Portable Spinning Wheels: 4 Tips for Traveling with Your Wheel

One of the joys of handspinning is that you can take it with you. Spindles pack up easily, but sometimes you need something more substantial. You want a spinning wheel. Portable spinning wheels come in many styles and sizes: folding wheels, charkhas, kick spindles, and electric wheels. You may be surprised—even a wheel that’s not so small might travel well with these few tips.

1. Bag it and carry it or pull it.

Protect your spinning wheel when taking it for an outing by purchasing a protective carrying bag or case for it. If you take your spinning wheel with you often, these bags are a great investment! Some bags (and wheels) come with handy straps for carrying over your shoulder, or better yet, wheels for pulling it behind you. Is your wheel on the larger side? A folding cart might be a good option.

Portable spinning wheels

Elizabeth’s wheel strapped in and ready to go. Photo by Elizabeth Prose

2. Fasten your seatbelt.

For a long time, I only had one wheel, and she wasn’t one of the portable spinning wheels. She traveled with me to local festivals and impromptu spinning meet-ups. Although she wasn’t compact, she fit nicely in the back seat of my car, upright and strapped in. My tip: Place an old towel or blanket under your wheel to protect your upholstery from spinning oil and punctures, but don’t leave spinning wheels in hot cars for an extended period of time; the excessive heat can warp the wood.

3. Handle with care.

If you can’t carry your spinning wheel with you, ship it to your destination. Hint: Wool makes great packing material! Check with your hotel or final destination beforehand to find out about their shipping and receiving procedures. Prepay for your return shipping, and be sure to insure for the replacement cost of the wheel. We advise against shipping a priceless, one-of-a-kind wheel.

Portable spinning wheels

Illustration by Ann Sabin Swanson

4. Pack smaller versions of your favorite spinning accessories.

A 1-yard niddy-noddy and storage or flat-pack bobbins take up less room. Spinning oil comes in handy drip-free pens. And in a pinch, use your body as a tool. Finally, don’t forget to leave room in your bag for any souvenir fiber that you acquire on your trip!

What are your favorite tips for traveling with a spinning wheel? Share your comments below!


Featured Image: Illustration by Laurel Johnston.

Portable spinning wheels aren’t the only thing to take with you! Download these videos from Spin Off for viewing on the road!

One Comment

  1. Anonymous at 12:13 pm August 22, 2018

    I’ve traveled with my Majacraft Pioneer in the car. This one comes apart on the vertical stem. The bottom, with the wheel and treadles gets seatbelted in (with an inexpensive yard or two of a fleece blanket, as suggested) and the top half (with bobbin either on or off) gets wrapped in fleece and fits into a large summer canvas bag—bag purchased at Target, on sale. The bag has handy pockets for spinning accoutrements and I can pack spinning fiber around the top, inside the bag. This wheel is fairly light compared to most, something I looked for. Because it comes apart it’s even easier to carry, one piece at a time if need be. I have neck, low back issues and arthritis but I can manage this wheel. If I’m having a bad day I take my kick wheel instead— which always garners lots of comments and starts many discussions about spinning, which is always fun.

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