Weaving innovations


This weekend I built a weaving loom.

This all started because I was thinking about the recursive structure of knitting – in knitting, each loop of wool is pulled through another loop, except the first row (the base case!). Anyhow, it occurred to me that knitting is inherently sequential (and therefore slow) whereas machine knitting and weaving are parallel in the sense that, with one ‘swoosh’, you create lots of stitches. Parallel = good.

Before building a loom, I tried just stringing wool around a bit of cardboard and weaving around those. It works, but is slow because you have to go above and below each string manually. But it worked well enough to merit spending some time building a “proper” loom. The loom I built has a cunning mechanism to lift alternate sets of strings en masse, allowing you to just whoosh the wool through the middle. This makes weaving much faster. I can see lots of way to improve the loom, but given that it took less than an hour to build, at a cost of about 1UKP, I’m pretty pleased.

One thing I enjoyed about this mini-project is the rapid feedback/innovation cycle. I’d use the loom for a few minutes, learn what the limiting factor was. Then I’d get the tools out, build a different part, and try it out. Each improvement to the loom make a huge difference to weaving productivity.

Shame I’m about 250 years too late!