This fixture of colonial American homes has been in use for hundreds of years. People use spinning wheels to convert cotton, wool or flax into yarn. The yarn is threaded onto a loom to make cloth.
Early Americans spun their own yarn well after the introduction of commercial textiles because of the high cost of those textiles. But spinning was mechanized early, even before the Industrial Revolution. In the late 18th century, inventors developed water wheels to drive mechanical spinning machines. As manufacturing processes improved and more textiles were produced in America, the price of cloth came down. In time, the term "homespun" became an insult about the quality of a person's clothing.
The time-consuming task of spinning, along with the household fixture that accompanied it, became part of the past.