‘weaving’ Category

Trying it Myself

January 15th, 2009 by Tricia

It is my goal on this project to try as many of the techniques as possible so I can describe it on the blog, in lectures or in an eventual book.  So I gathered up my hutzpah to ask Justin and Kate if I could ‘drive’ the loom.  They were very gracious and helped me in the steps.  Open the shed, grab the shuttle, throw it through (and CATCH), beat it and start again.

As you can see in the pictures – I found this to be much harder than I thought!  It is like chewing gum and rubbing your head while hopping on one foot.  Opening the shed by pushing on the foot petals took strength as I am shorter than Justin.  But the hardest part was throwing the shuttle.  I thought it would fly out the other end and I would have trouble catching it.  NOT a worry!  The shuttle kept getting stuck between the two layers and I would have to stick my fingers in between the warp to scoot it along. Justin made it look so easy and fast.  You can see me looking close after beating down the weft to see if the weave was tight enough there.  I don’t want that ‘defect in the weave’ to be because of me!

You can see the wonderful length of woven silk at the bottom take up – he estimated it to be between 1.5-2 yards at that point.  I can only take credit for maybe three or four passes – not even an 1/8″ of it!  Working on the sequence, it was really physically demanding and I can’t imagine doing a piece of fabric that is wider.  You need some wingspan for that!



November 20th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Thanks to Justin for answering the Murphy’s oil soap question; he washed the warping board before he started using it, to get rid of the “50 years of barn dust.” And more apologies for the poor photo of him; I was stealth snapping trying not to get any visitors in the background. I surprised him more than once, as you can see. Sorry.

Last Sunday I went to Plimoth Plantation’s annual volunteer recognition event. Plimoth, like so many other museums and historical societies and historic houses simply could not function without our many dedicated volunteers. Denise Nichols organized a lovely tea and social for this year’s event, with music and a talk and reading by Peter Arenstam from his book about Nicholas the mouse.

Denise also organized a raffle of items donated by many of the different Plimoth departments. Penny donated on Colonial Wardrobe’s behalf – a lovely hand spun, naturally dyed, hand knit cap, which was won by Karin Goldstein’s intern Sarah. The first photo is Plimoth’s Chief Executive Officer John McDonagh announcing a winner.

The second picture is three of our child volunteers. They and the other children did a magnificent job delighting thousands of Plimoth’s visitors this year, and they had a great old fun time doing it. The program, revamped and reintroduced after a few years’ hiatus, was a smashing success by all measures; the adult interpreters enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm of the children as well as the increase in historical accuracy they brought to the site. Not to mention how cute they are. The visitors also appreciated the family atmosphere, and our child visitors really enjoyed having other children to talk and play with. I’m sure we’ll see them again next summer. (Before you and your kids start making plans, though, please note that all the child volunteers are children of Plimoth employees.)

The Giant Warping Board

November 19th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Here Justin is making his new warp – I believe he said it is 20 yards. For most people this would be pretty ambitious, considering he is working in the Crafts Center only two days a week (at the most) and that there are only a few weeks left to Plimoth’s open season, and that those weeks will be filled with many, many visitors, all of whom want to see him work but also want him to explain what he’s doing, which means stopping working for a moment or longer.

Ambitious for most people, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes it.

I got some good news late yesterday – Dennis came in with the computer’s brains under one arm. “You’re fine,” he said. “CD drive burned out and fried the power source.” Which I roughly translate as “the stars were misaligned for computer work.” or something. Anyway, I lost nothing and it’s all better now.

And, Carolyn, I don’t know what the Murphy’s oil soap is used for in the Crafts Center, but I’ll find out. We have some in the wardrobe office that we use to clean the sewing baskets. We fill the utility sink with warm water and a good squirt of Murphy’s, then immerse an empty basket. We use fingernail brushes to loosen a season’s worth of grime. They dry in a big heap on some rags spread out on the floor. “We” is usually two or three volunteers who work with us on Plimoth’s annual Spring Clean Day. This happens in March, the Saturday two weeks before the museum is set to open to the public. Most of the work is outdoors, where all the sites are ship-shaped by a couple of hundred volunteers and staff working together. Whole families come together and rake the paths, or pick up winter debris (sticks, leaves) or turn garden beds. Some who are unable to work outdoors or need a break from that kind of work spend some time with us, washing the baskets, saddle-soaping the belts and leather pouches, sorting and labeling the contents of the wool closet, or doing regular mending. It is a busy, tiring and fun day, and it is wonderful to see how much can get accomplished and how beautiful the sites look at the end of the day. If you’re in the area or will be in March, you and your family can come play in the dirt, too. Check the website for the date and/or email Denise Nichols, Plimoth’s volunteer and intern coordinator. She keeps a head count (so we have enough lunch) and coordinates teams and team leaders and work orders. She won’t get going with this till next February, though, so don’t worry, there’s plenty of time.


November 18th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Justin has been weaving in the Crafts Center a day or two a week. Last week he was making the warp for a second weaving project; the first one is already off the loom. In the second photo you can see the giant-sized warping board he was using. I’ll get you some pictures of Justin making the warp over the next few days.

Today I have pictures of Justin and Marilyn, the Crafts Center Gift Shop Manager, holding up the first piece of yardage, a striped worsted. He made about 5 yards in what seemed like no time at all.

I’m sorry this is not a great picture of Justin; ironic since he is such an excellent photographer. However, he couldn’t be taking this one and in it at the same time.

No Weaving for You

July 18th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Marilyn, a frequent contributor to the comments and embroiderer on the jacket as well as a student of Japanese embroidery, recently asked me if any weaving was going on in Plymouth Colony as early as the 1620s.

The answer is no, we have no evidence that any was and lots of evidence that there was no fiber processing or textile production happening in Plymouth Colony until the late 1630s. There are several reasons why not, mostly that the point of having a colony was for it to provide raw materials and a market for finished goods to the mother country. The Plymouth colonists were under agreement to work for the betterment of the merchants who put up the seed money for the colony, not to become self-sufficient.

Many people expect that these colonial foremothers were self-sufficient, though, especially in a textile sort of way. That whole myth (which annoyingly has a grain of truth in that some colonial housewives in some places at some times were doing it all) is explored and explained in Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s The Age of Homespun. I “reviewed” and recommended it last summer, August 19 to be exact (thanks, Lyn). Maybe it isn’t beach reading but it is well worth a look.


June 10th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Calimanco and shuttle.Justin sent some pictures of the loom he’ll likely use to weave the silk lining. Right now this loom isDetail of Calimanco. holding some reproduction Calimanco, a worsted, satin woven wool textile produced mostly in Norwich, England in the 17th, 18th, and 19th century.

Kate and I used all natural dyes to obtain the brilliant shades that become that much brighter after the cloth is finished by hot pressing in the calendaring press.

Barn loom with string heddles.Here’s a link to a video on youtube of a Scottish woolen mill which includes someone making a warp which might help to explain the process.Barn loom.

It’s also a great example of people maintaining traditional workways and their local heritage. http://youtube.com/watch?v=8w4O1pSltcY This aspect of the work is the most important one to me in what I do at Plimoth Plantation and at Eaton Hill.

Blue Silk Lining II

June 9th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Justin “picking the cross” of the lining warp.Tonight I have more pictures of the blue silk lining, but right now the lining is still threads. Very fine threads, and lots of them. The first picture is “picking the cross.”

The second is of Justin putting the cross on the pegs of the warping board. Justin explained the importance of the cross, and maintaining it, in a previous post.Putting the cross on the warping board

Justin suggested that I post a copy of the paintings of the serge (kind of cloth) industry in Leiden “which are my all time favorites of textile production (and) show a fellow warping with a horizontal scarn behind the woman spinning.” These paintings are in the collection of the Lakenhal Museum in Leiden, the Netherlands. I did look to see if I could find any online, but had no luck. Posting copies of things not in the public domain zips you right to a lower circle of licensing-and-permission hell; I’m not going there. I’ll ask Justin if he can refer us to a print copy, if so I’ll post that information.

These are Justin’s thoughts about weaving this way:

NLThis process is the same way that weavers have been making warps since the 17th century. Producing cloth using these traditional methods is a lot of why I’m interested in textiles. Going through the same steps using the same tools as all of the people who’ve done it before makes me part of a real and viable tradition, and not part of an exhibition of so called ‘forgotten arts’. This spool was made and used in the 18th or early 19th century by ‘NL’. Although we don’t know who N.L. was, we are continuing to work the same way he did.The cross on the warping board.

I’ve heard similar sentiments from some of the embroiderers and lacers, but this was particularly nicely put. The last two pictures are of the cross on the board and the rest of the warp. Justin takes really nice pictures, in addition to all the other things he does well.The Rest of the Warp.

Justin working on the blue silk

May 7th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Bat head in detail.Here’s the second installment from Justin. The italics are quotes from Justin’s email.
Some more shots of the bat head on my wheel.

Swift on the woodbox, and bat head.Bat heads were the most common in New England before Minor’s, or the accelerating,bat-head-with-corn-husk.jpg head replaced them in the early 19th century to handle the newer, shorter fleeced breeds of sheep which were introduced following the revolution.

Spinning wheel.The plaited cornhusk bearings for the spindle are made from corn grown last year in the (1627 English) village.

Justin at work with wheel and swift.

Finally, a shot of yours truly in action. All of these pictures were taken at my house in Scituate, RI.

Thanks for the pictures and explanations, Justin. We’re looking forward to the next chapter.

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