I've been looking at wheels for at least a year now. I've been looking seriously for the last six months, budgeting and saving every penny I could. The wheel that caught my attention (the Schacht Matchless) felt like it would be forever out of reach. It has a weighty price tag (around $1000 for the Double Treadle model) and all its upgrades and extras are proportionately priced. As I felt more and more pinched by watching each penny (resisting those gorgeous yarns and fibers I saw on a daily basis), it felt like owning a wheel would be well out of reach for another year or two.
My husband has been watching me, listening as I gathered information and prepared spreadsheets of pros and cons, looked at relative prices and features, and generally analyzed everything. When I agonized whether to save for the Schacht Ladybug or the Matchless, he stated, "You shouldn't short yourself on this. It should be like a piece of furniture: really nice and expected to last twenty years or more." He argued for the Matchless. I waffled, knowing the difference in price was another year of saving.
I was also waiting for the Black Sheep Gathering. We have wonderful yarn stores in town. There is a wide range of wheels available, but it isn't everything. Ashford is very well represented, and you can easily find Schacht and Kromski as well. But that leaves out Majacraft, Lendrum, Fricke, and a host of other wheels. All of which you can find at the Black Sheep Gathering.
Saturday was my day at the gathering and I spent it well, spinning on every single wheel there at least once. After trying the Lendrum DT at Carolina Homespun I returned to try it three more times. Saturday night I discussed it with my husband and he finally said, "You should go get it." I'm sure I looked a bit stunned and argued a bit, but in the end he reassured me, "You've done due diligence on this. Buy it. Work out the budgeting over time."
She earned her name in part from my daughter, who was much taken with the Ladybug. When she spotted the "Made in Canada" sticker on the Lendrum, she immediately asked, "Is this a 'Maple'?" But I think she is a Mabel (start at 4:15), singing sweetly while she spins.
Cris at Into the Whirled. Merino is really lovely in your hands as you spin. It's so very soft and drafts beautifully. I found myself able to move into a very fast drafting pattern and loosen up enough to do a full long-draw (something that is extremely difficult to learn to do on a drop spindle). Since I wasn't particularly consistent, this yarn is thick in some spots and thin in others without any real logic. But that's fine. It's enough to make a Quant (Ravelry link), I think.
Now I'm working on some white "Romney" I had processed last year. I'm still just playing, but I'd like to settle down and spin enough of this for a sweater. I'm not sure if I'll work on it during the Tour de Fleece or not. The kids have just gotten to a stage where they seem to really enjoy playing out in the back yard with the hose and water toys and I can watch them from inside while spinning and working on the laundry. Otherwise, Mabel will only be out at night, well after most of the house is asleep.