Thursday, October 23, 2014

Denise's Guide on Choosing a Schacht Wheel

This post is about how each wheel performs from Denise's perspective. For a list of specifications and additional information, check out our wheel comparison chart. With a personal account of each wheel, the comparison chart, and talking with your dealer, you should be able to choose a wheel with ease!

On the heels of Spinzilla, I still have spinning going around in my head!  I have all four Schacht Spinning Wheels and I use each of them. This was apparent during the week of Spinzilla: I have a Schacht wheel for almost any purpose.

I set my Matchless up first at 5 am on Monday morning. When I couldn’t sleep, I took it as a sign to dig in and start spinning. This wheel is so smooth I could virtually sleep while spinning. Set up on double drive with a new drive band, I can literally spin for miles. On my Matchless, I spin everything from wooly fleeces to delicate exotics, lace weight to chunky art yarn--and everything in between. They don't call it the Matchless for nothing! This wheel can be set up in Irish tension, double drive, or Scotch tension. For further explanations of these tension styles, check out this post.

I like a castle style wheel because I can draft with either hand and the orifice is right in front of me. Switching hands really helped me spin a lot of yardage and not be fatigued.

The Matchless wheel comes with a collapsible, tensioned lazy kate, 4 wood bobbins, 2 cotton drive bands, threading hook, carrying strap, medium and fast speed whorls. Four additional whorls are available, including extra slow (good for art yarn and beginners who treadle fast), slow (great for beginners and making thicker yarn), high speed (made for people who would like to make smaller yarn), super fast (this should be a standard Spinzilla whorl as it helps spin super fine yarn super quick). High speed bobbins can be purchased for use with the high and super high speed whorls when spinning in double drive (high speed bobbins are not required when spinning in Scotch tension). The Spinning Wheel Cart can be added to help with transportation. The Bulky Plyer Flyer package is a great add on for plying and/or art yarn.

My Sidekick usually lives at work. Sometimes during lunch I just want to zone out a bit on spinning, so I take my Sidekick outside for a spin. During Spinzilla, my Sidekick was my constant companion at work. To move it around the factory grounds, I just picked it up with the strap, treadles unfolded, and carted it around. This is a stable travel wheel due to the ingenuity of the design.

When we went to the Denver Art Museum for our mass spin-in on the last day of Spinzilla, I folded the treadles up and put it in our new Sidekick Bag for travel. The padded bag was especially helpful that day because it was a little rainy.

The Sidekick is set up as a Scotch tension wheel. It comes with medium and fast whorls, threading hook, carrying strap, 3 travel bobbins and a poly drive band. The new Sidekick Bag in olive green and burnt orange is now available. Additional options include: the Bulky Plyer Flyer package, Collapsible Lazy Kate, and the four extra whorls I mentioned above (extra slow, slow, high, and super high). I used the super high speed whorl on the Sidekick during Spinzilla with great results!

It was exciting that plying was allowed in the contest this year! So after spinning a bit, I plied on my Ladybug. I always leave this wheel set up with the Bulky Plyer Flyer package for plying and the occasional art yarn. I recently got the on-board Lazy Kate and it makes plying on the Ladybug a dream. This is a wheel that is easy to use for beginners (my first wheel), but it grows with you as your skills improve allowing for a wide variety of yarns to be made. This wheel is able to do all three tension modes: Irish, Scotch, and double drive, but it really shines in Scotch tension.

Coming with medium and fast whorls and threading hook, it also includes a poly band as well as a cotton band, and 3 travel bobbins. The wheel has 3 convenient built in handles, instead of a carrying strap. The Ladybug is a reasonably priced and a simple way to jump into spinning.

I must admit that spinning on the Schacht Reeves took some time to learn. I really bonded with it during Spinzilla and learned to appreciate the superb nature of the wheel. This wheel is FAST. If you want a wheel that makes worsted to lace weight yarn at an extremely fast rate, this is the wheel for you.

It comes with 3 bobbins, a lazy kate, and a medium and fast speed whorl. In addition there are 3 more whorls available. A slow speed whorl that is great to start out, and high and super high speed whorls that are fantastic for very fine yarn. The Schacht Reeves is available in several options: cherry or ash wood, single treadle or double treadle, flyer on the left or right, and a choice of a 24” or 30” drive wheels. The 30” drive wheel really gains momentum and adds to the speed of spinning. Flyer on the right is usually for people who are left handed and vice versa. However, which one you choose really comes down to preference.

I honestly can’t say which wheel is my favorite. In the matter of choosing a Schacht Spinning Wheel, I will have to quote the wise Maggie Casey……. “It depends.” It depends on the space you have available in your house, your budget, the yarn you like to make, if you would like to travel with your wheel, your aesthetic, the list goes on and on. We have a Schacht wheel for everyone!  To talk with someone about which wheel is right for you, visit your local dealer.

-Denise Renee Grace

Denise Renee Grace first learned to weave as a student at Bethel College. She later moved to Boulder and worked in a re-purposed product company where Barry Schacht discovered her and hired her to work in our sales and service department. Denise’s first love is spinning and she is especially fond of working with natural fibers on all four of her Schacht Wheels. When it comes to weaving, tabby tickles her. In charge of customer care, Denise spends her days here helping people—something she does so well.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Spinzilla Final Tally!

Benjamin has spent the better part of a two days measuring the yarn, and fielding e-mails from our "off-site" spinners. We are finally ready to announce our final yardage for Spinzilla! 61,671 yards!!!

All the yarn from our "Schacht-based" spinners!

That is 35.04 miles, or more than enough yarn to reach from us to the Denver Art Museum, where 5 teams (including ours) spent Sunday the 12th spinning until our bobbins were full. Over 70 spinners showed up to this event, which was a major hit with the patrons of the museum.

For our team, the spinner who spun the most yardage was Denise Renee Grace. She spun 7,032 yards (~4 miles) of yarn using all four of her wheels!

Here is a closer look at everybody's yarn.

Lara - 1,163 yards
Melissa - 2,586 yards
Beege - 1,229 yards

Caron - 2,767 yards
Stephanie - 4,496 yards
Deb B - 2,386 yards

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spinzilla Guest Blog - Melissa Ludden

Greetings from Salem, Massachusetts, where Halloween is in full swing! I represented Team Schacht Spindle out here on the East Coast, and I was thrilled to have an excuse to spin, spin, spin for a whole week. The warp on my Baby Wolf was feeling a bit neglected, but it agreed to sit tight for a week.

Disclaimer: This is stash yarn, none of which was spun this Spinzilla.
I love using local fibers, so the week before Spinzilla was spent carding up batts using a fleece I purchased at the Common Ground Fair Fleece Tent from Rivercroft Farm in Starks, Maine. I've been spinning up fleece from both Maine and Massachusetts (my two home states) for a couple of years now. The going is slow as most of my free time is spent chasing after an active and inquisitive four-year-old little boy and restoring our c.1750 saltbox, but eventually I plan to turn my pile of local yarn into a fabulous weaving project. It's my own mini Fibershed project.

I am not a technical spinner at this stage of my life. I will buy a fleece only if it can be drum carded, and I launch right into spinning once the fiber is cleaned and prepped. I don't project-plan and then spin. I spin and then plan a project around my resulting yarn. Whatever comes out is what it was meant to be for me. While you may scoff at my slacker approach, I can assure you that I adore spinning because I can just spin and quiet my mind. Of course who knows what the future will bring. My Matchless and I are ready for anything!

You can find me designing weaving projects for the Schacht newsletter and teaching at the Creative Warehouse in Needham, Massachusetts.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Spinzilla Guest Blog - Deb Brandon

Long Distance Relationship

Schacht and I have a long distance relationship. We see each other no more than two or three times a year, yet, our ties are still close, even after these long seven plus years.
            When I visit, Lupe welcomes me with a hug, as do Kate and Denise. Jane and Barry greet me with a smile. And they all ask me when I'm planning to move to Boulder.
            Last year we took our relationship one step farther, when I participated in the first Spinzilla as a Schacht team-member. And here I am, once again, spinning away with my Schacht community for Spinzilla 2014.
            This year, we have taken another step. Though I am spinning here in my home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylavania, and my team-members are close to fifteen hundred miles away, in Boulder, my sense of being a part of the Schacht community is even stronger—this year. We even have team T-shirts.
            I sit here wearing my T-shirt, treadling away, clouds of fiber flowing between my fingers, entering the twist, winding onto the bobbin as a lofty yarn that will become a scarf, or a hat. Perhaps a shawl, or a vest.
            As I treadle, images flow through my mind—a chocolate alpaca being sheared, work-worn fingers picking vegetable matter out of a fleece, suntanned hands carding fiber into fluffy clouds. I envision knitting needles in my hands, clicking against each other, a scarf growing row by row. I see a shuttle, shooting from selvedge to selvedge, trailing creamy yarn. I recall past projects, a hand knit tomten hat for my father made of handspun Romney, a lace scarf that now resides in India that I knitted with yarn I'd spun from an angora/wool blend.
            I picture other spinners, from near and far, creating yarn during Spinzilla week. Bolivian women walking to market, packs on their backs, hands busy spinning, their spindles swinging to and fro with every step. I imagine Irene Schmoller of Cotton Clouds, sitting at her wheel, a colorful scarf around her neck. Her legs, encased in matching leggings, are a blur of color as she treadles. I visualize a group of women sitting in a circle at Natural Stitches, a local yarn shop, treadling away as they chat and laugh.
            And in my minds eye, I see the Schacht spinners, my teammates, Denise, Jane, Kate, Paul, Cindy. They're sitting outside under the trees during break, with Ladybugs, Sidekicks, Reeves, or Matchless spinning wheels, spinning away, just like me, on my own Ladybug.

-Deb Brandon
For more of Deb Brandon's work, you can find her in the following places:

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