Just another WordPress.com weblog

Archive for November, 2013

These are a few of my favorite things: #32 -G.H. Oelsner’s “A Handbook of Weaves”

Well, weaving friends . . . it’s that time of year!  While some of you may be preparing for tomorrow‘s Pins and Needles Day . . . (Which sounds like a fiber-ly kind of event, huh?) . . .  I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving.  (By the way, Pins and Needles Day  really does fall on November 27th and its purpose is to commemorate the opening of the pro-Labor play Pins and Needles on Broadway in 1937.)

Anyway, this year I want to share with my weaving friends a weaving book I’m thankful for . . . G.H. Oelsner’s book A Handbook of Weaves.  This book was originally published by the Macmillan Company in 1915.  Best of all, its content has held up beautifully over the years.  It’s a book I turn to frequently as a reference when I’m weaving and writing.

Oelsner cover

This is a book for weavers serious about learning about weaving.  It contains over 2,200 patterns; however, there are no projects and only a handful of drafts that can be readily embraced.  Never fear . . . later in this post I’ll tell you what you can do to help clarify the multitude of patterns inside its pages.

Why do I like this book?  Well, it explains a lot about weave structures and the terminology.  For example, below are a few examples:

Basket Weave

Ribbed Weaves

Crepe Weaves

At first glance inside this book, you may not think there’s much to intrigue a weaver to keep reading.  There are some drafts in the book that are fairly straight forward.  Here are a couple of examples:

Broken Twill

8-shaft drafts

But, what about the other patterns that need more time and effort to understand how to weave them?  Well,  you can head over to www.handweaving.net.  (Another great resource for weavers with nearly 60,000 drafts on-line.)  Anyway, if you want to look at the Oelsner drafts in a more familiar format, you can search for them.  You can even specify a minimum and/or a maximum number of shafts and treadles.  The image below shows you what the search screen by book, category, or keyword looks like.

Search on Handweaving.net

I remember slogging through Oelsner as a young weaver.  With access to complete drafts, I could have accelerated my learning by compare-and-contrast.  So what looks like this in Oelsner . . .

Twill draft in Oelsner

Can be easily viewed at handweaving.net

Twill draft

Here are a couple more examples . . .

Draft 1090 from OelsnerDraft 1090 in Oelsner

Draft 1090 from Oelsner as it appears on handweaving.net

Draft 1090A

Draft 1715 from Oelsner 

Draft 1715 in Oelsner

Draft 1715 from Oelsner as it appears on handweaving.net

Draft 1715

Hopefully, I’ve intrigued you enough to download this favorite resource of mine and start working through it.  The entire book is 414 page long, so I hope you have a good internet connection.  If not, there’s also the choice to download it in sections.  Below is the download link.


If you don’t have a great internet connection, this book (along with others) may be purchased on CD from handweaving.net.

Enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving!


These are a few of my favorite things: #31 – LACIS Museum of Lace and Textiles

I love lace!  It’s beautiful!  I love weaving lace!  It’s pretty!  I love wearing lace!  It’s romantic!  I love looking at lace!  It’s gorgeous!  Well . . . you probably get the idea . . . I love lace!  (I know I already wrote that, but I had to emphasize it.)

Years ago, just about everything I wove was a lace weave.  It’s about as close to an obsession or an addiction as I’ve ever had.  Then in 1999, I conducted an “self intervention” to get myself out of my lace rut and initiated work on HGA’s Certificate of Excellence in Handweaving (COE-W) . . . however, that’s another story . . . and I want to get back to this fun lace resource.

The adventure begins with me flying south.  I try to get to Berkeley, CA every once in a while to see my friend, Penny and enjoy some of the wonderful things the Berkeley/San Francisco has to offer.  One of the not-to-miss destinations is LACIS, a retail store in Berkeley with an extensive selection (I’ve heard it’s the largest in world) of threads, ribbons, tools and supplies for the textile arts, including lace-making, embroidery, knitting, tatting, crochet, bridal, and much much more!  They have vintage lace textiles for sale.  If I were ever to get married again, I’d make beeline to LACIS for my entire bridal trousseau.

Best of all . . .  is the LACIS Museum of Lace and Textiles.  It’s located way in the back of the store and you have to ask to be escorted back to the exhibit . . . but, it’s so worth it!  The room itself is modest and about the size of the kitchen in many homes; however, I’ve never seen an exhibit there I didn’t love or fail to inspire me.  Best of all, you can enjoy the exhibit without having to leave the comfort of your home (or place of employment . . . or wherever  you access the internet from).

The current exhibit is Early Italian Needlework and will be in place until February 8, 2014.  Even thought I’ve have the pleasure of visiting LACIS many times and seeing their museum, this is the first time I had the honor and privilege of being escorted by LACIS‘ owner, Jules.   What an experience to have a such a knowledgeable guide to walk us through the exhibit.  The stories, explanations, and answers to questions were so insightful!  If you are not fortunate enough to be in the Berkeley, CA area in the next three months, I highly encourage you to check out their on-line images of the exhibit at http://lacismuseum.org/current_exhibits.html

LACIS - Enter to see on-line exhibit

After entering the online exhibit, the first image you will be introduced to is of a beautiful jacket and table cloth

LACIS - jacket and table cloth

The online exhibit has 105 images to intrigue and inspire.  I know . . . images don replace actually seeing the pieces in person . . . but, hopefully you will find them attractive and inspiring.  Here are just a few of them.

LACIS - wall display #2

LACIS - wall display

LACIS - lace piece

Close-up of the image directly above

Close-up of the image directly above

One thing LACIS does that I really appreciate is the availability of a multitude of magnifying glasses available to take a closer look at the items in the exhibit.  The naked eye . . . especially my rapidly aging eyes . . . just can’t see the incredible detail you need to see in order to appreciate the pieces and excruciating detail of the techniques used to create them.  Fortunately, some of the items are shown in detail on-line.

LACIS - display item

LACIS - display item #2

The pièce de résistance is a small piece in the display cabinet.  Had I not had the piece pointed out to me, I never would have appreciated and understood it.  The lace piece is not much bigger than my hand . . . and I don’t have very big hands.  Below are images of the piece in the case and some other images, including a close-up.  It’s a truly exquisite . . . AND . . . according to Jules . . . it took 10 years to make!

LACIS - 10-year lace project

LACIS - 10-year lace project piece

LACIS - 10-year lace project piece close-up

If you’re interested in learning more, there’s even an exhibit catalog available on-line http://lacismuseum.org/exhibit/Early%20Italian%20Needlework/Catalog%20Early%20Ita;ian%20Needlework.pdf.  Below is an image of the cover.

LACIS - exhibit catalog

I hope you enjoy the online exhibit if you’re unable to see it person . . . The next exhibit is on smocking and I’m looking forward to seeing when I’m back in the area in April!.

Tag Cloud