After Woolfest, I decided I was to treat myself. For ages I'd been looking at the new Bliss wheels, made by Louet forWoolmakers. The clean lines are just what I like in a wheel, I'm not a fan of wheels trying to look old when they're brand new. It was also single treadle, with nice big bobbins, and a very sensible price.
It arrived a couple of days before Fibre East, and was taken with me to spin on over the weekend.
I've had a bit of a play on it since then and these are the first finished skeins.
They're Shetland, dyed by the lovely Amanda from MandaCrafts. Even though I have more fibre than I can shake a stick at, I do enjoy spinning things from other dyers. They stock different fibre to me, and have different colour palettes. It's a bit like cooking, sometimes it's just nice to eat something you've not cooked for yourself!
This is my default DK weight, nothing fancy, nothing technically challenging, just a chance to see how the Bliss spins, and to run it in. I also wanted to see how much I could fit on a bobbin, the big skein is a whopping 145g, so the bobbins will hold a huge amount.
The wheel itself spins beautifully, there's lots to like about it, and very little that I'm not so fond of. One of the big plus points in the price, until September 1st they're available for just over £200 including delivery. You do have to assemble the wheel yourself, it comes in a tiny box, but they provide the screwdriver and it wasn't hard.
I love that the hooks are properly offset, you can fill a bobbin really evenly as the hooks on opposite sides of the flyer don't line up perfectly. a great many more expensive brands (cough Schacht!) don't bother to do that with their flyer. (ETA it might be that the newer Schacht flyers do now come with offset hooks, mine is 25 years old and doesn't)
It's got sealed bearings so the only thing that needs oiling is the treadle, and the bobbin shaft. As I've already said the bobbins themselves are huge, they dwarf the standard Ashford ones. The bobbin storage itself is really good, I refuse to call it an in-built Kate as it's not convenient to ply from, though it's possible to use it that way. The bobbins also have a little slot you can use to poke your leader through so you don't need to knot the leader on. It's a nice little touch and shows someone has thought about the little details.
The ratio's are excellent, the slowest at 1:6.5 rivals the slow ratio on my art yarn wheel, and the orifice is nice and large so it would work well for spinning thicker or more textured yarns. The fastest ratio is 1:18.5, which is faster than the standard ratios on my Matchless, it rivals what I achieve with the super high speed whorl, and it feels fantastically fast. They also supply an orifice reducer for spinning finer yarns and reducing the vibration as the yarn passes through the orifice. There are another 2 ratios in between those so you're covered to spin anything from bulky to laceweight without having to treadle like a mad woman, or battle to draft fast enough.
My only minor dislike is the Scotch tension, it was changed from the test wheels that were sent out, and I still don't think it's quite right. You can't do fine adjustments to the tension very easily, and if you're not careful you risk catching the end of the flyer on the non-spring side of the tension band. In a wheel with so many clever and thoughtful touches it just doesn't quite sit right, and I can't help but wish for a slightly more elegant system.
The Bliss definitely attracted a lot of attention while I was out and about at both Fibre East, and the guild summer school. Quite a few people spun on her and everyone was impressed with the smooth spinning, some weren't keen on the looks, but everyone was very impressed with the value for money. At £200 you get a lot of wheel, and quite a few experienced spinners who teach were considering getting one as a teaching wheel.
Woolmakers are doing that very continental thing of having a month off for a summer holiday right now, so you can't place orders until they get back on August 19th.
I think the Bliss might get a lot of use over the next few months, not least because I'm going to have my Matchless set up to have a go at the Longest Thread for 2015.