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Spinning a Yarn

John has been writing poetry since his school days. He was awarded the "Best Poet 2014 and 2021" Hubby Awards.

My wife's 'Joey' spinning wheel.

My wife's 'Joey' spinning wheel.

Spinning a Yarn.

"What you see is what you get!"

The salesman gives his spiel,

"There are no hidden gimmicks.

It's an antique spinning wheel.

The wheel and frame, mahogany,

It spins a perfect line,

The speed adjusts to suit your taste,

It's craftmanship's devine.

Four bobbins and a lazy-kate

Accompany the wheel.

A niddy-noddy I'll throw in

To help cement the deal.

The best part is its ease of use,

You'll find spinning is such fun.

Scroll to Continue

From any fibre you procure,

You can make your own handspun.

Dye the fibre if you wish

In skeins of many colours,

Then knit or crochet scarves and gloves,

Socks, beanies, and pullovers.

I'm giving you a special deal,

You need not sell the barn.

So please forgive me for the pun,

I'm not spinning you a yarn."

Earliest Recorded History of the Spinning Wheel

Spinning is the drawing and twisting of fibrous materials into one continuous length. Early man (or woman) discovered this process through observation and experimentation with the natural materials available. Man has attempted, through the ages, to speed up production process of thread making, the principles of spinning have remained unchanged to this present day.

The Spindle

In the beginning the twisting was done by rolling the fibres between the fingers and the continuous length of spun yarn was stored on a stick. From this stick the first spindle evolved. A weight called a 'whorl' was added towards one end of the stick or near the centre acting as a flywheel. The whorl could vary in shape but was usually disk or ball shaped and made from stone, glass, bone, clay or bronze. The strength of the fibre being spun determined the weight and size of the spindle and whorl used.

Spindles L to R. Russian, Turkish, Drop spindle(top whorl), Phang.

Spindles L to R. Russian, Turkish, Drop spindle(top whorl), Phang.

The Spinning Wheel

The closest historians can determine is that sometime between 500 BC and 750 AD, the spindle became mechanised and this probably occurred in India Where a spinning wheel was developed called a 'charkha'. This seemed to have evolved from a reel that the Chinese used for unwinding raw silk from silk-worm cocoons.

In the chakra the spindle was mounted on two supports, with the whorl functioning as a pulley, and the spindle being spun by a belt running from the whorl to a drive wheel. The chakra was also built without legs and would have required the user to sit on the ground to operate it.

The chakra may have found it's way to Europe during the Middle Ages, and later introduced to the British Isles from Holland in the 14th century. The Europeans mounted the base on legs so it could be operated while sitting on a stool, and because it was used for spinning wool, it became known as the 'wool wheel' or 'great wheel'.

ref: Spinning and Spinning Wheels by Eliza Leadbeater pp. 3-4.

"In her book Spinning Wheels, Spinners and Spinning, Patricia Baines reports of written evidence to the presence of spinning wheels in Persia in 1257; and linguistic evidence that suggests they came to Persia from India, so it is entirely possible that they were in use prior to this time. The earliest known artwork depicting a spinning wheel comes from China around 1270 and depicts a “wheel” with long bamboo spokes."

A primitive wheel from Burma. Only one step removed from a hand spindle. The Indian charkha probably resembled this in design and function.

A primitive wheel from Burma. Only one step removed from a hand spindle. The Indian charkha probably resembled this in design and function.

My wife's 'Sleeping Beauty' spinning wheel.

My wife's 'Sleeping Beauty' spinning wheel.

© 2014 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 06, 2015:

Hi Don, the old crafts like spinning and weaving seem to be going through a revival and the making of designer and unique spinning wheels and even spindles is now huge business. They can fetch quite amazing prices. It's a pity your friend never realised his dream. We have one wheel that has a metal base similar to a bicycle frame that was hand made and spins brilliantly.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 06, 2015:

Thanks for the reading and the vote up and share Mary. Pity you had to downsize and give your spinning wheel to your daughter. I hope she uses it. My wife gave one of her older ones to our daughter and she taught herself to spin and has turned it into a business spinning luxury yarns. Have a great day.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on May 06, 2015:

I like to see people take an interest in the old crafts, such as spinning. I had friends, both of whom having died since I last saw them, who belonged to an organization devoted to the old arts/crafts. One of these men was a blacksmith and planned to turn it into a usiness when he retired from his job. Unfortunately he never reached retirement. I hope others seek an interest in these arts and crafts.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on May 06, 2015:

I bought an antique spinning wheel, but I had to give it away to a daughter when I downsized. My daddy was a "spinner" at a textile mill many years ago. I watched him at work once, and I was amazed at how fast his fingers flew!

I enjoyed reading, and I learned a new term today: "lazy-kate".

Voted UP, etc. and shared.

Rebecca Be from Lincoln, Nebraska on October 13, 2014:

I want to eventually learn to spin so went to the library and found nothing on the history. We have a guild here in town that weaves and spins. You have information in here I have been looking for, great hub!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 13, 2014:

Thanks for reading and for your interesting comment Chef. Yes I would love to check out your area and the Tolson Museum.

Andrew Spacey from Sheffield, UK on June 13, 2014:

Interesting yarn, thank you. I live in a village that used to be full of weavers back in the day before industrialisation took over. In fact many areas of Yorkshire were dedicated to spinning and weaving. There are weaver's cottages still standing - you can tell them by the number of windows facing south to catch the light! And just up the road is the Tolson Museum near Huddersfield, packed with the history of weaving and spinning. There are many great 'wheels' in there. You'd love it!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 07, 2014:

Thank you for your kind comment Chitrangada. Spinning is seeing a resurgence in my country at the moment. My wife belongs to a spinning group and even my daughter has taken it up. They spin and dye their own yarn and then knit, crochet or weave it into many garments.I am glad you enjoyed this hub.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 07, 2014:

Very nice poem and interesting information about spinning wheels.

I have seen artisans spinning yarn on the spinning wheel at the Mahatma Gandhi's ashram. It is a very rare skill these days.

It is a great talent to have. Nice and enjoyable hub! Voted up!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 07, 2014:

Thank you for reading Vellur. I am pleased you found this interesting.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 07, 2014:

Great poem and an interesting insight to spinning wheels.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 06, 2014:

Thanks very much Phyllis. Yes I always liked that song too.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on June 06, 2014:

Thanks for the added info on the history, Jodah -- it is really interesting. I love Spinning Wheel by BS&T, on of my favorite bands and songs.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 06, 2014:

I have added additional text to this hub relating to the origin of "spinning" and some extra photos. Now readers don't have to go to one of the links to read the basic history of the spinning wheel.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 26, 2014:

Hi Ann, we all have certan talents and have to concentrate on developing them. Some fortunate souls are good at everything they try. Thank you for reading and your interesting comment.

Ann Carr from SW England on May 26, 2014:

Sadly, my practical skills don't stretch in that direction! Don't like knitting or sewing. I prefer drawing, painting and writing; each to his/her own, eh?! I do have a friend, though, who has a spinning jenny and still uses it. Ann

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 25, 2014:

Thank you Ann. My wife is enthusiastic about keeping the art of spinning alive, and it actually seems to be experiencing a resurgence here in Australia. Glad this poem sold it to you, now I expect you to buy a spinning wheel on eBay and watch the instructional video...and start

Ann Carr from SW England on May 25, 2014:

Super poem about a dying art. You certainly sold it to me! Ann

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 25, 2014:

Yes shanmarie, Rumplestiltskin of course. Glad you enjoyed this, and thanks for reading.

Shannon Henry from Texas on May 25, 2014:

I am definitely not a knitting person, but I really enjoyed this poem and the history info that followed. Might even be a slight urge to go read Rumple Rumpelstiltskin. :)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 24, 2014:

Thanks Frank. I appreciate your comment. The last verse came to me first, and I wrote the poem around that.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 24, 2014:

Thanks for your interesting comment Suzanne. My wife took up spinning a couple of years ago and took to it like a duck to water. Now my daughter is also addicted and actually selling yarn she has spun and dyed. Yes raw sheep's wool does have a distinct smell as well.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on May 24, 2014:

Jodah very good I love the last verse :) voted up and awesome

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on May 24, 2014:

This poem reminds me of my mother, who obtained a spinning wheel and a sack of wool and got right to it. I found the spinning interesting to watch and you must admit that the smell of sheep is also unusual. Voted awesome!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 23, 2014:

Thanks Suzette, my wife finds spinning very relaxing. It took her awhile to master the drop spindle but once she did she loved using them. Now she uses a spindle more than the wheels. Glad you enjoyed this and it brought back memories.

Thanks for reading and the vote up Bk42author, glad you enjoyed this poem.

Brenda Thornlow from New York on May 23, 2014:

Love this poem! Voted up!

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on May 23, 2014:

I learned to spin sheep's wool years ago on a spinning wheel so I love this poem and your photos of spinning wheels. It brings back such fond memories. I also learned to spin on a drop spindle as they used in the Middle East. That was much more difficult for me. Grea write and poem and I do enjoyed reading this.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 22, 2014:

Thanks for reading Genna. Your kind comment is appreciated. glad you like the twist.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on May 22, 2014:

The rhythm and flow is perfect, John. I love that twist at the end…very good! Voted up and sharing. :-)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 22, 2014:

Oh yes it sure would. Love alpacas as animals too. Thanks LongTimeMother.

LongTimeMother from Australia on May 22, 2014:

For your wife's next birthday, you should get a couple of alpacas. That would make you very popular with her spinning group. :)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 21, 2014:

Thanks Nell. You should purchase one, purely for aesthetic purposes at first, haha, but I'm sure you will soon be tempted to learn how to use it.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 21, 2014:

Yes they are quite expensive Audrey although you can often find a good deal on eBay. My wife found one for $80 and another for $150. Drop spindles and ring spindles are quite good to use once you get used to it and spin finer yarn then a wheel. Maybe I can think of a "spindle" poem, next as you say.

Nell Rose from England on May 21, 2014:

I love it! lol! and your spinning wheel is awesome! I always wanted one, not necessarily to learn, but it would look great in the corner of my front room! votes all the way!

Audrey Howitt from California on May 21, 2014:

Clever John! You know, I would love to get a spinning wheel--the newer ones are so expensive, but a drop spindle (and I am sure there is a poem in that as well) has certain limitations

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 21, 2014:

Thank you Beth, glad you enjoyed this, and I hope you do get that spinning wheel so you can be sleeping beauty again.

Beth Perry from Tennesee on May 21, 2014:

What a sweet and humorous poem! I love spinning wheels; one of my grandmothers had several. I hope when my Mama passes along she will leave me the one I used to play "Sleeping Beauty" with as a child.

Love the photos you included. Voting up.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 21, 2014:

Thanks Jo, inspiration sometimes come from the most unlikely places. Thank you for the compliments. Have a good day.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on May 21, 2014:

John, beautifully done and very charming. I have to agree with Mr Bill, it takes a lot of creative talent to write about the simplest things and making it a joy to read.

My best.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 21, 2014:

Faith, your kind words are much appreciated as is your love of antiques and creativity. Blessings to you.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on May 21, 2014:

Wonderful poem here. It is always so beautiful to see something go from yarn into a lovely creation. I am glad the interest in spinning yarn is renewed. I love antiques and the history behind them. Your wife's is beautiful. She certainly is creative. Up and more and away. Blessings

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 20, 2014:

Hey Graham, good to see you. You mean you spent a whole hour reading this hub, watching video, and checking links? Wow! If that's the case thank you so much. It's a great compliment when people enjoy what you produce. Take care.

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on May 20, 2014:

Hi Jodah. I spent a pleasant hour here today Jodah. Thank you :)


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 20, 2014:

Thanks Alicia, glad you enjoyed this. The spinning wheels are both useful and aesthetically pleasing as furniture.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 19, 2014:

Thanks for sharing the funny poem, Jodah. I loved looking at the photos of your wife's spinning wheels. They're beautiful.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 19, 2014:

Thank you Ms Dora, glad you enjoyed this.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 19, 2014:

Lovely lines, and good pictorial history. Thanks, Jodah.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2014:

Hi Harishprasad, I enjoyed reading about the old stone grinder. Old tools and implements have so much history to tell, and memories to resurrect. Thank you for the vote up.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2014:

Thanks for reading and commenting Flourish. You should buy one in eBay and there are lots of instructional videos on you tube.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2014:

Thank you for your kind comment travmaj. Until a couple of years back I thought they were a thing of the past, but their use is experiencing a revival now. Glad you found this hub informative.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 18, 2014:

A lovely poem and I love the photo of the spinning wheel. Sure wish I had one (although I wouldn't know how to use it).

travmaj from australia on May 18, 2014:

You certainly know how to spin a yarn in both senses. Hadn't thought about spinning wheels in ages, how creative to use one successfully as your wife does. Great hub, so informative.

Harish Mamgain from New Delhi , India on May 18, 2014:

What a wonderful salesman to sell an antique piece such as old spinning wheel. You have weaved a wonderful scene. Recently, I visited a village and saw an old hand carved stone grinder lying unused in a corner of the room. In my childhood, I used to grind wheat on that kind of machine in my own village. It was all fun to see the moving wheel and hear the sound it made ! John, old things evoke such a nostalgia. I loved reading this beautiful poem. Voted up.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2014:

Thanks Kevin, glad you found this useful and funny. I appreciate your kind comment.

The Examiner-1 on May 18, 2014:

Cool John it was a wild poem and it even made laugh at a couple points. Plus it was a useful Hub. I tried knitting - with needles, I bought the wool though. I pinned that.


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2014:

Takes one to know one. Thanks Bill, much appreciated.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 18, 2014:

Creative people can write about the most mundane of things. You, Sir, are a creative person.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2014:

Hi Devika, it is a wonderful art and becomes addictive. My wife loves spinning and attends a group with other women who do the same. Thank you.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 18, 2014:

I have see the spinning wheel at an event one day and thought ''how lovely.'' Later on I saw an old woman use the wheel it was a great experience to watch her use something I have never in my life had sued or seen from before great writing here.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2014:

Haha Eric, thanks for the comment. Do you need a new sweater?

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 18, 2014:

thanks for the yarn, it brings back fond memories of youth. I haven't thought of it in years, I guess I finally lost that ugly sweater ;-)

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on May 18, 2014:

Thank you, Jodah. I will check out some videos and books. I love your wife's spinning wheels. She is a very creative woman.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2014:

Hi Phyllis thanks for being the first to read this. My wife got into spinning about five years ago. She became addicted, having been into quilting before that. She now has five spinning wheels, and a number of spindles. I asked her what was the best web site or book to learn from, and she said you tube tutorials are the best, or find someone else who spins already. I hope you manage to get a spinning wheel yourself.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on May 17, 2014:

I have always wanted a spinning wheel. I have never spun yarn but would love to learn. This is really a good and useful hub, Jodah, and I love your poem, it is charming. Thank you for writing this hub.

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