Issue #69 - July 2010

View The Highlights & Photographs From Issue #69.

In this issue we learn about two families of spinning-wheel makers, each with two generations in the textile tool business. The family in Connecticut was a father and two sons, while the family in Quebec was two brothers and a son of one of them. We travel to New Zealand to study a strange bobbin-filling mechanism and review a book about New Zealand wheels.


The Hopkins Family of Litchfield, CT

Merritt Cleaver owns a great wheel and a six-arm reel with the name Hopkins stamped on them, but each mark is different. With help from others who own spinning wheels marked HOPKINS, he discovered that there were three different marks. He traced them to a family of wheel makers, father Harris Hopkins and his sons, Joseph and William, in Litchfield, CT, at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.

Great wheel marked J. HOPKINS
Great wheel marked J. HOPKINS

J. HOPKINS mark on great wheel
J. HOPKINS mark on great wheel

Reel marked HOPKINS
Reel marked HOPKINS

HOPKINS mark on reel
HOPKINS mark on reel

Reel marked W. HOPKINS
Reel marked W. HOPKINS

W HOPKINS mark on reel
W HOPKINS mark on reel

The Bordua Family of Spinning-Wheel Makers

Caroline Foty and members of the Ravelry forum on Canadian Production Wheels [CPW] present the Borduas, another well-known family of Quebec spinning-wheel makers. The two brothers, François and Frédéric, and Frédéric's son, Théodore, were builders of the classic CPW in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She tracks them through census records and advertisements. The surname is spelled with and without an S on the end.

François Bordua spinning wheel
François Bordua spinning wheel

Mark on François Bordua wheel
Mark on François Bordua wheel

Frederic Bordua spinning wheel
Frédéric Bordua spinning wheel

Mark on Frederic Bordua wheel
Mark on Frédéric Bordua wheel

Theodore Bordua spinning wheel
Théodore Bordua spinning wheel

Mark on Theodore Bordua wheel
Mark on Théodore Bordua wheel

An Unusual Bobbin-Filling Mechanism in New Zealand

In her continuing quest for early New Zealand spinning wheels, Lyndsay Fenwick visited a small museum in the town of Gisborne on the North Island. There she discovered a wheel with an unusual bobbin-filling mechanism. It reminded her of some mechanisms she had seen by another New Zealand wheel maker and read about in SWS.

Gisborne wheel
Gisborne wheel

Detail of flyer assembly
Detail of flyer assembly

Book Review

I review Mary Knox's book, New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers, which grew out of her informative Web site www.nzspinningwheels.info. Some of the material will look familiar from Mary's and Lyndsay Fenwick's articles in SWS.