What’s On (or Off) Your Feet When You’re at the Spinning Wheel?

Here at Spin Off, we often ponder spinning question that others may not consider. (We’re spinning geeks, after all.) We recently looked around and asked each other, “While you’re keeping your eyes on your drafting and your feet are treadling away at the spinning wheel, what’s on your feet?”

There are several options for spinning footwear, and each has its ups and downs.

spinning wheel

Elizabeth spinning on her kick spindle. Photo by George Boe

Bare Feet

Most spinners I asked were grossed out by the idea of spinning barefoot. There’s an “ick” factor. In the summer I do spin barefoot. (It’s my wheel and my “ick.”) I also spin barefoot on my kick spindle no matter the season. Some prefer to wear shoes for added grip, but my kick spindle responds better to my uncovered feet.

Shoes

Many handspinners don’t wear shoes when they spin. Shoes that have walked around all day carry dirt and grit, which can make your treadles grimy and even scratch the wood. But when showing a new spinner how to spin yarn on your treasured spinning wheel, you face a conundrum: should you ask the student to wear shoes or no shoes? Most of the time, I ask them to remove their shoes, but when you’re demonstrating at a fiber event, that’s not always practical.

spinning wheel

Many spinners prefer spinning with socks on their feet. Photo by Joe Coca

Socks

Wearing socks is the most popular choice for spinners we polled. When wearing socks, I feel the energy from the wheel, and I can make fine adjustments to help the wheel respond. Socks are reasonably clean and dry. Plus, feet often get cold. Handspun, handknitted socks are best, of course.

Treadle covers

An optional spinning wheel accessory that ranks high on many spinners’ most-wanted list, treadle covers offer protection from the dirt carried by shoes and the barefoot “ick” factor. Plus, the ones made of sheep’s fleece feel divine between your toes.

Of course, if you’re using a spindle or an electric spinning wheel, with or without a foot pedal, what’s on your feet may not matter so much unless you’re going for a stroll.

What’s on your feet when you’re spinning? Let us know in the comments!

—Elizabeth

Featured Image: Do you wear shoes when you spin? During Tour de Fleece, Spin Off editorial assistant Jenna Fear spun with her shoes on.


Spin a perfect pair of spinning socks with Spin Off!

10 Comments

  1. Grace T at 6:35 am March 28, 2018

    Most of the time socks but in the summer it is bare feet – too hot for socks!!!

  2. Debra G at 7:53 am March 28, 2018

    I usually spin barefoot unless my feet get cold, then I don socks. I love the idea of sheepskin pedal covers though and will be looking to get one in the near future!

  3. Michiko B at 8:02 am March 28, 2018

    I usually spin either barefoot or in socks. To be honest, I’ve spent over £300 on each of my wheels-I’m not going to trample my pedals with shoes or slippers that have been outdoors. I also feel that treadling is more intuitive when you have direct contact between a flexible foot and the treadle. When letting others use my wheel I do insist on no shoes-and people tend to respect that.

  4. Regina H at 8:50 am March 28, 2018

    I can’t spin well with shoes or sandals on-it’s odd but I really do connect with the wheel more in bare feet But my preference is bare feet in my house too.

  5. Vicki A at 9:47 am March 28, 2018

    Shoes. I’m in my 70’s and my wheel is about half that age, a faithful Ashford Traveler. I’m not a productions spinner but more of a social spinner and only spin a few times a year. However, we have gone a lot of places together, and she is like a comfortable old friend. We have spun at the park, at fiber events, as enactors, at alpaca shows (I raise alpacas), at Community Centers, at people’s homes, in peoples yards, and at our state Capitol. If it’s raining when I’m taking her out, she wears a plastic bag as a rain coat. She’s flexible, she’s great, she doesn’t complain, she’s fun to be with. Yes, she has a few minor nicks and scratches . . they go with my gray hair and wrinkles. Whatever I have on my feet is what I spin in. Dirt? Fiber is dirty. Ick? You aren’t eating off your treadle. Just enjoy your wheel and spin on.

  6. Elena G at 9:49 am March 28, 2018

    For me it’s got to be either barefoot or something with traction or grip. I’m fine with wearing shoes at my spinning wheel, because if I’m just wearing socks, my feet slide around too much on the treadle – and for some reason it seems to take twice the energy to spin for half the time. Slippers work too, but only if they’re not too thick (my favorites brush the bottom of the actual wheel).

  7. Christine R at 9:53 am March 28, 2018

    Barefoot… Socks, only if too cold to be barefoot.

  8. Teresa D at 11:27 am March 28, 2018

    Almost always barefoot. My feet have to be really cold before I put something else on them to spin. Then I wear a pair of leather moccasins I have that don’t have any lining or anything in them. I like the feel I can still get through them. I don’t like the feel in shoes and socks are too slippery.

  9. Elizabeth K at 4:19 pm March 28, 2018

    I spin barefoot during warm months, however, I wear socks with grippers during the colder seasons. The socks are from the times I’ve spent having surgical procedures.

  10. Diane L at 7:57 am March 29, 2018

    Definitely shoes. I have diabetes and a damaged leg and foot, so I always have shoes on, and I figure the treadle was meant for feet! I will be 70 this year and just learned how to spin – just the basics, of course – this past November. Fun!

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