The Industrial Revolution and the Loom


The Industrial Revolution mechanized the entire process of cloth making. According to Brouty, prior to the invention of the flying shuttle in the 1750’s, three to four spinners were needed to produce enough yarn for a weaver. The statistic I’ve read other places is nine. Anyway, many spinners are needed for each weaver. The flying shuttle, again according to Brouty, quadrupled the weaver’s output. If you think that then people would try to find a way to increase the yield of the spinners, you would be right. The spinning jenny was invented in the mid 1700s and the first spinning factory was set up in 1761 by a gentleman named Richard Arkwright. Samuel Compton invented the spinning mule ten years later (unfortunately for him, he was a talented inventor that had his life threatened several times and died in poverty) and now handweavers were hard pressed to keep up. Pressure mounted for a mechanical loom that could keep up with the spinning machines.

Hand spinning and weaving, a honored and important job (primarily done by women) became a ‘craft’. Most people don’t even think of the connection between the clothing on their backs and the process by which it got there.