Sewing Aside

Last fall we bought an LSZ-1 from Sailrite.  Before outdoor work really picks up here I sat down this week and sewed 48″ wide panels of treated canvas into a tarp.  It slips over the standing support.


It is gusseted around all points where the rails attach to the boat as well as over where the long tail shaft comes out of the engine.


It fastens along each side to the frame of the boat trailer with 15″ rubber bungee cords.  It is reinforced at the two front corners.  The Ultrafeed LZ-1 by Sailrite performed flawlessly through up to ten layers of heavy canvas.

sisipiskwa tracker

Yarn Cake Winder

Sometimes called a ball winder, it is used to wind yarn into a cake.  A cake of yarn is a roll with two flat sides.  This will hold its shape and remain upright as the yarn is effortlessly removed from the centre of the cake.  This winder came with the last loom that I picked up.  It has a small pigtail wire for a yarn guide.  One of these days I will have to try it out and post a video.


And this is how they work in connection with a swift…


Another Loom Rescue

For no particular reason we had been looking for a 60″ loom.  Then we found one, but it was far away, near a friend’s home.  They agreed to pick it up for us.  We gave them instruction of what to look for.  They phoned from the site when they were there.  They brought it to us this Easter weekend.  But it was not a 60″ loom; it was a 45″ Leclerq Fanny, which we already have.  That was disappointing since we had asked them to measure it to make sure.  Oh well.  It is in pretty rough shape and will need to be stripped and polished, but the heddles and the reeds are in good shape.  One of the reeds is a 5 count reed which will be good for rugs, so it will become a dedicated rug machine, which is fine.  The refurbishing will take place next winter.  The loom will go into a protected shed and the metal will stay inside.  It was a good price.

The Art And Craft Of Hand Weaving – Lili Blumenau

Lili Blumenau attended the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts.  She later studied at the Academy Scandinave in Paris during which time she decided to pursue a career in weaving and textile artisty.  Graduating as the first woman student at the New York School of Textile Technology she went on to gain mill experience and in 1948 she began the weaving workshop at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York.  In 1952 she founded the weaving department at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Design, New York, New York.  From 1944 until 1950 she was curator of textiles at Cooper Union Museum.  In 1955 she authored The Art and Craft of Hand Weaving, Including Fabric Design, which was published by Crown Publishers, New York City.

md135362474I received Lili Blumenau’s book the other day, The Art And Craft Of Hand Weaving, reviewed by Dorothy Day in 1956.  I am far from disappointed.  Structurally, this book is divided into four parts: (1) Evolution, Looms, Weaving Procedure, (2) Fibers, (3) Weaves, and (4) Design.  However, it is not a strictly technical text.  It is much richer.  She writes, [t]he ideal of handwaving today is not simply material.  It is a means of self-realization and fulfillment.  And its purpose today is unique.  Practically, we do not need to weave cloth by hand but the value of weaving is in the work.  The present-day desire to weave is one expression of the search in our time for human qualities.  Rather than focusing on writing simply another book on patterns and techniques (those elements are there), Blumenau encourages creative artisanship based on the raw material, its visual and tactile characteristics.  And she reminds her readers that doing so is not the sole possession of only specialty artists.  Weaving for her entails ‘good work’, engaging, fully human, and life-giving in every respect.


Pioneer Life – Doukhobors


As the Doukhobors moved out to these villages they first erected makeshift shelters, either of poplar poles or turf; sometimes, where there was a hillside, they lived the summer through in a dugout, and there were also a number of tents.  Outdoor ovens were built for baking bread, and the blacksmiths set up their forges and made charcoal out of the available timber.  Like most communities that have traditionally been self-contained, the Doukhobors found little difficulty in going immediately into operation in a strange environment, for they had among them men who knew all the necessary crafts.  Among the first things they obtained through the bonus fund was a quantity of iron bars and leather, and with these they immediately set about making harness, spades, and tires for their wagons.

This self-sufficiency, which was carried into many fields of activity, undoubtedly helped the Doukhobors to survive with very little money during the first years on the prairies.  One of the first gifts of the American Quakers was three hundred spinning-wheels, and with these the Doukhobor women span the woollen and linen thread they later wove on homemade looms into homespun cloth.  Furniture was made out of hand-hewn wood, and utensils, such as spoons, were carved out of the same material.  Some of these crafts continued to be practised for decades…

The Doukhobors, Woodcock and Avakumovic


‘The Relationships Among Grab And Strip Strength Values Before And After Abrasion’ – Constance Crowe Adams

Her grandfather circumnavigated the world seven times as captain of a windjammer based out of Truro, Nova Scotia; there were numerous trans-Atlantic crossings.  Her father grew up on those ships and later became a school teacher and married a school teacher.  She followed in her parent’s footsteps, attended normal school and went to teach on Cape Breton in a one room schoolhouse.  Her uncle invited her to Winnipeg where he would fund her university education.  She studied home economics at the University of Manitoba where she received her Bachelors degree, and taught in a one room school in Queens Valley, east of Winnipeg.  Interested in textiles she was accepted at the University of Minnesota for her Masters, graduating in 1950.  Her research involved standardized testing on the breaking strength of cotton fabrics.  Her name was Constance Crowe Adams.  And she is my mother-in-law.  My wife comes by being both a teacher and interested in textiles honestly.  (One of our children is now a fourth generation Canadian teacher.)  Typed on a typewriter its hard copy is difficult to read as it is .

She was an astounding woman and is still dearly missed…









Original Leclerc Loom Tie-Ups


fullsizeoutput_291bTie-ups are used to connect the lams to the treadles of a loom.  On more modern looms various labour and time saving methods have been devised with which to do this.  But on older looms there is often simply a closed screw eye loop on the lam and another on the treadle.  There is nothing on the internet to show how these were originally installed.  In Oscar Beriau’s book, Home Weaving (both 1939 and 1947 editions) this method is illustrated.  The use of cotton cord is originally used since hardware only interferes with treadle movement; any added hardware installed on an older loom is an upgrade for the sake of convenience and should be removed.




‘Weavers’ – A New Page

flash-pg_01In the course of time you are bound to come across people who have made significant and/or unique contributions to your  being a weaver.

As a young man I met someone who told me that they had realized one day that certain teachers and mentors had positively influenced them.  So they made a list of these people and wrote letters to them and described exactly how they had been influenced, and then they said thank you.  I thought that that was a fine thing to do and so over a period of a couple of months I did the same.  I continue to do so today.  When someone is influential I write and tell them so.  Life is short.  Best to do so while you are able.

I want to recognize some of the weavers who I admire.  Some I have met personally; most I only know through what they have published.  I want to recognize and say thank you to these.  I also want to say thank to all of the weavers who today write blogs and make videos and pass on what they know, you are all inspiring.

‘Rediscovering The Sacramentality Of Things’

Lili Blumenau, 1912 – 1976, was a visual artist teaching weaving and creative fibre design in New York and operated her own studio there.  She was instrumental in designing the presentation at the Brussels Universal and International Exhibition in 1958 (Expo 58).  It was the first world’s fair following WW2 and opened with a call for world peace.  Charlie Chaplain’s, The Gold Rush finished second to Battleship Potemkin in the first-ever international film critic’s poll, and someone tore off the bottom right corner of Mozart’s Requiem as a souvenir while it was on display.  (The missing piece has not yet been recovered.)

Stunned at the church’s inaction on behalf of the poor in 1933 Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker Movement in New York City, NY during the depths of the Great Depression.  Their simple love for God led them to simply open houses of hospitality (an ancient, formal churchly model) where anyone could find meals and a safe place to sleep and live without conditions.  It was non-violent direct support for those in need.  Seeking to rely less on donations they founded their own farms, giving residents an opportunity to work growing food, and eventually offering retreats that taught spirituality and skills.  Weaving was one such skill and upon making a retreat to the Peter Maurin Farm, Lili Blumenau became a supporter of their well-placed efforts.  Upon the writing of Blumenau’s work, The Art And Craft Of Handweaving, Day wrote a review of it in The Catholic Worker newspaper in 1955.  I ordered a first edition copy of the book yesterday for a very modest cost.  The review follows…

Lili Blumenau is familiar to some of the Catholic Workers since she made a retreat with us some years ago at Easton, Pa. and in the ten years since then has taught three or four of our number the fundamentals of weaving. She has a studio on Tenth Street, off Fourth Avenue, and she is an instructor in weaving at Teachers’ College, Columbia University, and the Fashion Institute of Technology. This book she has written tells of the evolution of spinning and weaving from thousands of years before Christ, and there are beautiful illustrations of basket weaving, Egyptian spinning implements, wall paintings of spinners and weavers in Egypt down to present day photographs of girdle looms among the Indians of Guatemala. One illustration is of a Coptic child’s tunic of natural linen, plain weave, decorated with tapestry woven motifs in bright colors, which dates from the fifth century. This tunic is in Cooper Union Museum not far from the Catholic Worker and I must certainly go to see it. It is very like the baptismal robes some of our friends are making today. There are not only pictures of every kind of loom and tool but a clear explanation of their uses. There is one section of the book given to design. At the end, a buyers’ guide for looms and accessories, yarns and a very good bibliography and index.

Every one who has come to Peter Maurin Farm has been very much interested in our loom and spinning wheels, one from the Hutterites of Montana, one from French Canada and two from India. We are also, Tamar and Susie and I, familiarizing ourselves with the spindle, that small wooden stick with a round wheel which is the earliest of spinning implements and has been made of stone, metal or wood. By twirling this tick Tamar has been able to make very even thread from wool and flax. The children are beginning a scrap book of pictures of sheep, their sheering, the carding, washing, spinning and weaving of wool and it is a fascinating compilation which takes in discussion of village industries in India and Israel, and the latest, today, a picture of a loom clipped from the Catholic Charities Drive folder. You hear a great deal about these crafts in jails and veterans’ hospitals and mental hospitals. “After the horse is stolen the barn door is locked.” We need to use our hands, to develop skills, to rediscover the sacramentality of things. To whittle, to knit, to crochet, to mould in clay, to weave, to darn or mend also, – – all of these are the quiet occupations which make for Peace. Besides, as Peter Maurin used to say, men make their millions by the machine and spend them for hand made articles, rugs, drapes, tapestries, linens, clothing.

One of our friends who made a retreat with us, who was not at all satisfied with her office and clerical work, began to learn to weave with Lili Blumenau and became so proficient that she was able to design and weave samples for manufacturers (all of which work can be done in the home on a small loom) so that perhaps she will one day attain to rural living and have her own sheep and produce her own wool.

Lauren Ford, the artist, of Sheep Fold, Bethlehem, Connecticut, every year has given us fleeces of wool which we have washed, dyed, teased, carded, spun and woven and sometimes knit into various garments. And we are only beginners, who do this in odd moments with visitors and friends.

Do get the book and start to weave your own drapes, couch covers, towels, scarves and hand bags.


A Tremendous Day!

After years of planning we finally have a permanent location for our 45″ LeClerc Mira loom.  Whereas it had been off to the side before, now it sits prominently in our home with more than enough working space around it.  We have been working toward this day for years.  Now to rig it up and wind a warp.  Wow, are we happy!!!  What a beautiful loom…