The history of the humble spinning wheel goes back at least a thousand years, to its emergence in India. It would not be an exaggeration to say that its invention changed textiles forever - its cultural significance is so important, the spinning wheel plays a key role in several fairy tales, including Sleeping Beauty and Rumpelstiltskin.
Numerous types of spinning wheels exist, as the apparatus emerged separately in many different parts of the world. The tabletop or floor charkha is one of the oldest known forms of the spinning wheel. The charkha was both a tool and a symbol of the Indian independence movement. Mahatma Gandhi brought the charkha into wider use with his teachings. He hoped the charkha would help the people of India achieve self-sufficiency and independence.
The invention of the spinning wheel completely revolutionised the process of thread production, making it vastly more efficient. The spinning wheel has also been crediting with increasing the supply of rags, which led to cheap paper, which was a factor in the development of printing.
One lucky Selvedge reader will be able to have a spinning wheel of their very own. Ashford Handicrafts has been a family-run company since 1934 and has become a world leader in the manufacture of quality spinning wheels, weaving looms and textile equipment.
Based in New Zealand, all spinning wheels are fashioned from native New Zealand Silver Beech hardwood, sourced from sustainably-managed forests with Forest Stewardship Council approval. They are designed to be simple, easy to assemble and finish and fun to use, so perfect for complete beginners as well as those who are already comfortable using a wheel.