Majacraft Little Gem

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Majacraft Little Gem

The Little Gem from Majacraft is positioned as the travel wheel in their Spinning Wheel product lineup.  It is lightweight and takes up very little space.

The Little Gem is excellent for spinning fine yarns, but is able to spin all types of yarn, just like its bigger sisters the Rose, Suzie and Aura.

The Little Gem was launched in 2000.  There is a video interviewing Owen Poad on YouTube where he says it took 3 years to design, and 3 hours to make.  My takeaway from that is a lot of thought went into the design to ensure they achieved the goal to make a small, transportable wheel that could do everything you would expect from their larger wheels with the same precision and quality that make spinning on a Majacraft wheel an absolute dream.

Majacraft completed a redesign in March of 2019.  Per the blog post that announced the change, the some of the upgrades include the following:

  • They moved the tension knob so you could use the standard Jumbo bobbin and associated flyers without changing the tension knob.
  • Moved the stem lock bolt to the front of the wheel
  • Changed the stem lock material from brass to stainless steel to add strength (I read some Ravelry posts where this part was breaking and people were needing to replace it.
  • Changed the pedal shape to standardize with the other wheels

The majority of the wheel is hand crafted from New Zealand Rimu wood.  Rimu wood grows in New Zealand and is sustainably harvested for use in Majacraft products.  The drive wheel is made of bamboo and hard board.  The bamboo is sourced from renewable forests.

The Little Gem uses Scotch Tension to take up the yarn on the bobbin.  This means that the drive band from the drive wheel is directly connected to the flyer via the whorl (aka pulley) - as the wheel spins the flyer spins.  The Flyer spins at a rate determined by the pulley groove you set your upper drive band in, each groove has a calculated ratio for the speed that your flyer will rotate in relation to one turn of the drive wheel.  The bobbin rotates free from the drive band, but is controlled by a brake band that applies tension to the bobbin to control the speed at which it rotates.  The Flyer will rotate faster than the bobbin to apply twist and wind onto the bobbin.  The adjustable brake tension is what controls the speed at which your yarn is drawn onto the bobbin.  Compared with other tension systems (Irish, Double), Scotch tension is known to be better for spinning finer yarns.  The three elements making up the Scotch tension system are the tension spring, tension knob and tension band.  All three of these items can be purchased as replacement parts.

Scotch tension system on the Little Gem

The Little Gem weighs 19 lbs in the package with the accessories and bag.  Once assembled it weighs ~9-10 lbs.  The weight will vary depending on the grain of the wood.  More grain means a heavier wheel.

The footprint dimensions are 15" x 13.4".  Maximum height is 29.1"  The wheel diameter is 11.8".  Orafice height is adjustable - from 27.5" to 30.7".  Its folded height is 5.9".

The ratios you can achieve with the Little Gem are as follows:

Whorl size - 5 is largest -> 5 4 3 2 1
Standard Pulley 4.7 5.7 7.5 9.8 12.8
Suzie Pulley 3.5 5.3 7.3 9.1 11.6
Rose Pulley (Slow Speed Kit) 2.9 3.8 4.9 7.5 10.2
Fast Pulley 8.0 10.2 12.1 15

 

They say that people have taken the Little Gem onto planes as a carry on item.  People have actually spun on planes and in cars.

The Little Gem has different treadle mechanics from other Majacraft wheels.  The treadles aren't connected by way of rods to the drive wheel.  Rather they work more like pedals on a bicycle which move rollers under the treadles.  These rollers turn a shaft, which in turn rotates a gear which is connected to the drive wheel.  The treadles can lift up off the rollers - which is how you install the lower drive band.  This causes the treadling action to feel a little different from the other Majacraft wheels, but just takes getting used to.  They recommend you shift your feet up on the pedal a little to have the most effective foot motion.

Every Little Gem is tested before it leaves the factory.  A member of the Poad family signs their name on the bottom of the wheel with its serial number before it ships out.  You should register your wheel on the Majacraft Site when you receive it so they have record of where it is and who owns it.  It makes it easier down the road if you need technical support as they will be able to know what revision you have in order to help you optimize the wheel for your needs.  It is also helpful if you need to make a warranty claim.  Majacraft warranty on the Little Gem wheel is 2 years from when you purchased the wheel from me.  It is limited to repair or replacement of defective parts, determined by Majacraft.

The only accessories you cannot use on the Gem are the Overdrive head and bobbin.  You can use the High Speed head, but it won't add any speed to the Gem as the Little Gem already has the ability to move at very fast speeds.

When you order a Little Gem it comes standard with one delta flyer, 3 standard plastic bobbins, a travel case and a 2 bobbin capacity travel lazy kate. 

Travel Lazy Kate is included with the Little Gem

If you require a 3 bobbin capacity Lazy Kate, you can purchase a Universal Tensioned Lazy Kate as a separate accessory.

Majacraft Universal Tensioned Lazy Kate allows for 3 bobbins - can also accommodate Jumbo Bobbins

The Delta Flyer is easy to thread and constructed of stainless steel.  The flyer hook has an 8 mm orifice.  The flyer bar on the Delta Flyer is 4.7" long. For best results with the Delta Flyer, make sure your fiber is drafting at a 90 degree angle to the flyer bar.  If you are drafting from the side of the wheel, you can swivel the head to achieve the correct angle.

Majacraft Delta Flyer with 8 mm Flyer Hook

The standard plastic bobbins are reversible with brake grooves on both ends.  The core has holes so you can submerge the entire loaded bobbin into a dye bath and get full dispersion of dye into your yarn. The bobbin flange diameter is 3.5", 4.5" long, core diameter is .8 " and the bobbin weighs .22 lbs.

New Majacraft Black Plastic Bobbins will come standard with your Little Gem

You can order your Little Gem to be outfit however you like rather than going with the standard accessories.  If you prefer to order with a different flyer or bobbins, just let me know and I will provide you with a custom quote for your requested configuration.  Majacraft is very flexible and open to customizing to ensure you receive the wheel that allows you to "spin your dreams". 

You can purchase additional accessories for the Little Gem, specifically flyers and bobbins.  Not all flyers and bobbins can or should be used together.

The table below outlines the Flyer and Bobbin accessories you can use with your Little Gem with indication for bobbin compatibility in the body of the table.  The flyers are listed in the first column, bobbins along the top, with comments in the table regarding suitability for the bobbin's use with each type of flyer.  Majacraft has simplified the selection process by creating kits for the optimal combinations of flyer/bobbin.  I will write a blog post in the future with very detailed information about the kits available from Majacraft.

Standard Plastic Bobbin
Standard Wood Bobbin
Lace Bobbin
Baby Bobbin
Stylus Bobbin
Jumbo Bobbin
Lace Flyer
Not Compatible, bobbin too large
Not Compatible, bobbin too large
Best for lace singles
Best for plying lace
Doesn't have a flyer
Not Compatible, bobbin too large
Delta Flyer
Compatible
Compatible
Can be used but not optimal
Can be used but not optimal
Doesn't have a flyer
Not Compatible, bobbin too large
Fine Flyer
Compatible
Compatible
Can be used but not optimal
Can be used but not optimal
Doesn't have a flyer
Not Compatible, bobbin too large
Hybrid Aura Flyer
Can be used but not optimal
Can be used but not optimal
Can be used but not optimal
Can be used but not optimal
Doesn't have a flyer
Compatible
Wild Flyer
Can be used but not optimal
Can be used but not optimal
Can be used but not optimal
Can be used but not optimal
Doesn't have a flyer
Compatible
Plying Flyer
Can be used but not optimal
Can be used but not optimal
Can be used but not optimal
Can be used but not optimal
Doesn't have a flyer
Compatible

 

The Little Gem has two drive bands.  There is the drive band that connects the pedals to the drive wheel.  When reordering this band it is called the Little Gem Lower Drive band.  This band is thicker (4 mm diameter) and shorter.  There is also a band that connects the drive band to the flyer whorl (2 mm diameter, 43.3 inches long).  This is called the Little Gem Upper Drive Band.  When you ply with the Little Gem you cross the upper drive band rather than reverse your treadling.

You can adjust the height of the Little Gem by loosening the wooden lock knob on the stem and easing the entire spinning head upwards.  You can also adjust the direction the head face if you like to draft off to the side of your wheel.

The recommended retail price on the Little Gem is $1,190 USD.  If you decide to tailor the accessories, we can reprice it accordingly.

Links/Resources:

Purchase a Little Gem

Majacraft Little Gem Live Stream Video

Majacraft Little Gem Assembly Manual

How to change the lower drive band video

Little Gem Maintenance Video

Plying with the Little Gem Video


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