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Weaving was and is the interlacing of threads by crossing a woof, weft or filling through a warp stretching lengthwise. The present definition divides it into six branches, namely; plain texture, tweeling or twilling, double cloth, spotting, Aushing, and crossed warps. "All the diversity of which these fundamental branches are susceptible arises from the mode in which the threads of warp are separated, or the sheds opened to receive the woof." When the shuttle is thrown across, the threads must be opened and partly listed in a shed to receive the woof.
In all weaving there are two vital movements of the woof; the shooting across of the shuttle and the driving home by the modern lay, which makes the fabric firm and strong. The Ishogo man weaving his bongos moved his rod with his left hand; the Icelander at about the same period 1867, and the Greek some eighteen centuries earlier, beat either upward or downward with the spatha or wooden sword. Similar operations may be traced as civilization went north and westward through Europe. The Vikings had an ancient loom from the Faroes, upright with the warp weighted below. The Irish had spinning and weaving in all the homes of the peasantry. After the warp was laid horizontal and the shed was sprung with treadles, the rod having been developed into a comb or reed. was fitted into a swing frame called the lay. Probably this frame somewhat facilitated the thrust of the shuttle. But the mediæval loom improved very slowly. The hand loom of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was brought to New England by the English, and by the Spaniards to their colonies. A remarkable survival of the unfit mediæval loom was in a district of South Wales. It was used there in 1890 by descendants of the Flemings imported into England by EDWARD III.
An exceedingly interesting bit of weaving is brought over by STUBEL and others, from the progressive industries of Arica, Peru. Historically it is pre-Columbian, and in evolution it ranks with that certain development of the hand loom we have shown in many places as civilization advanced. The pocket wallet and sabretasche have been important in weaving apparel. The original of this pocket was 22 centimeters long by 24.5 wide. Wholly of wool, the woof is of dark red and the warp carries five colors — red, white, black, violet and brown. Two layers of warp or double cloth weaving give much effect to the varied colors of the woof. The simple basket weaving of the upper layer appears richer by a contrast with the woof colors. The pattern is very complicated to the eye, and must have been harmonious in color while the mechanical weaving is not difficult. This example is a type of the weaver's efforts, as the time demanded richer and more æsthetic effects in various fabrics. There are fine specimens of early Peruvian fabrics at the Peabody Museum and in the Museum of Natural History at New York. Some Poncho shirts or tunics of vicuna wool in the warp and twisted cotton threads in the woof are admirable fabrics. The threads are fine and evenly spun. The designs are very ingenious and spirited. Rude forms of birds and the human figure are clearly portrayed.
There was no substantial improvement in the process of manufacture, so slowly developed in the hand loom, until the great eighteenth century had started mankind into new industrial life. Kay added a shuttle-box and driving picker-stick which sped the flying shuttle through the swing-frame in 1733-1750. This woof-motion quadrupled the product of a single weaver, and it made possible the power looms of CartWRIGHT in 1786. All the processes we have described became automatic; for the warp and woof moved themselves, so long as the loom went right. But there are immense numbers of hand looms working today in Japan, China and India. Peasant houses in Russia have the old loom. In 1901 the provinces of Vladinur and Moscow alone had more than 10,000 peasants weaving silk by hand, and a far greater number at work on fabrics of cotton, linen and wool. In 1901 Japan had 32,000 power looms weaving cotton goods, at the same time she operated 708,000 looms by hand.
Coming a little latter than CARTWRIGHT, the Englishman, the French JACQUARD in the spirit of the same creative time made the drawboy loom automatic. Both the original and its automatic offspring are among the most marvellous pieces of mechanism known to humanity, whether in Asia or Europe, China and Japan as well as India, made the most beautiful fabrics the world has ever seen on this loom, and by hand.
In plain texture a thread crosses its fellow forever, as it were, in the monotony of sheet, shirt, sail, bag, tent, and all the common fabrics. The drawboy or Jacquard made any thread the fellow of any and every thread, controlling it absolutely. He could make a monotonous basket or bring out the lineaments of the human face.
In the draw-loom the warp threads are passed through loops formed in strings — vertical - one string to each thread, with the strings in groups. The weaver is seated, throwing the shuttle as usual. From a frame above, the drawboy at the weaver's call, pulls the group strings, or in other words, lifts all the threads the pattern calls for. These groups are fixed by a design on paper held by the weaver. With "unerring precision" and the utmost "regularity" the drawboy pulls the cords which bring out the pattern as the shuttle passes under.
Did time allow, a volume might be made concerning the improvements in weaving in the United States during the nineteenth century. They culminate in the Northrop-Draper loom, a wonderful daughter of old Egypt.
Wherever we turn in literature we find the loom and the spinner, whether in the gravest records or in symbolic scenes, which betoken the life, whence the poet derived his culture. The greatest heroine of all time is thus pictured;
Here in the palace at her loom she found
The golden web her own sad story crowned ;
And the dire triumph of the fatal eyes. Virgil in a Georgic of a later time gives some detail of the making of fabrics.
Ethiop's hoary trees, and wooly wood
Their fleecy forests in a slender twine. He alludes to cotton and the early notion of silk sericum, which was fabled to be a fleece from trees before the ways of the worm were known at Rome.
Wherever we touch progress and civilization, one principle holds. And it is, the prevailing humanness, so to speak, the universality of the arts of weaving and spinning, as they take hold of man in his development, whether that be simple or complex. Time is of no account in progress. Man is his own selfregistering clock and dial plate. Anywhere above the lowest savage state, weaving or weaving combined with spinning is a well defined art, developed out of immediate wants, and constantly adapting itself to life; to living in new forms and controlled by new necessities. Machinery has done much for civilization, but the industrial system sacrifices while it creaks; it is not clear gain. We have improved the condition and stimulated the intelligence of the masses of mankind. Has quality of work improved in like proportion? The masses care most for many and cheap comforts; they do not appreciate much less demand, the few, the more artistic, the more enduring things. The world is better off than ever today; it will be yet better tomorrow.
At some time in the future, primitive man may be more highly appreciated than he is just now. Like tyros, we sport with the awful powers of nature by setting a portion of the great forces against such other forces, as for the moment we can comprehend. Yet it is only thought that animals matter, whether it be in the stroke of a stone hammer or in the lift of an electric crane balancing a hundred tons.
Our mother nature may be dreadful, but we know that she is beneficent, if wooed intelligently, constantly, and soothed into peaceful mood. In early development, myriad Adams and Eves went up and down the earth, struggling with spirits constantly — with demons occasionally. The man who first conceived the lightning flash to be no capricious Jovine bolt, no demoniac freak, but a throb in the order of nature, was greater than EDISON.
We toil and sweat in the grime of machinery, we grow deaf in the chink of gold as it moves the wheels of finance. We putter with records. In time the seer will come and render forth in his own song the true meaning of mechanisms, of all this intercourse with nature, the actual story of these new exploits of man.
The PRESIDENT. The meeting now stands adjourned till two o'clock.