How Asking for Help Made My Newest Hobby More Enjoyable

I received a second-hand spinning wheel from a generous friend back at the beginning of March. This little wheel, a Victoria by Louët, is portable. It folds up into a carrying case, so it requires some assembly before you can use it. As a beginning spinner, I had only used a wheel once before I received this gift, so I was proud of myself for being able to follow the instructions and set the wheel up all by myself. I even managed to spin a little, although I got frustrated when strange things began to happen. Because I was visiting friends, I put the wheel away, figuring I would solve my spinning problems after my trip was over.

My new used spinning wheel!
My new used spinning wheel!

When I got home, I started by learning more about spinning wheels. I found out my wheel was flyer driven and had Scotch tension. I discovered that many wheels have knobs for adjusting the drive band tension, but mine doesn’t. I learned in general how a spinning wheel works and marveled at the simplicity and ingenuity of it.

Thinking I now knew enough, I set up my wheel again and tried to get it going. I had more problems and thanks to what I’d learned, realized that my wheel needed some parts replaced. The drive band was hopping from one pulley to another whenever it felt like it and the adjustable hooks on the flyer were too loose, sliding when they were meant to stay put.

I ordered parts from the nearest Louët dealer and waited while they made their way from Holland to Colorado. I thought often of the wheel in its case, but knew that there was no point in messing with it. I knitted instead and waited as patiently as I could. My parts finally arrived at the store this week.

I made the hour-long drive down to Boulder with my wheel in the car. My excuse for going to get the parts instead of having them mailed to me was so I could make sure that they fit. Also, I wanted to pick up some other spinning tools I needed that I knew they would have.

But the real reason for making the trip was so I could get some help.

Asking for help is not natural to me. I want to be a pioneer woman, to be completely, impossibly self-sufficient. I had hoped I could figure everything out by myself, but I couldn’t. With the right help, I could make sure the wheel was operating properly. That way, any problems I had would most likely be due to my inexperience and I could focus on my technique without being confused by issues caused by faulty equipment.

Fortunately, the staff of Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins is wonderful. They made asking for help easy for me. They love fiber and know everything there is to know about yarn, from spinning and dyeing it, to weaving, knitting, and crocheting with it. In less than half an hour, my wheel had its new parts, was tuned up and whirring along, with me in the driver’s seat! I also learned some things about maintaining and adjusting my wheel without feeling like an idiot in the process.

Look, Ma! I can spin!!
Look, Ma! I can spin!!

I brought my wheel home and got to spend a couple hours spinning yesterday. I had a few minor problems at first, but they were all my fault, and I knew that for certain because I could trust my wheel was working properly. So I adjusted and went on, filling the bobbin up, amazed at how much faster spinning on a wheel is than with a hand spindle.

I was enjoying my new spinning wheel at last, because I was willing to ask for a little expert help.

My first-ever bobbin spun on my new wheel.
My first-ever bobbin spun on my new wheel.
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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

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