Saturday, October 5, 2013

American Hand-Woven Coverlets

This is a copy of a post I put in the "The Weaving Thread" in the Southern Cross Fibre forum on Ravelry, but I am just so distracted by this idea that I wanted to post it over here, too...

I've become rather intrigued by the notion of hand-woven coverlets. I was at the "Daniel Boone Home," this summer, and they had some reproduction coverlets for sale in the gift shop. I think they were actually manufactured copies, because they were so inexpensive... only a couple hundred dollars. (Which scandalized my husband with how high it was, but struck me as too much of a pittance for hand-woven... Plus, they were suspiciously perfect-looking. I think you probably know what I mean.)

Anyway, the idea stuck in the back of my mind. My loom was ordered and on the way at the time...

More recently, I ordered some books that I was very excited to receive, so much so that I wanted to "share."

I was blown away when I received my two-volume set of "The Coverlet Book: Early American Handwoven Coverlets." The author, Helene Bress, has analyzed a huge number of old coverlets and charted the drafts for them! There are pictures of the actual coverlets as well as the drafts. (There is a disk as well as the two books.) The two books together are about five inches thick, like two encyclopedias. The books cover various techniques, including a large amount of overshot, as well as twills and Summer-and-Winter. There are also instruction sections. For example, if you look at the cover picture on the link, above, you can see in the bottom/left of the cover photo that there is a year and initials woven into the coverlet. There are instructions in the book for how to do that. Very clever!!! There is a whole section/chapter of "Dated Overshot Coverlets." They are late 1700 to early 1800 dates. How cool is that??? There are varying prices, but I spent about $65 with shipping for a brand-spanking-new set. (It seems high, but when it arrived, I thought it was a steal and wondered if they printed more than they could sell...)

I also got my hands on a used copy of "Weaving a Traditional Coverlet," though new ones are still available, apparently. This book is an extremely thorough treatment, step-by-step, of how to weave a specific overshot coverlet design. It even includes a rather large fold-out print of the draft. There are detailed sections on how to get good results, including how to seam. In the most basic sense, the tabby is hand seamed at a point on the edge of the weaving where the pattern thread is "missing" in the middle of a block, and then the pattern threads are embroidered by hand over the seam so that they look exactly like the woven pattern threads of adjacent blocks. Genius!!!

I'm not sure how long it will be before I take on the ambitious task of making a coverlet, but it seems like such a cool thing...

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

No comments: