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Although some women were now working outside the home, spinning was still common pastime, and the spinning wheel was a common tool in most homes, but the yarn was now used for knitting or other sewing projects rather than for weaving.

Early 19th century spinning wheel.The spinning wheel was a natural progression from the hand spindle. It was realized that the hand spindle could be held horizontally in a frame and turned, not by twisting it with the fingers, but by a wheel driven belt. This spinning wheel, or walking wheel, consists of a low table above which a drive wheel is mounted at one end and a spinning mechanism at the other end. The wheel was turned by hand and drove the spindle mechanism by means of a drive belt. The spindle was mounted horizontally so that it could be rotated by the drive belt. The distaff, carrying the mass of the fiber, was held in the left hand of the spinner, and the wheel was slowly turned with the right hand. Holding the fiber at an angle to the spindle produced the necessary twist.