My Latest….the Tarra Carousel Spinning Wheel

Yes, you could say I am officially addicted to spinning wheels. Just managed to buy my third one in as many weeks! I am now the proud owner of a Tarra Carousel spinning wheel which brings my total to four wheels. There are always lots of second hand spinning wheels for sale on Ebay however most of them are generally located in Victoria so when I manage to source them close to my home, I feel I’d be mad not to take advtange of that! That’s my rationale for buying them 🙂

Tarra wheels were made in Yarram, Victoria; by 1984 they had produced
over 10,000. Tarra made a variety of models, and changes were made over time: in
general the construction became lighter and the treadle smaller. Their horizontal wheels have characteristic rectangular tops to the maidens and wheel support posts. Most are made of Tasmanian Myrtle, nothofagus cunninghamii. Tarra uprights included the Carousel with horizontal maidens. There was  also a plainer model just called “Upright”.(From New Zealand Spinning Wheels website).

As mentioned, I bought her on Ebay and this time only had a 30 minute drive to pick her up. She cost me $170 (Australian dollars) and here’s the photo that appeared on Ebay. Look at all that excess wool that’s hanging off her. Makes for a great photo doesn’t it?

Tarra Carousel wheel

It took me a while to get rid of all that wool and this is her before the big clean up. The flyer has a bit of surface rust.

Tarra Carousel Before 01

Bobbins minus all the wool…

Tarra Carousel Before 03

She was very dusty…

Tarra Carousel Before 05

All the bits and pieces…five bobbins and even a threading hook! I RP7 (WD40) and a kitchen dish scrubber was used to clean the metal rods and the flyer.

Tarra Carousel Before 09

After the clean up. Unfortunately one tiny part is missing (blue arrow). As you can see from the green arrow, there’s a small locking mechanism which is missing from the other side. It is needed to tighten the hook onto the flyer. I have emailed the seller on the off chance it fell off in the box while he was lifting it out but I’m not optimistic. I will have a chat to the staff at Bunnings tomorrow to get some ideas as what I could use as a substitute. Any ideas?

Tarra Carousel After 02a

Nice and shiny after a bit of cedar oil. Note the three weights at the bottom of the wheel….they allow the wheel to always return to the same position. Very clever.

Tarra Carousel After 03

Nice clean and polished bobbins…

Tarra Carousel After 06

The threading hook sits in that little hole. I have since widened the gap between the top handle and the mother of all so the threading hook doesn’t hit the mother of all.

Tarra Carousel After 08

The leather that joins the footman to the treadle board…

Tarra Carousel After 09

Three of my four girls…from left to right….Little Peggy, Wee Peggy and Tarra Carousel. Don’t they match my wall unit? They all look so ‘at home’.

Three Wheels

In all her shining glory….

Tarra Carousel After 10

Now, I’ve saved the best for last…she came with the original manuals!!!! Yes, that’s right I have these lovely manuals about Tarra Spinning Wheels: How to care for, maintain and spin on your Tarra Spinning Wheel.

Tarra Manual 01

Tarra Manual 02

Tarra Manual 03

Tarra Manual 04

Tarra Manual 05

She also came with these photocoped instructions on Learn to Spin that were published by Ashford Handicrafts in New Zealand. They’re photocopied on foolscap paper so I’m assuming we’re looking at the 1970s / early 1980s. I remember typing on foolscap and quarto paper in 1974 when I started working in the State Government 🙂

Learn to Spin (2)

And finally, a bound book called Wool Gathering published by the Hamilton Wool and Craft Guild in New Zealand. It is in very good condition. Originally published in 1974 and the fourteenth reprint was in 1985, it has chapters on everything imaginable about spinning, dyeing, tanning, knitting patterns, recipes for bread, rearing a pet lamb, hand papermaking and introduction to a herb garden. Talk about a cornucopia of information! It contains just over 90 pages.

Wool Gathering 01

Wool Gathering 02

You know I feel quite privileged to own such a beautiful piece of Australian history. Now I just need to start using all these wheels rather than keep buying them.

Oh and one more piece of good news. The Redlands Spinners and Weavers meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month just around the corner from where I live. I could practically walk there but would look funny carrying my spinning wheel down the street. Anyway, they have now added additional meetings: every second and fourth Saturday afternoon between 1.30pm and 3.30pm at The Artist Tree which is also in the same suburb that I live in. So that’s where I’m going this Saturday afternoon. So excited!!

Talk soon…



18 thoughts on “My Latest….the Tarra Carousel Spinning Wheel

  1. Hi Melanie, a beautiful Carousel you have! She certainly came up a treat after a good polish. I have four wheels in my house at the moment – just one an upright – the carousel. It would have to be my favourite and is my top choice for taking to spinning group. My wheel only has one of the locking screws on the flyer and it works just fine.
    You must be thrilled to have received the instruction manuals with the purchase as well! Lucky girl. 🙂


    • So glad to hear you can use the hook without the locking mechanism. Yes, there’s not many people who can hold onto their manuals over nearly 30 years. I will have to put them in a safe place.


  2. Hi Melanie, what a gorgeous find. I found my Tarra about 3 years ago in a deserted empty shop. She was standing all alone in the shop window. It took a bit of detective work to establish where to contact the shop owners. We eventually did and she came home with me. Recently I discovered she is a Tarra Duchess. I am quite puzzled by the way in which the tension works but I think I have just discovered how to use it and have been enjoying spinning on her. I am also a multi wheel owner.


    • Hi Maria, thanks so much for leaving a comment. I love your story!! It’s so exciting finding a wheel that you love so much. Even nicer to hear from another multi wheel owner too!!


      • Hi Melanie, I’m rather excited to get a response to my message as this is the first time I’ve joined a Blog! It is a Blog I’ve joined?! I have two Sheridans (a McArthur and a Celtic), A Sikinger, the lovely Tarra and a rather large ‘unknown’ but very solid and beautiful wheel. I meet so many multi wheel owners I’m surprised there actually isn’t a group to support those of us who just can’t help themselves!!


      • Hi Maria, I have a few followers of my blog however many may just read my posts and not comment so I get a reall buzz when a comment is left and feel it is only polite to respond seeing as people take the time to leave a comment. If you read my other posts you’ll see I own an Ashford Traditional, Little Peggy, Wee Peggy, Tarra Carousel and an Ashford Traveller. I did buy a 6th wheel which I cleaned up beautifully but it was rather heavy and cumbersome so I sold it. I have no idea who made the wheel so it is now listed on the Australian Spinning Wheels Mystery Wheels site which you may wish to visit. it’s the first one listed. The first two photos are before I cleaned her up and the third photo is the end result after a good clean up.


  3. I’ve just found myself a little piece of history on the side of the road, it is a beautiful Tarra same as yours. Now I know nothing of spinning other than I did it when I was 10 and loved it! I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind sending me a copy if your user manual?
    I look forward to hearing from you, in the mean time I’m getting out my dusters and some oil.


    • Hi Lyndall….you mean you actually found it on the side of the road? Amazing! If it’s missing any of the flyer hooks you can read my post about where I bought some spares in Victoria. If you go to my ‘Contact Me’ link on the front page of my blog and send me a request for the user manual I’ll get your email address and send a copy to you. Just have to rummage around to find it now. I would highly recommend a 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil and pure gum turps to bring the Carousel back to new. The wood is probably really dry so she’ll suck up that oil. Make sure you take some before and after photos as I’d love to see them.


  4. Hello Mel, I bought a carousel about a week ago, not knowing what sort of wheel it was. It’s in really good condition, but is also missing one of the hook screws – sounds like it might be a common problem! I’m brand new to spinning, and would be really interested in seeing a copy of the manual you got with your wheel, so i can work out how to use /trouble shoot the wheel. Would that be at all possible? It’s such a lovely wheel!


    • Congratulations on your purchase. One of my posts covers the purchase of the flyer hooks which can be bought in Victoria from the Spinners and Weavers Guild. If you go to my ‘Contact Me’ link on the front page of my blog and send me a request for the user manual I’ll get your email address and send a copy to you. Just have to rummage around to find it now.


  5. I believe your upright wheel cannot be a Carousel. I have the original paperwork for my CAROUSEL and its a Traditional Double Band Spinning Wheel made over at Yarram in Victoria. I will post the info by way of a photocopy if you want to see why I think your wheel must be called something else. Maree Murray.


  6. We have a Tarra spinning wheel for sale
    As in the start above it even comes with dust some grime (been stored for 20+ years) and will need a general cleanup as in the start above
    Having had said that it is complete in working condition and even has an original owners booklet


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