Issue #115 – January 2022


• Double Flax Break
• How a 300-Year-Old Flax Comb Returned Home
• Reeling Pins
• Bobbin Winders for Bobbin Lace


Highlights From This Issue

To begin our 29th year, we look at a group of tools, some less well known than others, that relate to flax processing and linen thread. An unusual double flax break is described and the origins of a Swedish-style flax comb are explored. The purpose of the rare reeling pins, sometimes found on flax wheels from Pennsylvania, is explained. Winders that are used to fill bobbins for bobbin lace making are introduced.

Double Flax Break

Susan Hector has studied the processing of flax from seed to finished fabric. A friend alerted her to an unusual flax break at a nearby thrift store. This one-of-a-kind tool has two sets of blades so that two people can work on it at the same time.

How a 300-Year-Old Flax Comb Returned Home

A Swedish-style flax comb has been in the Hermitage collection for many years. When Zephram de Colebi and Johannes Zinzendorf learned about an early 18th-century homestead, now a historic site, that belonged to a family of early Swedish settlers, they traced the flax comb back to that place. Other flax combs in the Hermitage collection are presented.

Reeling Pins

Reeling pins are sometimes found on flax wheels. They were used to transfer spun linen thread from the spinning-wheel bobbin to a skein winder or reel. Michael Taylor describes them and traces where they are found on signed wheels in Pennsylvania. Tina Mickley shared pictures of her example on a wheel marked I. L 1795.

Bobbin Winders for Bobbin Lace

While we are familiar with bobbin winders used by weavers to fill spools and shuttle bobbins, there are other types of winders used by makers of bobbin lace. These, too, are often mistaken for spinning wheels. Laurie Waters introduces the various types used by lace makers in different countries.