Follow along as I get to know this beautiful vintage Norwegian spinning wheel and what makes these wheels so special.
If you have been around The Cozy Cuttlefish for a while you know I love my Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel.
As much as I love my ladybug, I have felt the urge for another wheel for some time. My ladybug was the perfect first wheel. It is user-friendly, versatile, and forgiving but I have reached a point in my spinning where I want to try something new.
I kept being drawn to Norwegian-style wheels. A modern version of this kind of wheel that is in production is the Kromski Polonaise.
Of course, I didn’t need another wheel. There are any number of other things we could spend money on. A spinning wheel takes up a lot of room. There is no good reason for me to get a second spinning wheel.
Ignoring all of these logical reasons to not get another spinning wheel I started to keep an eye on spinning wheels on Facebook Marketplace.
Not to buy one, of course, just to see what was out there.
Just a little window shopping
I saw a variety of wheels listed. There were dubious antiques that looked like they were missing pieces and were in sorry shape. I am not trying to become an expert wheel restorer. Many of these listings were by people who most likely were not familiar with using a spinning wheel.
There were several modern wheels that looked to be in good shape. An Ashford Elizabeth and Schacht Matchless were particularly tempting.
None of these options were exactly what I was looking for and I didn’t want to get a second wheel just because.
Then I saw her. She was beautiful and had character. The listing sounded like it was from someone who actually knew spinning wheels. It was for sale nearby and for a reasonable price.
I talked to a couple of friends to convince myself that I didn’t need this wheel. But I was intrigued. I sent a message to the seller to get some more specifics about the wheel. Before I knew it I found myself at a local library spinning on this wheel.
What makes a Norwegian wheel?
If you aren’t familiar with the parts of a spinning wheel and different be sure to check out my post about wheel style and wheel parts. I gave a brief overview of castle wheels and Saxony wheels but left out Norwegian wheels because they are not very common.
Norwegian wheels are similar to Saxony-style wheels, and will often be put in that category. At first glance, it makes sense. The drive wheel is aligned to the side of the flyer assembly on both.
Traditional Norwegian style design differs from Saxony style in two main areas: the table and drive wheel adjustment.
On a Saxony type of wheel, there is usually one table that sits at an angle to hold the wheel and mother of all. On a Norwegian style wheel, this is split into a horizontal bench and table, one for the wheel (and sometimes a lazy kate) and one for the mother of all.
The other big difference, that I think is a really interesting feature is two long adjusting screws reaching out to the drive wheel. These screws allow you to adjust the angle that the wheel is spinning so you can align it perfectly with the flyer whorl. Not only is this a practical feature but I find them very beautiful as well.
First impressions of a Norwegian spinning wheel
Even though it looked like this wheel was in great shape I wanted to be prepared when I got to check it out in person.
I recently watched a Jillian Eve YouTube video about finding and restoring an antique spinning wheel.
In this video, she has a kit she takes with her to check out a used wheel so she is prepared for any situation. Following her lead, I made my own kit including some screw and wrench options, oil, a rag, extra cotton cord, an orifice hook, and some fiber to spin.
Finding another fiber enthusiast
One of the best parts of this adventure was getting to meet Zori, who was selling this wheel. Not only is she a fiber enthusiast, but she actually teaches knitting, spinning, and dying. She was so kind and patient while I got used to this wheel. If you are in the PNW and looking for a great teacher, be sure to check out fibrefiend.com!
Even though I came prepared to adjust, oil, or add a drive band, this wheel was in excellent condition. Zori had already done the restoration work on this beautiful wheel including removing glue from the orifice! Why it was glued shut in the first place, we will never know. The one adjustment I made was tightening up the leather strap holding the footman to the treadle and she was ready to spin.
My Norwegian Spinning wheel
In the words of Harry Chapin, “I guess you know what happened.”
I had fallen in love with this wheel and after making sure she was carefully secured in my car for the drive, she came home with me.
As soon as I got her home I set her up and got spinning. She is an absolute delight to spin on. Smooth, powerful, quiet with just a slight creak. I love just looking at this wheel. There are beautiful wood turning details everywhere. Having beautiful tools to work with definitely improves the spinning process.
Drive wheel diameter: 24 inches/61 centimeters
Whorl diameters: 2.5 inches/6.2 centimeters and 2.6 inches/6.7 centimeters
Ratios: 9.7 and 9.2
Drive system: Double Drive
Orifice size: 0.25 inch/0.6 centimeter diameter
Lazy Kate: Built-in, untensioned
The first thing I wanted to do when I got this wheel home was play spinning wheel sleuth. I looked all over for a maker’s mark to help with wheel identification. There is a small button indicating the origin of this wheel that says Husfliden Bergen, Norway. Knowing virtually nothing about Norway I did some Googling. There wasn’t much information that I could find. I did find this article discussing Husfliden wheels imported to New Zealand. The wheel pictured in it is almost identical to the one I have.
According to this article, these wheels were in production around 1960. This is probably a good estimate of my spinning wheel’s age. This would make my wheel a vintage wheel, not quite antique.
The photocopy of a letter indicates the materials are likely pine and birch. There would have originally been some red and blue painting on the wheel, but this is no longer visible on my wheel.
In a surprising turn of events, my in-laws are on their way to Bergen, Norway. They have been tasked with gathering any additional information they can find out about my new Husfliden wheel. If I get any more information I will be sure to let you all know!
Taking her for a spin
This Norwegian spinning wheel is a large wheel. The drive wheel is eight inches wider than my Ladybug.
This was my first time using a single treadle wheel. It took a bit to get used to the different rhythm. Once I was used to it I found I really enjoy it. I can spin longer on this wheel because there are more positions I can sit in. If one leg gets tired of treadling, I can switch feet. There is enough momentum to this wheel that I can stop treadling altogether for a few rotations and she will keep going.
This wheel has a pretty small orifice, so bulky yarn is out of the question. That is not a problem for me, I prefer to spin fine yarns anyway.
One thing that really sold me on this wheel was that it still has three bobbins. Unlike modern spinning wheels, I can’t just go out and buy more bobbins if I need them. I would have to have them custom-made. Having the built-in lazy Kate to store them on was just icing on the cake.
To get to know my Norwegian-style wheel better I pulled some teal merino top from my stash that I purchased from Horse ‘n’ Round Studio [link]. I have been spinning it worsted in a casual way. Even though this wheel doesn’t have very high ratios, the drive wheel spins so fast that I wouldn’t want to go much faster anyway.
There are two whorl size options, but they are very close in size. The slightly faster whorl is a comfortable speed for me to spin singles, and the larger whorl should work well for plying.
Getting this old spinning wheel was such a fun adventure. I love having my own piece of spinning wheel history and I can’t wait to see what we will spin together!
If you want to read more about spinning yarn, click here.
What is your dream spinning wheel? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!