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Textiles (A) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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ALPACA: A warm fine woolen cloth, made from the hair of the alpaca goat. The fiber is small but strong, elastic, lustrous and silky. The alpaca goat is common to Chile and Peru.

AMERICAN TAPESTRIES: See TAPESTRIES, American.

AMERICAN TEXTILES: Early American textiles did not approach the skill and sophistication of foreign weaves. Spinning and weaving were employed by the early settlers, particularly those of New England, though they lacked the skill to produce fabrics other than the simplest weaves. In Virginia in the 17th century, linen and silk, as well as linsey-woolsey (woolen cloth) were produced to some extent. These materials were spun and woven by Colonial women for purely utilitarian purposes. The first woolen factory in America was started in Rowley, Massachusetts, in 1643 and by the beginning of the 18th century textile manufacturing was carried on in the North, not only as a household industry, but as a trade. In domestic circles, spinning and weaving flourished briskly through that century, and the women wrought in their leisure hours stitches and designs with which they had been familiar at home in England.

In 1816, a mill was in operation in Waltham, Massachusetts, where for the first time all stages of manufacturing, from the preparation of the raw material to the production of the finished product, were carried on under one roof, by power. Early in the 19th century American factories began to equip with the improved English machinery, and by 1809 there were in operation in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, RhodeIsland, Connecticut and New York eighty-seven mills, more or less, supplied with power machinery. The factory had now become a part of American life and was to make this a nation of manufacturers.

ANGORA: A light, silky dress goods made from the hair of the angora goat of Turkey.

APPLIED WORK OR APPLIQUE: The superposition of one material upon another of contrasting ground, velvet on damask for example, the design being cut out from the one and sewn down upon the other. See EMBROIDERY.

ARABESQUE: Curving scrolls that cross and interlace ornamented with the forms of leaves and flowers.

ARRAS: The term usually denoting the tapestry hangings used in medieval halls. It is derived from the name of the Flemish town Arras, where in the 14th century some of the finest of early tapestries were woven. See TAPESTRIES.

ARTIFICIAL SILK: See RAYON.

AUBUSSON RUGS: See RUGS, Aubusson.

AUBUSSON TAPESTRIES: See TAPESTRIES, Aubusson.

AXMINSTER CARPETS: See CARPETS, Axminster.