Engineer / Model Maker / Artist / Philosopher / BRL Products / Home


Spinning Wheel


In the mid 70's, I was still looking for a product to produce which would fill a need and provide me with an alternative to working construction. At that time, Mendocino county still raised sheep, for wool as well as meat. The Mendocino Art Center had an excellent hand weaving program under the direction of Lolli Jacobsen. As a result there were many hand weavers in the community. However, Mendocino wool was rarely used by Mendocino weavers, since the spinning of wool into yarn is very time consuming. In an effort to help this production, I learned to spin, and then designed a production spinning wheel.

This machine was made from local coastal Tan Oak, which is a lovely wood. All rotating parts were supported by sealed ball bearings. The heel-toe treadle system allowed the drive wheel to be powered through the entire revolution, rather than the 50% produced by most traditional wheels. The bobbin and flyer were large enough to handle large quantities of yarn, and the spinning orifice was large enough to allow for the plying of yarns. The flyer spun at over 1000 revolutions per minute, which was faster than the original model T engine.

I made a total of 25 of these wheels, and sold them all eventually. They were unconventional to look at, which was a disadvantage. However, the people that actually tried them were impressed that they were in fact very fast wheels with good control. Unfortunately, anyone who was interested in an occupation as a hand spinner was unlikely to be able to afford what I needed to charge at the time, $200 in 1975 dollars.

Side view.

Several on the bench under construction.

This is the advertising sheet I produced.