The Spinning Wheel

The spinning wheel has been used by weavers for hundreds of years. Up to now, several people the world over are still using the tool, even though it is now available in a variety of designs, functions and types. You can find spinning wheels working mechanically, while there are also electronic versions that make very intricate and even designs.

About the Wheel

A spinning wheel is described as a device used to spin yarn or thread using synthetic or natural fibers. The earliest clear images of the spinning wheel originated in Baghdad in 1237, Europe 1280 and China 1270. The spinning wheels may already have been in use in China and the Islamic world during the eleventh century. The spinning wheel was presented to India by Iran during the thirteenth century.

The spinning wheel substituted the earlier approach of hand spinning using a spindle. The first stage in mechanizing the process was to mount the spindle in a horizontal manner, so it can be rotated using a cord that encircles a big hand-driven wheel. The great wheel is a good example of this kind, wherein the fibre is held in the left hand, while the wheel is gradually turned using the right hand.


The fibre is held at a slight angle to the spindle to provide the required twist. The spun yarn was wound onto the spindle by moving it so that a right angle is formed using the spindle. The type of wheel, although known in Europe in the 14th century, was not in general use until the later years. The wheel was used widely to spin different yarns until the start of the 19th century and the mechanization of spinning.

The Technology

The technology used for spinning was already widespread before most of the people adopted, thereby making it difficult to adjust the dates of the developments. In 1533, a Brunswick citizen is known to have added a treadle, wherein the spinner can rotate the spindle using one foot and still have two hands to freely spin. The flyer was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci, which twists the yarn before it winds onto the spindle. During the 16th century, it was very common to use a treadle wheel with flyer. This has become widely popular because the weaver does not need to stop spinning to wind the yarn.

New Changes

The Industrial Revolution during the 18th century affected the spinning industry greatly by mechanizing the spinning wheel. The Roller Spinning machine was patented by John Wyatt and Lewis Paul. More improvements ensued leading to the first open end spinning mills and the rotor mills in the United States during the 1780s and 1790s. More modern machines followed which used a mechanical approach to rotate the spindle. An automatic method was used to draw out the fibers. There are now new technologies that provide faster yarn production.

The Internet

You can now order spindles and spinning wheels online depending on the type of work you want to complete. There are several web sites and forums where you can meet the experts and talk about the different available yarns and spindles you can use for the best work.