The craft goes back to Samuel Slater who had the idea for a new American industry, the cotton and woolen mills of New England. England prized its intellectual property and did not let it leave the country. Slater memorized the method of production while in England and brought it to America.
America calls him the "Father of American Industry," the British call him "Slater the Traitor."
Name calling never solved anything, and Slater's mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island was a success. He went on to build other mills across New England and got rich. Others followed. And soon New England was swimming in balls of yarn in every color of the rainbow. The by-product of the process was called thrum, and these short strands of wool and cotton found their way onto the floor of the factories.
Back then, America was not as enlightened as it is today. Children worked the mills, carding and culling the cotton and wool. And much to their delight, they pocketed the left over wool and brought it home. New England mothers, thrifty and wise, took the strands of wool and cotton, and wove it into empty burlap sacks.
From poverty an industry was born.
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