Frank Williams Spindle Maker

18 March, 2018

A worldwide following on hand spindling

A spindle is generally a straight spike used for spinning fibres such as wool, flex, hemp, cotton, or yarn. A part of the apparatus is weighed by a whorl, a circular or spherical appendage, or by the thickening of its shape. Though its origins are uncertain, early historians believe that its invention dates back as early as 10,000 BC.

Culturally, the spindle has been associated with many mythological goddesses: Germanic Holda, Norse Frigg and Freya, Egyptian Isis, and Greek Artemis and Athena. The object has been connected with the concept of fate along with many woven threads. Think Disney’s Hercules.


“There’s quite a large following worldwide on hand spindling”


Retired Carpenter Frank Williams has made a robust business out of his hobby of crafting spindles. It stemmed from his active participation of a woodturning club. Coupled with his background in carpentry, it was only natural that Frank would craft objects out of his passion.

“Long story short, my physiotherapist is a spinner,” says Frank. “She asks, ‘So why aren’t we making this?’”

The basic products are spindles with styles and shapes in different ranges. His Etsy page, where he sells his creations online, shows a Turkish Flatback, a Russian Support, and an “Aussie” Plying Tool to name a few all in different shades of wood. Sometimes customers seek exotic timbers, which Frank imports. Each model caters to various preferences – by hand, pedal wheel, and many other ways – of spinning the fabric.

“There’s quite a large following worldwide on hand spindling,” says Frank. “The bulk of my orders are from overseas.”


“I’m surprised how in my retirement, this has taken over my life”


The demand comes from various parts of the world, mainly the USA, with countries from Europe and Asia following closely. One or two spindles are the usual quantity per order though bulk is still an option. As is the norm of being a part of the worldwide online market, it’s about getting used to the fact that the orders can come from anywhere.

“I’m surprised how, in my retirement, this has taken over my life,” says Frank with a laugh. “I fill the order and hope they have fun spinning.”

Thankfully, the demand hasn’t been overwhelming. If what’s ordered is ready in the shop, then it only takes about three to five days to ship whereas custom orders can take at least a fortnight.

Frank has occasionally gotten feedback from his customers who were more than happy to express how much they liked the product whether it’s in regard to the style or the balance. “It makes it worthwhile,” says Frank.

The Canberra Wool Expo this 19 & 20 May will be Frank’s third year of being with the Old Bus Depot. Feel free to drop by and browse his new and standard models of spindles. See his products and make an order through his online shop on Etsy.


For the latest news about the Sunday Markets in Canberra, like us on Facebook @Oldbusdepotmarkets.

Canberra Wool Expo , Celebration of Wool , Wool

What's On

Sat 15

Christmas & Designer Weekend

December 15 @ 10:00 am UNTIL December 16 @ 4:00 pm
Sat 22

Christmas & Collectables Weekend

December 22 @ 10:00 am UNTIL December 23 @ 4:00 pm

Market news

  • Market Entertainment: January 2019
    After the holidays we can't wait for a string of talented performances when we return on the 13th of January for Portobello Road. We've got singer/songwriter Rebecca Mann's first performance at the Markets on the last Sunday of the month. We look forward to live performances of songs form her new EP, Moon.
  • Food of the Month January 2019: Pies
    Pippy's and Pippy's Hot Pies, like their name suggests, sells some of the most scrumptious pies at the Markets. The stall has been with the Old Bus Depot Markets for 24 years and it started as a project by co-owners Brian Loader and Stuart McKinnon where the latter described it as a "meeting of minds over a glass of wine."
Read more market news

Our location

Our location


Office hours
Tuesday to Thursday 9am to 5pm

02 6295 3331
PO Box 4183 Kingston ACT 2604


21 Wentworth Ave Kingston ACT 2604

Tourism Awards
Hall of fame
Tourism Retailing
2003-2005 Australian
Tourism Awards
Threesides: Digital Marketing Canberra