Before you buy that bargain wheel on Craigslist or Ebay

Good morning, and happy Saturday! The holiday gift giving season is upon us which means many aspiring spinners will be getting their first wheels. Just six years ago, I was one of those aspiring spinners looking for his first wheel. It doesn’t feel like it’s been anywhere near that long and yet somehow, in a good way, it seems longer. For the aspiring spinner looking to treat themselves, and even for the non-spinning friend/family member/spouse who may be looking for a gift for an aspiring spinner, used or antique wheels on Craigslist or Ebay can seem like an incredible bargain compared to the prices of many of the brand new spinning wheels on the market. Beware though. There is a LOT to consider when buying a used or antique wheel.

I’ve seen more than my fair share of Craigslist wheels that were in such sad states of disrepair missing the crucial components that make them functional spinning wheels. Many of these may be offered up by non-spinners who know nothing about spinning wheels or how they work. They might have found it in an attic or basement and think that as long as the large wheel turns, it’s a working wheel. Some spinning wheels aren’t even spinning wheels at all. The dreaded SWSO (spinning wheel shaped object) looks like a spinning wheel and even appears to have all the necessary parts, but the flyer and bobbin assembly may lack an orifice or be one solid piece instead of the many moving parts that it should be. Many of these SWSOs are stamped ‘Made in Canada’ and look exactly like this.

They have fooled many an aspiring spinner or well wishing friend, and no matter how much finagling and modifying you try to do, will never be a working spinning wheel.

If you fall into the aspiring-spinner-in-need-of-a-first-wheel category, arm yourself with as much good information and education beforehand as you can. Start by reading Abby Franquemont’s blog post about choosing your first spinning wheel. It is quite possibly the most referred to blog in all of the spinning groups on Ravelry, and for good reason. Still, despite the frequency which aspiring spinners on Ravelry are referred to Abby’s blog, some folks miss it. There are still posts in the spinning groups on Ravelry from aspiring spinners with questions about the spinning wheel they got for a great price on Craigslist or some garage sale or vintage shop. Then they post a picture of the wheel and sadly, it’s another one of those Made in Canada SWSOs.

If you’re really set on starting with an antique or used wheel, you should also check out this really well done video that Abby has done. It’s almost half an hour long, but it will be half an hour well spent.

I was a very lucky boy at Christmas six years ago when a dear friend (a non spinner friend) bought me my first spinning wheel as a Christmas gift. It was indeed a working wheel and we spent a lot of time together. I named him Jeurgen, and he was my introduction to the rabbit hole. After acquiring several more wheels over the next several years, I decided to donate Jeurgen to the Golden Fleece Spinners and Weavers guild to replace their wheel that had long ago gone missing. I’m hoping he will have as much to teach other aspiring spinners as he taught me.

That’s it for this morning. I’m off to spin. Have a great weekend everyone!

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