Saturday, January 8, 2011

Spinning Wheel Shopping

My kitchen doesn't look like an episode of hoarders anymore, so I feel that I can come back to posting.  Louie has just had her last dose of antibiotics, and we are both relieved.  Well, I am. . . she would be if she understood what I was saying when I told her it was the last one!  Mostly she's just snoozing in a cardboard box under the table.

On Thursday evening, I went straight from work after applying some mascara, slapping my face several times (not really), and changing into a sweater instead of my usual work kangaruchka*.

*My Russian Russian professor (as opposed to the American Russian professors I had) told us that a hooded sweatshirt with a pocket on the belly is called colloquially a kangaruchka.  I hope she wasn't making that up, because it's the cutest.  Get it, like a kangaroo?

My semi-local spinning shop is about half an hour from my house, and is run out of the owner's home.  We spoke a few times over the phone, arranging my visit and whatnot.  She asked which wheels I wanted to try, and I said "The Kromski Sonata, and. . . probably the Majacraft wheels just for the heck of it because they're so beautiful!"  The owner is a distributor for most of the major spinning wheel manufacturers, teaches classes, and raises alpacas and sheep.  She is very sweet and we chatted about everything from dogs to spinning and back to dogs while I spun - her elderly golden retriever kept coming in to snuggle.  She was also very, very patient with me!  The owner, not the dog.
I went over thinking that I was going to fall madly in love with the Kromski Sonata, and assuming that I'd be bringing one home with me that very night.  The Sonata was indeed lovely, and although I have no spinning wheel experience to speak of I found it very pleasant to spin on.  It's a beautiful mix of old and new fashions, with traditional lines but an efficient, foldable castle structure and a well-padded carry bag.  The factory finishes were all stunning, and I would have gone straight for the Mahogany (to match my harp, of course) if all my best laid plans had not been derailed. 

We spun in the living room, where all of her wheels live.  I tried hers, rather than any she had stored away in stock, because they were all set up.  I played with the Sonata and loved it, and thought it was just lovely.  I did have an occasional sensation of vertigo, which for me is often brought on as a combination of having my head bowed with bad upper back posture - understandable yet intimidating for spinning on a wheel.  I had some panicked moments where I wondered if it would happen with all the wheels, and if maybe I just shouldn't be thinking about buying one.

But the more I spun, the more I loved it.  I've never spun on a wheel for more than a couple of minutes, but it was so calming and enjoyable and so fast after spinning only with one small drop spindle.  I lifted my head to take a break, and my eyes caught on the Majacraft Rose.  "Do you want to try it?" she asked me.  "Oh, sure," I said, thinking it would be good research, anyway.  It would be nice to know why people speak so reverently of them.

I spun for a bit on the Rose and then tore myself away and went back to the Sonata.  Both wheels were fantastic to use, but there was no way I was letting myself consider the Rose.  I spun and spun, and switched back to the Rose.  I thought about what finish I would get for the Sonata, and then I went back to the Rose again.  I put both wheels beside each other, set up and with tails of roving hanging down ready to be spun.  I spun on the Rose, and I switched to the Sonata like I had to go from one to the other as quickly as possible - the owner of the shop laughed with me.  On the Sonata I got vertigo.  I switched back to the Rose and it went away.  I switched to the Sonata and got vertigo.  I switched to the Rose and it was like we were soul-mates and I got all warm in my belly like it was meant to be.  I won't say I heard angels singing, but that's only because it would make me sound like a crazy person.
 I was fully expecting to want something more traditional looking like the Sonata, with its classic tapered spokes, round orifice and hook, and the multiple hooks on the flyer.  Surprise!

"Yeah," I said, somewhat ruefully, "It's this one."  I didn't stop spinning on the Rose until I had to get my purse and write a check for the deposit so she could order one for me.

The nicest thing about the whole experience was that the shop owner was so patient and never said a word trying to influence me one way or another.  She has been spinning on her Rose for more than fifteen years, and she loves her Sonata for traveling.  Up until I made it clear that I was really considering the Rose, she was all about the Sonata - telling me how good a value it is for the money, and how great the bag is, and how well it spins.  Very delicately, she was reassuring me that if I didn't have the money for a more expensive wheel, I would have no regrets about the Sonata.  I don't mean she assumed I was poor, but I'm young and the economy is the worst, and she was very tactful.  I think that a sales strategy like that is just wonderful.  Once I decided on the Rose,  she admitted that it is one of the most versatile wheels on the market, and that I would never outgrow it.
She also told me exactly what she did not like about both wheels.  Her only complaint for the Rose is that the flier will bump the left pedal when the wheel is folded up, and it can leave a mark.  For the Sonata. . . I honestly can't remember now, I am so fixated on my once and future Rose.

Yes, those are cracks in the soundboard.
As to how I am justifying the expense to myself. . . maybe someday, I'll tell you the story of The Harp Lesson, as we like to call it.  The much-shortened version of the Harp Lesson is: If you're in the market for a harp, get the one you want with a warranty from a real store, no matter how much money you think you can save by buying one on Craigslist from a family who seems nice and then keeps $3,000 of your money because you were naive and thought that because they have two young daughters of their own they wouldn't swindle you by selling you damaged goods.  Yeah, that really is the much-shortened version. . . it's actually much more dramatic than all that.  It goes without saying that there were tears and discussions of legal action and all of that fun mess.

The even more shortened version: If you want something, get it good.  Get it from a reputable source, save up if you can't afford it to start, and don't short-change yourself in the name of being overly responsible with money.  I try to keep the Harp Lesson to heart, and Chris (the Boy I spoke of) reminds me constantly that I work hard for my money and shouldn't feel guilty for making good investments.  Look at me, justifying my purchases to a blog audience.  Must be time to go and do some belated Christmas knitting (I'd tell you what it is, but it's a secret!) while being delighted by the second half of Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth, of course).

If anyone in the New England area wants the name of the spinning shop I posted about, please comment or e-mail me!  I'd be happy to share, I am just overly cautious about privacy on the internet.
And to see some beautiful photos of the Majacraft Rose, pop over to Hello Yarn - a blog I found with the most stunning pictures!


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