Being on the Craftsy set with Liz Gipson last year taught me a couple things about spinning wheel maintenance. First off, that a finely tuned spinning wheel should be nearly silent… just a gentle, quiet purr in the background. No squeaking or scraping sounds allowed. And secondly, that white lithium grease is awesome. Here are just a few of the things that I keep in mind as I take care of my spinning wheels:
- quickly clean and lubricate your wheel every time you sit down to spin. I do a quick dusting with a dry microfibre cloth and then wipe the dirty oil off the flyer shaft and bearings before adding a few drops of fresh spinning wheel oil.
- add a bit of white lithium grease (if you have it) when you oil your wheel. It’s a bit thicker in consistency and doesn’t run everywhere, and it helps your bobbins run smoothly, preventing possible take-up issues.
- tie on a new drive band often! I was surprised to hear Liz say that you might consider re-tying your drive band every couple weeks, especially if you spin a lot. At the time, I hadn’t changed my original cotton drive band on my Matchless for 7 years! But re-tying your drive band can help with all sorts of take-up issues. An old drive band stretches out and causes more slippage, making your spinning feel much less efficient. Of course, if you’re using one of those poly/synthetic bands, don’t worry about replacing it all the time… but do take it off the wheel when you’re not spinning so that it doesn’t stretch out.
- no shoes when you spin: you’ll just make your treadles scuffed up and dirty.
- don’t leave your spinning wheel in direct sunlight or super-dry/super-humid environments. Listening to Cindy from Schacht talk on the “Know Your Wheel” videos, she suggests keeping your wheel in an environment where the temperature ideally never changes. Difficult, if not impossible, but that is the goal. It prevents your wheel from warping, getting all bloated and swollen from extra humidity, or cracking from dryness. Be kind to your wheel. The wood in your wheel is still a natural, living thing that swells and shrinks with the environment.
I had intended on sitting down and writing a full-on post about how to maintain your spinning wheel, step-by-step, but decided that there were already lots of fabulous resources out there. Here’s a few that I think are pretty great:
- Interweave’s “Know Your Wheel” video
- “Keep Your Wheel Tuned up for Spinzilla” by Cindy at Schacht Spindle
- Spinning Wheel Spa at Knitty.com
- Spinning Wheel Maintenance videos and articles from the Woolery
Anything else you do routinely to take care of your spinning wheel?