Spinning Yarns – the Mach II Spinning Wheel: a Newbie’s Review

•August 24, 2009 • 2 Comments

After a drive out to Tucson and back, I settled on the Mach II spinning wheel. It’s worth mentioning that Grandma’s Spinning Wheel in Tucson was the only place who had a sample on site for me to try out. What a fun place that was – the walls are lined with wood buckets full of giant balls of rainbow-colored roving and top, with giant batts of hand-carded selections to choose from in the middle of the room. There are 14 wheels in the room and it is a free-for-all for anyone who wants to try out spinning.

The Mach II comes standard with the buyer’s choice of the average sized flyer or the jumbo “art yarn” flyer – I chose the jumbo flyer. I may live in Phoenix, but I would wear a t-shirt with a thick funky scarf just to have the chance to wear chunky yarn.  The thicker, the fluffier and puffier the better! So my spinning wheel is optimized for folks like me, making it a terrific tool. The other benefit is that while a standard flyer will most definitely limit your ability to make chunky yarns, the jumbo flyer does not limit your ability to make thin yarns. Also, I discovered that other spinning wheels came standard with an average sized flyer, with jumbo flyers only offered as add-on accessories, which would have cornered me into spending another $150+.  The bobbins are already very large – not as giant as the ones on Ashford Country wheels, but large enough that I can spin up 4 ounces of very thick, plied yarn on one bobbin without having to manually wind the thing, interrupting the flow of spinning.

Also, speaking of bobbins, the wheel comes with three bobbins included. There are two posts on the upper right and left side of the wheel behind the bobbin and they are there specifically to hold your extra bobbins. They are not intended to be used as lazy kates, but I’ve been able to use them that way with only minimal difficulty to ply my thick yarns.

The Mach II comes with spinning ratios varying from 1:3 to 1:21. This means that the bobbin, which holds the yarn, will spin 3 times for every rotation of the very large spinning wheel below it on the 1:3 ratio. So far, I haven’t used any ratios faster than the 1:3 or the 1:5, because I am making chunky yarn. I admire this wheel so much because I love its performance at the ratios I use it at, and it feels like a BMW 7 series that I’ve only driven in the first two gears. I think of it like a BMW 7 series because it is kind of a boat compared to many wheels – it weighs 22 pounds and seems humongous compared to a compact portable like the Ashford Joy. Also, it has a very wide stance – the user can treadle with one foot or both feet, and unlike other wheels, if treadling with two feet, the user isn’t required to sit with their feet and knees together because the treadles are a good 18 inches or so apart.

Ultimately, it’s also pretty to look at – the overall effect of this birch wood wheel is that it sits in your room like eye candy. I love looking at natural wood grain and the bonus is that I use it to make yarn that looks like candy.

I blow through fiber so quickly. I can’t wait to make more!

Ultimately, even though it’s large, it fits in my car, and I paid $20 to get a pull strap on the back and hardy wheels attached to the back. With these, I can tilt it back and push it around or drag it behind me, similar to moving around a piece of carry-on luggage.

Now all I need to do is score one of those baby seats that travels behind a bicycle and I can ride it around town behind my bike this Fall! Hmmm…

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Learned to Spin Wool!

•July 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Sometime soon here I’ll be able to post some pictures of my first-spun yarns! I spun two of them in a knitting class with my friends Sam, Jodie, Karen & Cora at Tempe Yarn & Fiber. For one yarn, I spun a couple staples of orange and then switched to a variegated brown and orange and went back and forth for the whole yarn. Then for my other yarn, I spun a couple staples of yellowy avocado and then switched to a variegated minty green color.

When I was done, I plied them all together and it worked out and turned into a sort of candy-cane striped chunky funky thick-and-thin yarn of 70’s couch colors!

Of course, now I am on the hunt for a great robust starter spinning wheel that will also look good in my house. I’ve read terrific reviews of the Schacht Ladybug. I am also looking at the Lendrum – I’d have to buy the kit that comes with the bulky flyer. But I’d also have to buy the bulky/plying flyer for the Ladybug too, which hasn’t quite yet been released but is due to come out this summer.

If this little girl can do it on the Ladybug, maybe I can too:

Soon to be on Etsy! Felted Flower eye candy.

•May 27, 2009 • 2 Comments

The first thing I started making from my felted recycled sweaters I get at the thrift stores was the leafy tendril garlands. The other idea that I had up my sleeves was to make flowers out of the colorful ones, using spare buttons and pin backs to make pins, headbands, and bracelets.

I started cutting out the flower shapes at the knitting circle at my friend’s house where a bunch of us got together to watch movies, listen to music, and sit around together being generally crafty. After cutting them all out, like 6 hours later, I laid them all out and started to see which ones I should combine to make flowers. There were so many!!

Then I took a day off from the crafting on Monday – Memorial Day! Went shopping for new sweaters to felt instead (I was all out of green for leafy tendrils!)

Tuesday night I spent the whole night making the flowers. I decided to have Shay play with our new camera to take pictures of the process and my workspace. When I finished the whole shabang, I had some flowers, a headband, and a corsage cuff! Below are pics of the whole process.

Amazing knitting of 1000 strands of otherwise-wasted yarn

•May 13, 2009 • 1 Comment

This woman knitted 1000 strands together to make a giant mattress.

Pictures of our Garden!

•May 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Shay started a lovely little garden in the back yard. It’s super cute. Our camera’s not the best, but we took what pictures we could. Suddenly one day Shay came in and told me mushrooms were growing in it! It looks like some sort of garden in another state now, definitely not what I expect in Phoenix. But apparently, we have mushrooms growing off the wood around the outskirts of our house’s roof on the North side too.

Does anyone know what kind of mushrooms they are? We can’t be the first ones to have these growing in our garden.

BewilderknitsGwynne on Etsy – Bewilderknits by Gwynne

•May 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

BewilderknitsGwynne on Etsy – Bewilderknits by Gwynne.

Our First Art Walk!

•May 3, 2009 • 1 Comment

On April 18th, the Bewilderknits gals went and set up for our first Art Walk. It was phenomenal! We were so excited about the response to our items. We can’t wait until it gets chilly to see how it goes then. But for now, we are impressed with the receptiveness of passersby, despite the fact that it reached 90 degrees that day! My Kittyknitter items were for sale in a special basket. Friends came by to say hello, and some of them left with knitted or felted items! I sold my first Kittyknitter scarf, and later I even sold a couple headbands to some middle school girls. I plan to work on these more and fine tune them across time.

I got my kittyknitter business cards in from Moo.com, they were laid out for people to grab. And I used this hilariously tiny cat-shaped hole puncher to make little price tags for my kittyknitter scarves.

Making the kittyknitter price tags

Making the kittyknitter price tags


Hole-punched kitty

Hole-punched kitty


Moo business cards laid out by the mailing list book!

Moo business cards laid out by the mailing list book!


Kittyknitter Basket

Kittyknitter Basket


The Bewilderknits Spread

The Bewilderknits Spread


Gwynne knitting by Karen's felted purses

Gwynne knitting by Karen's felted purses


Felted Flower Headband and Hair Clips

Felted Flower Headband and Hair Clips


The kittyknitter basket with felted hair clips on mossy bark

The kittyknitter basket with felted hair clips on mossy bark


My friend Sam walked off with Karen's hat and my Jumanji scarf!

My friend Sam walked off with Karen's hat and my Jumanji scarf!


I have a feeling for Sam, it’s easy being green.

Here are pictures of the felted flower headbands I made – a couple twin girls bought them at the end of the night. I had made them both just the night before and the morning of the Art Walk. I’m definitely wanting to fine tune this process and make more.

One sister's felted floral headband choice

One sister's felted floral headband choice


Other sister's felted floral headband pick (I loved that button!)

Other sister's felted floral headband pick (I loved that button!)

Thanks so much for everyone who came by and supports us in our efforts! I continue to be inspired and intend to spend the summer learning new knitting and felting techniques!