A spinning wheel is a sophisticated machine used to turn fiber into yarn or thread. This yarn or thread is then woven into cloth on a loom. The wheel combines and twists fibers together to form thread or yarn and then gather the twisted thread on a bobbin so as to be used as yarn for the loom. The man has been spinning fibers for many centuries as woven clothes can’t be made without producing yarn or thread. Many believe the spinning process originated from old towns in China or India as early as the sixth century.
The spinning process
The process of making threads is based on the principle that if a bunch of textile fibers is held in one hand and then few strands pulled out from the pack, the few will break from the rest. However, if some fibers are pulled from the pack while being twisted, the few pulled out will begin to form a thread. If this thread is let go it will immediately untwist. However, if wound on a stick or bobbin, it will remain a thread that can be used for weaving or sewing.
Types of spinning wheels
1. Castle Wheel
A castle or upright has its flyer and spindle located above the spinning wheel. Invented in Ireland in the 19th century, most castle wheels have four legs and are typically more compact than other types of spinning wheels. Common types include;
– Kromski Minstrel
– Ashford’s Birch
– Jensen Tina II
– European Alder
2. Norwegian Wheel
The Norwegian wheel resembles the traditional Saxony in appearance. It is available in a broad range of hardwood including oak, walnut, mesquite and cherry. This wheel is characterized by wheel angle adjustments that allow the flyer to be set to optimal working angle. Common types include;
– Kromski Polonaise
3. Saxony Wheel
Also known as Cinderella or Flax wheel, it is a three-legged structure with its components arranged horizontally. Its flyer is on one end and the wheel on the other. They are made from Cherry, Maple, Birch, Maple and Hardwoods.
– The Elizabeth
– Kromski Symphony
– Ashford traditional wheels
Categories of Spinning Wheels
Classification of spinning wheels according to categories is based on the working principle or mechanism by which the wheel operates. In this class, we have the following;
1. Hand-powered wheels
These are spinning wheels that are powered by the spinner turning a crank for flywheel with their hand, as opposed to pressing the pedals or else using a mechanical engine. They include the following;
– Great wheel
2. Treadle Wheel
The treadle wheel is powered by the spinner’s foot rather than their hand or motor. The spinner sits and pumps a foot treadle that turns the drive via a crankshaft and a connecting rod. They include;
– Double drive
– Single drive
– Castle style
Factors to consider when purchasing a spinning wheel
There are many spinning wheels available and all of them add a twist to fiber and spin yarn. Some spinning wheels will be a better match for each spinner. In addition to the price, there are some important things to consider that usually narrow the choice to just a few wheels. Below are some of the factors to consider;
– Which hand is your orifice hand and that hand is the fiber hand.
– Where will you be using it?
– How much space do you have?
– How do you position your feet on the treadle?
– What fibers and what types of yarn will you be spinning?
Where to buy a spinning wheel
With all the above factors discussed; categories, types, and factors to consider when purchasing the device, it is now your time to purchase a spinning wheel. The recommended spinning wheels for beginners include;
The used wheels can offer a great value and with proper maintenance, the wheel will retain the same price value as new one. You can get a much higher end wheel used than you would be able to afford a brand-new. Good sites and places to find a spinning wheels include;
– Flea markets
– Antique and used goods store
– Estate Sales/Auctions
How to properly maintain your spinning wheel
As you are using the spinning wheel, you might forget about the routine maintenance it requires. Purchasing a spinning wheel is a significant investment thus taking proper care of it will ensure that it spins smoothly for years to come. Here are some tricks and tips for proper maintenance of the machine.
– Oil whenever movements or frictions happen. Oiling should be done approximately every 12 hours of use. (Movement occurs in the following areas; bobbin, flyer, wheel, and treadle.)
– Clean the wood of your wheel. You can use a lemon essential oil as an all-natural cleaner.
– Nourish and seal the wood of your wheel. Different spinners prefer different finishes for their spinning wheels. You can use wood wax or preserver to moisturize the wood of your wheel.