Sleeping Beauty and the Spinning Wheel Spindle

Ah, the joys of research! After receiving some valuable feedback on Scales, I delved into some needed research and found some interesting things. First of all, I want to make clear that Scales is not a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, nor is it a continuation, or much of a prequel, honestly. But it does have threads of the Sleeping Beauty tale running through it. I call it a prequel because, for me, it’s the story I’ve come up with to tell Maleficent’s side of things – at least up to where the well-known tale begins. Maleficent (her name is Serina in my story) is a fascinating character in Disney’s version of the fairy tale. She’s a sorceress, and she’s incredibly jaded, but why? And why, exactly, does she turn into a dragon? Those were the questions I started with.

So to bring yet one more Sleeping Beauty thread into my story, I’ve decided to take a friend’s suggestion and add a spinning wheel scene into the plot and themes. The scene is short, and I weave it through some other spots, but when I started the scene, I ran into a wall because I have absolutely no idea how a spinning wheel works or what all the parts do and are named. Do you? I’m impressed if you do. I knew a spinning wheel is used to spin fibers into yarn and thread, but how it does that exactly, I didn’t know. And, I kept asking myself, what exactly is a spindle on a spinning wheel, and is it really sharp enough for a young girl to prick her finger?

I found this:

In Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Aurora doesn’t actually prick her finger on a spindle. The animators didn’t quite understand how a wheel worked so what she touches is a distaff (a rod used to keep fiber organized while spinning), which is almost never sharp at all. (

That surprised me! So I’ll be sure not to make the same mistake in my story (describing the wrong thing as a spindle, heaven forbid). The spinning wheel first appeared in China a thousand years ago, but apparently, lots of serious crafters are still using spinning wheels! They’re still in production today, being sold for $200 – $2,000+. There are also two types of spinning wheels – spindle wheels and flyer wheels. The type in Sleeping Beauty was most likely a spindle wheel, and that’s what I’ll be describing in Scales. Anyway, this post might be all silliness, but I certainly find the strangest thrills in little research journeys! Don’t you?

Scales will be published in an omnibus titled Bonded. I have some news about the release date, but can’t share it quite yet. I will soon!

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle

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