Projects Finished and Beginning

It was moving day for Shirley and the walking wheel.  We’ve had these pieces of equipment in our living space for quite some time and moving them out today was quite the change.  There are now big swaths of open space (and endless amounts of dust).

I have finished the bulletin on Rowe’s textile history (a short course) for the Historical Society.  I had to write it in such a way that a layman could understand what I was talking about and keep it brief enough so people wouldn’t fall asleep as they were reading it.  No easy feat for someone who could talk about this until you pass out from boredom.

I had researched this from the 1780’s until 1900 or so in detail, the problem came when I had to put all of the research together.  There was the history of the equipment, the economic history, and the social history.  I had thought that the weaving history would be the fascinating part but found it was the people.  When I wrapped up the writing of the article I realized I wasn’t ready to let go of them, or their way of life.

I have found wonderful diaries, day books, account books from the doctors in town as well as merchant’s account records.  The beauty of this research is that it is in a town that is so small.  I built genealogies of over a dozen families and found out how intertwined everyone was.  With the diaries I learned about how stoic the men could be even in facing the loss of their spouses or children.  One line described what one could only imagine as something completely  life altering.  These books all crossed with each other over a certain number of years so it gave a fuller picture of daily living.  The only way that this could possibly be shared is if I wrote a historical novel.  A Peyton Place sort of thing using the characters in their own time and place.  On the back burner that goes.

With the research and writing done the displays are now being put together.  The Rowe Historical Society will be opening an annex to their museum on July 15th.  It is in an old factory building that was moved and restored for the U.S. bicentennial in 1976.  The building is wonderful and perfect for the large sleighs, wagons and agricultural artifacts.  The trustees are working hard to get the museum in good shape for their opening July 1st.   Having done the bulletin on weaving I decided that I would move the barn frame loom and the walking wheel in for the season and do demonstrations on the Saturdays we are open.  It’s nice to be a part of something that is so interesting and to watch and help it come together.

For the time being I will have to get used to the vacant spaces in the house but I have a feeling I will be seeing more of them in the next few weeks than I have been seeing them at home of late.  I will also finally get a warp on Shirley and run her through her paces. I feel good that this is where Shirley needs to be right now, spotlighting how amazing she was almost 200 years ago.  She’ll be teaching me right along with everyone that visits.

A Little Bit of Fun

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While helping Peggy mend a couple of long runs of weaving last week she asked me to weave the end of the warp she had on her barn frame loom because she had run out of rags.  She is out west on her own adventure this week so I figured this would be mine.

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I have never woven on one of these looms before.  What I found was once you understand the mechanics of weaving you can pretty much weave on anything.  So in this one spot I’ve gone from crazy power looms to one of history’s finest.

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It has two shafts and was warped for rag rugs, all I had to do is bring the weft.  I hadn’t woven a rag rug before but have seen plenty in progress so I figured how hard could it be?  I spent a few hours tearing fabric (I’m a long time quilter so fabric is everywhere).  It was torn into strips 3″ wide, folded with the wrong sides together and pressed.  Then I randomly picked pieces and sewed them together in flat seams.  I had a 30″ rag shuttle so I added the strips to that.  I really hadn’t looked at the warp that close before I decided to do this so I had no idea how much weft I was going to need.

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There is nothing like a loom you have to climb into.  It’s quite comfortable, so much so that I think I need to build a bench into my Macomber.

There is no shuttle race when you open the shed but the rag shuttle worked perfectly.  I began and ended the rug with a few picks of rug warp and wove to 60″ in length.  Probably a little long but once I started I couldn’t stop.  Advancing the warp was easily done just required a little muscle.

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There’s a window at your back and a nice breeze was blowing in the entire time I was weaving.  It also gave a rather harsh light to the finished weaving.

Time for a confession.  I’m really a control freak when it comes to a lot of things, especially color.  When I chose my fabric for the weft I used a blue that I had a lot of to add to the continuity of the entire piece.  I didn’t really randomly choose fabrics, they were chosen with intent. I knew what the warp colors were so I made sure to incorporate those colors in the weft.  This didn’t go together the way I had envisioned it but I have to say it finished with something I’m satisfied with.

Now I’m dreaming about that rug loom restoration project in the shed and the things I’m going to be weaving on it.  Sometime we just need a little push.