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Susan Raslavicus of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, recently donated a quill winder to the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm‘s education programs.
Weavers use a quill winder to wind yarn onto a “quill,” a pencil-thin tube of rolled paper or cornhusk. The quill winder operates very much like a spinning wheel and is commonly mistaken for one. The drive string from the wheel rapidly turns the spindle, allowing the weaver to quickly load already-spun yarn onto the quill on the spindle. When the quill is fully loaded, the weaver slips the quill off the spindle and slides it into his shuttle, ready for the loom.
The donated quill winder, acquired by Mrs. Raslavicus more than twenty years ago, has a wooden box built onto its table so the weaver can load many quills at one sitting and drop them right into the box for storage. This saves the weaver from having to constantly leave the loom to wind a new quill every time one runs out.
Along with other antique and modern spinning wheels and looms, Mrs. Raslavicus’ quill winder will be used in the textile program at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm to demonstrate to all ages how labor-intensive it was to create even the most ordinary textiles before the Industrial Revolution.
This is one of many in-kind donations Historic New England received this year. We are grateful for these gifts of objects, labor, and time that support our organizational mission.