A technique whereby prepared raw fibres are turned into thread and yarn, in order to use for weaving, knitting or stitching. Across the world, every culture has its own spinning techniques, though the principles remain the same. There are many and various types of spinning wheels, some for specific fibres, which broadly fall under the categories below:

1. By Hand

Drop Spindle: the traditional spindle, is still favoured by the older generation of the non mechanised countries where hand spun yarn is the norm. It is small and light to carry, and can be used anywhere–picked up and put down at will, between looking after the home and tending the fire, sitting in the fields, or minding the sheep and goats.

Charka: used throughout India and popularised by Ghandi as a tool and symbol of the Indian Independence Movement, and favoured by the younger Indian generation. It has a large, drive wheel that is rotated by hand to work the spindle. It is easy to construct and sits on a table top or on the floor, and comes in a variety of sizes, from one that can fit into a suitcase upwards.

Great Wheel: with a wheel that is around 150 cms/5′ diameter–the size of average person–it is not easily portable, and specifically designed to spin the longest, finest wool called the long draw technique. It requires using both hands, the left holding the fibre and the right turning the wheel.

2. By Foot

Treadle: operated by foot, it leaves the hands free to work with different yarns and is appropriate for weaving more complex yarns and managing short fibres, mixed fibres such as wool and silk, or textured yarns such as slubbed or crimped–anything that requires both hands.

3. By Mechanical means

Motor: most wheels can be electrically driven, either from a mains supply or a portable re-chargeable battery unit.

This is just a short list of the types of spinning and wheels….

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