Spinning

Anneliese Fox
4 min readMay 20, 2023

In circles, and every other direction.

Two treadle spinning wheels sitting in the living room.
Two spinning wheels. The one in the foreground is a reproduction, the other an antique. Photo by author

There are three spinning wheels (and a lot of related stuff) under this roof that I call home. Last week, I decided it was time to do something with them.

At that time, none was strictly functional. They’d survived moves and neglect for more than a little while.

The first wheel, the smaller one in front in the photo, is a reproduction wheel that my husband made for me. Given that it took him twenty years to finish the project, I didn’t feel too guilty waiting for my interest in spinning to wax again. That’s not to say that I didn’t try it from time to time, but never for very long, or with very much spinnable fiber.

Mom told me that she never used leather belts for her spinning wheel because leather stretches. Well, I put a leather belt on it because I thought leather looked cool. It stretched. Before attempting to spin, I had to shorten the belt by about three inches.

Belt managed, the wheel still didn’t spin very well. The belt kept coming off, mainly because the alignment of the flyer (the part that does the spinning) with the wheel wasn’t good. After a trip to the shop with the hubby to adjust the Mother of All (the base that holds the flyer assembly), and some strategic lubrication, all of that got fixed. So the wheel now works.

It’s not the greatest wheel for spinning. It was designed for an era when hand spinning was a hobby, not a necessity. It’s a pretty wheel. Not very fast, and it takes a lot of energy to keep the wheel turning. I expect that with time, I will get the wheel spinning better and be able to produce an acceptable yarn with it. But it is going to take a while.

So I went on to the second wheel. A true antique that my mother purchased (as an antique) when I was a teenager. It is the wheel I learned to spin on.

Like the other wheel, this one needed a new belt. Can’t say what happened to the old one, but I think it was damaged before moving the wheel here when Mom came to live with us. Heeding her lesson, I did not put a leather belt on it, but instead used linen rug warp (I think). Strong and durable, not prone to stretch much.

Now, the wheel has moved around a bit in the last ten years (it came to this house five years ago). A lot of the parts…

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Anneliese Fox

Writer of speculative fiction, programmer, artist in wood and clay, owner of Fox Computer Systems. My almost weekly blog follows what interests me at the moment