Reviews of NEW ZEALAND SPINNING WHEELS AND THEIR MAKERS

The book is now available free, as downloadable PDF files, at
https://nzspinningwheels.wordpress.com/

From Creative Fibre magazine (New Zealand) June 2010.

      This beautifully presented, richly illustrated book takes you on an absorbing journey of a truly astonishing variety of spinning wheels made in New Zealand and the history behind their makers.

      The first chapter outlines what is known of the history of spinning wheels in New Zealand. The next three chapters are a catalogue of over 120 wheels with fascinating information on their details and construction particlularly useful for anyone wishing to better acquaint themselves with their wheel, or to identify a wheel. They cover saxony style, upright and double table (Norwegian-syle) wheels. In the final chapters, there is further information on a selection of makers, and a "Discussion and speculation" section looks at the origin of some design aspects of New Zealand wheels.

      At the back of the book here is a CD with colour photographs of the numbered images which entice you to admire the detail and craftsmanship of each and every wheel.

      For anyone who owns a spinning wheel, this delightful book, which is the culmination of over five years of research by the author, is a must have for your bookshelf.

From Creative Wood magazine (National Association of Woodworkers New Zealand) September 2010.

      For those who recall the often highly competitive days of spinning and weaving in the latter half of 20th century New Zealand this book will be a trip down memory lane.

      The introduction takes the reader from the early settler days of the 19th century through two world wars, with their attendant shortages, to the easier post war period of the 60's when a renewed interest in spinning and weaving led to a demand for wheels and accessories.

      Chapters 2-4 catalogue the different types of wheels generally available, along with illustrations and details of their differing features of construction.

      Chapter 5 discusses the makers and their wheels, starting with Walter Ashford ... The chapter lists a host of names including Istvan Nagy, John Rappard and Philip Poore.

      Chapters 6-7 will be of particular interest to anyone contemplating making a spinning wheel. They deal with the nuts and bolts, types of wheel construction (flyers, tables, tensioning methods); all the details, large and small, which go to make a successful spinning wheel.

      This book will not tell you how to make a spinning wheel, but that was never its intention. The book is copiously illustrated, and there is a selected bibliography at the end, plus a CD Rom containing colour shots and details of the various wheels in the book

From Spinning Wheel Sleuth magazine (USA) July 2010 (extracts).

      [Mary Knox] begins with a historical survey, noting that thus far they have only been able to confirm one 19th-century New Zealand wheel maker, Roderick Fraser, by his use of native woods. World War I brought out the inventiveness of wheel makers, so wool could be spun and then knitted for the armed services... The economic depression and World War II again brought out the creativity of several men who made a variety of wheels by adapting materials and parts available at that time on this island nation...

      Dividing the spinning wheels into three structural categories, the Saxony or horizontal bobbin-flyer wheel, the upright or vertical wheel, and the double table or Norwegian-style wheel, Knox outlines which wheels by different makers fit into each category. Next she introduces the wheel makers about whom they have been able to find information. Fortunately, in some cases they were able to talk with the wheel makers themselves or members of their families. It is interesting to learn how the various spinning-wheel models evolved.

      Knox looks at the different components of a spinning wheel - drive wheel, wooden with spokes or solid, or metal; axle and crank; table; tensioning device; flyer assembly; and bobbin - to see how the various makers solved the design and structural questions posed by each one. She notes that some of the innovative changes introduced by the early wheelmakers have been incorporated into the spinning wheels that are currently produced.

      Although the book is produced in black and white, an accompanying CD-ROM with the photographs in color greatly enhances the reader's appreciation of the book's content. While Knox says that the book is "a tribute to the inventiveness and skill of New Zealand spinning-wheel makers and the astonishing variety of their wheels," it is also a testimony to her hard work over the last five years. It should be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in 20th-century spinning wheels.

From Yarnmaker magazine (U.K.) July 2010.

      I have been a fan of the website created by author Mary Knox for almost as long as I have been using a spinning wheel. Coincidently I started spinning about the same time Mary started her research in 2005. Found at http://www.nzspinningwheels.info/ it is entitled: "An Identification Guide to New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers." Now Mary, with help from fellow enthusiast Lyndsay Fenwick, and many other helpful individuals and organisations, has put together a wire-bound book with CD of photos telling the story of the spinning wheels made in New Zealand.

      Although it is wire bound, a strong cardboard back cover and high quality paper help make this an attractive and fairly sturdy publication. In 140 pages there are descriptions of over 120 wheels and tales of the people who made them. It helps for identification of an unknown wheel that both in the book and on the CD of photos the wheels are in separate chapters according to the style; Saxony, upright and double-table (Norwegian).

      As many wheels in the UK today have been imported from New Zealand readers here will recognise and learn more about many of the wheels they come across here and see the development of different styles and mechanisms.

home