Spinning and knitting were normally women’s work, while weaving was generally left to men. The large spinning wheel was frequently the subject of staged photographs (from the late 1850s) and postcards (from the late 1890s), for which it was probably brought out of storage. The smaller spinning wheel occasionally appears in images of Welsh women.
The old women retain the use of the spinning-wheel, and in many farmhouses the female servants employ their vacant hours in the same manner. Much home-made linen is used ; but the custom is upon the decline. Not only flax, but woollen cloth, is prepared upon the borders of Wales, as in that country, of which the threads are as coarse as lay-cord. Stockings of the same sturdy construction are also knit, of a dark blue, or liver-coloured brown.
Anon, ‘Manners and Customs in Herefordshire’, Gentleman’s Magazine, [originally from 1819, part 1, pp. 109-111], reprinted in Gomme, G.L., (editor), Gentleman’s Magazine Library, vol. 1 (1883), p. 20
1891 near Llandysul
[Saw a hand loom in a cottage] ‘This, in an age of steam, is almost as rare a sight as a spinning wheel in use. But we saw both hand looms and spinning wheels employed during the Welsh portion of our tour; and it was quite a common thing to see the industrious Welsh woman busily knitting, even whilst they talked and walked. We saw far more lazy men in Wales than women.’
Hissey, James John, Across England in a Dog Cart : from London to St. David’s and back. (1891), p. 284