UA & Grand Dames of Weaving

In an August with uncharacteristically hot and muggy days (temperatures reached 107°F/41.67°C!), I temporarily turned my back on my knitting.  Instead, I worked on improving my weaving skills.  Of course, even though retired the researcher in me cannot be stilled, so as I poked around on the web for weaving tips and ideas, I was particularly thrilled with historical finds.  One of them is the University of Arizona’s (“UA”) online digital archive.

ThorpeBlogPicTake a peek at “Heavy Mats for Bath or Bedroom” (1958).  It was written by Heather G. Thorpe, the author of The Handweaver’s Workbook (1956) that I recently found at a thrift store.  “Heavy Mats” was published by Lily G. Mills Company of Shelby, North Carolina.  According to blogger The Vintage Traveler,

In the late 1940s Lily Mills [founded in 1903] helped finance the Lily Loom House at Penland [Penland School of Arts & Crafts].  Weavers who attend classes today still work in the Lily Loom House.  In return, weaving instructors at Penland wrote booklets for Lily Mills, such as Practical Weaving Suggestions.

Tidball10ProjAccording to The Vintage Traveler, Lily Mills published Practical Weaving Suggestions  between 1940 and 1971. And the name doesn’t mislead: The projects are indeed practical.  For instance, volume XXI – “10 Projects on a Long Warp” by Harriet Douglas Tidball contains instructions for a warp from which a weaver could make an array of projects.  (I have my eye on the aprons!  One long warp, several varying aprons … birthday and holiday gifts for a year!)

AtwaterCoverPicAGallingerCoverPics I focused on rug weaving through our hot summer, I was pleased to find more rug-related possibilities in Volume XXVI written by Osma Couch Gallinger – 10 “Easy to Weave Rugs” and Volume 1-61 “No-Tabby Weave and Tufted Rugs” by Mary Meigs Atwater.

BarrettApronsCoverBut then my attention was again caught by aprons!  Ruth L. Barrett’s apron patterns are featured in Volume 2-65 of Practical Weaving Suggestions.  As one of the model is wearing pearls, perhaps her apron is a  practical version of the “hostess apron.”

According to various sewing blogs I’ve read, hostess aprons are making a comeback.

ApronsLucyEthelFor those of us of a “certain age” who grew up watching I Love Lucy or Leave It to Beaver, aprons were de rigueur for housewives.  The styles ranged from every day to special occasions.  Here Lucy and Ethel are wearing the everyday apron (sturdy cotton, large pockets, providing a lot of coverage).

ApronLucyFrilly (2)ApronHostessBut we’d also see Lucy in the hostess versions (thin, often diaphanous, frilly, not a lot of coverage).  From this picture of Lucy wearing a hostess apron, it seems as though she decided to do a bit of quick dusting before guests arrived.

But I have digressed!

If you weren’t already familiar with the University of Arizona’s on-line digital weaving archive, I urge you to take some time and explore the site!



About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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10 Responses to UA & Grand Dames of Weaving

  1. Wonderful – I am pleased you found something so useful!


  2. Yes, I too thought it was quite a find!


  3. OMG, that practical weaving by Mary Atwater has instructions for weaving boundweave krokbragd which I have been trying to figure out for years! Thank you. thank you. THANK YOU!


  4. Isn’t that an amazing site? I never seem to find all of the treasures! These look wonderful, thank you for passing your finds along!


  5. You must have multiple looms warped and ready at all times!



  6. Susan says:

    That site was where I first got good information for weaving tartans before I took an excellent class in tartan weaving. Thought a summer/winter weave might be good for the cow hair! thanks.


  7. Yes, it is a treasure trove of a site!


  8. rhudgins says:

    Thanks for the posting. Lots of fun things to read. I also like the bath mats.


  9. I too thought those bath mats looked nice!


  10. Becoming... says:

    So interesting! I may try one of those bath mats. Thanks for the good information!


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