Spinning Wheels

The Spinning Wheel Shaped Object (SWSOs)

What is a spinning wheel shaped object and how can you spot one?

These decorative spinning wheel shaped objects are floating around out there on sale sites enticing new spinners to make a disappointing mistake. Avoid making this mistake yourself by learning more about spinning wheel shaped objects.

If you would like to watch the video, you can do so here. Otherwise, keep reading to learn more about the dreaded spinning wheel shaped object.

What is a SWSO?

While it looks like a spinning  wheel, and while the drive wheel might even turn around, it is completely and purely decorative.

It does not, has not, and cannot spin yarn.

It can’t do it.

Where did they come from?

In the 1970s and 1980s in America there was style trends in home decorating where people wanted to have a very country looking home and put country looking things in their home for decoration.

If you want to relive some 80’s inspired designs, check out these 1980’s design trends from House Beautiful.

One of those things that caught along with Laura Ashley florals on the comforters, shabby chic, and country style (so many glazed canisters) was the spinning wheel…as a decor item.

This decorative clock is set into a fireplace with a little plastic hearth covered in canisters, a butter churn to the left and a spinning wheel to the right.
This is a vintage clock I found at a local resale shop. Check out that spinning wheel!

You could actually purchase non functioning spinning wheels to go in your living room corner and be decorative.

The “Made in Canada” SWSO

There was a furniture company in Canada that is a little notorious in the spinning community for creating the “Made in Canada” spinning wheel.

Made in Canada stamp
Watch out for the dreaded “Made in Canada” stamp under the table of a spinning wheel. It is possibly a spinning wheel shaped object.

These are the classic spinning wheel shaped objects. They look so much like a spinning wheel, however they do not have an orifice. You cannot put yarn onto the bobbin. I also believe that the bobbin and the flier are one solid piece. They do not separate and they cannot spin independently, which is also another reason why it is a spinning wheel shaped object and cannot spin yarn.

This is the classic “Made in Canada” spinning wheel shaped object.

Canadian Production Wheels are NOT SWSOs

However, before I vilify an entire country for creating a ubiquitous SWSO, let me also add that there are some amazing antique and modern wheels that come from Canada. This is a picture of my Canadian Production Wheel. An antique wheel with an amazing capacity to spin and spin fast!

A picture of my dog investigating my antique Canadian production wheel after I brought it home.
My dog, Willow is checking out my (new to me at the time) Canadian Production Wheel.

Lendrum Spinning Wheels are NOT SWSOs

Lendrum is also a company located in Canada that makes beautiful and beloved new spinning wheels. If you are in the market for a new spinning wheel, you won’t go wrong with a Lendrum! You can take a look at a Lendrum from the Woolery here (affiliate).

I Bought a SWSO…on Purpose!

 I was wandering around on Facebook marketplace searching for old spinning wheels, and I came across a spinning wheel shaped object. Fortunately this was clearly listed as a decorative spinning wheel, but it definitely peaked my interest because it was so unusual looking.

A picture of my spinning wheel shaped object. The tells are the lack of an orifice and tension system.
My Spinning Wheel Shaped Object. The tells are the lack of an orifice and tension system.

Clues to Identify a Spinning Wheel Shaped Object

These are the things to watch out for if you are feeling enticed by that “antique” wheel on Facebook Marketplace. For a detailed run down of the parts of a real spinning wheel, watch this video.

  • No Orifice – There must be a hole for the yarn to go in so it can wind onto the bobbin.
  • One piece bobbin and flier – For any tension system to work on a spinning wheel, the bobbin and flier must spin separately and independently.
  • The hooks are too far apart – If the hooks on the flier are very spaced out, it is a clue that it was never meant to wind yarn evenly onto the bobbin.
  • Treadle is not meant for a foot – When you treadle a spinning wheel, you need to have a comfortable place to put your foot. If it is a skinny piece of wood that doesn’t look like it will hold up to repeated use, walk away.
  • No drive band adjustment – Most antique wheels have a knob sticking out the end of the table. It should be able to turn and move the flier mechanism closer or further from the drive wheel.

If you are unsure about a spinning wheel, ask the seller to spin yarn on it, not just turn the drive wheel, but actually make some yarn and wind it onto the bobbin.

You can also bring a spinning friend with you or take a lot of pictures (particularly of the things listed above) and post them in a forum so other spinners can help you avoid a disappointment like Humble Beet talks about in this SWSO post.

Can You Make a SWSO Spin Yarn?

Many spinning wheel shaped objects truly can not spin yarn, even with modifications. Spinning wheels are machines and machines require precision to work effectively. Having said that…

I’m going to try to convert my SWSO into a wheel that can spin yarn. Make sure you are subscribed to the blog so you can get updates on this project. It is sure to be a challenge!

Find the Right Spinning Wheel!

If you are looking for a spinning wheel to start spinning, I made a video to show you how to find your dream spinning wheel. You can watch it here.

Happy spinning!

2 thoughts on “The Spinning Wheel Shaped Object (SWSOs)

  1. Andre Wilding

    I recently bought a spinning wheel which looks something like a traditional Ashford but has no name on it and I’m wondering if it’s an SWSO. I would love to send photos for your opinion but can’t see a way to do it. Help!
    Best regards, André

    1. JillianEve

      Hi Andre,

      I would love to help you out. Do you have Instagram? You could send me a picture that way. You can find me at https://www.instagram.com/jillianevefa

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