by Emily Barr
Ravelry can have a bad influence on me. I was content just knitting and crocheting (and stashing and queuing), but then I became entranced by the handspun yarns my Ravelry friends were creating. I knit a pair of mittens with handspun yarn and before I knew it, I had learned how to spin, bought a Majacraft Rose, and had yet another obsession. The fiber stash exploded and my knitting time diminished greatly as I found the joy of spinning and creating my own yarns. There was no reason for me to think about buying another wheel because my Rose was wonderful, but I started to hear about a new electric spinner, the HansenCrafts miniSpinner, and my interest was piqued.
The Ravelry group, aptly called HansenCrafts miniSpinner, is active and a wealth of information for anyone interested in the miniSpinner.
Beth and Kevin Hansen, the makers of this wonderful little machine, contribute to the group and provide input and advice to the community. While I have not had any issues, I feel confident that the Hansens stand behind their work. This community and the incredibly positive feedback from other spinners is what made me feel comfortable purchasing the miniSpinner sight unseen. There is also a thread for volunteer demonstrators, so if you want to try one out, it might be worth checking that thread to see if someone in your area has one.
The wood is beautiful. I also chose the WooLee Winder, three bobbins, and the 3/8” or 9.5mm orifice reducer. The orifice is quite large at 11mm and I spin with the orifice reducer in all the time since I found the orifice slightly too large for the sock weight yarns I like to spin. I am planning on ordering the ¼” or 6mm size as well for spinning finer yarns.
The bobbins are huge, about the same size as my Majacraft jumbo bobbin, they easily hold 10 ounces of plied yarn. The WooLee Winder is great and makes plying a breeze, however, the miniSpinner is available with a traditional hook flyer as well.
Noise: Overall, it is pretty quiet. One of my three bobbins is louder than the other two and rattles a little bit, but the actual motor does not make much noise. I can easily have a conversation or watch TV while it is running.
Construction: This is a very sturdy piece of equipment with nice sticky feet on the bottom. It wiggles a little when plying at faster speeds, but it doesn’t move or walk at all. It is light, but feels solid and well made. The motor is designed to give a warning, a short pause in operation, when it has had enough. I tried to test this out, but after plying a huge 10 ounce skein, the motor was only slightly warm and hadn’t given me any warnings or problems. The miniSpinner uses Scotch tension, so if you have the tension too tight, it makes the motor work harder than it needs to, use the tension lightly.
Ease of use: It is incredibly easy to use, with an on/off switch that also controls direction (clockwise or counterclockwise), a speed control, and a tension knob. There is a foot pedal that can be used to turn the miniSpinner on and off. In a short amount of time, I felt comfortable adjusting the speed and tension to produce the yarn I wanted. Frequent ply-back tests at first are definitely recommended to make sure that the twist is just right. The tension is very sensitive and needs only tiny adjustments to find the right amount. There is also minimal maintenance needed in terms of oiling and care.
Speed: It is easier to go faster because your legs don’t have to do the work, but as always, your hands still need to keep up with the miniSpinner. I found the advantage is more about consistency and continuous spinning than speed, especially with the WooLee Winder since there is no moving of hooks to slow you down. It does translate into quicker spinning and plying time than on my treadle wheel, but I think part of it is because I don’t get tired of treadling.
In order to fully test out this little machine, I decided to tackle 20 ounces of superwash merino for a sweater project I have planned. Since I only have three bobbins, I spun two bobbins with 5 ounces each and then plied to make one giant 10 ounce skein. The bobbin capacity was wonderful, while it was pretty full with 10 ounces of plied yarn, it wasn’t overflowing or messy at all. The miniSpinner handled the task easily. For these big skeins, I was extremely thankful not to have to do all the treadling myself.
At first, I missed the rhythm of treadling but the longer I used the miniSpinner, the less I minded. Spinning on the miniSpinner is almost like cruise control on your car, great for when you can just go. Once I got the speed and tension how I like it, it is a pleasure to just sit back and watch the fiber flow through my hands. But for a more difficult fiber or technique, I still prefer the additional control of the treadle wheel and the fine-tuning of speed my feet can do on the fly.
My Navajo plying on the miniSpinner leaves much to be desired, but I will keep practicing. I was surprised to realize how much my hands and feet really do work together when spinning on my Rose, with the miniSpinner, my hands had to readjust to working with the consistent rhythm and pace.
I love my Rose, so I initially thought that the miniSpinner would be a plying/back-up tool, but after spinning about 2 pounds of fiber on the miniSpinner, I am absolutely smitten. It is enjoyable to spin on and I feel that it has improved the consistency of my spinning. I now understand why some people have sold their treadle wheels once getting the miniSpinner. I don’t think I will be selling my Rose anytime soon, but I have barely used it since the miniSpinner arrived. With more time and practice, I know that I will be able to do everything with my miniSpinner that I can do with my treadle wheel.
It is a wonderful e-spinner and I am extremely happy that I decided to add it to my spinning tools.
Photos © Emily Barr