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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Weaving... Big Time in Lowell, Massachusetts

Every ethnic group in early America had its weavers to weave the carded and spun wool and linen across America.  In the 16th and17th century, whole families got involved in weaving. Men would travel to area towns and weave on a families loom or bring his own loom on his wagon and stay at ones house for a few days as he wove their cloth.

In the late 1700s, weavers would pick up their yarn at spinning mills and bring it home to weave.  Soon, the power loom was developed and water power was harnessed to produce fabric more efficiently.

Boott Mill 1870s

Lowell, Massachusetts...

Three enterprising men opened the first mill in Lowell in1823. By 1840, 8,000 workers were employed at the mills. On farms and in small towns jobs were hard to find. Young women were lured to the mills for the jobs and pay they offered.  Twelve hours days, 6 days a week, the workers made a salary on the average of 50 cents per day running several machines at a time, carding, spinning, weaving and finishing yards and yards of cloth. In 1851, 362,000 yards of cloth per day where cranked out in the Lowell mills. Three dollars a week was a lot to send home to their families on rural farms.  The Industrial Revolution changed the life styles of many small trades.

Cotton Fiber
Warping spool

The Weaving Room

Boott Mill Today
Roger and I stopped by Lowell a few weeks ago on a rainy Monday afternoon. We took the Boott factory tour and after that, we went through one of the restored boarding houses run for the mill girls.

The mills put many small time weavers out of business. Now in the 21st century, hand weaving on a foot powered loom is coming back into style again. Like knitting and crochet, weaving is a very enjoyable skill to learn.

Today, there are thousands of men and women who enjoy weaving on the old style floor loom using foot power instead of water power. A whole new crop of weavers are joining experienced weavers of the past to recreate old patterns and come up with some exciting new ones. You can never run out of patterns to try or things to make from your weavings.

I found a video with narrow bands being woven on a modern loom in China... a little choppy video, but beautiful music...    

And, the Ekelund weaving technology in Sweden, a patented color pixel modern machine to create the beautiful patterns below.

I weave on simple Tape Looms. This weekend, Saturday, May 24th, I will be at the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival in Commington MA. I will be selling my book, Tape Loom Weaving... simplified and also doing a demonstration on some of my looms.

On Sunday, May 25th, I will be demonstrating pottery and weaving at the Comstock and Ferry Heiritage Festival in Wethersfield, CT. Comstock and Ferry Seed Company is over 200 years old! The festival will be located on beautiful grounds, with musicians, food, crafts, costumed demonstrations and SEEDS!

Come out and enjoy Spring and Planting Season in New England at two of the first festivals of the year!

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