Book Chat: Spinning and Weaving by Lynn Huggins-Cooper

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

Upgrade!

So I had a rug in my studio space, but it was a well-worn hand-me-down from my daughter. It had been through two babies worth of everything. And then it became known as barf alley, a favorite site of my two cats. Basically a toxic waste dump.

As it happens, I like to buy wool rugs. Less flammable than nylon, polyester, olefin, etc. Target is a good place to find wool and this rug is a fabulous example of what you can find online from them.

Handwoven in India, a tapestry technique called kilim. Hand dyed wools in good colors, and cotton warp.

I just hope the cats don’t find it irresistible!

P. S.

The saga continues …

Recently I was researching the weaving pamphlets published by Robin & Russ Handweavers titled “Warp and Weft”. I have three issues and I wanted to find out if they existed online anywhere. As luck would have it, I found a blog that had links to that very series. (The blog belongs to Robyn Spady and it is chock full of lots of good information.)

The link she provided belongs to the On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics. If you haven’t been to this site, you really should. There is a plethora of weaving information, including PDF’s of long out of print documents.  All for you.

So then, I thought, what if this site has Practical Weaving Suggestions too? And yes, kids, it does. It has PDF’s of many issues (not all), and it also has a chart of issues and years.  I cross-checked the chart with my spread sheet and found two of my missing issues. So what did I do?

I downloaded them! I got “Imprisoned Sequins” by Mary M. Atwater:

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And, I got Vol. XXII (c. 1952) “Planned Weaving for the Handweaver’s Wardrobe” by Marta Page, which, on the surface sounds kind of ho-hum.

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But when you look further, you find the Fledermaus Shortie:

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which has an oddly modern flair:

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Unfortunately, actual instructions for weaving and sewing the Shortie are not in the issue, but instructions for ordering them (sans internet) are provided :-).

I wonder if any copies are still around …

May we also suggest . . .

I wrote about the “Practical Weaving Suggestions” pamphlets published by Lily Mills in my last blog post. These pamphlets ceased publication in 1971 and they were followed in 1976 by a new series, also published by Lily Mills, called “Lily Weaving Suggestions”.  These pamphlets started out, at least, in a more magazine–like format. They were in color and longer, most were 6 pages,  with stapled binding.

Lily Weaving Suggestions 2

The projects were more modern, some with a counter-culture vibe, some with a more fashion-forward bent. To wit: the issue with a cover model rocking a pair of handwoven denim “jeans” 😉 .

Lily Weaving Suggestions 1

The designers changed with each issue, and many names are unfamiliar, although some are: Persis Grayson, Elmer Hickman, Mary E. Black, Sadye Tune Wilson, Sallie T. Guy, and Clotilde Barrett.

The Lily Weaving Suggestions series ran from 1976 through 1981, with an issue coming out quarterly. The long format eventually dwindled to the folded pamphlet style, and then stopped altogether (at least, that is as far as my collection goes).

I made a second spreadsheet listing all the issues and their contents for this Lily Weaving Suggestions series, and you can see it and/or download it here on ScribD. In addition, The spreadsheet list for “Practical Weaving Suggestions” is also on ScribD here.

In other news, we are closing out week 1 without a kitchen, and we are on the camping-out-in-your-own-house-and-no-way-to-cook diet.

 

 

 

I Love This Stuff

PWS1

I’ve been a collector of the “Practical Weaving Suggestions” pamphlets published by Lily Mills for a long time. These pamphlets go way back to the mid-20th century when weaving was often a cottage industry for homemakers. They provided all kinds projects and ideas, while at the same time marketing Lily’s weaving yarns. Sound familiar? 😉

PWS2

Many very well-known authors of handweaving books wrote for Lily Mills, such as Mary Atwater, Harriet Tidball, Osma Gallinger, and Berta Frey. One pamphlet titled “The Profile System of Writing Drafts: How to Adapt the Same Design to Several Techniques” by Helen L. Allen and Osma Gallinger, a seemingly revolutionary concept at the time, was a very detailed transcript of a presentation made at a national conference.

The publishing dates for the early issues are unknown to me. They are labeled by Volume and Number, starting with Vol. I, No. 1, and continuing through Vol. XXVIII. Then a different number system begins with Vol. I-55. My guess? Volume I, 1955.  The last issue in this system that I have is Vol. I-71 (i. e., 1971).  I started a spreadsheet for this collection as a way of keeping track of what’s missing and what I have duplicates of.

I don’t remember the first time I found one of these pamphlets, maybe at a library book sale, but when eBay took off, I bought a lot of them. Then recently I bought another big batch (thank you, Facebook buying and selling groups!!!).  They may be old-fashioned, but they are packed with weaving history and information, and even some very precious woven samples. Many are in very fragile condition depending on how they were treated for the last, oh, 50 or so years. Some have 3-hole punches for a binder. Some have name stickers. Some are just ragged around the edges, but aren’t we all?

Anyway, recently Interweave Press put out a call for submissions on the topic of multiple projects on a long warp. Well, I have to say that Lily Mills had that one covered more than a half century ago. And when I say long warp, we’re talking 40 yards (!). However, the projects are probably not to the taste of today’s weaver. Aprons, anyone?

PWS3

PWS4

In other news, I have a dishtowel warp on the loom, and looming (hahaha) plans for a full kitchen renovation. Luckily, I can weave upstairs, the cats will be boarded at the kitty hotel, and I can weave while pandemonium reigns.