Tools & Equipment

Quill Winder

Quills – originally goose quills – but more often a rolled up paper tube, were wound with thread and placed in a weaver’s shuttle to feed the warp thread as the shuttle was passed back and forth through the warp threads on a loom.

  • Accession Number: 1961.12965.1

To save time in wrapping hundreds of yards of thread around the small tube, the tube, sometimes called a bobbin, was placed over the spindle on a spinning wheel where the rotation of the wheel would do the work of wrapping. This little winder was made specifically for the purpose of winding quills.

The metal spindle is tapered it held the quill so it would not slip. The two wheels were arranged so as to accelerate the rate at which the spindle turned and therefore the speed with which the thread was wrapped.

This is clearly something the Shakers at Canterbury, New Hampshire, made for the convenience and efficiency of the sisters, or more likely, the young girls who worked in the weave shop. Its craftsmanship is exquisite.