We pass through the middle, or at least over the machines used for spinning and weaving, i.e. those by means of which a mineral, vegetable or animal textile material is made into a thread, and a thread into a fabric. Lyon for silk, Rouen for cotton, Lille for linen and hemp, Elbeuf and Sedan for cloth, Alsace for cotton, carded wool, worsted wool and silk flock, Troyes for hosiery, Paris for all these branches of the same industry, have contributed to the collection of the equipment we have before us. We see the curious crowding around the machine where the reeled cocoon gives the silk grége. A newer machine is the one that produces woolen threads, not by spinning, but by felting. Among the looms we have several examples of the substitution of paper for cotton on the Jacquart machine, a machine used, as we all know, for weaving woven fabrics.
Before Jacquart, patterned fabrics were made in Europe as they are still made in India.
It required a weaver, a drawer and a weaver.
Next to the loom was a table divided by two series of lines into a multitude of small squares, like the multiplication table known as Pythagoras. This was the model of the fabric to be made. The horizontal lines represented the warp, the others the weft; the small squares represented the stitches that the threads of a fabric form when they cross each other. A sign indicated whether the warp thread should be raised or lowered. The reader in front of the model controlled the manoeuvre.
The weaver, sitting in front of the loom, had the shuttles loaded with different colours to form the weft; both were waiting for the orders of the weaver.
The latter, following a row of squares from right to left, would say to the weaver: "Lift this or that thread," and when the weaver had lifted the indicated threads, the weaver would say to the weaver: "Throw this colour," and the weaver would throw the shuttle loaded with the designated colour.
Such was the infancy of the industry when Jacquart came along. He conceived the idea of mechanically regulating the raising and lowering movements of the warp threads, and charged pieces of cardboard attached end to end, pierced with suitably arranged holes and combined with a system of needles and claws. A pierced cardboard replaces the eyes of the reader and the fingers of the shooter.
But these marvellous boxes, whose touch is so delicate, whose eye is so sure, have a disadvantage: they have the disadvantage of being boxes, that is to say of being heavy, cumbersome and expensive. We did not think of reproaching them for this when it was a question of making them do the work of the printer and the reader; now that we are used to their qualities, we see their defects. To make a design, as many cartons are needed as there are weft threads in the design; if 500 or 1000 cartons are needed, then 500 or 1000 cartons are needed; so a cartoon of a particular design is enough to load a car, whereas the same design stitched in paper is easily carried by a man. It is estimated that paper will save the manufacturer 11/12ths of the cost of these articles; for the whole of France this would mean a saving of nearly 15 million. The idea is already old. Its implementation has encountered great difficulties. Its success is mainly due to the initiative and perseverance of Mr. Acklin.
We are seeing forces of hosiery machines. One of them is a hosiery loom which is said to offer a new application of electricity; this will be examined. Perhaps nowhere have the advances in mechanics produced such striking results: the first knitting machines were straight looms, they worked by hand and made 5,000 stitches per minute; now they have become automatic, they make 10 times more. The circular looms are ten times more active. 500,000 stitches per minute; thirty million per hour; what knitters! These large numbers are reminiscent of those that express the distances and speeds of celestial bodies.
©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée