Anatomy of a Spindle Wheel Head

December 28, 2016

Great wheel, walking wheel, spindle wheel. The name changes but the principle stays the same. These are large wheels that the spinner typically stands to spin on. A large drive wheel is mounted on an upright post, while the spindle post holds the spinning head. As this is a smallish, removable part, it often goes missing from old wheels. Here is what you need to look for if you need a spindle head, or what you have if you have found one, sans wheel!

The neck mounts the assembly into the spindle post and supports the Mother-of-All, or MOA. Just as with a flyer wheel, the MOA supports the maidens. Since the maidens usually have a screw turn so that they may be leveled, the bottom of the screw has a little wooden cap to protect the threads and prevent the maiden from being unscrewed past a certain level.

The spindle itself is an iron rod about 12 inches in length. It may or may not include a little wooden disk; this helps prevent the spun wool from creeping back into the bearings. The bearings that hold the spindle to the MOA may be from leather thongs or braided cornhusk. The spindle has a whorl — if your wheel has an optional accelerated head, such as the one in the illustration, the whorl will have a secondary drive band connecting it to the accelerating head. If you had a direct drive wheel, you will have only this one whorl on the spindle and the drive band will connect to the drive wheel.

With the accelerated head, each maiden has a small wooden bearing that holds the head’s axle ends. The whorl of the accelerated head holds the drive band that connects to the drive wheel. This 19th century invention was developed in order to help a spinner spin faster.

Just as with flyer wheels, there are many different styles of spindle wheel and of spindle heads. This is a generalization to help get you started or to help you find what you need!



Catching Up and a New Sweater

December 16, 2016

I am really, really behind in keep up this blog this year, but it is the nature of life. Sometimes, life happens. The best laid plans go astray and my road to Hell is certainly paved with good intentions. Basically, there just weren’t enough hours in the day.

There was time for knitting, mostly due to be an automobile passenger and trying to not waste that time. I was able to finish a sweater for Rhinebeck 2016: by August, I had it finished an just needed the ends woven in. It is the Cider Mill Pullover and is available on Ravelry:


I wanted something bright and happy. Rhinebeck can sometimes be gray and chilly. The sweater is heavier than the original pattern calls for: this is knitted in Blue Skies Fiber Worsted Cotton. The main color is Pumpkin.

The slip-stitch pattern yoke and trim are Lemongrass, Dandelion, Orchid, Aloe, and Carribbean.


It is knitted on Size 7 needles, up from the Size 5 the pattern calls for and a little smaller than the yarn suggests. But it gave me a tighter fabric and that was what I was after.


Ta-da. And, of course, since the only the ends needed to be woven in back in August, it was done well in time? Don’t you know I was weaving in those ends a week before the October event? Of course I was! But I was happy with the final result, except the cast on bottom edge.

The sweater is knitted in the round and asks for a couple of rows of purl stitch at the bottom. These refused to obey while knitting the rest, so I switched the sleeve cuffs and the neckline to an inch of ribbing and this tamed the rolling edge problem. If I really thought about it (or get snowed in over the winter), I’m inclined to pick out that bottom cast-on, put the whole thing back on the needles and reknit the bottom to have the same inch of ribbing. We’ll see how motivated I get. Or can manage the time!