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Portal:Textile arts

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The Textile arts Portal

Portrait illustrates the practical, decorative, and social aspects of the textile arts
The textile arts are those arts and crafts that use plant, animal, or synthetic fibers to construct practical or decorative objects. Textiles cover the human body to protect it from the elements and to send social cues to other people. Textiles are used to store, secure, and protect possessions, and to soften, insulate, and decorate living spaces and surfaces.

The word textile is from Latin texere which means "to weave", "to braid" or "to construct". The simplest textile art is felting, in which animal fibers are matted together using heat and moisture. Most textile arts begin with twisting or spinning and plying fibers to make yarn (called thread when it is very fine and rope when it is very heavy). Yarn can then be knotted, looped, braided, knitted or woven to make flexible fabric or cloth, and cloth can be used to make clothing and soft furnishings. All of these items – felt, yarn, fabric, and finished objects – are referred to as textiles.

Textiles have been a fundamental part of human life since the beginning of civilization. The history of textile arts is also the history of international trade. Tyrian purple dye was an important trade good in the ancient Mediterranean. The Silk Road brought Chinese silk to India, Africa, and Europe. Tastes for imported luxury fabrics led to sumptuary laws during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The industrial revolution was a revolution of textiles technology: cotton gin, the spinning jenny, and the power loom mechanized production and led to the Luddite rebellion.

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A beater pressing weft yarns into place.
Credit: Yanagawa Shigenobu

A beater is a weaving tool designed to push the weft yard securely into place. In hand weaving, they may sometimes be combined with the shuttle into a single tool. They appear both in a hand-held form, and as an integral part of a loom.

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Eli Whitney
Eli Whitney (December 8, 1765 – January 8, 1825) was an American inventor best known as the inventor of the cotton gin. This was one of the key inventions of the Industrial Revolution and shaped the economy of the antebellum South. Whitney's invention made short staple cotton into a profitable crop, which strengthened the economic foundation of slavery. Despite the social and economic imact of his invention, Whitney lost his profits in legal battles over patent infringement, closed his business, and nearly filed bankruptcy. Afterward Whitney became a firearms manufacturer who supplied muskets to the United States government. He spent the remainder of his career promoting the idea of interchangeable parts for the manufacture of firearms. Although he was not the first to propose the concept of interchangeable parts and never developed a working system of interchangeable parts, he popularized the idea as a useful manufacturing concept. In order to justify the sale price of his contracted firearms to the government he developed improvements in cost accounting that included fixed costs that had gone overlooked in federal estimates for price comparison.

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Lady of the Lake

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Knit hat, yarn, and knitting needles
Knitting is a method by which thread or yarn may be turned into cloth. Knitting consists of loops called stitches pulled through each other. The active stitches are held on a needle until another loop can be passed through them. Knitting may be done by hand or by machine. By hand, there are numerous styles and methods. Some of these produce an entirely different end-product; some produce very similar results. Flat knitting, which is done on two straight needles, produces a length of cloth, while circular knitting, which is done on circular or double-pointed needles, produces a seamless tube. Different yarns and knitting needles may be used to achieve different end products, by giving the final piece different color, texture, weight or integrity.

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Adam Smith
Observe the accommodation of the most common artificer or daylabourer in a civilized and thriving country, and you will perceive that the number of people, of whose industry a part, though but a small part, has been employed in procuring him this accommodation, exceeds all computation. The woollen coat, for example, which covers the day-labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint labour of a great multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the wool-comber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production. How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a very distant part of the country? How much commerce and navigation in particular, how many ship-builders, sailors, sail-makers, rope-makers, must have been employed in order to bring together the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which often come from the remotest corners of the world? What a variety of labour, too, is necessary in order to produce the tools of the meanest of those workmen! To say nothing of such complicated machines as the ship of the sailor, the mill of the fuller, or even the loom of the weaver, let us consider only what a variety of labour is requisite in order to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips the wool. The miner, the builder of the furnace for smelting the ore the feller of the timber, the burner of the charcoal to be made use of in the smelting-house, the brickmaker, the bricklayer, the workmen who attend the furnace, the millwright, the forger, the smith, must all of them join their different arts in order to produce them.
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