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String Puzzle, amended

Yes, everyone thinks the gizmo looks like a bobbin winder of some sort.

But here’s where we’re most perplexed:

Unknown textile gizmo

The putative bobbin area is hourglass shaped. There isn’t an obvious way to mount a pirn or quill, and how would you get it off if you wound directly onto the shaft? My friend didn’t get to try to take it apart, but unscrewing the top might be possible. It looks like there might be a seam around the central shaft, but that seems rather inconvenient.

This is also a very large and sturdy-looking contraption. Why so hefty? And is that an adjustment knob on top of the “bobbin”?

I’m hoping that someone recognizes as some piece of antique mill equipment with a particular purpose, something that seems more likely to me than that it’s a handicrafter’s bobbin winder.

With the feed loop and the orbital gearing and the winding, it’s some kind of winder, but what, and where did it come from?

3 Comments on “String Puzzle, amended”

  1. #1 Lyle FitzWilliam
    on Oct 7th, 2009 at 8:20 am

    It’s difficult to tell with the pictures, but does the “bobbin” section rotate as well as spin? It would be another argument that this is a winder.

    I don’t think that that’s an adjustment knob above the bobbin — I believe that that’s a thumbscrew for _releasing_ the bobbin, so that you can take it off the winder and put on another one.

    There should probably have been additional bobbins to replace this one there after the yarn has been wound onto it.

  2. #2 Phiala
    on Oct 7th, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Here are all the comments from other sources so everyone can see what’s been said.

    Wu (via email):

    I’m going to agree with the bias-tape winder theory and venture that due to its large size, must have been for the making of tape used in upholstery. The table makes me think it’s upholstery equipment, anyway.

    So yeah, Wu’s guess…upholstery tape maker thingie.

    Cori (via email):

    This is just a guess based on looking at the photos.

    That do-jobby at the front of the machine directly in front of the bobbin looks to be a device for folding strips of fabric. I think it’s a bias tape folder/winder.

    The cut and sewn fabric would feed through the do-jobby, then to the bobbin.

    The off kilter spin on the bobbin would cause the stuff to wrap on like a commercial yarn skein.

    As I said, this is just a guess – any body out there know?

    Marie (on LJ):

    Something about the shape of that bobbin is ringing a bell for me. Like net making on the Outer Banks, for crab nets and the like. hmmmm…

  3. #3 Phiala
    on Oct 8th, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Elizabeth (on LJ):

    in modern textile equipment, it is pretty common to have shaped bobbins, but typically they’re shaped like cones to facilitate a top-take-off instead of a side-take-off. Dye spindles, however, do come in a sort of hourglass shape, specifically to keep the yarn from sliding off in the package dye process.

    So, this thing does look like a bobbin winder. A close look suggests that the cones may actually come off the spindle, so perhaps it could be used to wind a ball like others have suggested, but with no central support core.