The Wheels We Use
Spinning wheels provide the most convenient and efficient way of twisting fibre
into yarn. There is as much design and craftsmanship in each wheel as there is in the yarn they produce.
Today’s spinning wheels are carved and turned of hardwood and used only by craftspeople for handspun yarns. The raw materials for most
modern spinning wheels are wood, wood glue, clear lacquer or urethane, and some bits and pieces of metal,
primarily used as wire on the wheel. Some spinning wheels have brass fittings.
Hand powered spinning wheels are powered by the spinner turning a crank for flywheel with their
hand; these are not as prevalent as the more common Saxony and Castle wheels.
The upright wheel, or Castle wheel, is a popular choice for spinners who want to be able to
transport their wheels. These spinning wheels have a characteristic “old world” styling and charm, wanted by
today’s spinners. The Castle has an antique look and can have a high degree of wood turning, making it fancy as well as functional.
The Saxony wheel is the most recognized of all the shapes and sizes, its
configuration being horizontal and offset. When the larger drive wheel rotates once, it moves the much smaller
flyer in the same direction eight times, providing that degree of twist.
There are Single Drive and Double drive wheels, the “drive” referring to the band that joins the
wheel to the flyer. Single drive spinning wheels have one string joining the two moving wheels whereas Double
drive spinning wheels have one string folded to look like two strings, one on the flyer’s whorl, the other one
the bobbin itself.
Some spinning wheels are designed to be powered by a single treadle, and
therefore a single foot, while others are designed as a double treadle. Double treadle spinning wheels have two pedals and operate using both
There is a continual process of improvement and innovation in design, while retaining the aesthetic
appeal of a graceful spinning wheel.