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Historical Background: Drop Spindles were in use before recorded history. Most historians agree that the practice of spinning fibers into yarn or thread existed over 10,000 years ago. The drop spindle could have been used for over 9,000 years before the spinning wheel was invented in India during the late Middle Ages. The drop spindle has been documented back to the 1st century A.D. In Middle Eastern archeological sites, whorls from drop spindles have been dated back to 5000 B.C. No spindles have been excavated because they were usually made from wood that biodegraded over time. Some cultures used rocks for spinning, and this process is still used today by nomadic tribes in remote parts of Asia.

There are several types of drop spindles available today. The one made by Historical Folk Toys is the low-whorl drop spindle with the whorl near the bottom of the spindle. There are other variations, such as: the high-whorl drop spindle with the whorl near the top of the spindle; a bead-whorl spindle with a one-inch bead placed near the center of the spindle so yarn can be spun above and below the bead; a hooked, high-whorl spindle with a whorl located at less than half the length of the spindle and has a hook on top; a hooked high-whorl spindle with two whorls located near each other but with enough space to wind the yarn between them; a cross-arm spindle which utilizes a piece of wood or bone instead of a circular whorl; and a Turkish drop spindle, which features a double cross-arm instead of a circular whorl.

The drop spindle used for wool needs to have a heavier whorl than a hand spindle (4605) used for cotton because wool fibers are longer. Wool fibers are generally around four or more inches in length, whereas cotton fibers are only one to two inches long.

Fun Fact: Spindles and spinning are such an integral part of our world heritage that the mention of them is found in many myths and folklore. Plato mentions the axis of the universe to be like a spindle with the stars as the whorl. The goddess Spider Woman taught the Navaho to spin. The goddess Minerva was challenged by Arachne to a spinning and weaving contest. The three Fates spun, and fairy tales such as Rumplestilskin and Sleeping Beauty mention spinning.

Please see our Wool Roving (4603) for the historical background of wool roving.

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Wool Drop Spindle Only
Wool Drop Spindle Only
Item Number 4602

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