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Showing posts from August, 2015

Collapse Weave with 60/2 Silk and 30/1 S-Twist Wool

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Just off the loom: a one-yard-long sample of vertical pleats in black and white. (Can't get enough of the beauty of simple plain weave in black and white! My inspiration is the work of Ann Richards, author of Weaving Textiles That Shape Themselves.)

This sample is for a coat I hope to make, so I made a warp of 11.5 yards in length. On the loom, this fabric is 45.5" in the reed but, after washing in hot water and dishwashing liquid, it collapses to about 20" wide -- a shrinkage of more than 55%.

The warp is alternating ends of black and white 60/2 silk. For the weft, I wove horizontal stripes, alternating between natural and black 30/1 S-twist wool bordered by a one-inch-long stripe in black 60/2 silk. Because the weave is very open -- at 32 ends per inch and about 30 picks per inch -- the yarns have lots of "wiggle room" to collapse in the wash. This means that the overtwist wool draws in horizontally, making vertical pleats, while the 60/2 silk weft remains t…

In Palmyra, NY: America's Largest Collection of Antique Handwoven Coverlets

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Here in western New York -- just 24 miles east of Rochester on the Erie Canal -- weavers can enjoy the country's largest collection of antique woven coverlets. Thanks to the enthusiasm and generosity of collector Merle Alling and colleagues, the Alling Coverlet Museum opened on July 4, 1976, in a beautiful old building in Palmyra, New York.


The museum houses some 400 handwoven and Jacquard-woven coverlets dating from 1820 to 1880, many of them woven by Palmyra natives Ira Hadsell and James VanNess. Weaving was a profession largely of men until the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution.

From my viewpoint as a weaver, dyer, and handspinner, the pieces are masterful, starting first with the yarns themselves, many of which are handspun and then hand-dyed with indigo and cochineal. The brilliance of the weaving continues to amaze!

Double weave, "Four Roses and Pine Tree" pattern in wool and cotton
Many of the coverlets were woven just before the Civil War, when hopes to pr…