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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!


Comments on: "These are a few of my favorite things: #32 -G.H. Oelsner’s “A Handbook of Weaves”" (3)

  1. Handweaving.net is such a great resource. Thank you for reminding us it’s there. I need to use it more often to look for new possibilities.

    • My pleasure! I hope more weavers discover Oelsner’s book AND handweaving.net. They’re so helpful.

  2. Martha Richter said:

    Thank you for showing these comparisons for using Oelsner’s drafts in the original format alongside the modern drafts! I recently obtained the book, and am learning how to use it. Your explanations have been extremely helpful! I’ve been a fan of handweaving.net for years!

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