Spinning is the art of twisting together a number of filaments or fibers in such a manner that a thread or line of greater length than the single fibers of which it is composed is produced. So ancient is this art that nothing is known of its beginning. Herodotus, Ovid, and other classic historians tell of spindle and distaff spinning. The flax was wound about the distaff with one end inserted in a slit at the top of the spindle, which is a stick ten or twelve inches long. The weight of the spindle continually carried down the thread as it was formed.

A great improvement on the spindle and distaff was the hand spinning wheel. When or by whom this was invented is not known. An excellent thread was made with this wheel; but the process was slow and laborious, and as a consequence the weaving industry was very much circumscribed. The invention of the spinning jenny by James Hargreaves in 1764 revolutionized weaving as well as spinning. By substituting the mechanical for the manual process, one person could spin as much as twenty persons could with the spinning wheel. But the thread made by the mechanical process, while suitable for weft, was only fairly good for warp. It remained for Richard Arkwright to invent a machine, five years later, with which a thread suitable for all purposes could be made. But this was not the end. Samuel Compton, uniting the best points of the Hargreave and Arkwright machines, fixed the creels of rovings in the frame, and transferring his spindles to a moving carriage, produced the spinning mule. Thus, from the crude beginning of spindle and distaff, has developed the time-old art of spinning, which now is accomplished with wonderful speed and very little manual labor. "Weaving is an art," says Dr. Johnson, in his dictionary, "by which threads of any substance are crossed and interlaced so as to be arranged into a permanently expanded form." In all weaving, there are two kinds of threads used, one called the warp, and the other the weft. The warp, which is generally, but not always, the parallel threads, is mounted on the loom before the weaving begins. The weft is the thread that crosses and intersects the warp.

Spinning.

Spinning.

The first looms were two transverse bars attached to pegs driven into the ground. Between these bars the warp was extended. The weaver, sitting flat on the ground, put the weft under and over the warp with his hands, using no implement whatever. Then came the vertical loom, at which two weavers could work, although they used their hands only. Still better was the Grecian vertical loom. With this was used a rod which was both shuttle and batten, and which had a hook on the end by means of which the weft was drawn through the warp.

The development of this universally necessary art was very slow. Even as late as a hundred years ago crude looms were to be found in almost every farmhouse, and a large proportion of the making of cloth was an individual matter, as all but the very rich spun the thread for, and wove, such fabrics as they used.

Inadequate as were these looms of a century ago, in comparison with those used in the great factories of the present day, they were elaborate labor-saving machines compared with the crude, simple looms which are still used in India in making such exquisite fabrics as India muslins and cashmere shawls. These looms are simply two bamboo rollers, one for the warp and one for the weft, and a pair of gear. Under a convenient tree, the weaver digs a hole large enough to contain his legs and the lower part of the gear. He then stretches his warp by placing his bamboo rollers a certain distance apart, and fastening them with wooden pins. The rest of the gear he fastens to a branch over his head. In two loops underneath the gear he inserts his great toes, which he uses as treadles. The shuttle with which he puts the weft through the warp is a large netting needle, which he uses as a batten to push each thread closely up against the last one. put through.

Spinning Wheel.

Spinning Wheel.

Until 1733 the shuttle containing the weft was put through the warp by the weaver's hand. In that year, John Kay invented the flying shuttle, which is a mechanical device that takes the weft thread swiftly and evenly through the warp without as much as the touch of a hand. This machine enabled one person to do as much as two could accomplish by the old method. Plain cloth is made by simply putting the weft thread under and over the warp. For fine cloth, the warp threads, which are very delicate, are placed so that they lie closely together, and the weft threads, which are equally delicate, are put in so that they lie as close together as the warp. The process by which the weft threads are made to lie close together is called "battening," or beating the weft up in place. Frequently, part of the warp and part of the weft are colored in such a way as to form checks, as in gingham, or simply stripes.

Grecian Vertical Loom.

Grecian Vertical Loom.

Indian Out Door Loom.

Indian Out-Door Loom.

Corded surfaces and an almost endless variety of effects are obtained by an arrangement which causes the weft to pass over and under two or three threads instead of a single thread of the warp. In making satin, which had its origin in China, the passing of the weft through the warp is so managed that a smooth surface is presented. What is known as three-leaf weaving is the simplest twill, and is where the weft passes over two and under one warp thread, giving the appearance of a succession of diagonal lines. Cashmeres, serges, and all kinds of goods with a twilled surface, are woven in this way, although the number of threads that are taken up or passed over varies in different kinds of cloth, as may be seen by raveling out a piece of twilled goods, and observing how the threads are placed.

To weave cloth in intricate and artistic patterns of various colors, a special loom is necessary. Such a loom was invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard, in Lyons, France, in 1801. It is really a combination of machines; and although simple, the results obtained are nothing short of marvelous. It was invented when Napoleon I. was Emperor of France, and hearing of it he sent for the inventor. When Jacquard arrived, the emperor said to him: -

"Are you the man who pretends to do that which God Almighty cannot do, tie a knot in a stretched string?" For answer, Jacquard produced his machine, and tied the stretched string. The emperor acknowledged that he could do what he had supposed was impossible, and awarded him a pension of a thousand crowns (twelve hundred dollars) a year.

Loop or pile weaving is where the weft is arranged in a series of loops, as in Brussels carpets. This kind of weaving is cut or Uncut, as the case may be. Velvets of different kinds are woven in this way.

It was in 1790, at Pawtucket, R.I., that the first factory for weaving cotton cloth in the United States was established. Since then the most wonderful machines have been invented for weaving cloth rapidly and beautifully, and yet some of the finest work of this kind is still done by hand.