I was recently asked by a student which of the spinning wheels I would choose if I could only keep one from the shop's collection. It took me a few minutes to decide (because I love them all for their own quirks and features) but ultimately I opted for the Kromski Fantasia.
Although the Fantasia is missing out on a couple of features that its Ashford counterpart, the Kiwi 3, possesses - such as the option to add a giant flyer and bobbin or the folding treadle - what it does possess is sufficient to keep me enthralled for life.
I admit that this may all boil down to my petty and relatively superficial preference of the aesthetics of this modern castle wheel as it is no doubt a beautiful machine, even by traditionalist standards. As with all of Kromski's range the Fantasia has been handmade with an artist's eye and the addition of the limited edition colourful wheels and accessories (kicking off in 2023 with the Mint featured above) to its collection along with the more toned down black, finished and walnut wheels just adds to the love I have for this brand.
Yet it is not simply a case of 'form over function'... It would be naive to suggest that the Fantasia is simply a 'pretty' wheel without taking into account the brilliance of Kromski's design.
The aesthetically pleasing 'swoosh' on the front of the wheel is an ingenious way of creating a weighted wheel, maintaining the momentum, and thereby direction, of the spinning wheel whilst in use. Although more experienced spinners may not need this feature per se, for a novice or intermediate spinner this is an absolute gamechanger and helps to prevent the wheel from travelling in the wrong direction after a misstep and makes treadling a far easier task to get used to. Whether experienced or not this feature makes the wheel a pleasure to spin with and my only regret is that the swoosh shape isn't replicated on the reverse for others to appreciate too.
The magic of the magnetic flyer is another of the reasons why this wheel gains the top spot for me. Having owned a number of wheels over the last decade or so I have been accustomed to a variety of methods of changing bobbins, some taking as little as 45 seconds and others several minutes. Although I am no longer in need of a 'production' wheel and now spin for pleasure rather than for profit a quick-changing bobbin is always a joy to work with and the Fantasia is the fastest of them all!
This system works through the use of a strong earth magnet at the base end of the spindle which is hidden in the upright. To remove the flyer from the wheel simply pull and it detaches allowing you to switch the bobbins over quickly and easily. Once reattached ensure that the internal notch clicks into place and you're ready to thread up your leader and continue spinning.
Despite the lack of folding treadle the Fantasia has a relatively small footprint and is surprisingly lightweight. Thanks to the carry handle on the back of the upright it is easy to manoeuvre and fits comfortably into a passenger seat in the car without the likelihood of toppling over and getting damaged in transit. This means that it is still a practical wheel for taking along to Spin Ins and Guild meetings etc if you are comfortable doing so but I personally wouldn't transport it by hand for longer journeys than a walk from the carpark.
Although the massively giant bobbin available for the Kromski Minstrel or Ashford Kiwi is not currently available for the Fantasia do not despair! You still have the option to upgrade to a jumbo magnetic flyer which can cope with much larger and chunkier yarns due to its larger orifice (27mm) and greater capacity (~50 cubic inches versus 30 cubic inches of the regular Kromski bobbins). If you would prefer to stick with a regular bobbin but require a larger orifice this can also be accommodated with the Jumbo Orifice Set which increases the size to 18mm rather than the regular 10mm.
Along with the Kiwi 3 this is the wheel that I use predominantly whilst teaching and it has quickly become a firm favourite in workshops. If you would like to give this wheel a spin for yourself book a timeslot on the appointments page or get yourself booked on to one of the monthly Sealy MacWheely spinning workshops!
For further information and the full specifications of the Kromski Fantasia click here or if you're a colour lover and want to see more about the Limited Edition coloured wheels and accessories click here
bobbin change speed test*: 45 seconds!
*time taken to remove and replace bobbin and thread leader through orifice ready to spin