Guess who came to dinner last night!
Why Ms. Victoria of course.
Louet Victoria :: S95-S96:
Ratios: 6:1, 9:1 and 14:1
Wheel Dimensions: 21" high - 15" wide - 15.5" deep
Drive Wheel Diameter: 14.5 inches
Flyer and Bobbin System: single drive, flyer-lead (unique for Louet as all other wheels are bobbin-lead)
Brake System: Scotch tension
Weight: a little over 7 pounds on my scale :: 11.5 pounds packed inside the carrying case with all of the attachments tucked in.
Orifice: two choices - a 1/2 inch orifice is fitted with a nylon bushing that if left in place gives you a 5/16" orifice. you can chose between the two by using or not using the nylon bushing.
Color: Birch (also available in Oak finish)
Includes: carry-case, 1 lazy kate, 3 wooden bobbins and guide outlining how to set-up the wheel and get started.
This is my first experience spinning on Louet wheel and the advantages of such a simple and functional system really sing to me. Everything is minimalist, functional and easy to use mechanically.
The wheel takes little set-up, attach the bobbin and flyer and pop on the footman rod to the drive wheel and you are ready to spin right out of the bag. And no oiling, the ball-bearings are ret to go, it easily folds completely in half and is easy to carry about by the leather strap attached above the flyer assembly.
Going for a spin:
I spun and plyed about 70 yards of a domestic wool blend roving for a test run. The orifice was easy to maneuver around given the lack of a flyer hook and the treadling was even and smooth but best operated on a smooth floor (no shag carpets for this baby).
The scotch tension was very touchy and needed little adjustment. With the bobbin half-full I did not need to increase the tension as I often do on the Gem, it just held steady with a nice taught pull to the yarn from the flyer.
I filled two bobbins and placed them over the threaded shafts on the lazy kate. I have never plied on a upright lazy kate before and must say I enjoyed it. The uprights provided just enough drag to prevent tangles and the like when plying at quick speeds.
Spinning was pretty effortless, I was able to do short and long draws and the double treadle made for consistent rotation of the flyer - read no dead spots which might be the case if this little girl where a single treadle.
Upsides to the Victoria:
- Truly portable - seriously.... carrying through an airline terminal and stowing away above your cabin seat kinda portable.
- The flyer and flyer orifice are tilted up towards the spinner making feeding the bobbin a comfortable one for such a petite wheel.
- The flyer shaft is held in place by a small magnet inside the pulley system, which unlike my Gem makes for really quick and easy bobbin changes - read pop-on and pop-off.
- The sliding yarn guides, no pinching or pulling, just push with the tip of your finger to wind the bobbin. The easiest yarn guide system I have run into - Woolee Winder not included of course.
- The bag! - it is truly functional, wear it as a backpack, nap-sack, or carry it like a briefcase it just plain works, plus real pockets for fiber, accessories, zines etc. And better yet, it looks like a pretty decent bag - read not made out of bright metallic post NASA reject material.
Downsides to Victor/Victoria:
- This is an honestly portable wheel and one you will not mind taking with you to spin on as it is a pleasurable and smooth spin for its size, BUT this is not a heavy production wheel or a wheel you want to spend 2 days plying a heavy aran/worsted yarn for that Starmore cable sweater you plan to knit next year.
- Medium to fine yarns are what the ratio's on this wheel are set for - fantastical, slubby, novelty yarns? - not so much.
- The foot treadles are quite small - not conducive to man feet (ahem i refer to mine here), but admittedly i really did not have a problem slipping of the treadles.
Better than a Majacraft Gem?
- Given the small circumference of the Gem's drive wheel, I often feel like a hamster on speed trying to treadle fast enough, even set at the highest ratio, to produce the yarn I want make.
- The delta flyer on the Majacraft wheels have their perks, ease of threading being the greatest, but if you do not sit completely horizontal to the flyer assembly and feed directly into the delta flyer the yarn gives off an annoying vibration in your hand as it passes onto the bobbin.
- I actually found the Victoria much, much lighter and easier to transport both in and out of the bag.
- In order to ply on the Gem you must first reach down and flip the drive wheel band reversing the peddling motion for plying mode, a minor annoyance for some, as the band is hard to pop on and off, but big enough to be listed here for me.
So who would I keep. Tough decision. I am actually still shopping around for a full-sized production wheel and leaning towards double-drive set-ups, so honestly the verdict is still out. BUT - for a portable, public spinning, show friendly wheel, honestly, I would have to go with the Victoria.