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Archive for August, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things: #41 – Practical Weaving Suggestions

From 1940 to 1971, Lily Mills published a periodical titled Practical Weaving Suggestions.  Before I share with you my latest favorite thing, I want to introduce you to Lily Mills.  For those unfamiliar with the Lily Mills company, they were founded in 1903 by John Schenck as the Lily Mill and Power Company.  The company was located  is in Shelby, NC, which is in Cleveland County . . . North Carolina’s premier cotton county.  Cotton production peaked in Cleveland County in 1948, producing 83,549 bales of cotton.

By the 1940s, there were twenty spinning mills in the Shelby area.  Lily Mills was one of the mills and produced a wide range of products such as thread and yarn for sewing, crochet, tatting, and weaving.  I still covet their cotton and wish it was still available.   To promote their products, they published instruction booklets and other publications.  Which brings me to my latest favorite thing Practical Weaving Suggestions.

Each issue of Practical Weaving Suggestions was focused on a particular topic.  Perusing through the list of authors reads like a who’s-who in weaving.  Mary Meigs Atwater, Harriet Tidball, Berta Frey, Osma Couch Gallinger, and Virginia West to name a handful.  Over the years, I came across an occasional copy of Practical Weaving Suggestions; however, through the convenience of the internet, many of these issue are available.  To see the list of issues available, click on the following link http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/practical.html

To whet your appetite, below are comments and images from some of my favorite issues:

Troubleshooting for the Handweaver


Trouble Shooting for the Hand Weaver has many helpful tips and insights that are as timely today as when they were originally published.    http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_8_1.pdf.  Below are just a few of the questions answered in this issue:

  • Why do I have so much warp breakage in weaving?
  • Why do the selvedge threads break so much?
  • Why does a selvedge thread fail to weave on some twills?
  • What makes those light and dark streaks in the body of the woven piece?
  • Why in weaving overshot patterns does the pattern thread not catch at the edge?
  • What can I do to increase my speed in weaving?

When I first saw the cover of Elmer W. Hickman’s Decorative Fabrics issue, I immediately starting considering which fabric would I weave first.  http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_3-64.pdf

Decorative Fabrics

Mary E. Snyder’s Textures Inspired by Nature looks as fresh and contemporary today as it did when it was originally published.  http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_2-64.pdf

Textures inspired by natureWe may not be wearing aprons as often as we use to (although, I still love a good apron!) . . . but, look beyond the projects when you look through Harriet Tidball’s Ten Projects on a Long Warp.  It’s a tremendous source of inspiration for different patterns from a single threading.  http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_21.pdf

10 Projects on a long warp

10 Projects on a long warp - #1

10 Projects on a long warp - #2

Versatility of a single threading is also presented in other issues, such as Mrs. Gordon C. MacDonald’s Four Harness Sampler  http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_3-60.pdf

4-shaft samplerand Geraldine Wood’s Variations on a Familiar Theme — Point Twill for weavers interested in an eight-shaft threading.   http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_3-63.pdf

Variations on an 8-shaft point twill

and Eunice Gifford Kaiser’s Let the Honeysuckle Blossom or You May Not Need to Change that Treadling.    http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_2-70.pdfHoneysuckle cover

I love the texture Margaret Newman achieved with her Satin Honeycomb; a Six Harness Colonial Weave.  http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_3-70.pdf

Satin honeycombAnd, if that inspired you, you may be interested in Virginia M. West’s Decorator Fabrics in Honeycomb.    http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_4-63.pdf

HoneycombHuck is always fabulous (well, at least in my opinion).  I’ve woven a lot of huck over the years and the cover of Nell Steedsman’s Huck Variation only inspires me to return to it as soon as possible.  http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_1-71.pdf 

Huck variations coverPlus, there are four- and six-shaft threadings available in the issue.

Huck variations threadingInterested in trying your hand at weaving crackle?  Then check out Mary Meigs Atwater’s Notes on ‘Crackle Weave’  http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_5_2.pdf

MMA Crackle

. . .  or Rupert Peters’ issue Some Notes on Crackle Weave  http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_57_2.pdf

Crackle weave

Crackle weave sample #1Last, but far from least . . . for weavers interested in weaving narrow projects, Mary Snyder’s issue Belts, Girdles and Sashes may be just what you’re looking for  http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/pws_2-71.pdf

Belts, girdles, & sashes


This is just a small taste of what awaits the weaver.  I hope you will check out Practical Weaving Suggestions and find something new!



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