revolve probably six or eight times as fast as the first pair. This
combination of rollers pulls constantly on the more or less irregular
slivers, rendering them always more nearly uniform in diameter and
density, the thickness of one of the entering slivers serving to
counterbalance the thinness of the other. The drawing frame consists
usually of four or five "heads," and the sliver, after it passes through
one of these "heads," is put through a second one, along with other
slivers, so that the doubling and redoubling goes on constantly. There is
an electric device to stop the machine when a sliver breaks, either at
the back or the front of the frame.
[Illustration: _Combers at work in a mill spinning fine counts_]
From the last head of the drawing frame, the sliver passes to the fly
frame or slubber, which not only continues the drawing and doubling,
usually between three pairs of rollers, but through the aid of a device
which gives the sliver a slight twist and winds it, for the first time,
upon a spindle. This device is known as the flyer, and is, roughly, a
U-shaped piece of metal, which, revolving, inverted, over the spindle,
gives the thread a slight lateral twist as it coils upon the spindle. The
latter also revolves, but with a diminishing motion so that the amount of
twist may be kept uniform as the diameter of the coil upon the spindle
increases. The sliver, now being twisted, is called a sliver no longer,
but the slubbing.
The slubbing is passed between the rollers in pairs, the emerging product
being less in diameter than the diameter of a single slubbing. The
machine combines the fourfold process of combination, attenuation,
twisting and winding. There are more spindles upon this frame than upon
The last drawing frame, except for very fine yarns spun from Egyptian or
Sea Island staples, is the roving frame, similar in principle to the last
two but containing still more spindles. It receives the rovings from the
intermediate frame, combines two of them into one, twists them a little
more, and winds them upon the spindle tubes. The Jack frame is similar
except that its product is finer and smoother.
[Illustration: _Sliver lappers in a Northern mill_]
It is interesting to note, however, that the majority of improvements
have been the fruit of the brains, not of Americans, but of Englishmen.
Copeland points out that this may be due to the English desire to save in
the consumption of cotton, but that more probably it is due to the
development of fine spinning in England, in which most of the machines
here described are chiefly valuable; and he ventures the prediction that
now that American mills have definitely gone in for the finer counts, it
may be expected that engineers here will apply themselves to the
improvement of this machinery.
[Illustration: _Drawing frames, turning slivers into roving_]
The "Mule" Versus
the Ring Spindle
Spinning is the final process which turns the cotton into firm, coherent
yarn, sufficiently twisted, and ready for the loom. The twist given to
the thread by the previous machines has been only enough to make the
fibers hold together. They are still comparatively loose and fluffy, and
their tensile strength is slight.
There are, in general, two types of spinning machines. The first, the
mule, an English product. The second, radically different, is entirely
American. It was invented in 1828 by James Thorpe, and immediately found
some favor, but it was not until the Civil War that it was received on
equal terms with the mule. Today, however, it dominates in the United
States, the comparative figures in 1917 being: ring spindles 30,264,074;
mule spindles 3,634,761. The disparity is growing greater every year, and
the use of the ring is firmly established in other countries as well. The
figures for 1907 were:
England (1909) 39,800,000 7,900,000
Germany 5,740,000 3,722,000
France 4,122,000 2,481,000
Austria 2,307,000 1,277,000
Italy 1,015,000 1,852,000
Russia 1,031,000 1,320,000
The mule, by reason of the great size to which it has been developed, and
the impressiveness of its large, rhythmic motion, is one of the most
formidable of all cotton machines, as indeed it is one of the most
complex. It received its name from the fact that, performing two
principal functions - drawing and spinning - it was regarded as a hybrid,
just as the mule is a hybrid cross between the horse and the donkey.
In the mule (see diagram on page 53), which is a long and wide machine,
carrying sometimes, in new models, as many as 1,300 spindles, the drawing
and twisting are not continuous but consecutive. The rovings (B) are held
on a creel (A) at the back of the machine, usually in three or four
tiers, or on long beams or spools. They pass from the creel, or spools,
between three pairs of drawing rollers (C.) Coming out of the rollers,
they are fed to the spindles on the carriage which backs away from the
creel and recedes somewhat faster than the rovings are unwound. This
receding is the essential motion of the mule, for thus the cotton
receives its final drawing. The spindles, meanwhile, are revolving
rapidly, spinning the yarn. The twist goes first to the thin places where
the least resistance is offered. Then, as the carriage carrying the
whirling spindles continues to back away, the thicker parts of the
thread, being comparatively untwisted are pulled down to the average
diameter and are twisted in turn. The carriage usually runs back about
sixty-three inches. At the termination of its run, or stretch, the
spindles increase their speed until the twisting is completed and the
carriage starts on its return trip. This reverses the spindles, and the
thread which has been wound upon them is unwound, the slack being taken
up by one guide wire (D) while the other guides the thread to the winding
point, and winds it up in the opposite direction on the cone-shaped cops
on the spindles. The rollers do not feed out more roving as the carriage
returns. Hence, there is no slack when the round trip is completed.
[Illustration: _Slubbers, showing the U-shaped flyers_]
Except for the use of drawing rollers, there is little similarity between
the mule and the ring frame. The latter has no movable carriage, none of
the splendid sweep of motion that makes the mule so fascinating to
watch. The ring-frame is simple and business-like, and its speed is
amazing. The bobbins holding the roving are placed directly over the
spindles. Around each of the latter is a steel ring. There are at least
112 spindles on each machine, and all the machine rings for the spindles
are fixed in a single frame. The upper edge of the ring is flanged, like
a miniature railroad track, and snapped over the flange is a small but
important C-shaped steel ring, called the traveler.
How Thread is Spun
on the Ring Spindle
When the machine is in operation (See diagram on page 56) each roving (H)
leaving its bobbin, runs through the usual drawing rollers (G) then
through a guiding wire to the ring, where it is passed through its
traveler (B) which is always at the winding point on the spindle. As the
spindle and the rollers revolve, the roving is fed out at a considerably
slower rate than the spindle takes it up, so that there is always a
tension on the thread. The whirling spindle thus pulls on the traveler,
drawing it round and round on its flanged track (A). It revolves just a
little more slowly than the spindle and thus the yarn receives its twist.
Meanwhile, the frame (C) on which the rings are fixed moves slowly up and
down, so that the winding is properly regulated.
It is possible to operate the spindles at a remarkable speed. So perfect
are the bearings which have been evolved that the average speed is ten
thousand revolutions a minute, and on fine yarns it is sometimes 12,000
to 13,000 revolutions. The speed is limited by only two factors: the
first is the ability of the operator to make splicings when threads
break, and the second is the tendency of the traveler to fly off when the
speed is too high. The number of travelers consumed is high at best, and
in a mill which has long been in operation the floor in the front of the
frame is likely to be paved with the little steel rings which have fallen
and been ground into the planks by the heels of the worker.
[Illustration: _Diagram of mule_]
The battle between the advocates of the ring frame and those who favor
the mule is still on. For the American spinner the ring has undoubtedly
many advantages. Because it spins continuously, and not intermittently,
it turns out about a third more yarn per operator. It is usually
admitted, however, that the thread from the mule is more even in
diameter. Advocates of the mule say, moreover, that the thread from the
mule is softer and "loftier", and that cloth woven from it has a more
"clothy" feel. But others say they can produce soft yarn with the ring.
In the United States, where the labor cost is a vital item, the
ring-spindle has an assured place.
[Illustration: _Mules at work_]
The yarn is now a finished product. It may be sold by the spinner to the
weaver or it may be woven in the mill in which it is spun. Before it is
ready for the loom, however, there are a number of operations which must
The yarn from the ring frame, or mule, is wound in a large cop, or on a
bobbin. It must be put upon spools before it can be warped. The spooler
is a simple machine, but one that requires constant attendance. In the
spooler, bobbins are placed upon holders or spindles, and the thread is
passed over a series of guides to the spool, up above. The spool revolves
at a high rate of speed, and the thread is wound evenly upon it. The
operator must watch for broken threads, retie them, replace the empty
bobbins by full ones and see that the empty ones are gathered up
uninjured. She - the operator is usually a girl or woman - must be alert
and active, and especially nimble fingered.
[Illustration: _"Close-up" of Ring Spindle in American mill_]
One of the most important inventions, one that was received with acclaim
by the American manufacturer, and one which actually reduced his labor
cost on spooling no less than ten per cent. at one clip, is a tiny little
thing that is held in the palm of the hand. This is the Barber knotter.
When a thread breaks, the attendant places the two ends together in the
machine and by the mere pressure of her thumb ties the knot much better
than she could do it without the knotter. The economies which it effects
extend beyond the mere spooling, for better knots mean fewer breaks in
the warping process, and a better cloth at the end of weaving.
The spools from the spooler are placed on a large frame, called a creel.
The creels have an average capacity of about 600 spools, and there are
usually 16 to 20 in one tier. The threads from the spools are drawn
between the dents of an adjustable reed, then under and over a series of
rollers. From here they are led down to the beam, upon which they are
wound. The revolving of the beam unwinds the yarn from the spools and
winds it regularly and evenly upon the beam itself. There is a device for
measuring the length of the warp wound, and stop motions for arresting
the operation should a thread break or other accident occur.
[Illustration: _Each operator at these spoolers has a Barber knotter on
The yarn of the warp must usually be impregnated with a sizing which will
smooth out and stick down its furry surface and add as well to the
tensile strength so that the strain of weaving may be withstood. For this
the most effective and most generally used machine is the slasher, the
chief feature of which is a roller, whose lower side is immersed in the
sizing solution. Threads from the warp beam are run around this roller
through the solution and then dried, after which it is finally wound on
another beam for the loom. A considerable number of loom beams can be
filled from one set of the warper beams mounted in the slasher.
The lengthwise threads of a fabric are called the warp. The crosswise
threads are called the weft or filling. To make cloth, the warp and weft
must be interlaced with each other in a suitable manner. The operation is
called weaving, the machine in which it is performed is, of course, the
loom. The principal operations of weaving are as follows:
1. Shedding, or the raising and lowering of the alternate threads
of the warp, so that the weft may pass under and over them.
This is done by means of the harnesses and their heddles.
2. Picking, or placing a thread of the weft between the warp
threads so raised and lowered by means of the shuttle.
3. Beating-up, or pushing, each thread of the weft into its
position close against the thread which has preceded it by
means of the reed.
4. Letting-off, or permitting the warp to unwind from the beam only
just as fast as is needed by the speed of the weaving. This is
accomplished by friction bands and weights on the warp beam.
5. Taking-up, or winding upon a roller the cloth as it is
In addition to these primary operations, the loom has attachments for
performing several other functions, such as stop-motions for stopping the
loom when warp or filling threads break, or when the shuttle fails to
cross the loom completely; temples for holding out the cloth laterally as
the weaving proceeds; a mechanism - in the most modern looms - for changing
the shuttles, or the cops in the shuttles, as the weft thread on the cops
becomes exhausted, etc.
[Illustration: _Diagram of ring spindle_]
The modern cotton loom, which automatically removes the filling bobbins
without stopping the loom, is rapidly displacing the older types, and one
weaver can now attend to a surprisingly large number of looms, being
greatly assisted also by the automatic warp and filling "stop motions."
The Finishing Operations
Following the manufacture of the cloth, come the operations necessary to
prepare it for the market. These involve such treatments as bleaching,
printing, mercerizing, dyeing, and finishing (in the narrow sense).
The number of machines involved in these various processes rivals the
number which are used in the actual spinning and weaving operations.
Modern bleaching is a highly technical science, conceived and planned by
engineers, and carried out with elaborate machinery by skilled workers.
Gray cloth, as it comes from the loom, is of an unattractive color, a
dirty grayish yellow, and contains not only those impurities which it has
picked up on its journey through the mill but those inherent in its
natural state as well, all totalling some five per cent. more or less, of
the total weight. In addition there may be numerous bits of leaf from the
boll which have clung to the fibers through all the processing, and which
appear finally in the cloth as little brownish specks, known to the trade
as motes. Finally, there is the sizing which was put into the warp.
[Illustration: _Warping - The creel in the rear_]
Bleaching an Intricate
In the bleaching of cotton, there is a series of operations which have
for their object the elimination of the waxy, fatty matters embodied in
the fiber, as well as any dirt which it may have acquired. Then, there is
the actual whitening and the bleaching of the cloth which destroys any
coloring matter which it may contain and finally there are treatments
designed to neutralize the effect of the chemicals used in the bleaching.
Thus, the sequence of treatments might be: first, boiling in plain water,
which removes certain soluble substances; next, an extended boiling in a
strong alkaline solution, which saponifies the waxy, fatty matters in the
fiber, and thus removes them from the cloth or yarn. Third, a steeping in
a bleaching solution - a solution of chloride of lime being largely
employed for this purpose, and which treatment is known as the chemic.
Next, after another thorough washing there is a treatment in diluted
sulphuric acid to neutralize the effects of the chemic, and finally this
is followed again by another thorough washing with possibly an additional
mild alkaline treatment. The nature and the method of all these
treatments varies considerably, and depends upon the character of the
goods being treated, but, at the conclusion, if all has gone well, the
cloth should be a good white and should not be impaired in strength.
in Some Finishes
For a certain class of goods, where a clean, smooth surface is required,
it is desirable to singe the goods before the bleaching. This is
accomplished by passing the cloth, stretched out at full width, very
rapidly over heated plates, or through gas flames, so that the fine hairs
or fuzz are singed off, but the fabric itself has not had time to take
fire. Both sides may be singed and the goods may be passed more than once
through the flame. When yarns are singed, the threads are passed through
the flame very rapidly, being unwound from one set of bobbins and wound
up on another.
[Illustration: _Front view of an automatic loom_]
In the dyeing operation the cotton piece goods pass through a series of
machines, the goods being in rope form as already explained, so that a
number of pieces can be put into each machine, side by side. The wash
boxes, dye vats, etc. are equipped with overhead rollers, by means of
which the goods, which have been sewn end to end, so as to make a
continuous string of them, pass out of the dye, over the roller and down
into the bath on the other side, continuing to circulate around thus
until the desired results have been obtained. In addition to the
preparatory washing and boiling, mordanting and dyeing, there are
subsequent washings to free the goods from loose coloring matter, and
other special treatments are frequently accorded them.
Finishing in its special and restricted sense, implies a series of
treatments, such as stretching, starching, dampening, drying, pressing,
smoothing, lustreing, glazing, stiffening, softening, and whatnot, which
are given to them according to the use to which they are to be put.
The printing press is constructed with a large main cylinder (D), the
size being dictated by the number of colors which it must take care of.
As the printing operation is a continuous one, there must be a continuous
feeding of the cloth, a continuous inking of the engraved rollers (C),
and a continuous cleaning off of the unengraved surface after the
Under each roller, where it is fixed in its place in the press, is a long
copper trough or pan carrying the coloring material, and in the pan under
the roller, and extending into the coloring matter, is an intermediate
roller known as the "furnisher" roller, and, as the press revolves, this
covers the surface of the copper roller with a heavy film of coloring.
The surplus coloring is scraped off as the roller revolves, by a long,
sharp blade or knife, known as "the doctor," and after the roller passes
this it is quite clean, no coloring remaining on it except that in the
Each roller has its color pan with its own color in it. Then, as the
cloth (A) passes between the main cylinder, properly covered by suitable
intervening materials and the series of rollers, each roller in turn
prints its own color, and, collectively, the finished pattern is
[Illustration: _Diagram of cloth printing machine_]
The goods then pass into a drying room and are afterwards introduced into
a steaming chamber, where they are given a good steaming at a slight
pressure. This steaming develops the colors and causes them to impregnate
the fibers more thoroughly. Subsequently, for good work, the goods should
be washed to get rid of the thickening matters that are mixed with the
coloring, and then the printing appears in all its beauty.
Full Ground Colors
The foregoing briefly describes the processes of direct printing. In this
case, the penetration of the colors to the opposite side of the goods is
not very good. If a solid and full ground color is needed both on the
face and back of the goods, it can be had either by the "Resist" or
"Reserve" method, or by the "Extract" or "Discharge" method. In the
"Resist" method, when a white figure is wanted on a black or colored
ground, the goods are first printed with some substance which will resist
the action of the dye stuffs. Then, when the goods are dyed, the treated
part does not take the color and the substance used as a resist is washed
out, and thus a white figure is obtained on a solid colored ground.
In the "Discharge" method, the goods are first dyed in a solid color, and
are then treated with certain chemicals which destroy the dyed color
wherever they touch the fabric, these chemicals being subsequently washed
out where they have been applied, and thus again a white figure can be
had in the colored ground. By the "Discharge" method, moreover, colored
figures can also be printed on colored grounds, as certain colorings have
been developed which are not affected by the discharge materials used,
hence, a whole series of beautiful colors can be printed on goods
previously dyed with black or colored grounds, each color being mixed
with a suitable chemical for discharging the ground color, and thus the
colors of the printed pattern come out as desired.
Another important process which is applied to both cotton yarn and cotton
fabrics is that known as mercerization, called after "Mercer" an English
chemist who introduced the process. Cotton when subjected to the action
of strong, caustic alkali contracts violently, but when again stretched
and straightened it is found to have acquired a distinct silkiness of
appearance, and under the microscope the twisted ribbon-like fibers of
the material - already referred to - will be found to have become straight,
glossy and rodlike, just as a bicycle tire would appear after air was
blown into it.
Cotton may be mercerized either in the yarn, warp, skein, or in the
piece, the first being more effective. The best and most satisfactory
results are achieved when the material treated is made of fine long
staple cotton, either Sea Island or Egyptian, the shorter cottons being
relatively much less improved by the treatment. The mercerizing does not
diminish the strength of the material, and gives to it a greater affinity
for dye stuffs.
of Cotton Mills
The foremen are specialists in their particular departments. The
warehouseman, at one end, is a judge of cotton stock, and the foreman of
the weaving room at the other knows how many automatic looms may safely
be trusted to each weaver on his staff.
In between these two there are, according to the individual mill, a dozen
or more other foremen, all reporting regularly to the superintendent, all
captains of their own companies of workers, and all keen, in the
interests of their own reputations, to operate their departments as
intelligently, as efficiently, and with as little friction with their
individual operators as possible. For it is generally recognized
throughout the cotton industry that profitable business depends as much
upon the whole-hearted cooperation of the wage-earners, as upon any other
The Question of
As for the operators themselves, they are so varied, there are so many
problems which they have to face, and such difficulties which those who
employ and direct them have to solve, that anything like adequate
consideration is impossible. From the impersonal viewpoint, leaving out
of account the human elements, the problems of wages, and the correlated
problem of trade organization, there remains the question of individual
efficiency. It is that which we have chiefly to consider.
[Illustration: _Inspecting finished cloth_]
The number of men, women, and children employed in the cotton mills of
the country has increased at a very high rate, but there has been an
interesting diminution in the proportionate percentage of women and
children under sixteen years of age employed.
The United States Census of Manufacturers gives the following figures:
AVERAGE NUMBER OF EMPLOYES IN AMERICAN COTTON MILLS
_Men_ _Women_ _Children_ _Total_
1870 42,790 69,637 22,942 135,369