Friday, July 23, 2010

Hebridean Spinning wheels

I have done some research on the wheel I am making Sue, below are extracts of material I have found. I feel more at ease with the differences in design that I have in-cooperated knowing that each wheel is in essence made as a "One off".

It also confirms my first thoughts on seeing the wheel I am restoring it has to be at least 200 years old possibly more. Hand hewn using such tools as an Adz, Drawknife and Pole Lathe. Examples of their use can been seen here at Lithgow's recent IronFest wish we had gone now. The wheel should be a working machine even if it is to be sat in a corner and admired for its history, its unique to her descendants making it more an heirloom.

About Hebridean Spinning Wheels
Hebridean Spinning wheels are handcrafted to order and built using the same techniques as in the days of old. The distinctive Hebridean wheel, comprising over 50 separate components, is a unique design that has stood the test of time.

Until fairly recent times, the Hebridean spinning wheel was a common sight in every household. Generations after of crofting families kept sheep to provide wool for spinning into yarn for the world famous Harris Tweed.

The same care and attention that was given to such a vital tool of island living is today recreated by a few artisans who make Hebridean spinning wheels to the original design. Because they are custom made, no two wheels are identical, guaranteeing a unique and collectable replica spinning wheel to spin your own yarns on.

Measuring 86 cm (34 inches) from floor to the top of the wheel and 74 cm (29 inches) long, the Hebridean spinning wheel has compact proportions. Traditionally made from drift wood, today's replicas tend to be manufactured from sustainable forests.

The treadle-operated wheel turns clockwise to spin the wool into yarn, and counter clockwise to twist two or three individual yarns to a thickness suitable for knitting.

One of the distinctive features of the traditional Hebridean spinning wheel  is its 18 spokes. This is said to relate to the strong seafaring tradition in the Outer Hebrides, each spoke representing 20 degrees of the compass.

Quite apt when making spinning wheels occupied many a long winter's evening for storm-bound fishermen!

And with trees few and far between on the wind-blasted and rocky isles of the Hebrides, it was again to the sea that islanders looked for their raw material. Driftwood and washed overboard timber en-route from the States or Scandinavia formed the primary source of timber for the crofting communities in the days of old. Beachcombing was therefore a necessity, not a hobby.

In those days, timber was deck cargo and frequently lost in sudden storms that batter the Atlantic-facing west coast of the Outer Hebrides.

Being 35 miles off the north-west Scottish mainland, the Outer Hebrides is also directly in the path of the Gulf Stream. It is therefore a common occurrence for objects to beach here after journeys of many thousands of miles, including the occasional coconut from the Caribbean.

Below is a full explanation of spinning wheel parts from

another description .

There are many plans for spinning wheels on the internet as well as in some old Practical Woodworker Magazines. Some Free plans of an Upright type of wheel have fun if you care to make one.

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