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flying shuttle 1

In 1733, John Kay invented the flying shuttle, an improvement to looms that enabled weavers to weave faster. The original shuttle contained a bobbin on to which the weft (weaving term for the crossways yarn) yarn was wound. It was normally pushed from one side of the warp (weaving term for the the series of yarns that extended lengthways in a loom) to the other side by hand. Large looms needed two weavers to throw the shuttle. The flying shuttle was thrown by a leaver that could be operated by one weaver.

John Kay was the twelfth child of a farmer and born in Lancashire on July 16, 1704. In 1753, his home was attacked by textile workers who were angry that his inventions might take work away from them. Kay fled England for France where he died in poverty around 1780.

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