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Spinning for Beginners: Resource guide and Information

Spinning for Beginners: Resource guide and Information

Although we may not often think about it, the clothes we wear are involved in a long process to develop from raw cotton or wool into thread and cloth before they can be cut and stitched into garments. Today the entire process is largely automated, with machines quickly churning out mass amounts of work. However, in older times, spinning involved the painstaking task of converting raw fibers into yarn. It was originally done by hand although later on, the invention of the spinning wheel helped to speed up the work. In medieval times, spinning industries mainly cropped up in areas where sheep farming thrived. A very popular type of spinning wheel is known as the Great Wheel. It can manage to spin very thin fibers, including silk, into delicate threads. The Saxony wheel is a smaller version that is mounted on a base with three legs. Other variations include the Castle wheel and Norwegian wheel. Another notable spinning wheel is the Charkha wheel which was made famous by Mahatma Ghandi. On the other hand, the modern wheel not only works a lot faster and more easily, but it also looks much more cutting edge compared to the traditional wooden wheels. It is ideal for use with cotton and is still actively used in India. Although it is such an ancient trade, many people worldwide still spin today. Some do it out of sheer necessity, especially in poorer, developing areas, while some simply do it for fun or to keep the tradition alive.

Which Type of Wheel?

  • Spinning for Beginners (PDF) – This educational guide includes details on spinning history, wheel types, materials, and more.
  • Castle Wheels – View images and a description of castle style wheels and how they work.
  • Saxony Wheels – Learn about Saxony wheels and the muckle wheel.
  • Spinning Wheels – Different spinning wheels are used for various purposes.
  • Choosing a Wheel – Compare all the different kinds of spinning wheels.

Materials Needed

  • Spinning with Beads – See a material list that details the items required for spinning beaded work.
  • Spinning Materials – Choose from a long list of suppliers for spinning fibers and materials.

Different Fibers and Fiber Prep

  • Types of Fibers (PPT) – Learn where different types of fibers come from and their various characteristics.
  • Grease Wool – This article discusses classifications of wool grades and how they differ.
  • All About Wool – Download fact sheets on wool production in the United States, as well as the history and details of wool processing.
  • Spinning Fibers – Read about the different types of fleeces that are suitable for spinning.
  • Common Spinning Fibers – Look through a list of fibers often used for spinning.
  • Flax (PDF) – This is a first hand account of how flax can be spun and how it was long used before wool.

Beginner Techniques

  • Spinning Demonstration – View a video that shows how a spinner uses a wheel to spin wool.
  • Spinning Resources (PDF) – This useful compilation of resources gives detailed tutorials and further reading suggestions on spinning techniques.
  • Spinning Wool (PDF) – Read all about how wool is teased, carded, and spun into yarn.
  • Starting Out – A series of first person accounts details some common mistakes that beginners tend to make, as well as some interesting spinning and weaving techniques.
  • Basic Steps – Learn about the basic steps involved in the process of spinning wool.
  • Spinning Techniques – Find useful overviews of all the different types of spinning techniques.
  • Charkha Spinning (PDF) – This type of spinning uses the style of wheel made famous by Mahatma Ghandi.
  • Spinning Glossary – Learn the meanings of words and phrases related to spinning.

History and Culture

  • Spinning in the South – In older times, spinning was often a household activity where children had to help out.
  • Historic Spinning (PDF) – Learn about spinning and the spinning wheel through ancient times.
  • Vertical Flax Wheel – Read a brief introduction to spinning history and see an example of a wheel from the 1800s.
  • Introduction to Spinning – Read some interesting historic facts about the spinning wheel and its use.
  • Spinning and Wool Production – See where spinning fits into the overall process of wool production to cloth.
  • Hand Spinning (PDF) – Browse through a guide that discusses hand spinning from a historical and cultural perspective.
  • Evolution of Spinning – Spinning actually dates back to several thousands of years ago in cultures across the globe.
  • Spinning Facts – This factsheet discusses the origins of spinning and why people still practice it today.
  • Spinning for Kids (PDF) – This lesson unit is great for introducing kids to the history and uses of spinning, through stories and puzzles.