Spinning Wheel Differences

While the goal of the Colonial spinner was to expedite the making of yarn so that it could be woven, knit or made into lace, todays’ spinner uses a spinning wheel mostly for relaxation and to express the creative urge that often manifests with a fiber addiction.

Even still we enjoy a variety of wheels to choose from, each with some feature that makes it attractive to a particular spinner. 

Or, if you are like me, you have many wheels in use all at the same time, a luxury I doubt our Early American sisters enjoyed!

Among the many differences in antique spinning wheels are such things as:

  • tensioning devices
  • bobbins
  • flyers
  • drive bands
  • size of the drive wheel
  • # of treadles
  • position of flyer above or below the drive wheel
  • solid drive wheels vs. drive wheels with spokes
  • wheels with distaffs
  • wheels with more than one bobbin and flyer
  • wheels with elaborate turnings
  • plain wheels
  • more than one drive wheel
  • style 

Among all of these features, some were designs for making the wheel more efficient and  some were decorative.

It was common for men to experiment with spinning wheel design and occassionally create a dud. Once in a while we come across one today and thankfully there aren’t too many of them.

Some spinning wheels were patented. 

In the case of Amos Minor only the accelerated head was patented. It proved so popular that there are many “knock  offs” seen today. So, if you see an “accelerated head”  on a spinning wheel, don’t jump to the conclusion that it is a “Minors’  Head” because it may be any one of several others made around the same time.

If you follow the link below, it will take you to Google Images which will display a good variety of wheels just to get an idea of what the world of antique spinning wheels holds.

Among them is a “Patented Wheel” also known as a “Pendulum Wheel“, a modern “Babe” wheel, several Saxonies from different areas and showing regional characteristics. Take time to look at each, they really are quite different.


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3 Responses to “Spinning Wheel Differences”

  1. sonjakathleen Says:

    I do just want to tell you how much I’m enjoying your blog. I don’t knit blog much any more, nor do I read more than a couple, but the start of your blog just happens to coincide with my desire to learn more about the walking wheel I acquired in late 2006. I’m sure you know, it’s hard to find much information out there. Thanks!

  2. kathrynmcmahonconsultant Says:

    Walking Wheels are my absolute favorites among wheels, so if you need any encouragement, advice etc. drop me a line!

    I visited your blog and wonder if you’re still flick carding your fiber?

    I hand card all of mine, it takes ALOT of practice ……days and days and days to get the hang of it and/or combing. I had combs a long time ago and gave up, went back to carding. I think in retrospect that I gave up on them too soon but I like the carding.
    You also have to break in the cards, it takes alot of hours too.

    Thank you for your kind words, I wasn’t sure anyone was reading my blog.

  3. sonjakathleen Says:

    It didn’t take me long to realize that flick carding and pulling the fiber through the hole wasn’t much fun either, and I wasn’t that happy with the spun result either.

    Justin temporarily fell by the wayside in my busy world, but I picked him up again last month (mostly because I was scheduled to do a colonial spinning/weaving demo at my son’s school). I saw a technique in one of Bette Hochberg’s books, to create the rolag from side to side on the comb instead of top to bottom, and I like the yarn this is producing. I get better results when I don’t overload the cards. I’m spinning this fleece on the Louet.

    An acquaintance of mine has a Rio Grande wheel and has mentioned a couple of pointers for spindle wheel spinning, so I’m sure it won’t be long before I try the walking wheel again. (I’m not overly optimistic, since I can’t work a drop spindle without a hook on the end, and even then…) I finally figured out what the tensioning device is. I don’t know if you saw the photo on my blog, but it has a direct drive on a bat’s head, and you just angle the hole between the uprights (and thus the head) more or less away from the wheel.
    I’m still enjoying your blog! Have you considered joining a blog ring devoted to similar topics?

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