I happened to have a meeting at a very important weaving museum. Queen Street Mill, the last operational steam powered weaving shed in the world, right here on my Lancashire doorstep.
It led to a conversation back home about our family history of working in the Lancashire weaving mills, which in turn led to me being given this book.
Manuscript Notes of Weaving by James Holmes. From around 1908.
We don't know the exact date, but an interesting passage in it talks about the beginnings of the introductions of automatic looms. This was an era that drastically changed the Lancashire cotton industry by increasing the potential for productivity four-fold and then eight-fold, as weavers began to operate several looms at once. Ultimately the automatic loom caused the downfall of the industry as it meant productivity could be increased in other countries, where labour was cheaper, so England eventually became priced out of the market and almost all the mills closed down, leading to mass unemployment and poverty.
The book was my Grandfather's introduction to weaving. Part manual, part text book. The illustrations are so delicate and technical and beautiful. It covers many ways to create texture and pattern using the Jacquard loom (and later looms which benefited from the same techniques); and how to assemble and maintain the different looms and their parts. Only looking through these now do I understand what a true craft it was. Such a skill to understand the intricacies of how to place the warp and weft to make the fabric rise and chase itself around the cloth, one fibre at a time. I'm so honoured to have been given this book. It's been a delight to look at.