Spinning Bridges Generation Gaps

Sometimes all it takes is looking at an old piece of equipment in a new way.

Anne Merrow Oct 18, 2021 - 3 min read

Spinning Bridges Generation Gaps Primary Image

Photo by Peter H,

One day in 1999, I called my mother and told her I was taking spinning classes at the gym. “Oh, that’s great! We have a walking wheel and a flax wheel up in the attic,” she said.

I laughed at her.

“Mom, come on. I’m spinning on a bicycle. For exercise.”

Little did I know that ten years later I’d be calling to ask her some more questions about those wheels up in the attic, because I had fallen in love with making yarn. By then I had a modern spinning wheel of my own. (Around that time I did speak with someone who was excited that I spun, but it turns out he meant lighting things on fire and twirling them in the air.) Everything comes around again, but sometimes the details are lost in translation.

Treasures Abound

That’s one of the things I learned from Linda Martin’s article in the Fall 2014 issue of Spin Off. Linda offers her tips, encouragements, and cautions for finding second-hand treasures in classified ads, antique shops, tag sales, and other unlikely locations. As Linda explains, some of the least promising advertisements can actually reveal gems in disguise.


This wheel, now called Debi, was rescued from a California storage unit. Find the full story in the Fall 2014 issue of Spin Off.

The spinning wheel that Kathy Sletto learned on wasn’t found in the classifieds but in the attic of the old family homestead . . . in pieces. Its history was well documented, as she explains in her article this issue, but it wasn’t in promising condition. Fifteen years after its restoration, however, Kathy’s interest in her “yarn project” has only grown.


After restoration, Kathy Sletto’s family wheel spins beautifully. Photo courtesy of Kathy Sletto.

As you might have guessed, the theme of this issue of Spin Off is equipment. It’s not all about historical equipment, either—some of it is timeless. From Andrea Mielke Schroer’s advice on winding onto a spindle and Tom Golding’s steps for tweaking the alignment of a spindle’s hook to Jeannine Glaves’s and Dale Jackson’s examples for spinning anywhere, you’ll find something on almost every tool you may use.

I’m not sure whether my parents’ antique wheels will ever become an active part of my spinning life. I don’t know what condition they may be in, and I now live thousands of miles away in a tiny house so crowded that we would have to give up a bed to make room for the great wheel to stand in. But at least now we’re speaking the same language.