The Weavers Fumbled Thread
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The Lily yarn you can currently buy has nothing to do with the Lily Mills of Shelby, NC, and though Troy still exists, the company now sells quilting cotton fabric. The others. It may be that she wove for a while. The man from whom we bought the loom remembers that, at the auction, there were hand-woven items and the auctioneer speculated that they were made on this loom.
Or maybe the weaving bug, that old arachnid, never really bit. And maybe the loom has been quiet for all these years. And all that yarn? Will we use it? It becomes clearer to me all the time that different people have different measures for productivity.
Some folks love to get a project done—finishing is how they know they are being productive. These people are focusers—they focus, spend hours on their project, and get it finished. Other people flitter from project to project. I mean flitting, hour by hour, from one endeavor to the next. To feel really good about a day, really productive, I seem to need to work on many, many projects, just doing a little on each.
I spend an hour here and an hour there, and move happily from one kind of a task to another. The more the better! I never get bored and I rarely get frustrated. If either of those states of mind grips me, I just move on. The downside to all of this is that I rarely finish anything. My stints of an hour or so are a drop in the bucket of what it takes to make a full-size quilt or weave 10 towels from a long warp.
Because I never finish anything, my list never gets shorter and that can be stressful. I kind of envy people who are focusers, and the satisfaction they get from regularly finishing or making noticeable progress on a project. I have little control over either. How about you? Do you spend your creative time focused on one or two big projects per day? Or do you flit around and do a little on a lot of fronts? While the boy who lives here makes serious, complicated, heirloom pieces , the girl who shares the house that would be me! I made scarves for a special blog pal, a real patron of the crafts, but I will wait to tell about those.
I will say that it was particular fun, and a little nervous-making, to know for whom I was doing that weaving. How fun is that?! I told you a while ago that I got a big new loom with 12 shafts, to allow more complicated weaving. I had used the loom but not to do anything fancy. I finally dove in and wove a set of towels using 8 shafts of my loom and a weave structure that was new to me, block twill.
These were endless fun because they could all look so different! I saw towels like this at weaving school, in the bathroom we all shared. Each student chose a different color towel and it was ours for the week. They all hung jauntily on hooks. I found something similar in a book and took notes but it still took me some time to figure out an approach.
I got this little loom, used it a couple times, and then it languished, looking cute but gathering dust. If you would your name in a drawing for a handwoven key fob, just say so in a comment on this post.
Cliff Colman - artwork
Many more tab towels Several of this type Christmas And more Christmas This in several colors And this, too Block twill in 6 different combos Pretty and lacy Blues for a friend 8 in all! And something quieter Another variation. A blog friend asked me about her recently. She has calmed down, as cats do when they leave kittenhood behind. Most power weaving took place in weaving sheds, in small towns circling Greater Manchester away from the cotton spinning area. The earlier combination mills where spinning and weaving took place in adjacent buildings became rarer. Wool and worsted weaving took place in West Yorkshire and particular Bradford , here there were large factories such as Lister's or Drummond's, where all the processes took place.
Woven 'grey cloth' was then sent to the finishers where it was bleached, dyed and printed. Natural dyes were originally used, with synthetic dyes coming in the second half of the 19th century. The need for these chemicals was an important factor in the development of the chemical industry. The invention in France of the Jacquard loom in about , enabled complicated patterned cloths to be woven, by using punched cards to determine which threads of coloured yarn should appear on the upper side of the cloth.
The jacquard allowed individual control of each warp thread, row by row without repeating, so very complex patterns were suddenly feasible. Samples exist showing calligraphy, and woven copies of engravings. Jacquards could be attached to handlooms or powerlooms.
A distinction can be made between the role and lifestyle and status of a handloom weaver, and that of the powerloom weaver and craft weaver. The perceived threat of the power loom led to disquiet and industrial unrest.
A Sweet Thread
Well known protests movements such as the Luddites and the Chartists had hand loom weavers amongst their leaders. In the early 19th century power weaving became viable.
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Richard Guest in made a comparison of the productivity of power and hand loom weavers:. A very good Hand Weaver, a man twenty-five or thirty years of age, will weave two pieces of nine-eighths shirting per week, each twenty-four yards long, and containing one hundred and five shoots of weft in an inch, the reed of the cloth being a forty-four, Bolton count, and the warp and weft forty hanks to the pound, A Steam Loom Weaver, fifteen years of age, will in the same time weave seven similar pieces.
Hand loom weaving was done by both sexes but men outnumbered women partially due to the strength needed to batten. The women of the house would spin the thread they needed, and attend to finishing. Later women took to weaving, they obtained their thread from the spinning mill , and working as outworkers on a piecework contract. Over time competition from the power looms drove down the piece rate and they existed in increasing poverty. Power loom workers were usually girls and young women. They had the security of fixed hours, and except in times of hardship, such as in the cotton famine , regular income.
They were paid a wage and a piece work bonus. Even when working in a combined mill, weavers stuck together and enjoyed a tight-knit community. They were assisted by 'little tenters', children on a fixed wage who ran errands and did small tasks.
They learnt the job of the weaver by watching. He would inevitably be a man, as were usually the overlookers. The mill had its health and safety issues, there was a reason why the women tied their hair back with scarves. Inhaling cotton dust caused lung problems, and the noise was causing total hearing loss.
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Weavers would mee-maw   as normal conversation was impossible. Weavers used to 'kiss the shuttle', that is, suck thread though the eye of the shuttle. This left a foul taste in the mouth due to the oil, which was also carcinogenic. Arts and Crafts was an international design philosophy that originated in England  and flourished between and especially the second half of that period , continuing its influence until the s. Hand weaving was highly regard and taken up as a decorative art. In the s the weaving workshop of the Bauhaus design school in Germany aimed to raise weaving, previously seen as a craft, to a fine art, and also to investigate the industrial requirements of modern weaving and fabrics.
Colonial America relied heavily on Great Britain for manufactured goods of all kinds. British policy was to encourage the production of raw materials in colonies and discourage manufacturing. The Wool Act restricted the export of colonial wool. The colonists also used wool, cotton and flax linen for weaving, though hemp could be made into serviceable canvas and heavy cloth. They could get one cotton crop each year; until the invention of the cotton gin it was a labour-intensive process to separate the seeds from the fibres. A plain weave was preferred as the added skill and time required to make more complex weaves kept them from common use.
Sometimes designs were woven into the fabric but most were added after weaving using wood block prints or embroidery.
Textile weaving, using cotton dyed with pigments, was a dominant craft among pre-contact tribes of the American southwest, including various Pueblo peoples, the Zuni , and the Ute tribes. The first Spaniards to visit the region wrote about seeing Navajo blankets. With the introduction of Navajo-Churro sheep , the resulting woolen products have become very well known. By the 18th century the Navajo had begun to import yarn with their favorite color , Bayeta red. Using an upright loom, the Navajos wove blankets worn as garments and then rugs after the s for trade.
Navajo traded for commercial wool, such as Germantown, imported from Pennsylvania. Moore , Oriental and Persian styles almost always with natural dyes , "Wide Ruins," "Chinlee," banded geometric patterns, "Klagetoh," diamond type patterns, "Red Mesa " and bold diamond patterns.