Alpaca Fiber | Preparing Alpaca for Spinning | Fiber & the Spinning Wheel

The Spinning Wheel

Castle Wheel

There are so many beautiful spinning wheels to choose from.
Every spinner we talked to had a different opinion as to which type of spinning wheel is the best. We feel there are a few things to consider before purchasing your first spinning wheel.

We started with and still use the Ashford's Traveller.  It is called a castle wheel.  We like this style because it doesn't take up much room and can be used anywhere.

Speed and Ratio:

Speed ratio determines the amount of twist put into the yarn you are spinning.  It is better to look for a wheel with a good ratio range. i.e. 6:1 up to 16:1

Alpaca fleece is fine so it needs to be spun a little faster to give it more twist.  Our wheel's ratio is adjustable.  It adjusts from 5.5, 10 & 14 to 1

Single drive vs. double drive:

Everyone has different opinions.  We were new to spinning and we started with the single drive with the scotch tension system.  We were told it is the easier one to learn on.

You will also need extra bobbins, a lazy kate (it came with our wheel), and a niddy noddy.

Spinning Books

If you are a beginner, we recommend the book Hands on Spinning .  It is a wonderful book that includes information on fiber preparation, drafting and spinning techniques, plying, and there's even a section on storing wool and yarn.

Another great book I found that has been very helpful is Start Spinning Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn by Maggie Casey.  She teaches spinning in Colorado.  Maggie is a wonderful teacher and with the combination of her pictures she makes learning how to spin so much easier.  She teaches drop spindle and the wheel.  I wish I lived in Colorado... I would definitely take her spinning classes!


When learning to spin don't get discouraged.  As for my husband, he's a natural.  When he started it looked like he had been spinning all of his life.  As for me, well what can I say.  Practice, practice, and practice some more.  Be sure to use the fleece you like the least to practice on because my first yarns turned out awful.  They looked like lumpy ropes!

Once you have mastered the art of spinning it is actually very enjoyable and relaxing.

Spinning Wheel Types

Ashford Kiwi

Ashford Kiwi
If you're just starting out this is a great economical wheel.  I like that this wheel is portable and compact.  It also has add on kits that enable you to adapt the wheel to spin different types of yarn.  It is a single drive wheel with ratios of 5:5 and 8:1 that make spinning easy. Although to spin alpaca you need to buy the kit that contains a high speed whorl and polycord drive belt to get the ratios 11 & 14:1.
It usually comes with three bobbins and a lazy kate.

Kromski Sonata

Kromski Sonata
This is a beautiful wheel that is also a great wheel for the beginner.  It is a little more expensive but it has a lovely design and it's compact too.  This wheel folds and packs away as a small package, making it perfect for traveling or to easily store when not in use.  The ratios: 6.7, 12.5, 14:1 are perfect for spinning alpaca fiber.  It is a  single drive with Scotch tension.
It usually comes with a carry bag, three bobbins, lazy kate and threading hook.

Ashford Elizabeth

Ashford Elizabeth 2
I absolutely love the look of the Elizabeth 2.  It's the fairytale spinning wheel.  This wheel is a double drive wheel and uses a double drive bobbin.  The spinning ratios for this wheel are 8.5, 11 and 15, so it has a good ratio range for spinning alpaca.  It's a gorgeous wheel if you have the room for it.
It usually comes with four bobbins and a horizontal lazy kate.

We'll be adding more alpaca fiber & spinning pages soon ....
Karen G.

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