November 13, 2011
Loom knitting has been known by many names throughout the year, frame knitting, rake knitting, ring knitting, box knitting, bung knitting, spool knitting, reel knitting, french knitting, loom knitting, knitting in the round, and knitting board. In the 1550s knitting was all the rage amongst the housewives, knitting socks, and other clothes for their family. It all changed when a man by the name of English Reverend William Lee who could not abide by the clanking of the knitting needles from his wife knitting and set forth to make a new way to knit clothes that would not insist of the clanking of needles. In the late 1580s to the early 1590s Rev. William Lee was successful in creating a machine that would do an entire row of loops and developed a line of hooks that would be able to release the loops and start a new row, and thus the loom was born. Seeing the high potential for his invention Rev. William Lee resigned from his position in the church and set to improve his machine. There was one small problem with his invention; the machine took a lot of strength to operate, making many of the women who the invention was invented for, unable to operate it. So in order to get funding for his invention he traveled with his brother to the court of Queen Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth although was fascinated by this machine, refused to fund because she believed it would put the women who were knitting to provide for their family out of a job. Lee moved onto someone else for funding and eventually found that funding from the court of King Henry IV of France. But unfortunately King Henry IV was assassinated before he could fund his project and Rev. William Lee never got the funding he was looking for and died in 1610 without fulfilling his dream of making an entire industry out of his invention. All was not loss as Lee’s brother followed out his dream and started a knitting factory in Culverton, England, which operated with nine frames. The business expanded rapidly as stockings became less of a luxury item and more affordable. Thus it was not until 1750 when the knitting underwent a major change with the invention of the machine skilled enough to produce ribbed knits by Jerediah Strutt Derby. Then from that machine came a circular loom invented by a Frenchman Decroix in 1798. Edmund Cartwright also created power looms in 1785. A power loom is a mechanized loom, which is powered by a line shift. Since then there has been small advancements in the power looms like in 1832 the invention of the waterpower loom-knitting loom by Timothy Bailey in Albany, New York. Patented in 1856 by Matthew Townsend, who added a latch needle, which made the knitting process quicker. Last advancement was from J.B. Aiken in 1861 where he redesigned the factory loom knitting to a loom knitting machine for the home. This made loom knitting available for the common housewife who now will be able to loom from home. Since 1861 small changes to the power loom have been made making it faster and more efficient.
The art of knit looming had its day back in the 17th and 18th century but most of the 20th century looming has lost its popularity. But the last few years loom knitting has made an impressive resurgence. This gain in popularity could be because its great to make things and it is an easier way to knit without the constant frustrations that come with knitting. Looming is fun easy for everyone for people of all ages.