Monday, September 08, 2008


She did it!

Cyndy managed to spin flax on our antique B. Sanford double flyer wheel with both hands at the same time!

Pam Mawhiney, curator of the Home Textile Tool Museum in Orwell, PA came by our booth at the Endless Mountains Fiber Festival over the weekend and helped Cyndy get the flax properly arrayed on the straight distaff and then it actually worked.

Cyndy found that it seemed to take a sort of milking the cow motion. One hand was letting the linen thread wind on while the other was adding twist and pulling down flax fibers from the distaff.

It was thrilling to see the wheel used the way it was made to be used! Very often these are described as gossip wheels with the notion that two people spun on them.

An advertisement in the Hartford (CT) Courant in 1801 describes double flyer wheels as
“Two handed wheels are highly recommended to young Women, as they can spin one third faster on them.”

Beardsley Sanford learned his trade from his other Sandford relatives in Newtown, CT where three generations made spinning wheels including double flyer wheels. Beardsley, however, moved away and ultimately settled in Harpersfield, NY where he is mentioned in the history of that town.


Blogger cyndy said...

Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to spin on that beautiful wheel! It was challenging and great fun! Good thing Pam came along when she did-
her tips on how to dress the distaff were a big help! to spin the flax wet??

4:16 PM  
Blogger Marcy said...

Well, if anyone could do it, Cyndy would be the one! I wish I could have been there to see it. Wow.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Oh I wish I could have been there then as I would have loved to have seen it working the way it was meant to work. It is a beautiful wheel.

5:29 PM  
Blogger bspinner said...

Spinning with one hand is about as much as I can do. Can't imagine spinning with two. Way to go Cyndy!

8:49 AM  

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