This is a bit of a departure for me. Proving that perhaps people really are reading my blog, a few weeks ago a representative of Pen and Sword Books, a British publisher, contacted me and offered to send a copy of a book in their new series on Heritage Crafts and Skills. They asked that I talk about it on my blog, and I said, Yes. And here you have it:
Beginning with a rather heartfelt appeal for support for Heritage Crafts in Great Britain, this book is organized quite differently that any of the usual weaving/spinning books I’ve owned/perused/used in the course of my fiber life. The first ten chapters are a whirlwind tour of the history of weaving and spinning from ancient times to modern times. (I quite felt like I was back in my History of Textiles course as a grad student.) The author outlines the evolution of both spinning yarn and weaving cloth from home-based activities of necessity to fully mechanized industries.
The history chapters are short, easily digestible and perfect for the fledgling craftsperson, aged 12 to adult, who is interested in the evolution of the crafts, but doesn’t want to get too wildly technical. The author writes at length on the social as well as environmental effects of mechanization. I felt the history chapters would have been more complete had there been one or two illustrations per chapter.
The second half of the book is devoted to interviews with contemporary fiber artisans in Great Britain, Canada and Australia. The intent here is to further encourage and inspire the reader to dive in and try these heritage crafts. The artisans profiled vary in experience and interests. Some are newly introduced to spinning and weaving. Some are artists who have been doing one or the other or both for a long time. I found that most of the weaving tended to be on rigid-heddle, inkle, or less complex looms with a focus on color and texture, not so much on structure or original drafts. I found the yarn dyers very inspiring. There is a section of color plates showing examples of many of these artisans’ work. Also included are their presences on social media, or online marketing. I did look up quite a few, and may shop their Etsy stores in the future!
Also helpful for the beginning spinner/weaver: lists of Suppliers, Wool and Fiber Festivals, Courses and Guilds, and Books and Websites.
It should be noted that Lynn Huggins-Cooper, a former teacher, is widely published with over 200 books (!). See this blog post in which she describes her publishing career to date: http://awfullybigblogadventure.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-creative-life-lynn-huggins-cooper.html . She is also a textile artist specializing in felting and other techniques. This is the second book in Pen and Sword Books’ new series on Heritage Crafts and Skills. This series includes Leatherwork and Tanning, also by Huggins-Cooper.
Huggins-Cooper, Lynn. Spinning and Weaving. Yorkshire and Philadelphia, Pen and Sword Books Ltd. 2019. ISBN 9781526724526