Mr McDonald and his Spinning Wheels



Mr McDonald at the Eastbourne Spinners Mr William McDonald of Lyall Bay, Wellington, first became interested in spinning in 1959. By 1965, when the photograph at right was taken, he was a valued member of the Eastbourne Spinners, helping with teaching and maintaining their collection of wheels. Here he is at one of the Tuesday evening classes (Miss Stace is at the extreme right helping two eight-year-olds with their spinning). He had also begun to make spinning wheels.

His wheels seem to have been based partly on the Schofield but it seems likely that the idea for the plywood drive wheel came from the Karure by John Moore, with which he was familiar: he is spinning on one in the picture. Part of one of his own wheels can be seen at the lower right.

Spinning in IndonesiaThe picture at left, dated 1966, was taken in Indonesia during a visit by Mrs Kathleen O'Reilly to teach spinning and weaving. The description in the Eastbourne Spinners' file says
"The Little Wheel, with Mira (in Indonesian wool sweater)
The McDonald wheel with Matara spinning.
Atus is at a similar wheel to Mr McDonald's.
This simple wheel, made from plywood, makes the spinning craft available to school children in many places."

The wheel on the right "similar to Mr McDonald's" is a Schofield. The "Little Wheel" with the solid drive wheel looks very much like one of our mysteries though that wheel is quite heavy and by no means "little".

Mr McDonald's sewing machine wheel The McDonald wheel pictured in this website is dated 23 February 1963. However, in 1964 there is a reference to Mr McDonald beginning to make a new, small wheel. Another, frustratingly undated, newspaper clipping says he made two models of wheel. By the age of 80 he had made more than 40 wheels, and could make one in a week. By then he was looking for a change, and said his next ambition was to spin, weave and sew a suit of clothes for himself. He admitted that he "liked the horses" and remarked that he got his last trip to London from the TAB!

He also had fun making a wheel from an old treadle sewing machine, and this was his favourite for his own use. He could rest his arms while spinning. He died in late 1968.



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