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Weaving the Threads of New England History

New England Heritage Conference: Weaving the Threads of New England History

August 27, 2016 to September 3, 2016

The New England Heritage Conference is held in partnership with the Portsmouth Athenaeum.

Discover how textiles and clothing both shaped and reflected civilization in New England over time. Through a variety of lectures and workshops, explore transitions from farm to factory, homespun to decorative art and handcrafts to mill manufacturing. Delve into the story of how society wove the fabric of both labor and leisure. Be entertained by glimpses into Victorian underpinnings and the exploits of mill girls. Hear from experts on weaving and costumes of various historical periods in New England. Investigate what state of the art textile technology might have meant in centuries past. Indulge in handicrafts of long ago and learn how fashions illuminated the values and trends of the times.

Although there is no separate children’s programming, the Heritage of New England conference welcomes children of all ages under the supervision of their parents/guardians.

Read more

Download the New England Heritage 2016 Highlights Flyer

April 30, 2016 - Becky Ashenden, A Nordic Journey

NYGH April 2016 speaker Becky Ashenden

Becky Ashenden

Indulge in a mini trip to Sweden and beyond visiting their world of rich and varied textile traditions. Becky will present many examples and discuss the multitude of structures and materials used. These will include linens, rugs, bands, drawloom weaving, sheepskin backed coverlets and more. Becky Ashenden is the author of Dress Your Loom the Vävstuga Way: A Bench-Side Photo Guide, she has translated several weaving books from the Swedish. She has produced Dress Your Swedish Drawloom and Dress Your Loom the Swedish Way videos. She is the owner and master weaver at the Vävstuga Weaving School in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

Photo courtesy of http://www.vavstuga.com/

View photos from April 2016 meeting

Weaving Linen - British Pathé Video

Published on Apr 13, 2014 on British Pathé Youtube Channel

British Instructional Films presentation. M/S of large rotating wooden machinery which winds fibres. M/S of two women working at machine which prepares the weft yarn for the shuttle - both wear headscarfs. C/U of the rotating drums with large hanks wound around. C/U of the woman's hands as she changes a bobbin on the machine. C/U of the bobbin as the yarn is wound around it. C/U of full bobbins in a basket. M/S of the women at work. The warp is prepared. M/S of a woman in flowered overall linking thin threads to many bobbins. A winding machine draws the threads from the bobbins. C/U of a "reed." C/U of the loom beam with threads coming off it. C/U of woman drawing threads through with a small hook - "threading the heddles." M/S of a loom in operation. C/Us of various parts of the weaving process. Women at work. C/U of a "fern" being placed in the shuttle. C/Us of the machine in operation. M/S of the loom working. Animated diagram shows more clearly the processes involved in weaving. Animation shows how the warp goes over the weft with the aid of the heddles. The role of the shuttle and the reed are also shown.

New Online Weaving Publication - HEDDLECRAFT

Heddlecraft first edition

On January 25, 2016, a new weaving publication launched - Heddlecraft. This is a digital weaving magazine that is emailed as a PDF. Why is it digital? For a few reasons. First, it helps keep the cost down by eliminating printing and postage. Second, as more people use tablets and other portable digital devices, Heddlecraft can be downloaded and taken with them. Perhaps the most important reason is a digital format allows an article to be the length it needs to be to present a topic. Beginning with the March/April 2016 issue, .wif files will be distributed with the PDF for use by weavers with weaving software. Plus, the vision for Heddlecraft is to start incorporating links and video in the future.

One of the objectives of Heddlecraft is to provide an educational resource for weavers . . . from the adventure-seeking beginner to the most seasoned veteran. There will be six issues a year and each issue will present a weave or weaving technique in detail. An annual subscription is $19.99. The purchase of a single issue is $4.50.

The first issue of Heddlecraft, January/February 2016, presented advancing twills and included samples for four-, eight-, and 16-shaft looms. In addition, there were a couple of additional features, including Who's Your Tabby and an quick-and-easy method for weaving a header. The next issue will be March/April 2016 and will present corduroy and velveteen as the featured weave.

Heddlecraft is new for the weaving community. During the initial stages of development, the focus was on . . . and still is . . . educating weavers. The current focus of Heddlecraft is on weaves and weaving techniques for looms with shafts, specifically for four- and eight-shaft looms. Examples with more than eight shafts may appear in articles as time and space allow.

--Robin Spady

Sally Orgren on SAMPLING!!!!

Example of weaving samples by Sally Orgren

Photo by Sally Orgren

From left to right; the 1st row contains 4 needle woven samples to determine color choice; the 2nd and 3rd rows contain small samples all woven on the same white (inexpensive) warp to figure out structure considerations, and the top sample in row 3 used Sharpies® to simulate the planned warp colors; the 4th row shows the actual project warp with final weft sampling, and a section of the wet-finished fabric is overlaid on top of the larger piece.


On January 30, 2016 Peggy Hart talked about the importance of sampling at the New York Guild of Handweavers monthly meeting. She touched upon some of the “whys” of sampling, which sparked a post-meeting conversation between Tina Bliss and Sally Orgren. Listed below are some of the ideas that were shared in that conversation.

Bottom Line. 

  • Software is great, but as we heard from Peggy, it can’t tell the whole story about color interaction, interlacements that shift when taken off the loom, the finished hand of the textile, or take-up & shrinkage as it relates to specific fiber choice and chosen sett.
  • Sampling always produces a better textile than what I would have produced without sampling.
  • Sampling provides “data” for future work, increases my efficiency in project planning and reduces my failure rate, which all lead to a more confident and enjoyable weaving experience.


ONE: A Simple Sample:

  1. Needle-weave a sample on a narrow piece of cardboard. Wind a 1-2" warp around a 1.5-2" piece of stiff cardboard, and use a tapestry needle to insert the weft.
  2. Use a simple 2/2 twill in your needle weaving to represent floats if the actual treadling is too complicated to reproduce.
  • This small sample will give you an idea of the color interaction, interlacement, e.p.i. and p.p.i. for a minimal investment of your time and materials.
  • You can measure and then wet-finish the sample to determine a general sense of the shrinkage rate and hand of the textile.
  • Consider this method if you have very little material to spare, but keep in mind it also provides very limited information.

TWO: A Small Sample:

  1. Use a loom with the smallest amount of loom waste (especially if you have limited materials).
  2. Wind a warp 1-1.5 yards long, between 4-8" wide.
  3. Think about the “what ifs” before weaving. Alternate wefts? Alternate warp colors? (Can the warp be changed with a Sharpie® or fabric paint to articulate your emerging ideas?)
  4. Take a digital photo and view it on a larger screen. Changing perspective from the loom bench helps.
  5. Don’t rush sampling. Allow some time to weave one, then respond to the textile before weaving a second. (I usually sleep on it!)
  6. Feel free to rethread or resley if a better idea comes to you. A sample is not very wide, so it won’t take long!
  7. Measure the sample and wet-finish, recording your data.
  • This method will produce far more useable information than Method 1, for a slightly greater investment of your time.
  • When using a small table loom to sample, keep in mind the sett may need to be adjusted when the project is taken to a floor loom, as the beating is different between loom types.
  • Note: Rigid Heddle looms will not give as accurate information as a shaft loom, unless you are planning to complete the project on a RH loom.

THREE: The Most Accurate Sample:

  1. Wind a full-width warp, or add 1-1.5 yards to the project for sampling.
  2. Follow the same advice as for Method 2: consider the “what ifs”, take digital photos, don’t rush the process, rethread or resley if needed.
  3. For wet-finishing: if sampling on a wider warp, wash half of the sample and not the other, producing two "data points" for future projects.
  • The advantage of this method is that you will get the most accurate information for the loom and width (e.p.i., p.p.i., sett, take-up, and shrinkage), plus the hand of the textile.
  • The disadvantage is that this method takes more time to set-up if the project is wide, and will require more material to complete.

Sometimes I use a combination of all three methods:

If I am unfamiliar with the yarns, I may needle weave a sample. I always make a small sample on one of my table looms, and sometimes, I’ll add a little bit of warp to the beginning of the project to sample further.

What if I don’t want to waste my time or materials on sampling?

These samples and “what if” warps are never wasted!

Fabric that isn’t saved in my design notebooks becomes small items such as eyeglass cases, button covers, pin-cushions, sachets, notebook covers, wallets and purses, etc., for guild sales and goodie bags.

Photo below by Maury Logue

Two neckties were produced from this design process. One was entered into an exhibition called “cARTalog”, which challenged artists to produce artwork using discarded catalog cards from the University of Iowa libraries.

two neckties showing sampling process

Peggy Hart on Blankets, January 2016

Analyzing a blanket join

The January 2016 NYGH meeting was abuzz with excitement! We had a full house to see Peggy Hart discuss how to design a blanket. We had many new faces in the crowd. Welcome!

She brought terrific examples and a fascinating progression of woven samples showing her evolution to final design for a blanket. She starts with color sketches, structure ideas and weaves small samples on warps as short as 42 inches long (incl. loom waste) and narrow, some 6-8" wide. She documents dimensions, washes, remeasures and then calculates the amount of takeup and shrinkage to aid in the decisions for the final throw. The samples also advise on the hand of the fabric, and determine if more sampling is required to reach desired effects. The main message... PLAN, SAMPLE, SAMPLE, SAMPLE. Stay tuned for more info on SAMPLING....

Photos courtesy: Sally Orgren

Peggy Hart explaining samples

Photo of Peggy Hart with samples: Gail Gondek


  • a throw (48x72) should weigh about 2.5 lbs.
  • combine drafts
  • Do NOT use a detergent to wash. Suggestion: Biopac
  • for sticky warps, try hairspray
  • it's really okay to weave blankets in strips on smaller looms and join them together, either by hand or with a wide zig-zag

Some of her fiber sources:



Peggy Hart's blankest in cotton and wool
Examining Peggy's samples and discussion

2015 Holiday Party and Open House

Join us!
Try your hand at Lucet Braiding aka Russ Knotting, and create wonderful square cords that can be used for all sorts of purposes.

You can also participate in Circular Weaving, as an interesting variation on last year's mini tapestries.

And, if you are ready to be challenged a bit more, we will also be offering Ganutel Weaving, and make decorations or jewelry.

Meeting at The School of Visual Arts
214 East 21st Street, Room 703A
Noon to 4pm

Desiree Koslin donation to NYGH

The following items were donated by Desiree Koslin and have been added to our library. The Guild is thankful for this generous contribution.

Newsletters, Exhibition Catalogs and Magazines

  • Complex Weavers Medieval Textile Study Group newsletter—
    Has well documented samples and useful information
  • Handwoven magazine March 1981
  • Handweaver & Craftsman magazine 5 misc. issues
  • Interweave magazine 4 issues 1979-1981
  • The Weaver’s Journal 21 misc. issues 1979 – 1985 plus 4 duplicates
  • Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot magazine 21 issues 1973 – 1978
  • Threads magazine 16 misc. issues 1987 – 1990 plus 1 duplicate
  • American Craft magazine 17 misc. issues 1979 – 2000
  • Craft Horizons magazine 47 misc. issues 1956 – 1979
  • FiberArts magazine 10 misc. issues 1982 – 1998
  • Selvedge magazine Issues 1 – 12, minus #6 plus duplicate #9
  • The Medieval Dress and Textile Society newsletter 1994 – 2006
  • Directory of Weavers & Spinners Guilds 1984 – 85
  • 1988 – 89 Guide to Craft Galleries & Shops
  • Crafts magazine May/June 1974 – May/June 1982
  • Textile The Journal of Cloth and Culture 6 issues March ’04 – Fall ‘05
  • Studies in the Decorative Arts The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts

    20 misc. issues 97/98 – 06/07
  • Surface Design Journal 4 misc. issues Summer ’94 – Summer ‘06
  • Dimensions Craft/Artisanales magazine June/July 1974
  • ArtCraft magazine Dec ’79/Jan ‘80
  • American Visions The Magazine of Afro-American Culture Oct. ‘88
  • Artistic Handicraft and Popular Art Manufacture in Czechoslovakia exhibition catalog
  • Threads of History exhibition catalog
  • Linneboken pamphlet in Swedish?
  • Hudson Valley Weavers & Spinners newsletter 1998-2001


  • Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing, Lavonne Brady Axford
  • American Woven Coverlets, Carol Strickler
  • The Shuttle-Craft Book of American Hand-Weaving, Mary Meigs Atwater
  • Contemporary Handweaving, Ruth Overman and Lula Smith 2 copies
  • Early American Weaving & Dyeing, J. and R. Bronson
  • Hand Weaving and Cloth Design, Marianne Staub
  • Weaving A Handbook for Fiber Craftsmen, Shirley E. Held
  • Hand-Loom Weaving, Luther Hooper, 1910, Great Britain—
    This old book has lots of complex technical information for advanced weavers.


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