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The Spinning Wheel.



Irish Spinning Wheel

It is not known when, where and by whom the spinning wheel was invented, it is thought to have been invented sometime between 500 and 1000 AD perhaps in China, Persia or India.

It certainly was in use in Ireland and The UK in medieval times, no spinning wheels survive from that period although there are written references and images.

Prior to the spinning wheel thread was spun with a vertical spindle, someone took a spindle mounted it horizontally on an axle and drove it with a belt or chord from a larger wheel

It is thought the spinning wheel reached Western Europe in the early 13th century, wool merchants saw the spinning wheel as imparing the quality of the finished thread as the thread tended to be lumpy and uneven

Medieval spinners often used a distaff, (a stick with a fork or comb on the tip used to hold long-staple fibers while spinning) to hold their fibers while they were spinning with a spindle. Although time consuming and awkward, the method produced more consistently even thread.

However the efficiency of production prevailed and the spinning wheel came into everyday use.

In 1764 the spinning Jenny was invented by British carpenter and weaver named James Hargreaves, it is said that Hargreaves named his inversion after his wife, another story relates that he came up with the idea after he witnessed the spindle of a spinning wheel roll across the floor when a spinning wheel was knocked over by his daughter Jenny.

That Hargreaves invented the Spinning Jenny is disputed by some one school of thought credits a man from Leigh called Thomas Highs and that Hargreaves just improved a machine that Highs had invented years previously.

The picture above dates fron the early 1900's is most likely posed as the spinning wheel fell from general use in Ireland around 1850
Library of Congress collection.

Full account of the history and development of the spinning wheel on Wikipedia