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Jaquard Loom (wikipedia.org)
47 points by colund on Oct 19, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 15 comments

There's a short (3 min) video of how a Jacquard Loom works on the V&A website (V&A = Victoria & Albert Museum, London). There's no sound in the video but it shows, using animation, how patterns are woven into the fabric.


Thank you so much! I've been hoping to see something like that video for months, now I have a much better understanding of how the Jacquard Loom works.

My initial interest was driven by the osloom project (an open-source Jacquard Loom)...



Sadly the project appears to have stalled, hopefully it'll restart at some point.

I had a chance to visit the Macclesfield Silk Museums[1] a couple of years ago, part of which is the Paradise Mill. Macclesfield was the "end of the silk road", and its silk mills were quite renowned in their day. The mill has rows of large Jacquard Looms that are built into the structure of the building, at least some of which are still operational at demonstration capacities. These were some of the earliest era of Jacquard looms, which accepted massive racked loops of industrial scale punch cards to drive the weaving patterns. The mill includes a look into the tools and processes which started with paper-drafted designs, vetted and turned into punch cards, then woven on the mills. There's a good selection of sample woven works as well, all of which highlight the nigh-photographic level of detail these looms were capable of.

On a more modern take, I'll plug the OSLOOM project[2], which aims to create "an open source electromechanical thread-controlled floor loom that will be computer controlled." It's been slowly ticking along for some time now; hopefully it'll eventually achieve its goals of enabling much cheaper access to a modern Jacquard loom.

[1] http://www.silkmacclesfield.org.uk/museums/silk-museums

[2] http://osloom.org/

I taught a raspberry pi intro to computing class last year and was hunting around for some jacquard loom demos for the students when I found something that blew my mind:


These are antique looking jacquard looms in current use in Hanoi. I bet they are still there right now, operating. I know that some crafters use them and there are still specialty mills that make use of modern jacquards, but this is a factory and these look like they are straight out of the 1800s. Amazing.

I wonder still how old some of those looms are...

I took some shots of Jaquard looms in operation outside Beijing in 1984. Everybody was supposed to marvel at the silk fabric but I was fascinated by the belts of cards. Everybody treated me like a loon (not loom) for appreciating the ancient hardware. The looms had clearly been shipped from Europe by the French labeling on the metal parts.

I wonder if the equipment you saw in Hanoi passed through China on its way.

Of course I'm curious why this is on the front page of HN today - but to speed things along, a simulation of the loom using Jacquard floppies (loaded from disk) and patterns : http://www.arahne.si/how-to-make-a-fabric.html

> Of course I'm curious why this is on the front page of HN today

The Jacquard loom contains a distant forerunner of the punchcard used in large numbers to emulate a ROM with a program, making it the first programmable piece of industrial machinery.

Just today I was reading in a short article in this month's Wired about how the latest Air Jordan was using advanced textiles woven with a Jacquard Loom. I couldn't find that article, but here's a longer one: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3029192/innovation-by-design/how...

There was a best paper at CHI 2012 about this subject, wish I could find pdf but here's ACM link: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2208280&dl=ACM&coll=DL&CFI...

Here's a review by Stuart Reeves: http://notesonresearch.tumblr.com/post/26870630666/confusing...

Looms and the history of looms were featured on 'How do they do that' (or a similarly titled) TV Programme that is shown here on channel Dave. Looms are pretty well known in the history of computing and we learned about them during our A Level and Degree (UK) ... but I love to see rather odd historical 'computers' or programmable devices.

It'd be neat to see a loom take either punch card or textile as input. So you could write to the textile, use it as memory and instructions. Then when the program is finished just cut it up and make a rather fetching cardigan from it (the textile, not the punch cards - silly!)

Also featured on Connections (BBC James Burke). A particularly memorable episode.


Not sure why this is suddenly trending on HN... Perhaps many people have never heard of it.

If you're in the UK and want to see a real Jaquard Loom, there's currently one on display at the Science Museum in London.

Old tech is certainly tech too, and this definitely manages to impress and fascinate even me, 200 years later.

Also some in the peak district in some of the mills.


Please be civil here.

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