I was asked in the comment section of my previous post why I chose the Sonata so I figured instead of writing a huge long reply I would just make it into a post…
I have been spinning for about two years now and in that time I have owned 4 wheels (a Louet S-10 single treadle, Ashford Joy DT, Ashford Kiwi and now a Kromski Sonata). Some may say that’s a lot of wheels in a short time but I don’t think so, I’m trying to find the right wheel for me and it’s been a bit of trial and error but a great learning experience! So far I think I have a good combination with the Sonata as my portable and the Kiwi as my stay at home and with the jumbo head the wheel I do all my plying on.
There are still a few wheels out there that have caught my eye so I will probably at some point decide to switch things up or just accept my fate as Gadget Junkie and start a collection of wheels. A friend once joked that my Dad had raised me well by instilling in me a fascination with mechanics, engineering and general all around tinkering as my earlier interest in fixing cars has turned into an interest in building a better wheel…Rachel H- consider this my application to be your first shop grunt.
Enough with that, onto the question at hand! The Sonata won out over some stiff competition…Louet had the Victoria (S95) coming out at the same time, there was the Little Gem by Majacraft (which Denny owns), the Canadian made Lendrum (Laura‘s wheel), and then there are all the custom wheels like Merlin Tree’s the Hitchhiker and Robin Wheels Wee Robin both of which I was able to test run at Rhinebeck.
I spent a chunk of time lurking around various Yahoo groups reading opinions and reviews of different wheels, looking at the manufacturers websites as well as talking to every spinner I know and I put together all this information with my own wheel experiences and narrowed down the list. Issues like space in my tiny bungalow is at a premium and I have a toddler who is a budding spinner (Rachel H pointed out her hand reaching for the wheel in the previous post) had to be taken into account as well. So the wheel needed to be small enough to be tucked out of the way but not so small when folded out that I felt crowded and also be able to cope with a toddler.
Louets Victoria was leading the list until I was able to get a hold of some measurements…it’s shorter (not by much mind you) than the Joy and I sold my Joy because I found the treadles were too small for my size 9 feet and I felt like I was “spinning into the orifice”, (Louet addressed that concern by designing the wheel so that the flyer tilted up).
The treadle set up on the Victoria is similar to the Lendrum in that the treadles are connected to one “drive shaft” which is then connected to the wheel, this ended up being the “thing” that took both the Lendrum and Victoria off the list as I just don’t like how that type of set up feels when spinning and I feel as though I don’t have as much control when treadling. It’s totally a personal quirk, I really like having two separate “drive shafts”, one for each treadle that are connected to the wheel.
Next up was the Little Gem, it’s a pretty wheel and I even found a review that mentioned how it was toddler friendly as there were virtually no small or moving parts for Jr. to get into. It sounded great! I was all for getting one until one Knit Night a bunch of us were talking wheels and I said how I equated my Joy to a temperamental teenager (it was finicky and I was quite convinced that it did the absolute opposite of what I wanted it to just out of spite!) and that was why I was looking to sell it and get something less cantankerous. Denny said that that was precisely why she liked her Little Gem, she found the fine tuning a bit of an exciting challenge. So the Gem was off the list.
The Hitch Hiker went off the list only because it is a single treadle and I’m a hardcore DT gal. It was a great spin when I gave it a go at Rhinebeck!
The Wee Robin came off the list simply because of price, it’s about 1200$ US and the length of the wait list (last I heard was about 3 years)…it’s a beautiful wheel and you can totally see that Gilbert put a lot of thought into both form and function. This was a hard decision as I really loved spinning on this wheel at Rhinebeck and had to seriously think about not putting down a deposit. I do hope to one day have one of his wheels but it will have to wait till I have a safe place (read: studio/conservatory) for it.
By process of elimination I was left with the Sonata, I checked the measurements and it had a good orifice height, the treadles were well spaced apart, of a good size and they were individually connected to the wheel just the way I like it. There are also “Add Ons” like a fast flyer and a jumbo head The foot print was a good size and looked quite stable and finally the wheel had a “Look” I liked…everything was in it’s favor even the price was good for me. There were only two things holding me back: the bag was an extra 120$US and there wasn’t a dealer close enough for me to give it a test run as the three Canadian dealers are a few provinces away. The extra cost of the bag was easily fixed when I found Copper Moose had a holiday special that included the carry bag but I was still a bit nervous about buying without a test run. Then I came across a “if you knew now what you knew then” thread about buying your first wheel on one of the spinning groups and there were a lot of opinions on all sorts of wheels and Kromski wheels came up a lot. As I was making my way through all those opinions another thread about portable wheels came up on another board and the first wave of Sonata’s had been shipped out by this time so there were comparisons being made between the Sonata and other portable wheels that helped me even more so I placed the order with Copper Moose.
The Woolery has recently added a really great page on their website that gives the stats of the four different folding wheels they sell and I suggest people start there if they are looking for a folding wheel.