This wheel is a castle style wheel. As you can see the wheel and the flyer and treadles are all square in front of the spinner. The wheels that you normally see in fairy tales are called Saxony style wheels. On a saxony style wheel the wheel is off to the side and you need to sit a little off center to spin. A saxony style wheel is what I spin on at the village, even though the castle style wheel was common for the time period as well.
This great little machine is called a weasel, and I use this to wind the yarn off the bobbin that is on the spinning wheel. The weasel also measures the yardage of the spun yarn. How does it do that? Well the circumference of the spokes is 72 inches, every time the spokes make one complete revolution you have two yards. You can count the number of times your hand goes around, but this weasel also has a built in counter.
The box that you see has wooden gears inside, after the spokes have gone around 150 times, a small wooden piece inside makes a thump, or you guessed it, a "pop". All you then have to do is count the pops to know how many yards of yarn you have. One pop equals 300 yards. And now you know where the little rhyme came from for "Pop Goes the Weasel". This yarn winder also has a small dial so you can see quarter increments.
This weasel is very special to me, because when I first purchased it, it didn't pop, so I took it to my good friend Mr. Shepherd who is a master wood worker and he made the necessary repairs. What was really special about this is that when Mr Shepherd removed the box cover to repair the gears, he noticed that the original craftsman that built it, and the original owner had signed their names and dated it. Guess what the date was? 1865. When the weasel was delivered and I unpacked it, my husband thought I had been taken. He said it looks to be in to good of shape to be that old, but the proof was there inside the weasel itself.
After all the yarn has been wound onto the weasel, I then tie it off and twist the two yard circle over and over building up twist, then put the two ends together and they form a hank of yarn.