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Good Wheels-Bad Business.

In 1979, I bought my first spinning wheel from a small mail-order business that specialized in Sheep Equipment and supplies. I had a hard time justifying the purchase at that time, since my husband and I had just moved to our farm. We were burdened with college loans, mortgages and livestock feed-bills, so even an inexpensive wheel was an extravagance. Especially since I didn't even know how to spin.

I promised myself I would at least spin enough yarn on the wheel to pay for it, bit the bullet and ordered. The UPS man dropped it off in town at the local general store. I remember thinking the box looked like nothing so much as an extra large deep dish pizza box! The wheel came home, went together in hardly any time at all, and was soon spinning merrily along.That Ashford traveller is still, 18 years later, my favorite wheel. And I have spun hundreds of times the cost of that wheel in beautiful yarn, both for my own use and that of many knitting, crocheting and weaving customers from coast to coast. A few years later, I decided to sell Ashford Wheels, and became Northern Maines only dealer for many years. I took the wheels to fairs and festivals, workshops and spinning competitions. I have loved Ashford Wheels all these years and still do.

But I no longer sell them.

Ashford products are solely available from one distibutor: Crystal Palace Yarns. Over the years, I have had several disagreements and problems with the owners, but it all came to a head last year when U.S. Dealers were sent an edict banning advertised sales or discounts on Ashford Wheels. I have sold many wheels at discount to 4-H kids, elementary teachers, struggling farmers, fiber-mad college students and so on. Being forbidden to price these wheel as I see fit, is, in my opinion against the price-fixing regulations of the Sherman Act. I said so publicly. A few weeks later,without any prior notice, I was banned from the dealer's list, ostensably for being too small to be profitable. Prior to this decision, I was on the A-List a designation for larger volume dealers.

I feel Crystal Palace has treated me unfairly. I believe they are morally unethical in their business practices. If you feel that competition, small business, and freedom of enterprise are important. Please let Crystal Palace AND Ashford Handicrafts know. I thank you.