on both double and single treadle wheels with no problems.
I have the bag too and it's wonderful. I can take my wheel wherever I want and set up and take down is easy. I recently spent the day spinning at the Oregon State Fair and being able to use the bag as a back-pack was indispensible to me since I had to truck quite a ways to get to the spinning area.
I have three main wheels: an Ashford Traditional, a Majacraft Rose and a Louet Victoria. Each is portable in its own way. However, I take my Victoria EVERYWHERE. It is just over 6 pounds and can spin anything I throw at it. I took Judith MacKenzie McCuin's three day spinning workshop and was able to spin fine to thick. I can't say enough good things about it. Another thing I like it that it has a small footprint and you can spin in tight spaces.
The Ashford is lightweight, too. I put my arm through the legs and heft it onto my shoulders. The Rose was my travel wheel as it is compact and folds down. It is heavy which is why I use it as a production wheel and don't drag it around to spin-ins anymore.
I hope this helps.
I'm sold on the Majacraft Little Gem. I take it as cabin luggage when I teach. With the bag it is well under the 7 kg bagage allowance, and I fill it with wool until it is just under the weight limit. The bag has been opened a few times at the check in, but no problems.
The gem will do everything that my bigger wheels can do. I need and use all the ratio options available on it, and spin anything from cotton to long wools. I have a range of flyers including a spindle head (their stylus)
I usually travel with my Ashford Traditional as it is easy to pick up and lay flat in my trunk, or in the back seat. I am hoping to get a Kromski Sonata as soon as I can. I also have a Kromski Minstrel which is also pretty easy to move (I bought the Minstrel for the double treadle which the Sonata also has), but I love the Sonata - it is smooth and quiet. I spun on it for a day at a fiber festival at a friend's tent and didn't even have a problem with the scotch tension.
Let us know what you choose.
One more thing I forgot to say before .... everyone has their own best favorite. You should try as many wheels as you can to see which one you like best.
Thanks for everyone's input. I've been researching spinning wheels and had about decided on the Sonata. Funds are limited, so it may be my only wheel, and I wanted portable (and pretty). Happy Spinning! --Peggy
I thank you all for your input.
It has really helped me make up my mind.
The answer - is to play on other wheels and then decide.
My first wheel was the Ashford Traveller. Very easy to take with me to the Farmer's Market.
This year, I started travelling more with my work (flying) and wanted to find a folding wheel that I could take with me.
I tried quite a few wheels at a fiber fest last May (actually, tried all that were there, folding or not!) and fell in love with the action of the Kromski Sonota. I was in heaven when I found out is was also a folding wheel. Still, $500!!! ouch!
A couple weeks later, I got a bonus check from work that covered not only the wheel, but a WooLee Winder too!
In June, it went on my first trip with me. When going through security, open it all the way up, remove the mother-of-all from pouch. I was questioned a lot, but all was okay.
I was able to carry it on and stow it on 3 of the flights. The 4th flight, is was checked at plane side. When I got off the plane, my wheel was no where in sight!!
Appears when they were loading the plane side, they really tossed my wheel into the hold!!! It was one of the last parcels out of the plane going down the conveyor.
I was really relieved to see it, until I realized it was wobbling precariously half off the conveyor.
It fell on the cement from about 20' (baggage handlers didn't bat an eye). I opened the bag right then and there expecting the worse.
Nary a scratch on her.
I'm teaching classes right now and am using the Guild wheels.
I don't like the Babe. I don't know if it is design or who put it together, but I don't like the feel or performance.
We have a Lendrum and an Ashford Traveler. The student's using those seem to like them. They tried my Louet. We talked about the advantages and disadvantages of all designs.
I wouldn't discount the Lendrum! I have a Dt and it's just amazing! Easy to treadle, great beginner wheel, but also has a wide range of ratios so can do just about anything! Really easy to treadle, and very comfortable to sit at. changing the bobbins is also extremly reasonable, and it's priced close to the Sonata. It's also solid maple and folds! From a travel perspective it is kind of heavy, but easy enough to take to meetings and other places by car. i have the bag lady bag, which is great for protection and keeping it all together!
I also have a majacraft little gem (about 2 wks old!) which is substantially smaller and lighter than the lendrum. but smaller in looks only really. side by side the footprint of the Gem isn't much smaller than the Lendrum. The overall appearance of the Gem is smaller though, and the orifice height is only different by a couple of inches. Even though they both treadle a little differently, it hasn't affected me or the ability to switch between them easily. the Gem comes with a bag and does take up less room in the bag. This was important to me for storage as I want to take it on my boat.
I would highly recommend either wheel, although I would suggest that the Lendrum is the better beginner wheel.
I use the Spinolution Bee. It's the only portable wheel I've ever used, although I have carted a Louet S10 around a few times.
The Bee collapses and packs faster than it will take me to type this sentance, and it fits into an overhead bin carry-on suitcase. The suitcase I got at Goodwill for 2 bucks, and with wheels, it is extremely easy for me to tug along. The wheel only weighs 13 pounds, but with my noodle arms, it might at well be 50. =D
What do you use as a case when you travel with the little gem. I have one and the silver bag that came with it is much longer than allowed for in cabin, though the wheel isn't and as it has no structure I wouldn't feel comfortable checking it.
I'm glad to hear that you like the Bee - I'm about to buy one!