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Numerous types of spinning wheels exist, including the great wheel also known as walking wheel or wool wheel for rapid long draw spinning of woolen-spun yarns; the flax wheel, which is a double-drive wheel used with a distaff for spinning linen; saxony and upright wheels, all-purpose treadle driven wheels used to spin both woolen and worsted-spun yarns; and the charkha, native to Asia.
Until the acceptance of rotor spinning wheel, all yarns were produced by aligning fibres through drawing techniques and then twisting the fiber together.
With rotor spinning, the fibers in the roving are separated, thus opened, and then wrapped and twisted as the yarn is drawn out of the rotor cup.
The tabletop or floor charkha is one of the oldest known forms of the spinning wheel.
The Spinning Wheel replaced the earlier method of hand spinning with a spindle.
The first stage in mechanizing the process was mounting the spindle horizontally so it could be rotated by a cord encircling a large, hand-driven wheel.
The large drive wheel turns the much smaller spindle assembly, with the spindle revolving many times for each turn of the drive wheel.
The yarn is spun at an angle off the tip of the spindle, and is then stored on the spindle.
More modern spinning machines use a mechanical means to rotate the spindle, as well as an automatic method to draw out fibres, and devices to work many spindles together at speeds previously unattainable.
He hoped the charkha would assist the people of India achieve self-sufficiency and independence, and therefore used the charkha as a symbol of the Indian independence movement and included it on earlier versions of the Flag of India.
The great wheel was one of the earlier types of spinning wheel.
The spun yarn was then wound onto the spindle by moving it so as to form a right angle with the spindle.
This type of wheel, while known in Europe by the 14th century, was not in general use until later.
During the 16th century a treadle wheel with flyer was in common use, and gained such names as the Saxony wheel and the flax wheel.