Ask a Spinning Teacher: Which Side Is Your Spinning Wheel Flyer On?

In our regular Spin Off column Ask a Spinning Teacher, we invite readers to send us the spinning questions on their minds. Whether it’s getting along with your spinning wheel or polishing your drafting techniques, an expert is at hand to answer your questions! In the Winter 2017 issue of Spin Off, Amy Tyler addressed the issue of spinning wheel configuration.

Q: I’m right-handed. Does that mean I should have a spinning wheel with the flyer on the right?

A: A few years ago, I helped a friend sell a large Saxony-style wheel that had the flyer to the right of the drive wheel. Because it is more common for Saxony-style wheels to have the flyer on the left, this wheel generated a good amount of discussion in my local spinning group. Opinions were all over the map. I posted on an online list asking those who have a Saxony-style wheel to answer three questions:

  1. Are you right-handed or left-handed?
  2. Which hand do you hold forward (closest to the orifice) when you spin?
  3. Is your flyer to the right or left of the drive wheel?

I used data from those who provided answers to all three questions; I did not include data from those who use upright/castle-style/center-located-flyer wheels. I counted each person just once. For those who described themselves as ambidextrous but with a preference, I counted the preference. For those who had wheels with flyers on the right and left but they had a preference, I counted the preference. For those who mentioned they switch hand orientation, I counted the preference.

Left: Reeves Wheel LEFT; Right: Reeves Wheel RIGHT

Left: Reeves Wheel LEFT; Right: Reeves Wheel RIGHT

As you might imagine, most folks described themselves as right-hand-dominant; there was only one person who was left-handed. Most responders had the flyer on the left.

Here are the numbers from the 21 respondents (including myself):

Right-hand-dominant, right hand forward, right-sided flyer: 4

Right-hand-dominant, right hand forward, left-sided flyer: 5

Right-hand-dominant, left hand forward, right-sided flyer: 2

Right-hand-dominant, left hand forward, left-sided flyer: 9

Left-hand-dominant, right hand forward, left-sided flyer: 1

My conclusion was that any configuration can be successful.

Besides left- versus right-handedness, factors that might influence preferred configuration include whether the wheel is single or double treadle, whether one uses a short or a long draw, and whether one drafts with the front hand or the back hand.

Amy Tyler lives in northwestern lower Michigan. She teaches spinning workshops around the country, and she loves to ponder the mechanical variations of spinning wheels. The variety of her own small stable of wheels makes her very happy. You can find more of her fiber-related thoughts on her blog.


Find more from Amy Tyler and spinning wheel experts in the Interweave store!