Spinning Wool

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April  Week 3 Lesson 2: Spinning Wheel

Language Arts


  • Have your child write the words DROP SPINDLE and SPINNING WHEEL.
  • Help them learn the vocabulary words.

>>> Printable April Week 3 Lesson 2 Vocabulary

Grade School/High School 

  • Learn the vocabulary words.
  • Pretend you are back in the pioneer days and must spin your own yarn. Write a story about it.
  • Would you choose a drop spindle or a spinning wheel?
  • Be sure to include why you chose the one you did. Include descriptive words in your story. 

Practical Living

All ages 

  • Make a drop spindle and learn to use it to spin wool.
  • If you have access to a spinning wheel, learn to use it.
  • If you have the opportunity to attend a local event that includes spinners, take along a list of questions to ask.



  • Show your child why the weight on a drop spindle must be distributed evenly.
  • Show how a hole in the center will make the spinning even, and then demonstrate how an off-center hole will make it spin differently.

Grade School/High School 

  • Study the science of spinning.
  • Discover how mass, balance, and shape of a drop spindle affect spinning.
  • Study how gravity and the motion of the wheels work. 

Spinning Wool

Have you ever watched someone spin wool on a spinning wheel? How about on a drop spindle? What are those? Let’s learn about spinning wool!

Pioneers Spinning Wool

The pioneers had to spin their wool and use it to make clothing. Little girls would start by learning to spin wool into thread on a drop spindle (a stick about 8 inches long with a wood disk on the end). 

Once a girl could do this well, she would move on to the spinning wheel (rod with tapered ends driven by a wheel attached to a crank or lever worked with the foot). 

Spinning could give the pioneers 480 yards of thread in a day. Some towns even had spinning competitions to see who could spin the finest yarn or the most yarn in a set time frame. 


Spinning Wool in Current Times

Spinning has become a lost art, but there is renewed interest among some homesteaders. There are spinning classes available (some online, some in-person), and you can sometimes find demonstrations at local events. 

What Do You Need to Start Spinning Wool?

If you want to start spinning wool, the materials can be as simple as some wool and a drop spindle. It is quite easy to make a drop spindle with a dowel and a wooden car wheel from the craft store! (Instructions in the Printables) If you happen to have a spinning wheel, you are all set!

>>> PRINTABLES April Week 3 Lesson 2_ How to Make a Drop Spindle

How to Use a Drop Spindle

The drop spindle spins and helps to draw out the fibers to make thread.

  • The first thing you need to do is put a leader (a piece of yarn that has been previously spun) on the shaft.
  • You can use a piece of yarn about 18 inches long tied into a loop.
  • Secure it to the shaft with a knot and spiral the leader up the shaft.
  • Wrap it around the hook to hold it and leave about 6 inches of the leader free.
  • You can make your own leader by hooking some fiber in the cup hook and twisting clockwise gently.
  • The fiber will begin to twist, and as it does, draw out more fiber and keep going until you have about 18 inches of yarn.
  • Then remove the leader from the cup hook, carefully tie it to the shaft and spiral it up the shaft, wrapping it around the hook to hold it.
  • Using a handful of fleece, draw out a few fibers and put them through the loop of the leader.
  • Fold the fibers over, and pinch the ends together.
  • Hold this joining together with your left hand, while you start the spindle spinning in a clockwise direction with your right hand.
  • Move your right hand to hold the joining spot and gently draw upward with your left hand. This will pull more fibers from the handful of fleece.
  • If the spindle stops spinning, just start it again.
  • As you are spinning, the drop spindle will be moving downward.
  • Once it reaches the floor, unhook the yarn from the cup hook and wrap the yarn around the shaft.
  • Now begin again.
  • Once you are done spinning all your fleece, wrap the newly made yarn into a skein (a length of yarn loosely coiled and knotted).


Spinning Wheels

There are many different kinds of spinning wheels, but they all have some similar components.

The treadle (foot pedal), maiden (frame around the bobbin with lots of hooks), and the bobbin (fills with yarn as you spin) are found on all spinning wheels. The drive wheel is the largest wheel. It is turned by using the treadle.

Here is an explanation of the parts of a spinning wheel

How to Use a Spinning Wheel

  • It is important to maintain a steady rhythm while using the treadle to turn the drive wheel, so practice doing this before you start spinning.
  • Now that you have some practice, install an empty bobbin on the spindle and adjust the tension.
  • Tie a yarn leader (see the drop spindle instructions) on the bobbin’s shaft, thread it on the hooks of the maiden and through the orifice (where the yarn enters to be spun onto the bobbin).
  • Put some fiber through the loop in the leader and fold it over on itself.
  • Pinch this and lay it over the top of the bundle of fiber you plan to spin.
  • Now you can start the wheel and begin spinning.
  • Keep hold just behind the yarn that is spinning to keep the twist from reaching the fiber in your left hand.

Here is a wonderful tutorial about getting started with a spinning wheel 

Why Should You Spin Your Own Yarn?

While spinning used to be a necessity, now it is more of a novelty. Premade clothing is so easily accessible, people don’t want to spend the time and effort doing it themself. Still, being able to make a pair of mittens or socks, or even a blanket from wool that you have spun can be very satisfying. You may even find that yarn you spin yourself will create items that hold warmth in better than commercially made items. 

Can I Make An Income From Spinning?

Knowing how to spin can bring an income to your homestead. You can sell the yarn, or items made from the yarn. You can teach others how to spin. Learn how to perform maintenance or repairs on spinning wheels. Make drop spindles and sell them. You could even rent out your spinning wheel for decor at functions. 

Learning the art of spinning your own wool is a great addition to your skills. It is a craft you can do in the absence of electricity. Spinning is a wonderful way to be more self-reliant. 

Verse of The Week

Bible Verse of the Week – Isaiah 1:18

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

No matter how bad our sins are, the Lord will wash them away. Once wool is washed, it is white and beautiful. Once the Lord washes away our sins, the splotches are gone and we are clean.

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