Modern versions are still manufactured in small quantities and are used to spin woollen yarns from noble fibers such as cashmere, ultra-fine merino, and alpaca for the knitware market. From 1790 until around 1900, the mule was the most prevalent spinning machine, and it was still employed for fine yarns until the early 1980s. It remains popular with collectors of antique textile equipment because of its distinctive sound when in action.
In North America, the term "spinning wheel" is generally applied to a hand crank or electric motor driven device used to rotate spindles with attached packages of fiber for winding onto those packages. The spinning wheel is similar to the ancient potter's tool called a lancewood spindle which has a shaft with a ball at one end and a socket at the other. The spindle is rotated by hand or with a motor as needed for winding yarn.
In Europe, a spinning wheel is usually understood to be a mechanical device for spinning cotton into thread. The earliest known reference to this type of wheel comes from England in 1556. It was called a "flywheel" and consisted of two parts, a hub mounted on a fixed axis and covered with leather or wood, and a flat plate carried by this hub and divided into about 40 pockets. In each pocket there was a hole through which the stem of a knitting needle could be thrust to form a start for some of the threads required to make a piece of cloth.
The mule is now used mainly for novelty yarns or for reprocessed fiber that could not be used otherwise.
The mule can run for several hours at a time because it does not require any maintenance other than an occasional oiling to prevent friction. It also does not get hot like steam machines do, so it is comfortable to work with. However, it is difficult to stop once it starts spinning, so if you are not careful, it will cut off your hand.
In addition to being durable, the mule's design allows for relatively easy modification of its parts to produce different sizes of fibers. In fact, many modern spinning machines are actually modified mules!
There are two types of mules: one-and-a-half-lever and three-quarter-lever. They function basically the same way but use different amounts of leverage when spinning. This determines how tightly the mule spins: the more leverage, the tighter the spin.
The spinning mule was a machine designed in 1779 by Samuel Crompton. The machine simplified the production of cotton yarn and thread. The spinning mule enabled a single worker to operate on over 1,000 spindles at the same time. The machine not only sped up manufacturing, but it also resulted in higher-quality yarn. Previously, two or more people were required for its operation.
Spinning is the process of making fibers used to make yarn. Yarn is made from wool, cotton, or other materials. It is used to make clothing and other products. Spinning has been done for thousands of years using different techniques. In modern times, it is done with machines called spinning mills. These are large buildings with giant drums called roving frames inside them. Workers pull fibers off the bales or sacks of cotton that have been delivered to the mill, card them into rovings of about 200 yards each, wind these rovings onto cones, and then put them into bins for storage or directly onto carts for delivery to manufacturers.
In the early 20th century, most cloth manufactured in the United States was still spun by hand. This changed when Edward Keller invented the automatic spinning machine in 1914. He called his invention the "Keller Spinning Machine". It was an enormous thing that looked like a car engine with legs! It worked by taking long threads of fiber and winding them onto small cores called bobbin tubes. Then more threads were wound around these tubes to make more yarn.
Say it aloud: "Pause." A spinning mule is an important piece of machinery in the textile industry. Samual Crompton invented the ingenious machine in the 18th century, spinning textile fibers into yarn using an intermittent technique that altered the way yarn was created, making the process considerably faster, simpler, and more profitable. Previously, textile manufacturing had been done by hand, which is why there are so many records of human errors when weaving cloth. With a spinning mule, all you need to do is feed the fiber into one end and watch as the spindle turns, pulling the thread out the other end. It's really that simple!
There are two parts to a spinning mule: the body and the head. The body contains a frame with several posts inside it. These posts hold the bobbin case at one end and another post behind it holds the spool shaft. There are four main gears in the body of the machine: drive, idler, rewind, and stop. The drive gear is attached to the shaft that goes through the center of the posts inside the frame. This gear gets its power from some kind of engine or motor and it controls how fast the whole machine spins. The second gear is called the idler. It sits on top of the first drive gear and it can move up and down along it. This means that the idler gear can spin either slowly or quickly without changing the direction the body is moving in.