Friday, June 12, 2015

Spinning Wheel

We wrap up Artisan Week with this picture of a woman working on a spinning wheel. The picture is from 1920. It is amazing to me that people could actually take a lump of wool, spin it into thread, and then make a sweater. To be honest, I am not exactly sure how a spinning wheel works. Maybe someone who has used one could explain.


  1. I use a drop spindle when I teach my Colonial Life classes and explaining that process would take half a page. (Can't fit a wheel into my car!) Not to be rude, but your best bet is to go to Wikipedia and see what they have.

  2. Different methods were used in different periods. As you note, this picture is from 1920. In the Colonial Period, as Lady Anne notes, a drop spindle was used, and that was a far more primitive method than a spinning wheel. I presume that the resulting thread or yarn was not as fine as from a spinning wheel, either. When my great grandparents came from IL to eastern WA in the 1880s with their first two children, they brought a small spinning wheel with them. It ended up with the oldest surviving of those children--my grandmother died before my birth. It was smaller than this, and had a foot pedal. No way of knowing if this one did or not, as it would have been hidden behind the woman's skirt. I longed, as a child, to know how to use it, and to have it for myself. Having been trained to silence before my elders and betters, and adoring this great aunt, to this day I have no idea how to use a spinning wheel, or where in the family it ended up. There are no females in that direct line, but enough people are interested in family history that I am sure that it's being well cared for by some family member.


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