Saturday, March 19, 2011

To Spindle or To Wheel?

To most folks the traditional wheel is what sleeping beauty used to spin fiber into yarn. And yet she pricked her finger on what we believe to be a spindle. According to Mary Boulet, who discussed and shared her collection of spindles with us, the spindle predated the wheel. Spinning is frequently seen in myths and legends, with twists of plots and evil consequences. The traditional wheel was not common before the 16th century, thus, it is believed that most of the stories are referring to the spindle. If you're interested in the history behind the spindle, the internet is a wealth of information.

A spindle is a spike (shaft) which is used to spin fibers into thread or yarn. It's commonly weighed, e.g., weighed at the bottom, it's called a drop spindle, weighed in the middle or top, it's called a whorl. There are also supported spindles, Navajo spindles, turkish spindles and tahkli.

I was amazed at the number of different spindles available and in use today. They come in different sizes, woods, metals, weights, designs as well as types. On the table in the picture, are just a few of those available. Other spinners brought in their own spindles to share and to demonstrate how they work. They are a convenient way to spin anywhere. As we all know the wheel is hardly portable; it requires a little heft to carry. The spindle allows spinning to be a "take along project".

A great presentation!

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