Spinning a Yarn
Spinning a Yarn.
by John Hansen © 2014
"What you see is what you get!"
The salesman gives his spiel,
"There are no hidden gimmicks.
It's an antique spinning wheel.
The wheel and frame, mahogany,
It spins a perfect line,
The speed adjusts to suit your taste,
It's craftmanship's devine.
Four bobbins and a lazy-kate
Accompany the wheel.
A niddy-noddy I'll throw in
To help cement the deal.
The best part is its ease of use,
You'll find spinning is such fun.
From any fibre you procure,
You can make your own handspun.
Dye the fibre if you wish
In skeins of many colours,
Then knit or crochet scarves and gloves,
Socks, beanies, and pullovers.
I'm giving you a special deal,
You need not sell the barn.
So please forgive me for the pun,
I'm not spinning you a yarn."
How To Use A Spinning Wheel
Earliest Recorded History of the Spinning Wheel
Spinning is the drawing and twisting of fibrous materials into one continuous length. Early man (or woman) discovered this process through observation and experimentation with the natural materials available. Man has attempted, through the ages, to speed up production process of thread making, the principles of spinning have remained unchanged to this present day.
In the beginning the twisting was done by rolling the fibres between the fingers and the continuous length of spun yarn was stored on a stick. From this stick the first spindle evolved. A weight called a 'whorl' was added towards one end of the stick or near the centre acting as a flywheel. The whorl could vary in shape but was usually disk or ball shaped and made from stone, glass, bone, clay or bronze. The strength of the fibre being spun determined the weight and size of the spindle and whorl used.
The Spinning Wheel
The closest historians can determine is that sometime between 500 BC and 750 AD, the spindle became mechanised and this probably occurred in India Where a spinning wheel was developed called a 'charkha'. This seemed to have evolved from a reel that the Chinese used for unwinding raw silk from silk-worm cocoons.
In the chakra the spindle was mounted on two supports, with the whorl functioning as a pulley, and the spindle being spun by a belt running from the whorl to a drive wheel. The chakra was also built without legs and would have required the user to sit on the ground to operate it.
The chakra may have found it's way to Europe during the Middle Ages, and later introduced to the British Isles from Holland in the 14th century. The Europeans mounted the base on legs so it could be operated while sitting on a stool, and because it was used for spinning wool, it became known as the 'wool wheel' or 'great wheel'.
ref: Spinning and Spinning Wheels by Eliza Leadbeater pp. 3-4.
"In her book Spinning Wheels, Spinners and Spinning, Patricia Baines reports of written evidence to the presence of spinning wheels in Persia in 1257; and linguistic evidence that suggests they came to Persia from India, so it is entirely possible that they were in use prior to this time. The earliest known artwork depicting a spinning wheel comes from China around 1270 and depicts a “wheel” with long bamboo spokes."
ref: A History and Evolution of Spinning http://kws.atlantia.sca.org/spinning.html
- Spinning and Spinning Wheels
- The Joy of Handspinning – Hand spinning wool into yarn with a spinning wheel or drop spind
- Spinning Wheel, Spinning Wheels at Webs
Spinning Wheels are available at WEBS. We carry wheels from Ashford, Kromski, Lendrum, Louet and Schacht, as well as a full selection of spinning fibers and accessories.