The spinning wheel was an advancement on the concept of the spindle, invented somewhere in China or India between 500 and 1000 AD ; like the spindle, it worked by spinning the material - twisting the fibers into a long continuous strand. Rather than relying on finger-twisting or gravity, however, the spinning wheel was turned by hand or by a treadle (a foot pedal) (or other motivation, such as water or electric power) to turn a large wheel, which, by the use of a drive band, turned a smaller wheel.
The motion of the wheel twisted the thread, which was then wound on a post called (after its predecessor) the spindle.
Numerous types of spinning wheels have existed, including the great wheel or wool wheel for rapid long-draw spinning of woolen-spun yarns; the flax wheel, with its bobbin and flyer assembly, for spinning linen and worsted-spun yarns; and the charka, a small, portable, hand-cranked wheel for spinning cotton and other fine, short-staple fibers.
In the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin, a young woman is expected to use a spinning wheel to spin straw into gold.
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