Fibers used for spinning in America are listed below:

 Flax plant  linen
  •  durable due to long fibers
  • will not shrink
 Sheep's wool  wool
  •  durable, warm, fire resistant
  • easy to dye
  • continues to shrink with use and water
 Cotton plant  cotton
  •  soft, comfortable easily dyed
 Hemp plant  hemp rope and sacks, some fabric
  •  processed like flax
 Silk (uncommon in America)  silk
  •  very soft
  • easy to dye


To prepare for the making of fabric, fibers are twisted to make yarn. The simplest method uses fibers held between the fingers which are spun on a drop spindle; this method was used through the 1700's. Spindle type wheels were introduced from the Orient to Europe in the middle ages.

The process shown below uses flax and a flyer-type spinning wheel.

This spinning wheel is a flyer-type spinning wheel.    The spinster uses a foot pedal to move the flywheel. A string connected to the pedal pulls the flywheel on its circular path.
 The fiber passed through a groove on the tip of the spindle which held it while the person spinning the fiber drew out the yarn.    Yarn was wound into loose skeins and measured using a variety of tools. After dying, the yarn was ready for weaving.

 Planting & Harvesting - The Past   Flax Process  Spinning & Fibers Planting Grain - Early Methods
 Harvesting Grain - Early Methods  Oliver Evans  Transporting Grain in the Past  Early Farm Tools