Weaving is said to be one of the oldest surviving crafts the world has known, with the weaving tradition dating back to 12,000 years ago during Neolithic times. Before the weaving process was discovered and coined, the basic principle existed and was often used to interlace branches and other materials to create fences, shelters, and other solid objects.
Weaving is a popular method used to create textiles. It consists of interlinking vertical and horizontal threads. These threads have different names; the vertical threads known as wrap and the set of horizontal threads as weft. The act of weaving can be done commercially using machines or by hand. The machines sued for weaving are usually known as looms.
Looms started as basic wooden frames and gradually transformed into the modern, electric machines we know and use today. Although, for the most part, weaving has become mechanized, hand weaving is still an existing practice.
The first string was created 20,000 to 30,0000 years ago when humans began to twist plant fibers together. Fine strings were produced by gathering a small bundle of plant fibers and stretching them, twisting them together at the same time. This discovery was the first step to weaving, sewing, and spinning.
Threads and strings of different sizes were created by using different sizes of plant fibers- more fibers for a thick thread, and less for a thin thread. Once individual threads were created, the threads could then be woven together to create tactile objects useful to everyday life.
Cloth weaving came about in the Neolithic Era and was used in virtually every household for a variety of purposes. For thousands of years following its creation, cloth weaving was associated with family and personal life and by the 11th century, most of the popular weaving patterns we use today had been created. This is when cloth weaving started to become a work-related task, migrating away from family.
During the Industrial Revolution, weaving turned fully mechanic with the invention of water and steam powered weaving looms. The fly shuttle -a narrow canoe shaped tool that houses a bobbin- was put to work weaving the threads, removing the need for workers to manage the threads by hand. The fly shuttle was created by John Kay in England in 1733. The invention doubled the speed of weaving and increased production.
The Jacquard Machine was established in the 1800s. It used a punch card mechanism to operate the loom and has been credited as the basis of modern computer science. Textiles woven on this machine are complex and modern.
These among other weaving innovations made in the Industrial Revolution, lead to a change in the way woven cloth was manufactured and sold. Now, large quantities of cloth could be produced for relatively cheap.
Today, a large, complex cloth making industry is in place; crafting intricate, luxurious cloth and supplying millions with it. There are artisans that use traditional looks to weave, though. These artisans keep the ancient tradition alive.