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This is my new spinning wheel – the Kromski Fantasia! I bought an unfinished version and spent the last weekend painting it all before putting it together. The main reason for getting the unfinished version was that it was quite a lot cheaper – like 20-25% cheaper than the varnished versions and I wasn’t very keen on the look of the varnish finishes. But now it’s finished I love it so much and am very happy I was forced into painting it all.

I’ve been thinking about getting a wheel for about six months and I went back and forth on whether I would really get a lot of use out of one and looking at all the options and repeatedly putting the fantasia into a shop basket but then sleeping on it and deciding to put it off for a little while longer. My main reason for waiting was that I’ve never spun on a wheel and I worried about buying before trying and ending up with something I found uncomfortable. But the only reasonable option for trying out some wheels – the local spinners and weavers guild – wasn’t an option because they only meet on Wednesdays and I’m busy at work. After months of looking though the fantasia had all the features I wanted and was really the only model I could afford. The price jumps up extremely quickly if you want any more exciting options. So I went for it…

…things didn’t start well though. The wheel arrived last week and was left on the doorstep even though we were in at the time. When I found it I saw that the box had clearly been dropped and was badly damaged. There were quite a few more holes than you see below.

On opening the box I was relieved to find that most everything was in ok condition. The instructions were all scrunched up, which does’t matter, but also the wheel itself was damaged which was much more upsetting.

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The damaged part was small though and shouldn’t affect the spinning so I didn’t complain as the only outcome would likely be to have it replaced at much time, stress and expense. I would be painting the wheel anyway so maybe I could try to hide it a bit.

All parts were unfinished and the wooden parts would need different treatment from the MDF wheel. After researching all the options I decided to oil the wood with some sort of curing oil. I chose “worktop” oil in the end which is some blend meant for solid wood kitchen surfaces. It was easy to apply and gives the wood a very subtle pink tinge. I applied 3 coats to all the wooden parts over the course of the weekend.

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lessons learned – use gloves! for the first coat I didn’t bother and I didn’t realise it happening but I ended up with a solidified layer of oil all over my fingers which was very difficult to remove and felt very unpleasant. I used gloves for the remaining coats. Secondly, since I hadn’t put it together yet I didn’t really realise how the pieces fit together and unwittingly oiled shut the slits of the rods connecting the pedals to the wheel. These slits are opened up to put the whole thing together. A pizza wheel worked really well to split them apart again :)

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The wheel is mainly made of MDF and this needs special treatment – you can’t just paint it with whatever you want because of how super absorbent all the fibres are. So first I gave it a coat of MDF sealer which promised I would only need a single, quick-drying coat and then be able to do whatever I wanted. What I wanted was something light and painterly and I dug out a collection of emulsion paint sample pots I bought on sale and have had stashed away for ages. My first attempt looked like this:

when it was dry I flipped it and painted the back and then when that was dry I looked at the front again and decided I wasn’t keen any more on the obvious paint strokes or the hints of yellow. I started to paint a second coat with a fluffier, blended look. I wanted to apply (imitation) gold leaf and rather than wait for a second coat of paint to dry and then glue the gold I thought I would just use the wet paint to stick it. This worked well and I applied a big chunk in one place then tailed it off around the wheel.

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once the paint was dry I brushed off all the loose bits and worked the gold into the grain of the paint for a crackly, distressed look.

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I then applied a coat of spray varnish to seal the gold. This is likely not really needed and I only applied it because we had a half can spare from a different project and I wanted to prevent the fake gold from reacting with moisture in the air. probably I’m being overly cautious and there would never have been any issues but now my mind is at ease.

Then it was just a matter of putting it together!

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This was pretty easy and didn’t take very long. only a couple of bits were tight and difficult to push into place but the instructions were clear and I knew what needed doing at each step.

Ta da!

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and then of course it was time to try it out. It was very squeaky until I gave it all a bit of oil and now it’s running smooth and silently.

My first attempt was a disaster! :)

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I was pedalling like I was on a mountain bike and this wound the wool so much and so tight it was springing all over the place.

In my next attempt I tried to counter this by drafting at high speed to match my manic feet and this worked to a certain extent but the yarn I ended up with is crazily chunky. I went through 100g of wool in an hour and got 53 meters of super chunky stuff that I have no idea what to use for :) it was fun though and I was mostly just getting used to how the whole thing worked. Happily, although the finished yarn is all thick and thin, I seem to have achieved overall consistency – when plying the two 50g chunky, thick and thin singles I ended up with only a very short length of one single left over – the two singles were almost exactly the same length.

I’ve relaxed into it now and am trying some thinner stuff with gentle slow pedalling and it’s going well so far. This fibre is some crazy mix I ordered along with the wheel. it’s got super slippy bits. shiny bits, fluffy crimpy black bits and they all want to go different ways but it’s keeping me on my toes :)

I think spinning thin is the way to go to for me for now just to make the fluff last longer and not run out super quick and have to buy more!