I had emailed The Bellwether (based here in Washington) to see if she had a wheel available for me to test. I had done lots of research and felt that the Bee was the best choice for me as far as ratios and versatility goes. This wheel is not to replace my Kiwi, but more to allow me to spin while on vacation and traveling. Sock Summit especially, since I have a few spinning classes that I signed up for.
|The Spinolution Queen Bee|
The Bee is manufactured here in the US by Spinolution, and I have been pleased to see that they are still making amazing things. (OMG, have you seen their Loom ideas?!?!) The Queen Bee is a variation on the original Bee model, that had issues with the treadling mechanism being gouged by a screw (or so I've heard). The Queen Bee takes care of that issue while still preserving the 9 ratios, yes, NINE, from 1:5 to 1:36. For a girl coming from a Kiwi, with 2 ratios on the original orientation, this is a major evolution in spinning. Alcariel, from Round the Twist has one and has been raving about it for about a year in her video blog, so clearly I am in good company.
It's a folding wheel, with a clever little mechanism that allows you to lower the entire orifice and maiden mechanism into a rectangular shape that can fit inside a small suitcase. (12x19x9 inches in dimension, folded)
So I did first try spinning it on the lowest ratio, just because I had been in a car for 2.5 hours, and didn't wanna break it or myself. Amelia of the Bellwether was wonderful, and showed me all the ways it can change ratios and what I would be dealing with. First off, the treadling is so smooth. It's an interesting orientation because there is a foot rest for your heels, and then the actual treadles are smaller bits that use a rocking motion (side to side, not front to back like the Kiwi)
The treadling is smooth, and the pegs (not hooks) are located on the same side of the flyer, which means I will have an easier time threading the singles in order to spin finer yarns (Cobweb Lace, here I come!!!!). On the Kiwi, the hooks are located on opposite sides of the flyer (and what I mean by this is that if you have the flyer flat, you will only see one set of hooks on top, and the other is on the bottom of the other arm of the flyer, whereas the Bee has pegs that face the same direction on both sides)
Yes, I did spin on the 36:1 ratio as well. And it didn't kill me, despite seeming like it was going 50 or 60 million miles per hour. :) I can see super fine yarns in my future with this wheel.
This was a sweet girl to spin on. I loved that Amelia broke out some really nice merino for me to spin, and she was a really wonderful person
I am now halfway saved up to buy the wheel and a few extra bobbins. Halfway. 2 more paychecks and I will be able to afford to buy my wheel in cash. How cool is that? And if I play my cards right (which I really do need to do) I will have this wheel before I leave for Sock Summit, and my 4 hour spinning class with Judith Mackenzie. This is a big deal for me.
Please, if you have the opportunity, you should buy from Amelia at the Bellwether. She is a wonderful resource and an amazingly knowledgable spinner, weaver, sheep farmer (I got to meet her 3 Soay Rams. :D ) and all around wonderful and sweet lady. She even gave me some Soay sheep fleece to play with for my Sheep Study. Isn't that wonderful? I highly recommend her for your fibery and Spinolution needs.
And to be sure, I will be posting about this wheel once she is in my hot little hands.