A trellis-like fabric of threads or cords, chiefly used for entrapping fish, birds, and other animals. The term is likewise applied to a particular branch of manufacture, of a fine open texture, usually applied to the purposes of dress. The making of the former description of net is an easy process. The necessary tools merely consist of wooden needles, of different sizes, some round, and others flat, a pair of round-pointed and flat scissars, and a wheel to wind off the threads; the strength of the packthread, of which the net is composed and the size of the meshes, depending upon the particular description of birds or fishes required to be taken. It is necessary, in many cases, to alter the natural colour of the thread; the colour usually used is russet, which is obtained by immersing the thread in a tanner's pit, and letting it lie there until sufficiently tinged. A green colour, which is sometimes desirable, is obtained by chopping some wheat, and boiling it in water, and then soaking the net in the tincture.
A yellow colour is obtained by the same process, using the decoction of celandine, which gives a pale straw colour.
Mr. Alexander Buchanan, of Paisley, some years ago invented an ingenious machine for weaving any description of net-work without knots, and likewise to allow the holes or meshes of the net-work to be enlarged or diminished at the pleasure of the operator. The annexed engraving will convey an adequate idea of this machine. A B C D represents a wooden stand, upon which an iron frame E F G H is supported at each corner; in this frame there are seven wheels 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 that pitch into each other; iklm are continuations of the axis of the wheels numbered 13 5 7; upon the ends of the axis thus continued, circular pieces of wood IKLM are fixed, of which Fig. 2 is a representation. The other wheels 2 4 6 are introduced in order that, when the machine is put in motion, those numbered 13 5 7 may revolve in the same direction, as it is necessary that the parts of the machine attached to the axis of these should do so. Into each of the circular pieces of wood four grooves are cut, which allow the shuttles abcdefgh to slide out and in, at the circumferences of the circular woods, but prevent them from coming out when drawn in a direction towards R; the use of the grooves is to allow the shuttles to be moved from one circular wood to another in crossing the threads to form meshes of the net-work. In our figure the circular woods are represented as turned half round, to show the grooves and shuttles in them.
The pirns, or bobbins, of which one end is considerably thicker than the other, are provided with grooves, which, when the bobbin is placed in its proper situation, admits a spring, which acts as a counterpart to a weight suspended from the ends of the threads; each of these springs must be individually so strong that their aggregate strength will prevent the weight from drawing the threads off the pirns, and, at the same time, sufficiently weak to allow the threads to come easily off the pirns when drawn by the operator. Into the centre whee. 4 another pitches, having the same number of teeth; this wheel, which cannot be represented in the figure, is fixed to one end of the iron rod O P, at the other end of which a handle N is attached; by this handle the machine is put in motion.
Having now given a general description of Mr. Buchanan's machine, we proceed to the method of using it. The pirns or bobbins having been previously filled with thread, or with any other material of which the net-work is to be composed, are placed on the shuttles. The ends of the threads are then collected and tied together; after which they are put through a ring that is fastened on the top of the gudgeon S, and also through a hole T in the sole, or wooden stand; a weight is then suspended by the threads, the use of which is to prevent them from entangling. It must be observed, however, that before the machine is put in motion, the shuttles occupy the proper grooves; this is illustrated in Fig. 1, where the shuttles a b, in the circular wood I, occupy the first and third grooves; those of K occupy the second and fourth; those of L the first and third; and those of M the second and fourth. The operator then commences weaving the net-work by turning the handle at N; the size of the meshes of the net-work he increases or diminishes at pleasure, by turning the handle a greater or less number of times.
The wheels are thus made to revolve in the iron frame, the circular pieces of wood likewise revolving in consequence of the continuation of the axis of four of the wheels, by means of which the threads that proceed from the shuttles of each, are twining round each other. The twist made by this movement is made fast by the operator, who puts a finger of his left hand between each pair of threads, and with his right hand inserts horizontally the clearer, which is a thin piece of wood, shaped like a paper cutter, between each pair of threads, drawing both his hand and the clearer towards R, at which place it is prevented going any farther by a knot. He then removes his hand, leaving the clearer to keep the twist tight, and crosses the threads to form the meshes. This is effected by moving the shuttles from one circular wood to another, which operation resembles and effects exactly the same object as the crossing of the pins in working lace; the shuttles of the middle circular woods are changed first. Those of the circular wood K, occupying the second and fourth grooves, are moved into the second and fourth grooves of the circular wood L, while those of L are shifted into the first and third grooves of K; this movement forms half a mesh.
The operator then turns the handle the same number of times as formerly to twist the other side of the mesh that is already half-formed. This being done, and the twist made tight by the method just explained, the threads are again crossed, which is effected by moving the shuttles. By the first moving of the shuttles, those of the circular woods K were shifted into the corresponding grooves of L, and vice versa.; so that by shifting them in the present instance, those which originally occupied L are moved into I, and those that originally occupied K into M; this operation completes other two meshes: thus, by twining and crossing the threads, any quantity of net-work may he wove, the operator drawing more thread off the pirns as the former quantity is used.