I’m working on a course on color in handweaving, which of course means weaving lots and lots of samples to illustrate my points. Two very generous friends are weaving the first set of samples for me, which is wonderful of them! But I will need to weave my own samples for blog posts, future classes, and so on. For the samples I’m envisioning, Grace’s amazing powers aren’t necessary, and it will be quicker to warp and weave a smaller, less complicated loom.
So I spent most of the past week researching table and small floor looms. Just as I was bracing for spending several thousand dollars on a new loom, a lovely little 8-shaft Baby Wolf popped up in one of the weavers’ sales forums! It was perfect for my needs and less than 1/3 the cost of some of the looms I’d been considering. I snapped it up immediately, and picked it up on Tuesday.
So please welcome Lady Ada!
Lady Ada is named after Ada Lovelace (Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace, if you prefer to be formal), a gifted mathematician and the daughter of Lord Byron. In 1843, she wrote what is generally considered the first computer program. Of course there were no computers as we know them at the time, but Charles Babbage was developing his Analytic Engine (which would later evolve into the computer). Ada Lovelace wrote an algorithm for the Analytic Engine, the first such algorithm for a computing machine. An early programming language, ADA, was named after her in tribute.
I spent a good bit of time musing over her name. My looms have mostly been named after great female mathematicians. Sophie, my 24-shaft AVL Workshop Dobby Loom, was named after the great mathematicians Sophie Germain and Sofia Kovalevskaya:
My 40-shaft AVL Ultimate Dobby Loom was named Emmy, after legendary mathematician and physicist Emmy Noether, whose contributions to abstract algebra were pivotal in the field. Shortly before she died, mathematician Norbert Wiener said, “Miss Noether is… the greatest woman mathematician who has ever lived; and the greatest woman scientist of any sort now living, and a scholar at least on the plane of Madame Curie.” Albert Einstein described her as “the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.”
Because the jacquard loom is considered the predecessor to the first computer, I decided to break with the mathematical theme for Amazing Grace. She is named after computer science titan Grace Hopper, who wrote the first compiler, was pivotal in the development of the early programming language COBOL, and helped standardize programming languages. She rose to become a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy (very unusual for a woman). The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper was named for her, as was the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer. She was awarded 40 honorary degrees in her lifetime, and in 2016, President Obama posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor. For her achievements, Grace Hopper was nicknamed “Amazing Grace,” which I thought was a great name for the loom as well.
I asked people on Facebook for help in naming the Baby Wolf. People came up with quite a few marvelous suggestions, of which the first runner-up was Maryam Mirzakhani, who in 2014 became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics. However, someone pointed out the humor in naming a textile tool “Lovelace,” which weighed the scales in Ada’s favor. (Also, as my friend Harold pointed out, I could then refer to my two looms as “Grace and ‘Lace,” which appealed to my twisted sense of humor.)
So please welcome Lady Ada! I am sure she will do wonderful things.