The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Wooden Thread Spools

By Ivalien Hylton Belcher © 1988

Issue: April, 1988

The other day I was going through my Granny Dollie's old treadle sewing machine drawers and came upon some old wooden thread spools. Well, I thought the thread these days is rarely on a wooden spool. Then I got to thinking of some of the uses my family has made of these spools.

First of all, they made a good teething ring for the babies when they were cutting teeth. You could put a string on thread spools around the baby's neck and it would chew away and play.

As a child I used the wooden spools for a bubble blower. First, rub a bit of soap on the end, dip in some soap suds and just blow all kinds of rainbow bubbles. I still love to blow bubbles for my grandson and watch him trying to catch them.

One of my favorite toys made from the spool was a "dancer" (That's what we called them). It was as good as any toy and if you put dots of brightly colored paint, when spinning, the dancer appeared to be one solid color. To make a dancer, whittle the spool down on one end to make it pointed, then put a wooden dowel through the hole in the spool. In December I was in Poor Farmer's Market here in Meadows of Dan, Virginia when I spied two dancers. What memories of my childhood and my Dad they brought back! You know what? I bought all they had.

I have made Christmas decorations from wooden thread spools, painting them different colors and hanging them on the tree with bright colored yarn.

Once I was at an auction and saw a basket made of thread spools. It was old and in very good condition.

Now if you have some wooden thread spools, you might try your hand at making a dancer, bubble blower, or a decoration. Maybe even a basket - a pastime for the long winter evenings in the Blue Ridge or any place else.