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Literature / The Lazy Spinner

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The Lazy Spinner is a short German Fairy Tale collected by The Brothers Grimm.

There is a husband and a wife with one very pressing problem. The wife just is too lazy to spin and he desperatly needed a new reel. So he decides to go to the woods to cut wood for one. His sneaky wife follows along and whispers a "curse" that whoever tries to cut down wood for a reel will die. It takes this trick three times to get the message.


So when he comes home the wife isn't done yet. She tells him she will boil yarn for him but he must watch it carefully or else it will turn into tow. The wife just tosses tow in there from the start and when her husband finds it he believes he screwed up. The husband then agrees not to ask his wife about spinning anymore. Then they lived happily ever after, we think.

It can be read here, here and in the SurLaLune site.


Tropes included in this tale

  • The Bad Guy Wins: By the end of the tale the lazy wife never spins and her husband is just going to shut up about it.
  • Curse: The wife invokes a fake curse that whoever would cut the wood to make a real will die to get her husband not to do it.
  • Karma Houdini: The wife gets away with everything she attempts, the only thing she doesn't escape is to be called out by the narrator.
  • Lemony Narrator: While this is sometimes common in fairy tales, this one with a Karma Houdini character even has to admit she is a bit much to handle at the end.
  • Nameless Narrative: It's just "The Lazy Spinner" no name of the wife needed.
  • No Name Given: There's a husband and a wife who is lazy at spinning, their names beyond that? Who Knows?
  • Rule of Three: The wife has to pull her trick in the woods three times before the husband gives up.