Saturday 8 March 2014

Camden Museum

Brunero Spinning Wheel c.1916 (Camden Museum)

Brunero Spinning Wheel

The Camden Red Cross workers used the Brunero spinning wheel to make wool yarn for knitting soldier’s socks in the First World War. While the Industrial Revolution replaced hand-spinning by the 1914 Camden women retained this traditional craft skill and put it to patriotic purposes.

The hand-spinners at the Camden Red Cross supplied hand-knitters with yarn to make woollen socks, which were then sent off to Red Cross headquarters in Sydney. Soldier’s woollen socks lasted about 2-3 weeks in the trenches of the Western Front and stopped the soldiers from getting trench foot. The Red Cross supplied patterns for knitters, and the Camden News occasionally published the patterns as well.

The spinning wheel has its origins in the Middle East in the 12th or 13th centuries and replaced hand spinning with a spindle. In European cultures it was replaced by mechanised spinning in the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. Spinning is the subject of fables, fairy tales and stories going back to the Middle Ages. They also appear in music, legends and myths with symbolic political meanings.

The spinning wheel in its various forms has a domestic utilitarian status. Spinning is a tedious craft that takes time to master. 

The Camden spinning wheel was made by Domenico Brunero, a Camden inventor and manufacturer, sometime around 1916-1917. Brunero’s spinning wheels were of a unique design because of his invention with the skein-maker, wool-winder and spool-stands conveniently placed so that the wool was quickly ready for knitting. There are very few of Mr. Brunero’s cleverly designed spinning wheels still in operation.

The State Library of New South Wales has the records of Irene Read and her collection of knitting patterns for socks that were knitted for Australian soldiers. She said that the best socks were seamless and comfortable. Click here to view Irene Read's records @ SLNSW

Thanks to Julie Wrigley, Exhibition Curator, The Camden district Red Cross in war and peace.

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