‘Um, is that a real wheel?” This is a comment we get from customers or new spinners in our spinning classes.
Yes! It’s a Babe! When our spinners come in for class, we normally don’t use the Babe as one of the wheels to learn on, as it can be a little loud—it’s made of a wheel chair wheel and PVC pipe—and the noise can be off putting for beginners. But it IS easy to spin on, and very affordable! (think less than $300 for a wheel when regular wooden wheels are $600-$1200). Plus you can spin outside, and wash it too! The bobbin is huge, and it is great for bulky, funky yarn spinning. They even have a Ravelry fan page where spinners post pictures of their painted customized Babe wheels.
I call her my ‘plastic fantastic’ wheel, but I was not always in love with her. I first got her so that I could spin yarn for Stitches East while I was away in Florida helping a friend recuperate from foot surgery. I never got to use it, as when it shipped, it was missing some important parts. When I got back home and got the parts, I started spinning, and it was SO Loud! I had the theme song of ‘Sanford and Son’ in my head every time I put my foot to the treadles. I made a few yarns, but put it aside and continued to use my trusty Louet S-10.
Then I went back the next year to visit my friend in Florida, and went to see Deb Lambert at her cool yarn shop, http://www.picassosmoonyarn.com/ . She had lots of Babe Production wheels, and loved them. She showed me how to put on extra rubber O –rings between the bobbin and the front of the flyer, and was amazed how quiet her wheels were when I spun on them in her shop. When I got home, I went to the hardware store and spent a couple of bucks on the O- rings, put them on, and fell in love with my Babe. It is wonderful to make big bulky fun yarns, and the fact that it is much quieter than it was made me want to use her more and be more creative with my spinning.
So, even though I don’t recommend a brand new spinner try a Babe wheel, they are fantastic for intermediate to advanced spinners of all types of yarn. I am able to spin thin on her too, and they do have other wheels (even an electric spinner) for spinning all types of yarns, plus different attachments. Check out their website at http://www.babesfibergarden.com and look around. Inventor Nels Wiberg has partnered with a local business that employs the handicapped, and they help in production of these wheels. Their motto is "Function before Form for Affordability".
And feel free to come visit/take a spin on my Babe. I think you will find her fun to make yarn with.