Before the loom can begin to weave, the harness, that is, the mechanism which raises and lowers the warp threads as they move in the pattern of the cloth, must be adjusted. The harness is made up of a number of shafts or leaves; each shaft or leaf is a series of cords or wire with a loop or eye in the center, which are strung between two pieces of wood or a frame. A thread from the warp is drawn through each of the harness eyes, and the way in which the threads are arranged in the harness together with the way in which each separate shaft or leaf is raised or lowered during the weaving, produces the pattern in the cloth. The number of shafts varies according to the pattern to be produced and runs from two to thirty.
In the picture the warp beam is seen above with the warp threads running down behind the harness which is shown in the lower central part of the picture. The operation illustrated is that of drawing-in a warp. Two persons are necessary. The drawer-in, the girl in the front of the picture, inserts her drawing-in hook into the eye of the harness cord or needle. The hander-in, seen behind the harness, then hooks the warp thread which belongs in that particular eye on to the drawing-in hook and the drawer-in pulls it through.
The operation of drawing-in is a slow and tedious one. It requires skill and a deft hand.
For pictures and contemporary information on the Spinning Mill or 'Clock Tower Mill' in the
"Cheney Brothers National Historic Landmark District" page, click here.