ANSWER: I spun bulky & art yarns for 10 years on an Ashford Country Spinner (ACS) A-Frame, which had one ratio of 1:4. If I wanted to spin fine, I treadled faster. If I was spinning tail-spun or embellishments, I treadled slower. I never had a problem, and never needed a different ratio. And I do not notice a difference in twist between 1:4 ACS and 1:4.5 Echo. I do notice a difference in treadle feel, because of how each wheel is designed. And neither is better or worse - it’s a matter of preference. I’m comfortable on both.
If you are considering purchasing a new ACS, I recommend starting with the 1:4 ratio. Any ratio higher than 1:4 will take more effort to treadle, especially when you’re filling big bobbins with heavy yarn. This isn’t a fault, it’s a fact. If you do want to try a higher ratio on a new ACS, I recommend completely removing or lowering the tension. This will make it easier to treadle at high speeds.
QUESTION: …The lowest ratio on the Echo is 1:4.5, whereas the 32 oz [SpinOlution] Hopper does 1:1, 1:1.5, 1:2, and 1:3 on the "low" whorl. Apart from the price, wouldn't a 32 oz Hopper make the most sense for art yarn? (I ask because I'm in the market for a bulky/art yarn wheel.)”
ANSWER: Some spinners might prefer a ratio lower than 1:4, but I find 1:4 just fine for the yarns I prefer to spin. It probably depends on what you're accustomed to. Since I spent 10 years on 1:4, I find 1:1 too slow for my liking. But that's just me.
Regarding the Hopper, it is a unique wheel that spinners either love or hate. Many spinners find that the Hopper is a comfortable couch wheel - but that depends on how you feel comfortable sitting and spinning. Using the Hopper on a chair that is too tall or too short (or too far away or too near) can be a workout. I call it "The Goldilocks Wheel" - you need to find a chair that is "just right" for you to truly love your Hopper. SpinOlution sells a studio chair that, at a lower height, works great for me.
I recommend test driving the Hopper before purchase, because it is such a unique design. If there isn't a Hopper to test drive near you, consider the 30-day moneyback guarantee from SpinOlution. Try the wheel with different low chairs in your home, and if it doesn't suit you - ship it back for a full refund minus shipping.
QUESTION: The master spinner in my guild only approves of the Ashford, and doesn't like Spinolution because she says yarn slips off the pegs. Is that really a problem?
ANSWER: It's not a problem when you use the left side pegs for spinning and the right side pegs for plying. The momentum of the flyer rotating in a clockwise/counter-clockwise direction causes the yarn to be pressed against the flyer arm and pegs and prevents the yarn from jumping. In short: Clockwise on the left, Counter-Clockwise on the right.
In comparison, I have had problems with delicate locks or light & airy textures getting shredded and ruined by hooks on other wheel brands. Loop-guides don't work for me either, because they limit the yarn just like a small orifice. I prefer pegs for the style of yarn I spin.
The only time I have jumpy yarn is when spinning heavy embellishments (like big glass beads). And it's not the wheel's fault, it's the physics that happen with the yarn. The momentum of a heavy glass bead will pull the lightweight yarn away from the pegs as the flyer spins - and might cause the yarn to jump. Therefore, I always hand-wind heavy embellishments so they don't jump (or shatter, in the case of glass beads). It's safer to hand-wind heavy embellishments regardless of the wheel brand or flyer type.
Master spinners are a great resource for learning what wheel is right for you. Thanks for considering my $0.02 and Happy Spinning!