I’m pleased to announce the arrival on Tuesday, January 14, 2014, of my newest spinning wheel, all the way from New Zealand.
I ordered her on December 23rd from The Woolery along with custom finishing with cherry Danish oil. Isn’t she lovely? Her name is Hazel, after my wonderful and deeply missed MIL. She would have been totally smitten with the beauty of my Traveller.
Ashford wheels come as unassembled kits (click here if you want to see photos of the wheel as it comes in the box), so I had the
misfortune pleasure of putting Hazel together. Most of it went smoothly, but a couple of steps drove me bonkers. I had a hell of a time trying to get the crank through the wheel supports and wheel hub, and placing the hub pin was very frustrating. I had to loosen the wheel supports and jigger them around in order to see the hole in the crank that I had to line up with the hub pin. Once I had the crank in far enough and the hole and pin lined up, I was able to get the hub pin in.
The second difficulty came when connecting the conrods (aka footmen) to the treadles. The conrod connecters are plastic and fit very snuggly to the treadles, but to get them inserted requires twisting the connectors first one direction, then the other direction. I just don’t have the hand strength to twist them enough to get them in place, and after several failed attempts and some serious frustration, I got a pair of pliers out of the toolbox. I was able to twist the connectors with the help of the pliers and finally got the treadles connected to the conrods.
Once I got everything put together and everything all lined up and all the screws tightened, it was time to put on the drive band and start spinning. My Traveller is a double drive wheel, so I set her up in double drive and started to spin. I have tried double drive only once before, very briefly (like half-an-hour) on my Ladybug. So I was very excited to try some serious spinning in double drive to see what it’s like. I definitely like double drive.
I will confess that the main reason I bought the Traveller is because it is such a pretty wheel. It really called to me. A lot of spinners look down their noses at Ashford spinning wheels (and also Kromski wheels) as being inferior in quality and spinning experience. But I have to say that my Traveller spins like a dream. Treadling is so easy and smooth that I can treadle with just one foot and there is absolutely no hesitation on the upswing. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nil. And the wheel is really quiet. Being the latest and greatest model, it has a sealed bearing wheel hub, and the treadle hinges are plastic so there is no squeaking leather. And there are only a few points that need to be oiled. Ashfords have a reputation for drinking oil, and that may be true of older wheels (Ashford has been making spinning wheels for a very long time), but it isn’t true of the most recent iteration of the Traveller, at least not in my (admittedly limited) experience.
Only time and use will tell whether my initial first impression of the Traveller holds up, but I’ve already spun for over six hours on her and I love her. I haven’t tried Scotch tension yet, but I have other wheels that spin great in Scotch tension, so if I don’t like the Traveller in Scotch tension, it’s no big deal.