Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Lace, Punch Cards and the World Wide Web

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Lacemaking machine:
The machine is equipped with 60 spindles. The pattern is determined by a jacquard pattern card chain.

The Jacquard looms have been called predecessors of  computer technology since they worked with punched cards (holes/no holes, cf 0/1) to control a sequence of operations.


In a glass case in the machine hall at the Textile Museum there is a model ship. Take a closer look at the sails:


"Lace is as much about the space between the
threads as it is about the threads themselves."
~ Lori Howe ~


What the artist behind this work of art was thinking of I’m not sure, but my guess is the ships that first brought the raw material for the cotton industry from far away countries.

The first mechanical cotton mill in Sweden was built in 1813 (as it happens, located in the village where I grew up in the 1960s).


Two hundred years ago, mail from distant countries travelled no faster than the ships across the oceans. The first commercially successful transatlantic telegraph cable was completed in 1866.

I started preparing this post yesterday. This morning, before I returned to complete my draft and post it, I had a glance at some other blogs. A short comment on one of them alerted me to the fact that there had been new earthquake disasters in Christchurch, New Zealand, while I was asleep. Since there is a 12h time difference this news had not got into my morning paper, and I had not had the radio or TV on in the morning.

So… The first news to reach me about this event was a concerned personal blog comment from a blogger living elsewhere in the world to a blogging friend in NZ. Then I typed a few words into Google, and in an instant I was able to take part of the latest update of the whole row of aftershocks. 

The NZ blogging friends whom I’m following on a regular basis live on the North Island. But my sympathy goes out to them too today, because they in turn have friends in the earthquake area.

In the midst of tragedy I can’t help being in awe of the speed with which news travel nowadays. And all the intricate lace of friendships that is being woven all over the world with the help of those little ‘zeros and ones’…


  1. Posts like this are what makes blogging so much part of life for me now: friendship, interest and communication.

    The post started with fascinating information and then dealt with life in its stark reality as it is at the moment.

  2. Really nice post! I hope everything will be ok soon in NZ!

  3. Aren't you and I such commited (I'll use a NICE word for it) bloggers! I, too, found out about the earthquake from a blogger friend, and so far I still have not seen it on the news. I LOVE the sails of lace, it is such an oxymoron, because lace is the total opposite of the tough material a sail should be made of, so these are really sails of fantasy. I've never seen a lacemaking machine, now even thought about there being one, wow!! This is a REAL treat to see!!! I wish we had just HALF the cool things in our area that you do!!

  4. Today, I was teaching my adult students on the earthquake. I told them, we were lucky that we were in Auckland.

  5. WOW! The ship's sails are amazing. Thank you for showing the lace machine. I've always wondered how it was done by machine.


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