Tag: spinning wheel

A Short History of Spinning

The spinning wheel is a very old tool and has often been important as a symbol. Among the best known is that of St. Elizabeth of Hungary who spun for the poor.

Wrongly associated, popular culture has linked the wheel to the tale of Sleeping Beauty. This error arose from the proliferation of illustrations showing the protagonist pricking herself with a hypothetical needle on a wheel. However, the wheel does not consist of any needle-like part. Originally, Sleeping Beauty was punctured with a spindle.

In India, the wheel is a symbol of the struggle against British imperialism. As part of his campaign of civil disobedience, Gandhi convinced his followers that the best way to attack the British Empire was not to buy Manchester's textile products and make the clothes themselves by hand. The campaign inspired many people and succeeded in peacefully hurting the interests of powerful colonialism, helping the peoples of India achieve independence. Thus, the wheel became one of the symbols of India's independence.

The wheel first appears in about 3000 BC.

The spindle spinning wheel arrived in Europe from the oriental region towards the end of the 12th century. It began to spread in Central Europe in the 13th century, as the source evidenced by prohibitions on the use of the spindle spinning wheel for the guilds associated with cloth making.

The following prohibitions are documented, for example: 1224 Venice, 1256 Bologna, 1268 Paris, 1280 Speyer, 1288 Abbeville, 1292 Siena, 1305 Douai. In the crafts regulations of the Weber von Speyer it is expressly permitted only for the production of yarn.

The reason for the restriction to yarn is controversial. The bans may have been enacted to protect the high quality of the wool yarn produced with a hand spindle. For example, the so-called Livre des metiers from Bruges (ca. 1349) states that wool spun with the spindle spinning wheel is generally too weak, uneven, insufficiently rolled and too knotty. The spindle spinning wheel remained banned for guild use in some regions until the 15th and 16th centuries.

The first pictorial proof of a (still hand-driven) spinning wheel dates back to 1480. The inventor of this completely new functionality of the spinning device is unknown. Leonardo da Vinci later designed a spinning mechanism with a longitudinal spinning wheel, which probably did not spread. A foot powered was developed in the middle of the 17th century.

The first mechanical spinning machines of the 18th century were used as templates for both of the above-powered spinning wheel systems. The slightly older Spinning Jenny is based on the two-stage settling technique of the simple spindle, while the spinning frame developed almost simultaneously used spinning wheels.

Even after the introduction of more modern spinning machines, the spinning wheel was still used in the domestic area and was not drive-out of style until the 19th century.

Even today, modern spinning wheels are being built and developed by numerous craft companies, mostly for the needs of leisure spinners. There are even electrically operated spinning "wheels" in which the pulling of the thread is still done by hand, while the flywheel is replaced by the electric drive. This spinning equipment are mainly used in small businesses.

I Am Not In the Business of Spinning

For some reason when I was start talking about spinning they seem to think that this is my profession. I am admittedly very passionate about it. It would also me miss leading to suggest that I haven’t played around with the idea of starting my own spinning business. But thinking about starting a business and actually do it are two entirely different things. While it would absolutely invigorating to be able to wake up in the morning and know that the day would be dedicated to my hobby it is on the other hand daunting. As anyone who knows what the market is like knows that it is a demanding task. On top of that it is an industry with rather narrow margins. Even with the added value of home/hand spun yarn it takes a lot of it to actually make up for the time invested in creating a skein. Of course you are not forced into a specified length. As most manufacturer choose a length of yarn for their skein, this length can vary, however, the market has dictated some standards through the years. The artisan spinner does not need to produce the longest skein. From a business perspective this is a pleasant prospect, yet there is also a hurdle in which one needs to jump… Does your product entice buyers? The reason we have industrial spun thread and yarns is because they are easier to produce, faster, and in most cases of higher quality. Or is it? Many of you feel that the artisan spun character far out weighs the pros of an industrial produced thread. For those of us with that opinion it is easy to become blinded by what we perceive as value and what our customers will perceive as value (compared to what our higher price point will also convey). Novelty and value. Is this enough to build a business? Can we place these two values down as a cornerstone, hang them on our shingle and offer customers something better than the yarns ans threads produced in a factory? To answer this question, to understand what it means, you need to have years of experience spinning. For a novice the answer might be a resounding yes. But through time, with the acquisition of more experience the answer is likely to change. This is why you see so many people offering hand spun assortments at markets and shows, on facebook and co. but rarely the same faces consistently. It is a business and it is hard work to produce a product like this in mass by hand. And if you care to start a successful business you will need to have a lot of merchandise to sell. Even if you only have a few customers. And in the beginning most businesses can only expect to have a handful you will need enough stock to entice them and service their needs. I find it fascinating that there are so many ways to acquire customers for these fledgling endeavors. You can find business and loyalty cards in variations of shapes and sizes with the fitting motif. Artisan markets allow you to hand them out and find potential customers in your locations. If you are dreaming bigger you can offer it on the aforementioned sites or on etsy and other portals. To allow like minded individuals a chance to find and purchase your yarn and yet you need time is against you. As you browse the site you can certain see that a lot of work goes into a simple skein of yarn. Time varies, those of you who have a lot of experience know which corners can be cut, and which can be combined, but once you have that hank in your hands you know the job is yet to be finished. Regardless of the amount of work you know you have invested into your product, it is unlikely that a customer will. Will they put place the same value on the finished ball of yarn as you do? Will the price seem justified of astronomical when they compare what you are selling to that of what they see in the commercial balls that they normally purchase? Answer these questions honestly. You cannot expect to build a successful existence on mis conceptions. When I answered all of those questions to my satisfaction I realized that it was the joy of the work which drove me to want to share. The yarn was just a byproduct of that enjoyment. One in which I felt I could share with others. Thus it was natural to think about it in the context of a small business (a time or two) but once I realized that this was the hard way it slowly slipped into the back of my mind. And the idea for site emerged. A more reasonable and manageable way to share my love for spinin. But, as with all things it is something that people ask me fairly frequently and so I thought that it was only fair to lay out the points that have caused me to stop and contemplate the possibility, to weigh it out an wonder. The final analysis is up to you now. And you have to know for yourself if it seems right or if your love stems from something else. Please, let me know what you decide.