I've decided to wait until May to get a new wheel. Don't let this statement mislead you, though, because I've spent hours doing research and pestering people like Rachael for advice on smaller wheels. That's the problem, really. An Ashford Traditional is small, yes, but like a lot of Saxony wheels, it does still take up a lot of space because of its width, and I need something with less width. Since Rachael posted about getting a Merlin Tree Hitch Hiker--and her subsequent woes and resolution of same--I've been intrigued by the cute baby wheel idea. The downside, according to Rachael, is that if you're tall, you'll probably have to slouch uncomfortably to accomodate the Hitch Hiker's diminutive proportions. Rachael is tall. I'm tall-ish. So that means the Hitch Hiker and I probably might not be suited to each other, even though its small footprint and small pricetag are quite an inducement. I intend to test these guys at Maryland Sheep and Wool in May and see how much slouching is required. She also suggested trying something like an Ashford Kiwi, which also has a fairly small footprint and pricetag, and the added bonus of not having to slouch. That's another one on my test list.
May is such a long time away, though! In the meantime, what do I do? Etsy is home to about a billion creative people, a good number of whom sell gorgeous things; I'll keep my opinion about the so-called "upcycled suitcase pet bed" to myself... ahem. My main interest, though, is drop spindles, which cost about 1/4 as much as a spinning wheel at most.. unless you're looking at Golding spindles, and they're not on Etsy anyway. *sigh*
So. Spindles. I blundered into a Ravelry group devoted to this subject--one of several, I might add--and looked at pictures until my eyes couldn't focus anymore. And then I went back to Etsy and looked some more. And finally settled on a fire agate top-whorl spindle with a black rosewood shaft. It weighs slightly more than 1.5 oz and is delightful to look at. Does it spin? Hell, yes. Does it spin well? Definitely. And Maiysha does such a wonderful job of packing the spindles, it almost seems a pity to undo it all to get the thing out of its carefully secured nest of bubblewrap and tissue paper. And then there's the fiber she sent with it: a little bit more than half an ounce of her hand dyed mulberry silk (see picture to the left). I've never worked with pure silk before, so this is going to be a challenge which, I think, I'll put off until I've succeeded in re-learning the use of a drop spindle. She also sent a handcarded bit of roving with--hee!--some sparkly stuff in it. This, too, will wait until I've mastered spindle spinning. It's too gorgeous... and too fluffy... and.. and.. *sigh* I want one of everything in her Etsy shop. I tried spinning a tiny bit of the silk and it came out with a few little bloops of fiber where I didn't draft it quite as evenly.. but.. but.. it's like embroidery thread, it's so thin. O.o Wow. I guess I'm a little beyond the park-and-draft stage, but.. barely.
I'd also been dithering over the Banksia pod spindles I saw. On Etsy, of course. Banksia pods come from Australia and have all sorts of neat holes and textured bits where their petals/needles/quills used to be. I dithered too long, alas, and the one I loved most was snapped up before I could get up the nerve to buy it; in the meantime, the young man responsible for creating the spindles posted a beautifully finished cedar spindle with a curly maple shaft. And, of course, I completely fell in love with it and dithered. And then I bought it. It, too, arrived today. It weighs a little bit less than the fire agate spindle, but it spins... and spins... and spins...
I tried spinning a wee bit of some of the Corriedale/bamboo blend I started fiddling with a couple weeks ago, and I'm really enjoying it. I have to figure out how to draft a little less aggressively, though, because the yarn I'm spinning is so thin it'll probably produce lace weight yarn after it's plied. Which is fine, really, 'cause you can never have too much lace weight yarn. Really. Promise.
I think I should be in good shape until May, at which point I'll probably skip buying a wheel altogether and get a Bosworth spindle.... and a Golding spindle.... and... and... *sigh* I think I need a bigger vase to accomodate the impending growth of my collection.