This is a straight-to-the-point guide to choosing the best spinning wheel. If you are a fiber artist – a knitter, crocheter, or weaver, for example, and you want to take your craft to the next level, the single best way to do this is by spinning your very own yarn.
The joy of blending your own colors and textures, of two or more ply and then handmaking something unique and beautiful with yarn you’ve handspun, can never be matched by using a store-bought yarn.
While it must be said, that spinning is an art that does take a little practice to learn the various techniques – it is technically easier to set up and use a spinning wheel than it might first appear.
And one of the best things about it is that there is a real charm in the slightly uneven or slubby homespun yarns you produce.
Get yourself a good tapestry loom and you can make some stunning projects with it. After all, if you wanted perfectly uniform yarn you might as well have just bought it from a store.
And if you’d like a free printable yarn label, please do hop over to our free printable page.
So if you like the idea of spinning your own yarn but you’re a little bewildered by the many different makes and styles of spinning wheels out there, don’t worry, we are here to guide you through them. We’ll take a look at the best ones out there, and help you choose the right one for you.
To get started, let’s get familiar with the most common types of spinning wheels out there and that we have compared in this guide:
The Saxony Spinning Wheel
The Saxony spinning wheel is easily recognizable by the placement of the wheel which is positioned at one end of a sloping frame. This gives the Saxony its horizontal appearance.
It has the largest footprint of all the commonly used styles so it does take up a little room.
The Castle Spinning Wheel
Castle Spinning Wheels are distinguishable by their compact, vertical appearance. As you can see to the right, the flyer is positioned above the wheel.
Modern Spinning Wheels
Designed to improve on traditional spinning wheels, modern spinning wheels come in a variety of non-traditional styles.
Since electric spinning wheels don’t require a flywheel or foot peddle to work, their compact size makes them great for traveling and easy to store away.
They are super fast and are easy to learn – since they don’t require the simultaneous hand and foot coordination required by traditional spinning wheels.
Charkhas are the oldest known type of spinning wheel. Worked on a tabletop or often on the floor, they have a hand-turned wheel and the yarn is spun off the tip of the spindle. They are more of a specialized niche and most suitable for spinning cotton and other fine fibers.
|Our Top Pick – Best Affordable Option / Best for Beginners||Ashford Kiwi Spinning Wheel 3|
|Best Saxony Spinning Wheel for Beginners to Advanced Spinners||The Ashford Traditional|
|Best Affordable/Alternative Saxony Style Spinning Wheel||Kromski Prelude|
|Best Castle Spinning Wheel||Ashford Traveller Spinning Wheel|
|Best Electric Spinning Wheel||Ashford E-Spinner 3|
Click below to jump to each section in this guide.
- Our Top Pick – Best Affordable Option / Best for Beginners
- Best Saxony Spinning Wheel for Beginners to Advanced Spinners
- Best Affordable/Alternative Saxony Style Spinning Wheel
- Best Castle Spinning Wheel
- Best Electric Spinning Wheel
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Other Spinning Wheels We’ve Reviewed
Our Top Pick – Best Affordable Option / Best for Beginners: Ashford Kiwi Spinning Wheel 3
Ideal for all skill levels including complete beginners, the new Kiwi 3 is a nice step up from the ever-popular Kiwi 2. It can now be adjusted to 3 (instead of 2) different single drive ratios, (I’ll talk more about that in a second). It’s also now foldable, having folding treadles for portability and easy storage.
As far as affordability goes, the Kiwi spinning wheel costs quite a lot less in comparison with many spinning wheels on the market. But that doesn’t mean there’s a compromise on features or quality. In fact, the new Kiwi 3 has a veneered wood finish on the flywheel, and that’s again, another step up from the Kiwi 2.
It’s super easy to use, having easy-learning ratios. This means the take-up won’t be too fast while you’re getting used to the spinning process. The 5.5, 7.5, and 9.5 to 1 flyer ratios are a measurement of how many times the flyer or bobbin spins per single revolution of the wheel. The higher the ratio the faster the yarn twists.
Generally speaking, you need a higher ratio for finer yarns, which require more twists, and a lower ratio for chunky yarns. So you see going fast isn’t always an advantage and this spinning wheel is great for spinners who want to spin chunky yarns or those just starting out in the craft. And if you get creative and want to spin either finer or super chunky yarns later on? There’s an inexpensive adapter kit to give you ratios of 7.5, 10, and 15 to 1 – suitable for finer yarns or you can add a super flyer kit with a huge 1⅛ inch orifice for spinning jumbo-sized yarns.
The double treadles are a nice feature too as they are easier on the legs and hips than a single treadle would be.
This single-drive, (Scotch tension) spinning wheel comes with 3 large 4-5ozs bobbins and a built-in Lazy Kate.
And lastly, the central flyer is great for either right and left-handed spinners.
What We Like:
- Great for Beginners or for Thicker Yarns | The 5.5, 7.5 and 9.5 to 1 flyer ratios mean the wheel doesn’t spin too quickly for beginners. It’s also great for medium to thicker weight yarns. And remember if you want to spin finer yarns you can always add an adapter kit.
- Foldable and Portable | This is a great option for travel or simply for folding away at the end of the day. A big improvement on the Kiwi 2, are the foldable treadles.
- Affordable Option | Spinning wheels do tend to be quite pricey, which is understandable given the workmanship involved. This option, however, is very affordable in comparison.
- Double Treadles | Two treadles are much better for your legs than one. After all, spinning is a fairly lengthy process it can take several hours to spin enough yarn for a sweater.
Buying Factors to Consider:
Like virtually all spinning wheels, this one will require assembly. It will also require a finish to condition and protect the wood. That said, Ashford have very comprehensive instructions and so it’s not difficult to put it together.
Dimensions: 17½” wide, 28¾” tall, 19¾” deep.
Best Saxony Spinning Wheel for Beginners to Advanced Spinners: The Ashford Traditional Single Drive
If you’d like to learn to spin on a traditional Saxony-style spinning wheel, this is a great one to go for. Though Ashford sells a double drive option, we’ve specifically chosen the single drive.
That’s because with a single drive (one that has 1 drive band) you always have the option to convert it to a double drive if you wish. And the single drive is cheaper too.
As a single-drive spinning wheel, the Ashford Traditional is easier for beginners to master. The Scotch tension system is just easier to get to grips with. Having a separately adjustable brake and drive band makes the control of the yarn twist and take-up much easier to handle.
The single drive ratios for this 4-speed flyer are 7, 9, 12, 17 to 1 which means this model can spin a wider variety of yarn thicknesses (including finer yarns) than the Kiwi featured above.
When used as a double drive, the ratios are 7.5, 10, and 14 to 1. Double drive spinning wheels increase yarn consistency and uniformity so it’s a nice option to have. And if you want to spin very chunky yarns, ply thick yarns or spin large quantities of yarn, you can always add a Jumbo Flyer.
We should warn you it’s not small, the wheel dimension is 22″ but it’s a beautiful piece so it’s not something you’d ever want put away. The Traditional comes with 4 large 4-5ozs bobbins and has a built-in Lazy Kate for plying.
What We Like:
- Single Drive Scotch Tension | With an option to use it as a double drive. Broadly speaking, single drives are great for beginners and double drives offer greater yarn consistency.
- Good for a Wide Variety of Yarn Thicknessess | Ratio of 7, 9, 12, 17 to 1 means this model can spin a wider variety of yarn thicknesses including much finer yarns than the Kiwi.
Buying Factors to Consider:
This spinning wheel does cost more than our first option so it is a more considered purchase but it’s a beautiful spinning wheel and not something you’ll ever outgrow. If, however, you are on a budget, you might want to consider the Kromski Prelude, next.
The Traditional will require assembly, but it’s pretty straightforward forward and this option (which is cheaper), does require finishing. There is, however, a finished version of this spinning wheel though as you’d expect, it does cost more.
Check the latest price for The Ashford Traditional Single Drive on Amazon.
Best Affordable/Alternative Saxony Style Spinning Wheel: Kromski Prelude
Saxony spinning wheels tend to have a larger footprint than other styles. The Kromski Prelude, however, is more compact than most with a wheel diameter of just 18 inches.
What’s more, the mother-of-all even folds/swivels in line with the bench for storage or travel.
This makes the Prelude much easier to take to events or classes …And for those on a budget, it’s also more affordable too.
This single-drive, Scotch tension spinning wheel combines all the traditionality of a Saxony style wheel with the features and optional extras, such as a jumbo flyer kit and fast flyer, to take it from a slower to mid-speed spinning wheel with whorl ratios of 6, 10.5 and 13 to 1 (great for beginners who are developing their skills), to a versatile spinning wheel with additional whorl ratios of 5.5, 7.9, 11, 14.5 & 16.5 to 1 – a spinning wheel capable of spinning most thicknesses of yarn.
The frame is made from unfinished European alder and birch wood and the Prelude comes with three 4 oz bobbins and a built-in Lazy Kate.
What We Like:
- Affordable | The Kromski Prelude is a great option for those who would like a traditional Saxony-style spinning wheel without the high price tag that usually comes with one.
- Good for a Wide Range of Yarn Thicknesses | It’s great for beginners but you won’t outgrow its capabilities and you can increase them even more with additional flyer options.
- Compact Size | It’s one of the smallest Saxony Spinning wheels you can get and the mother-of-all can be folded in line with the bench. This makes the Prelude great for taking to events or classes.
Best Castle Spinning Wheel: The Ashford Traveller
The Ashford Traveller is cute as a button. A perfect blend of traditional design with modern style. It’s similar to the Traditional but the compact arrangement of the mother of all, positioned over the 18″ wheel makes it ideal for those who are limited on space.
Available as either a single or double drive, this single drive Scotch tension wheel with whorl ratios of 6, 7.5, 10, 14 to 1 is ideal for spinning medium or finer yarns. And if you want to spin chunky yarns – you can just add a Jumbo Flyer. Other options include a lace flyer and a turbo kit so you’ll never feel limited by choosing this model.
One of the advantages this style has over the Traditional spinning wheel is that this one has double treadles. These are easier on the legs and hips than a the single treadle – especially over a prolonged period of time.
What We Like:
- Compact Design | Ideal for those with more limited space.
- Ideal For Medium to Finer Yarns | It’s ideal for spinning medium or finer yarns but with the addition of a Jumbo Flyer, you can spin chunky or thick yarns too.
Best Electric Spinning Wheel: Ashford E-Spinner 3
If you’d like an amazing little spinning machine that practically does all the hard work for you, this electric spinning wheel is the one for you.
And it’s great for anyone who would find treadling impractical or uncomfortable.
Its compact size and light weight (only 4.4 lbs) make it ideal for travel. It even has its own padded carry bag with shoulder straps.
The E-Spinner comes complete with a tensioned lazy kate for plying and the machine is very easy to operate having just three control buttons – an on/off switch, a forward or reverse switch for plying and a fully adjustable speed dial so you can go as fast or as slow as you like – anywhere from 0 up to 1800 rpm.
The knob above the control buttons that you can see in the photo above opens the front gate so you can easily change your bobbin.
Included in the kit are three jumbo (8oz) bobbins, a tensioned lazy kate, one bottle of oil, and a handy on/off foot controller which you can use optionally.
Dimensions: 10¼ by 5½ by 8½ inches.
What We Like:
- Motor for slow to Superfast Spinning Speeds | It has a quiet 12 volt DC 2.0 amp 70-watt motor that can give you a spinning speed of up to 1800 rpm – which is super fast for spinning.
- Portable | It’s the smallest spinning wheel on the market – ideal for RV, caravan, or car, with an available adapter kit or power pack.
- No Treadles | Great for those for whom treadling would be uncomfortable or impractical.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the best spinning wheel for a beginner?
Modern-day spinning wheels are generally well designed and built for easy use. So as a beginner, you can technically, learn to spin on any style of spinning wheel you like the look of or feel most comfortable with.
That said, you will need to take it slowly until you become more confident with the technique so you don’t want the take-up to be too fast.
Choosing one that has lower ratios of up to 10 to 1 (a measurement of how many times the flyer or bobbin spins per single revolution of the wheel) denotes a slower spinning wheel.
On a slower spinning wheel, you will be able to spin thicker yarns. Often there are adapter kits or flyer kits that you can easily add to enhance the capabilities and (for thinner yarns), increase the speed of your spinning wheel.
Alternative Spinning Wheels
These are the products that didn’t quite make our top picks, but they’re still pretty good so you might like to take a look.
And if you need somewhere to store and display your homespun yarn, hop over to our craft organizer guide.
The Flatiron Can Be Set up to All Three Tension Systems
Schacht Flatiron Spinning Wheel
This super modern Saxony-style wheel is fully customizable.
- Set it up for Scotch tension, double drive, or Irish tension.
- It can be adjusted to either have the flyer on the left or the right.
- Super-versatile spinning ratios of 4.6:1 to 26:1
Portable and Great for Beginners
Schacht Ladybug Double Treadle
It comes with medium and fast flyer whorls so it can be used for a wide range of ratios.
- An optional attached tensioned Lazy Kate.
- Ratios: 7, 9, 10.5 & 12.5 to 1.
- Built-in carrying handles in the legs for portability.
Schacht Sidekick Spinning Wheel
This is a popular and portable spinning wheel.
- It comes with fast and medium whorls for ratios of 4:1 to 13:1.
- Scotch tension with a control knob.
- Foldable treadles for portability.
Comes with a Carry Bag – Great for Classes
Kromski Sonata Spinning Wheel Walnut
Though intended to be portable it’s a good, substantial spinning wheel.
- It comes ready assembled with a padded travel backpack bag.
- Walnut lacquered finish European alder and birch woods.
- Single drive with Scotch tension.
Traditional look in a compact upright design
Kromski Minstrel Mahogany
The Minstrel has a traditional look with a space-saving upright design.
- It’s fully finished in mahogany.
- It comes with 2 whorls for ratios of 6.5, 8.5, 12, and 16 to 1.
- It comes with double drive and scotch tension.