two-handed spinning wheel

Two-handed spinning wheel or Saxon wheel.

Spinning is the ancient craft of twining together fibers from a mass to form strong, continuous thread suitable for weaving. The earliest method was merely to roll the fibers between hand and thigh. Later two sticks were used: the distaff to hold the bundle of fibers, and a spindle to twist and wind the yarn.


Mechanization began with the spinning wheel, invented in India and spreading to Europe by the fourteenth century. The wheel turned the spindle by means of a belt drive. In the fifteenth century the flyer was invented: a device on the spindle shaft that winds the yarn automatically on a spool.


Improved weaving methods in the Industrial Revolution caused increasing demand which provoked several inventions. The spinning jenny, invented by James Hargreaves (c.1767), spun as many as 16 threads at once, the spindles all being driven by the same wheel. Richard Arkwright's water frame (1769), so called from being water-powered, had rollers and produced strong thread. Then Samuel Crompton produced a hybrid of the two – his mule – which had a movable carriage, and was the forerunner of the modern machine. The other modern spinning machine is the ring-spinning frame (1828) in which the strands, drawn out by rollers, are twisted by a "traveler" that revolves on a ring around the bobbin on which they are wound.