Issue #88 - April 2015

View The Highlights & Photographs From This Issue.

A variety of tools are used in conjunction with spinning wheels: distaffs that hold the prepared fibers; hatchels or hackles that are used to prepare the flax fiber for spinning; reels for winding skeins after the thread has been spun; and swifts for unwinding the skeins. We will learn about some interesting examples of these tools and also about the intriguing bobbin/flyer mechanism on a parlor wheel and about a spinning wheel designed by a scientist.


Ancient Distaffs

Kim Caulfield is an experienced handspinner who loves to read about history, anthropology, and archaeology. She has been researching ancient hand-held distaffs, especially those made of glass, for some time. She presents what she has figured out about them so far.

A hand-held distaff
A hand-held distaff

Ancient glass distaffs
Ancient glass distaffs

Distaff with finger ring
Distaff with finger ring

A Clock Reel Marked E. FROST 1823

In the course of setting up a "weaver's cottage" for a newly established farm museum, Peggy Church came across an elegant wooden reel marked E. FROST, with a date of 1823. She describes the features of this object, but her efforts to discover the maker have thus far been unsuccessful.

Reel marked E. FROST side view
Reel marked E. FROST side view

Reel marked E. FROST front view
Reel marked E. FROST front view

Mark on reel
Mark on reel

A Decorated Hatchel and A Dual-Purpose Device

Carlton Stickney has a large collection of textile tools. He tells about two of them: a hatchel [or hackle] with an eagle motif picked out in tin, and a dual-functioning metal reel and swift that is based on a patent issued to Josiah Foreman Palmer in 1867.

Hatchel with eagle design
Hatchel with eagle design

Eagle punched design
Eagle punched design

Reel/swift horizontal arrangement
Reel/swift horizontal arrangement

Reel/swift vertical arrangement
Reel/swift vertical arrangement

An Intriguing Flyer/Bobbin Arrangement

Intrigued by the strange bobbin/flyer mechanism on a small parlor wheel on auction from Germany, Krysten Morganti bid on it and won. She explains how this unusual system works.

German parlor wheel
German parlor wheel

Close-up of bobbin/flyer arrangement
Close-up of bobbin/flyer arrangement

A "Debbi" Wheel by C. Norman Hicks

Linda Martin came across a spinning wheel labeled "Debbi" that was built by the scientist C. Norman Hicks. She describes the wheel and gives a short biography of Hicks.

Debbi wheel
"Debbi" wheel

Close-up of pivoting arm and bobbin/flyer
Close-up of pivoting arm and bobbin/flyer