My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.




Yup, the new baby wheel’s name is Maia.

A number of you guessed some variation in spelling of that name: Maja, Maija, Maya, etc.

A lot of you guessed Gemma. When the guesses started coming in and I kept seeing the name “Gemma” pop up I thought “What a pretty name! Isn’t it odd that so many people are arbitrarily guessing it?”

Then it occurred to me . . . um . . . Gemma because she is a Majacraft Gem. Duh! Yes, I am slow sometimes.

And there were guesses of Gemima or Jemima, and gemstones names, like Opal and Pearl. And some for Madge and Marjorie.

Thank you so much, everyone who offered a guess. I loved reading all of your emails! As I got hundreds of them, I can’t answer them all personally, so please consider this a huge thank-you to all of you.

Oh. You want to know who won?

I said that if no one guessed the name with the exact spelling, I’d give the prize to the first person who guessed it with an alternate spelling. That person is . . .


Phyl submitted her guess of Maja just 21 minutes after I posted the blog entry, so she is the clear winner. I know that Phyl does not spin and I also know that she sorta likes the color orange. So instead of sending her the handspun I designated as the prize for a non-spinner, I will spin the Autumn Spice roving into yarn for her.

I did a little test spinning on Maia this evening.


She is a sweet little wheel and spins very nicely!

Speaking of spinning, Kris asked:
Thanks for the brief wheel tutorial but I’m a bit confused sooo….I have a dumb question. I don’t spin (although I dream of spinning one day) which may be obvious in a second. Can you do everything you want to do spinning wise with just one wheel or do you need different wheels for plying, etc.?

A very good question! You certainly don’t need multiple wheels to be able to spin and ply — one wheel will do all that for you. However, some wheels are more versatile than others — offering more options, like a variety of drive ratios.

In a Google seach, I found this page on The Woolery website that talks about how to select a wheel. Also, if any spinners out there would like to weigh in on the subject, please feel free to do so in the comments. I am very much a novice spinner, and approach the whole thing in a very unscientific way.

Hey, Guess What?

We did get the cold air last night. I actually wore a coat today. Yay!

But something I found a bit excessive? I’ve subscribed to the “Alert DC” system so I get immediate text notification and update information on my cell phone during a major crisis or emergency. (That’s their description of the service.) I got an alert today, informing me that there would be freezing temperatures tonight. This is an emergency? Sheesh!

Here’s a picture of this morning’s sunrise. Sandy, I was looking up!




Yup, still plugging away on that first sleeve. But it’s almost done!

Beauty Tips From Lucy

Marta asked:
How does Lucy stay so trim? Portia is, ahem, pleasantly plump. I thought it was a breed characteristic…I guess not. 🙂

Lucy thanks you for noticing how svelte she is.


The King of All Remote Controls and I were discussing how petite Lucy is just the other day. When she first adopted us, she was obviously underweight. She’s put on a little weight since then, but not much. She’s grown a bit as well, but her weight stays under 10 pounds. I think the reason is that she’s just not that interested in food. There are very few treats that tempt her — and she’s even gotten lukewarm about Greenies!. She doesn’t seem to eat very much. I give her a high quality holistic food (Artemis Fresh Mix Adult Cat Formula) as her main diet, so even though she doesn’t eat alot, I know what she’s eating is nutrionally sound. She is also quite active for an indoor kitty, because she is so playful. We play fetch every day — she runs like crazy back and forth chasing her paper ball and gets a good workout! She’s the picture of good health and a very happy kitty.

Have a good weekend!


  1. Lucy is really stunningly gorgeous.

  2. To Kris who asked about wheels – If you want to start w/ a wheel, you can always rent or borrow one. And even cheaper alternative still would be a hand spindle. =)

  3. Fetch sounds like a good game. My two kitties think that “knock over everything in the house” is the best game ever.

  4. Maia fits the little baby well.
    Sharky is a fussy, um, *quality* eater, too. I got her a better brand since I moved out and she wouldn’t touch the other brand now! Still, she’s in no danger of getting overweight, with the small amount she eats.

  5. So far I’ve had three wheels and I haven’t found the perfect one yet.

    I have a Lendrum too and have found it doesn’t “like” to go in the Z (counterclockwise) direction. The scotch tension grabs and sticks sometimes, the bobbin heats up under it, but then it’ll release and spin smoothly, then catch…so it makes plying consistently a bit tricky. But it folds, needs little oiling (I oil the bobbin shaft every time I change the bobbins) and changing bobbins is a very simple affair & doesn’t mess with any of your tension adjustments. I like how it doesn’t have hooks guiding the yarn to the bobbin but an easily adjustable sliding loop for very even loading of the bobbin. I like its range of ratios, but I don’t like that it has to have three different relatively bulky flyers, and two different mothers of all to achieve them. To go to a workshop with it without knowing what you want to spin means taking a separate bag for all the gear, as I can’t fit all three flyers and m.o.a.s in the carrying bag with the wheel. Maybe I’m just a bad packer.

    The Kromski I had had little tidy whorls, and a peg on the base to keep them on, but changing a bobbin meant unscrewing them and interfered with the tension adjustments.

    My Kromski Mazurka (the single treadle version of the Minstrel) went either direction equally smoothly and had a great range of ratios, a small footprint and was very pleasing to the eye, but kind of fidgety. The sweet spot on the treadle took some practice to really “know” it and feel it, and the lightness of the wheel meant that it was prone to tipping in the beginning before I found its balance spot. Yesterday I spun on an Ashford Traditional, and while it is a much heavier wheel with a different style it had much the same feeling in the treadle, a definite balance point on the treadle and in the wheel and prone to reversing if you weren’t sensitive to it. The Mazurka sucks up oil and it’s a bitch to get the dust out of its beautifully turned and assembled wheel. It was a bit tempermental to learn on, but once I did, it was smooth sailing(spinning) but I didn’t feel the speed of production and the ease of use with it that I felt with the Lendrum. Plus, despite its diminutive size, it wasn’t terribly portable.

    I now also have a Louët S17 (their single treadle kit wheel) which I have as a rental wheel for my business, and I think that it is wonderfully smooth at spinning and plying, easy treadling, and I really like its huge bobbins (I got 8oz. on) but it isn’t terribly versatile as far as ratios go. It is bobbin lead and most of the control is really in how fast you treadle, so for an advanced spinner who loves laceweight, it might not suit. They do sell special lace bobbins and there is a way to compensate for its take-in tension by threading through various hooks, but still, I don’t think it’s the perfect wheel. Fun & fast, yes. It’s kind of a new love to me at the moment (I jabber on and on about it in my blog 13Nov05 post, so I won’t max out your comments with it) and like the Mazurka, it is small but doesn’t fold (it is easier to carry around though, the Mazurka had no really clear and easy place to hold it for carrying but the S17 has a sturdiness that says, “Jes’ grab me darlin’, ‘most anywhere.”

    I really want to try one of the Babe wheels. I’ve heard good things about them, and they are relatively cheap.

    I’m really glad you posted about the wheels, b/c ever since I saw you bought a Lendrum so close on the heels of the Minstrel, the curiousity has been killing me.

    Okay, not killing me, because I would have sent an e-mail query before I let it get terminal, but I’ve been wondering why.

  6. I know that Amy over at is also a new spinner and is sharing bits and pieces of her experiences there. As a spinner wannabe (more likely a spinner never-be), I’m fascinated. I hope I get a chance to try it someday.

  7. re: Kitty Weight

    Lucy sure does look good. I guess coat size can be deceiving, however, as I was surprised when I took Perry the Bi-Polar to the vet the other day (for her first visit in 5 years, but she’s only been with me slightly over 1). She weights only 10.4 pounds but looks much heavier. She didn’t kill anyone due to the good fortune of the vet having a kitty-muzzle/blinder and we got though without the disaster I feared. And guess what? The vet stocks GREENIES (I never got my free sample). Perry loves them and has already (after only 3 days) learned the sound of the bag coming out of the pantry!

    Thanks to you and FK Deb for letting us all know about them. Perry sends regards to Lucy and the P-man (she’s frugal and won’t spend for 2 “stamps”).

  8. Only one out of our five cats is overweight. They are all extremely playful and we use the flashlight (they love), the wire with cardboard at the ends (they love), catnip bubbles (some love, some hide), and one plays fetch. The problem with the paper balls he fetches is that he taught himself to bring us our old mail tossed in the open garbage can.

  9. That is soo like people in this area to think freezing temps are an emergency. I’m from Utah but I go to school in DC, and I laugh my head off every time we get a snow day for 1/2 inch of snow. . . or the threat of snow, even. Winter really makes these people panic! But hey, when this city shuts down it means more time for us to sit inside with some hot chocolate and knit!!

  10. Even tho my P-Man has that “beefy” look he’s really pretty petite, under 10 pounds. It’s the breed’s “cobby” body shape that gives him that roundish shape but even the vet says he’s petite for a male cat…on a side note we now have so many treats thanks to certain well meaning blog friends, he’s rapidly on his way to becoming a 400 pound cat 🙂

    Pumpkin says thanks for the shout out, Perry!
    and to Lucy…meeeyow baybee…petite is good….rrrrrrowr….

  11. So, it really does all boil down to eating less and lots of exercise.

    How depressing.

    I have an Ashford Traditional and I can do it all on the one wheel. I keep saying that I am going to purchase a Wool-Lee Winder but cannot seem to follow through on that. I do want a Lendrum folding wheel because I attend a sit & spin directly after work and the Traddy cannot go in the trunk so I have to pay a ridiculous amount of money to park in a secured lot. The Lendrum will save me parking money. That’s my story and I am sticking with it.

  12. Yes, the weather is an emergency. It’s freezing out there. My tootsies might get cold!

  13. Susan Maurer says:

    I’ve been knitting 20+ years and spinning a little over 10 years. In my experience, while different spinning wheels offer a range of ratios and certainly have different feels about them (even wheel to wheel of same make by same manufacturer), I own two because I wanted a portable second wheel and also, like building a yarn stash, I just had to have another one. My spinning teacher owns at least 10 or more, but not just because she’s a teacher. Most of my friends who spin own a second, third or fourth wheel “just because.” I think just like we alternate projects in knitting cuz we get tired of lace or garter stitch or fair isle after a time and need the switch, there’s a similarity to that logic in wheels. We just like the look and feel of different wheels, when it comes right down to it. While I only own two wheels, I own well over 20+ drop spindles. (Pocketbook factor applied to that one.) But now that I’ve seen the red Katarina, well the temptation is grand. And Christmas is coming. 🙂

  14. Thanks for answering my question. I am fascinated by spinning but it just seems so “out there”. My big plan is to learn to spin after we finally moved and “The Toddler” turns two…. or maybe two and half. We’ll see, but spinning is in my future!

  15. Hi guys… I had a diabetic cat for two years (he died of something totally unrelated at the age of 16) and learned a lot about cat nutrition. Lots of house cats are fat not only b/c they are eating too much and not excersizing (gasp!), they’re also eating the wrong thing. Cats aren’t meant to eat corn & wheat, and that’s what’s in most dry cat food.

    I know I tend to get a little nuts on this subject, so I’ll keep it as short as possible… but Wendy, I know you’ve mentioned before that Lucy eats Fancy Feast, I bet eating that and not much dry food is what helps keep her svelte figure.

    Anyway I’ll shut up now.. there’s more food info at and

  16. What a pretty name for your new wheel. Lucy is obviously lovely and well loved, which I’m sure she knows. You have a good weekend too.

  17. I am somewhat unusual as a spinner in that I am a “one-wheel woman”, LOL. I started with an Ashford Traveller double-treadle. I loved that wheel – it was my first wheel, easy to learn on, and it would spin very easily. Eventually, though, I got tired of the small Ashford bobbins and the fact that I needed to remove the driveband every time I changed bobbins (I think this is because it was a double drive wheel).

    Then I discovered the Majacraft wheels and bought a used Suzie sight unseen. I *love* the Suzie and think it’s probably the only wheel I’ll need. I eventually sold the Traveller (I was a little sad to see it go, but I wasn’t using it any more). I really like the big Majacraft bobbins, the treadle action, and the fact that they require little or no oiling. And overall I find the scotch tension to be easier to adjust and less fiddly than the double drive. If I were going for looks, I would have picked the Rose, but I liked that the Suzie has pegs to store 3 extra bobbins on the wheel.

  18. Freezing Emergency

    The first freeze of the winter could be a big emergency if you’ve still got house plants outside, or haven’t covered up the tender portions of your garden.

    after that, they’re just a bunch of sissies.

  19. Wheels? Because once you start spinning, collecting wheels becomes a lot like collecting yarn and fiber. Irresistible.

    There are wheels that do different things better, but those of us who have an all-purpose wheel like a Lendrum upright or a Suzie or a Schacht really have very little excuse. Not that that stops us.

  20. OH LANDS! I won! I won! I WON! ***doing a crazy yarn dance!***

    Wendy YOU ROCK! Thank you for such a wonderful prize!

  21. Hi Wendy. You said your spinning wasn’t that great but I think it looks cool. Spinning seems to be something that no one thinks they are good at. I started as a spinner because I had no where to put all my sheep’s wool (cotswold), then I started knitting because i got tired of people commenting on my yarn and then asking what i meant to do with it only to see the empty, startled expression some refer to as panic. Consequently, I am much happier with my yarns than I am with my yarn goods. somehow, with the help of a few awesome knitting kittens and blogs for support, I will make something that is worthy of the yarn. Hope you love your little majacraft.