What: The drop spindle is one of the oldest methods for spinning fibers into yarn or thread. It is composed of a tapering rod or spindle and a round disk or whorl. The rotation of the spindle twists the fibers and the yarn or thread is wound around the spindle as it is spun. Drop spindles are easy to make, transport and store.
The development and spread of the spinning wheel about 800 years ago allowed a person to spin better and more yarn or thread could be made in a shorter amount of time. Spinning wheels varied depending on the type of fiber being spun or their country of origin. Unlike drop spindles, spinning wheels had to be purchased and took up space in a pioneer's home or wagon.
Who: People have used drop spindles since ancient times. Both American Indians and pioneers used the drop spindle. Many early American Indians used pieces of pottery for their whorls. Drop spindles are still commonly used in many developing countries.
To replay the movie of the drop spindle, right-click on it and select play.
If this movie does not play, please install the flash player plugin.
Last updated: February 24, 2015