The first industrial revolution, centered in Flanders, happened almost entirely because of the arrival from the Arab world of a new, horizontal loom, equipped with foot pedals to lift the warps. This innovation left the weaver’s hands free to throw the shuttle back and forth, which made weaving much faster and more profitable and, above all, made possible the production of long pieces of cloth. Because of their centuries of experience in working wool, the Flemish were the best weavers in thirteenth-century Europe. Flemish cloth was sold everywhere in the known world, and its manufacturers went from the East Indies to the Baltic to obtain their dyes, and to the mines of the Middle East for the alum which was used to fix the dye so as to make their colors fast.
Burke, James. The Pinball Effect: How Renaissance Water Gardens Made the Carburetor Possible. 1996. p.80 (paperback)