Here is the second article on the history of spinning wheels. There was a Chinese spinning wheel, treadle and all, that was way ahead of its time – ahead by hundreds of years. These wheels were a dead end. They must have spun innumerable miles of yarn, yet they had no influence at all on present wheels. I can’t help imagining what our spinning meet-ups might look like now, if this technology had spread from China to become mainstream in Europe.
In writing about early spinning in China, I also had to confront the question “What is spinning?” Probably most of us would agree that it starts with drafting, and then there’s twisting followed by winding the made yarn onto a storage device (spindle, bobbin). But what if there is no drafting – the fibre is already the right thickness, and it only needs twisting and winding on?
Before there was drafting, there were devices for twisting. At what point do we start calling them spinning wheels? See what you think.