Issue #72 - April 2011

View The Highlights & Photographs From This Issue.

In this issue we learn about a forgotten type of wheel, one designed for spinning tow or hemp. Then we look at a couple of Swiss-style upright wheels in the hopes that the questions raised by the first can be answered by the second. We are introduced to an unusual wheel from Finland now residing in France. A strange, very fast spindle wheel is explained and a book about flax is reviewed.


Tow or Hemp Wheels

Spinning wheels designed for spinning "tow," the leftover fibers from hackling flax, are rare and constructed differently from regular wheels. Michael Taylor recently acquired one and discovered that little has been written about them. He studied a few examples that he has located and tells us what he learned.

Tow wheel
Tow wheel

Two European Upright Wheels: Questions and Answers

When Bonnie Weidert came across a small upright wheel at a flea market, she tried to understand why it had some unusual features. It is similar to those found in the Tirol area of Europe. Was it, as someone suggested, a "tow" wheel? A little upright wheel in my own wheel collection, probably also from that area, may provide some of the answers to her questions.

Bonnie's upright wheel
Bonnie’s upright wheel

Florence's upright wheel
Florence's upright wheel

A Karelian Spinning Wheel

While searching the European on-line auctions for a Scandinavian wheel, Sabrina Dehay, who lives in France, discovered a Finnish spinning wheel with a double rim. She describes it and recounts its intriguing history.

Karelian spinning wheel
Karelian spinning wheel

A Great Wheel with Two Accelerating Wheels

Kim Caulfield discovered a great wheel that an enterprising wheel maker turned into a three-stage pulley system. She explains how it works and why it spins so fast.

Detail of two accelerating wheels
Detail of two accelerating wheels

Book Review

Harriet Boon reviews a book about the flax industry in Flanders and tells about the museum that educates the public about the long history of flax and linen processing.