This past weekend was the TNNA Needle Arts Trade Show. It was like the biggest yarn shop in the world; the yarn shop's yarn shop, as it were. Indie dyers, yarn companies, equipment manufacturers, designers, tool suppliers...if you've seen it in a yarn shop, it was represented at the show.
My friend and mentor Dalis Davidson, of Dancing Leaf Farm, was a first-time vendor this year, so it was a great excuse for me to go hang out with her, and to check out the scene. Being neither a major wholesaler nor a yarn shop, I was just basically an unattended child in a toy store. I got to play with friends, paw through all the Habu yarn and knit samples, and I even carded an art batt on the Strauch motorized drum carder. It's not a model I have in the studio, so it was a treat. Having Otto Strauch himself hovering over me (and videoing!) my carding technique wasn't nerve-wracking at all. Nope.
The highlight of the day was getting the chance to test drive the new Schacht Flatiron wheel. It'll be available for sale in August, and I was very excited to give it whirl. I've been thinking about the experience, and it reminds me of the first time I tasted Marmite. Like Marmite, seeing the Flatiron for the first time elicits an immediate "what is that?!" response. Which, if you're me, leads to, "I have to try it!"
So what did I think? Long draw is my go-to method, and I hold the fiber in my left hand. Which was convenient, since that's the way the demo wheel was assembled (the flyer can be mounted on either side). The drive wheel, measuring 22.5" (compared to the Matchless's 19.5"), has horsepower to spare, and its wide footprint ensures that despite the fact that it weighs less than the Matchless, treadling feels smooth and rock-solid. One perk of the design is that because the bobbin is about elbow-height, it's possible to see the entire bobbin. Maybe I'm the only one bothered by the fact that I can only see 3/4 of the bobbin while I'm spinning on the Matchless or Ladybug, but I appreciated the full-bobbin view on the new Flatiron.
And speaking of the view...it's eye-catching and singular, no doubt. I asked Barry why it looked the way it did. His goal, he said, was to engineer a a wheel that could be shipped flat, and the design was influenced by a steampunk aesthetic that he hoped would lure the young IKEA crowd. Hmm. Any young IKEA fans out there reading this post and feeing the allure of a steampunk-inspired wheel? Please sound off below.
As I was grilling Barry about the...let's say unorthodox...styling, a longtime LYS owner chimed in to say that when the Matchless made its debut, it was met with criticism and horror. So we'll see. Maybe symmetry and charming little ladybugs will become a thing of the past in the wake of this new design. It'll be available for delivery (in a flat box!) in August for $795.
Spinning modes: Scotch, double drive, bobbin-lead
Spinning ratios: 4.6:1 to 26:1
Weight: 15 pounds
Drive wheel: 22 1/2”
Orifice height: 26”
Dimensions: 33” wide x 33” tall x 18” deep
Comes with 3 bobbins, medium and fast whorls, cotton and poly drive bands, threading hook.