• Textile manufacturing by pre-industrial methods

    Textile manufacturing by pre-industrial methods

    • Textile manufacturing is one of the oldest human activities. The oldest known textiles date back to about 5000 B.C. In order to make textiles, the first requirement is a source of fibre from which a yarn can be made, primarily by spinning. The yarn is processed by knitting or weaving to create cloth. The machine used for weaving is the loom. Cloth is finished by what are described as wet processes to become fabric. The fabric may be dyed, printed or decorated by embroidering with coloured yarns.

      The three main types of fibres are natural vegetable fibres, animal protein fibres and artificial fibres. Natural vegetable fibres include cotton, linen, jute and hemp. Animal protein fibres include wool and silk. Man-made fibres (made by industrial processes) including nylon, polyester will be used in some hobbies and hand crafts and in the developed world.

      Almost all commercial textiles are produced by industrial methods. Textiles are still produced by pre-industrial processes in village communities in Asia, Africa and South America. Creating textiles using traditional manual techniques is an artisan craft practised as a hobby in Europe and North America.

      The preparations for spinning is similar across most plant fibres, including Flax and Hemp. Flax is the fibre used to create linen. Cotton is handled differently since it uses the fruit of the plant and not the stem.

      Dressing the flax
      Breaking The process of breaking breaks up the straw into short segments. The beets are untied and fed between the beater of the breaking machine , the set of wooden blades that mesh together when the upper jaw is lowered.
      Scutching In order to remove some of the straw from the fibre a wooden scutching knife is scaped down the fibres while they hang vertically.
      Heckling Fibre is pulled through various sized heckling combs. A Heckling comb is a bed of sharp, long-tapered, tempered, polished steel pins driven into wooden blocks at regular spacing. A good progression is from 4 pins per square inch, to 12, to 25 to 48 to 80. The first three will remove the straw, and the last two will split and polish the fibres. Some of the finer stuff that comes off in the last heckles can be carded like wool and spun. It will produce a coarser yarn than the fibres pulled through the heckles because it will still contain some straw.
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    • Textile manufacturing by pre-industrial methods