Flax vs. Wool Wheel

Today I brought home another wheel, a flax wheel.

Flax Wheel before cleanup

Before cleaning and waxing

Amazing that it was still available having been posted for more than 20 hours before I contacted the seller.

For about the price of a small fleece, this little handmade flax wheel was mine.  Total cost, $65 plus the drive into Tacoma to pick it up.  Actually, it was to my advantage as I stopped to see both of my daughter’s while I was in the area.

Look at the size of the smallest bobbin I have ever seen.  The bobbin opening measures 2 5/8″.  That just blows my mind that there is a bobbin that tiny in the fiber world.

What are my plans for this yet-to-be-named wheel?  Silk embroidery thread. It has a 13.5/1 ratio and with the bobbin being so small, I believe creating embroidery thread would be the perfect duty for it.

As I have not had a flax wheel before, I went out on the web to search the differences between a flax and wool wheel.

Here is what I found:

The difference is a flax wheel will have a distaff and the oriface is much smaller.

All types of fiber (flax, silk, cotton, wool) can be spun on any wheel.

Flax wheel end

Now, to figure out how old it is. Here is what I came up with:

It is handmade.  Hand notched on the ends of the table.  Though it has scribed markings, none of them lined up exactly the same. Machine-cut pieces are more uniform and were not made until 1860.  Though it is handmade, someone took their time to do so.

No sign of lacquer or varnish, so I’ve crossed off it was made after the 1850’s. There may have been a wood oil used, but none of the wood was shiny or glossy until I put some wax to it.

Some of the wood is spalted.  The legs, the uprights and parts of the mother of all.

There are no manufacturer marks.

The distaff was missing, though we can see in the above photo there was a place for it.

I currently have eight wheels in my life, having had six others come and go.  I have never had a true flax wheel before.

I’m am overjoyed with my find today. I’m closer to understanding my fiber purpose when I bring home wonderful finds like this.

Flax Wheel after Waxing

After cleaning and waxing

Until next time….

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9 responses to “Flax vs. Wool Wheel”

  1. If you only got one bobbin with it and you want more, see if you can track down someone with a wood lathe. they will be able to make copies from the bobbin you have.
    As for a distaff, check out missing spindles blog/ YouTube channel, she has a very good video on making and using distaffs.

  2. I was gifted a flax wheel and I’m attempting to spin some wool. It doesn’t seem to be winding it on the bobbin as I go. Any suggestion on what is going wrong?

  3. this onI inherited a flax wheel, identable to this one. The one I have supposed to have coe over from England when the settlers came to America. ie is just like this 1764 Shepherdess, mine is in good shae and looks like it has all the parts. I have always oiled and clened like a piece of furniture. I have probably had it for 30 years. I would like to sell it, I don’t want my grandchildren making a toy out of it. Could you help me on a price for it, I am 87 yrs. old, so I don’t have a lot of years left in my life. Thank you,

  4. Hi I have a flax shell but can not find nothing on t the name is Jimix flax wheel would love to learn more on it the wheel has no spokes it’s just round wood vicky

  5. I just bought a flax wheel out of Morefield WV & having it delivered next week. If I send you a picture would you be able to tell me if it’s missing anything? Was told by auctioneer all parts were there.

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