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Cottage industry

spinning weaving factories

Cottage industry, term used to describe the structure of industry, particularly the spinning and weaving industry in Britain, before the Industrial Revolution. Typically, a trader distributed supplies of wool, and later, cotton, among a series of peasant homes, where spinning and weaving provided a part-time occupation for the women and children of the household. Although the earlier technical advances of the 18th century—James Hargreaves's spinning jenny, for example—were not incompatible with this cottage industry, the introduction of Richard Arkwright's spinning frame (patented in 1769) encouraged mass production and the transfer of spinning to factories. Weaving remained largely a cottage industry until the 1820s, when the factories began to take over in this area as well.

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