Ancient Crafts: Weaving

By Anna Greco

Weaving is one of the oldest crafts in the world. Even before weaving was used to make cloth the practice of interlacing plants and branches was used to create baskets, shelter, and fences. Cloth traditionally is made one of two ways: weaving or knitting threads. Weaving is the process of interlacing threads in an over-under pattern while knitting makes cloth by looping the thread continuously.

While most of our fabrics today are made on machines that can make many different designs, they are still either woven or knitted. There are a few exceptions for highly specialized or experimental fabric.

Look at the clothing you are wearing, can you tell if it is woven or knitted?
(Hint: Jeans are woven, t-shirts and yoga pants are knitted.)

Woven fabric is made by using a loom. Since every culture has its own history of making cloth, there are many different types of looms.

Fun Facts about Weaving

During the American Revolution, England was the leading manufacturer of wool and linen cloth.  Patriot colonists protested taxes by wearing cloth they made at home.  This was called “homespun.”  While the cloth was less attractive and less comfortable than the British goods, it declared the wearer a patriot.  When trade with England was cut off during the American Revolution in 1774, homespun became a necessity.

On April 30, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as the first President in the United States.  He wore a three-piece suit made out of fabric woven at the recently established Hartford Woolen Manufactory. 

Punch cards from Jacquard looms inspired Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage as they designed the first algorithms to be carried out by a computing machine in the 1830s and 1840s

By Anna Greco

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