Issue #88 – April 2015


• Ancient Distaffs
• A Clock Reel Marked E. FROST 1823
• A Decorated Hatchel and A Dual-Purpose Device
• An Intriguing Flyer/Bobbin Arrangement
• A “Debbi” Wheel by C. Norman Hicks


Highlights 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 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.

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.

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.

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.