The other thing which no-one appears to have mentioned is that as knitterly's arrangements were made through e-mails, it was no longer a verbal agreement. She had it in writing that the wheel would be brought to the later show for her to buy, and the seller had it in writing that knitterly would be there, with cash in hand.
Perhaps the lacemaking world is more 'reputable' than the spinning one but I doubt it and I have always found that most crafts people are willing to respect the word of others and not been burnt in the same way that you might be selling a bed or a second hand electrical thingy to Joe Bloggs who you have never seen before and will never see again.
The circles around the various crafts are relatively small, the seller and buyers of related items are likely to bump into each other at these shows time and time again and I can understand 100% why knitterly is befuddled by the seller's attitude. As they are both already going to the show where the wheel was originally going to be handed over, what did the seller thing knitterly was going to do - change her mind? After having had the photographs and made enquiries about exact sizes etc. Would it have been possible to post her a cheque for a deposit on the wheel to sooth her anxieties?
The only niggle I have is whether there might be an inconspicuous flaw in the wheel which doesn't show in the photographs. As the seller has worked out that knitterly knows what she is talking about, there is a good chance that she would spot the flaw and say "no thanks". So if in the meantime she could find a less experienced buyer, she might feel that she should take the money. But that is pure conjecture and comes from the bad, cynical half of my brain because I can't think of another reason for the seller's distrust!
Long post again, sorry. I seem to be long winded today.
I have found the craft world in general to be extremely reputable. I bought my current wheel online through a spinning forum from a spinner on the other side of the continent. I sent her the money by paypal and trusted her to send me the wheel in exchange. This was just a person - a fellow spinner, not an actual dealer. I was buying a used vintage wheel, not a new wheel from a supplier. If she took my money and didn't send the wheel, I would have had little recourse.
I posted the tale on another forum - before it was resolved. Pretty much everyone was shocked.
The seller did make good fairly quickly, though (though to be fair, I am still waiting to hear the details for pickup this weekend).
There was some information I took out of my explanatory post that I felt might be going overboard in the information dept, but I'll add it in here:
Spinners - at least serious spinners - tend to get rather attached to their wheels. In addition to it being fairly common to own more than one, it's also pretty common to name one's wheel(s). With human names. One tends to assign personalities and otherwise anthropomorphize their wheels. Purchasing a used (especially a vintage or antique) wheel is often referred to as "adopting" the wheel.
In fact, I referred to it as such very early in our email exchange with the line "I look forward to adopting this little beauty." I got unfortunately attached very early on (she's SUCH a pretty wheel!!) and even gave her a name (Holda for the germanic goddess associated with the household and spinning - my current wheel is named Elaine) when I began talking about her over on my spinning forum. This is all peripheral information that in no way affects how one sees an email transaction and a plan to purchase, so I opted to remove it. But there it is - the reason for my emotional reaction to the possibility of losing out on a purchase.
And you're right about crafting circles often being quite small. I can count on my hands the number of spinners in my mid-sized city. There simply aren't that many of us. It's still not a very popular hobby - certainly not as popular as knitting. Chances are, in fact, that our paths have even crossed before without us realizing it.
But again, that doesn't make one of us right and the other wrong. The emotions don't really address the etiquette, as we've often seen here in many stories.
As for the possibility of some other undisclosed flaw - that is something I have considered, too. One of my very best friends lives much closer to the seller than I do. In fact, I could easily ask my friend to drive up and buy the wheel for me. I'd pay her back by bank transfer or paypal and then get the wheel whenever I got up to see her or she came to see me. But she has never spun before and would not know if the wheel was worth what I am paying for it. I am 99% sure it is, just based on the pictures (and also based on the other ads she has up - often other ads paint a bigger picture of why things are being sold, and I have a pretty good idea of what that picture looks like), but I do want to sit down at it myself.
When I adopted Elaine, I was able to do it entirely online because the seller had a solid reputation in the forum and I knew a good deal about that particular model of wheel.