Posts Tagged With: Loom

Lena’s Dress is on the Loom

For some time. Probably since I started weaving and saw the first picture. Found the first description. I have had a desire to create a dress that would be a copy of Lena Dancy Ledbetter’s that she spun, wove, sewed while 14 years of age during the American Civil War. I won’t have an exact copy to say the least but I am hoping for something that will be close. I have the skirt and bodice figured out but not the sleeves yet. But then that is getting ahead as we still have 12 yards of cloth to weave first.

It has been a bit of a trial to get it on the loom. Getting the yarn ordered and here. Then while dressing the loom realizing that I am very short on heddles. Yep. Confirmation this is my biggest project yet. So ordered more and loaded the shafts and continued on.

Today I finally finished threading the reed and started weaving.


All dressed. Yes one problem found and fastest fix was to pull a thread and add a thread.

So we are ready to weave. How will it go? I’m hopeful with this warp and was so careful dressing the loom. Thankful that it seems that there was only the one problem. This is a Basket Weave as Lena called it, but today we call it Log Cabin pattern. So every other thread was a different color. But then I had to make that harder as I wanted the dark thread to bookend each square so the squares are 13 picks each. Same as Lena’s. So, somewhere I ended up with three dark blue together. Oh dear, such mustn’t be at all. So, checking and yes, there should have been a natural in the middle so just pulled the middle blue and added a natural. As this was found when threading the reed, I didn’t want to spend the extra time moving threads all the way to end to make it work out right without adding the thread. So here it is. Hope it doesn’t drive me bonkers but then I usually have something hanging off the back before completion so won’t be much different.


Header woven

Excited to start and see if it was looking right. I had thread from my last project still in the shuttle so used that for the header. It spaced out quite easily and looked pretty good. So went and wound four bobbins with my natural and navy blue yarn. Just a side note. Lena’s dress was black and white. I just didn’t want to be exactly the same in color. Not that I don’t like black and white, as I do. But then I wanted it to not be quite so jarring so was going to do a grey and natural, but in the end, it ended up navy blue and natural. I think it will look rather nice.


A start at 12 yards.

So yes there are a few things to see here. I do think this is my widest piece and at first had a bit of a time getting the wefts to be smooth. A few bits wrinkled up and poking out there. But the last three sets are looking good. It seems like I do need to go back and look at one line again. I noticed it before, but it looked like it was just illusion and it was right. But looking at the picture the same warp line is looking too distinct. Need to check that out again. After that, 12 yards of counting to 13 over and over and over and over and over again. I think this will take just some of my music to listen to and not stories.

But this isn’t the only fibery thing around here. Finally, was able to pick up my last Gulf Coast Native lamb. It is a ram that has the color gene and boy is he lovely.



I had already decided to name him Jacob as I had Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah. So he needed to be a Patriarch. I thought. Alas, the only one that thought sounded good as a name for a lamb was Jacob, so Jacob it was going to be. After I picked him, and they asked if I had a name for him, it dawned on me he was well named. What better for a colored sheep. Now his color shows strong in his face and legs but maybe it will move to the wool in bits with his offspring.

And I can’t end without a Sarah picture. She is growing so fast. No longer getting a bottle. Alas, she would like to argue that point. We sit and sing in the evenings together. My sweet baby that is already looking older than this picture but still such a sweet, white, child-like face compared to the rest of the flock.


The sweetest of babies. Little Sarah.

Categories: Fiber, Gulf Coast Native Sheep, Weaving | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments


OK, so we are moving to the Austin area. We are caught in a Catch 22 so it feels, between what the Relocation gal wants, the realtor here wants, and what we can do about it all without going insane. So despite movers are to come and pack us out when the time comes it ends up we have to shift, move, “pack” half our stuff ourselves. Or as they would think nothing of – have someone else come in. She wants us to do so much and as Mark says, “with her money or mine?” Well, as it turns out we are getting new carpet upstairs so had to shift, move, “pack” my fiber stuff all off to the garage and dining room – for the time being. So here is why I had to get that last warp off the loom.

Loom in pieces

Loom in pieces

Tonight I did this to my loom. Alas that took a bit out of me and now I am resting. Of course this has been one of those wonderful Gulf Coast Texas days. Sunny, 100F, 10,000% humidity. I have sweat so much and I really hate to sweat. Did I say I hate to sweat? I really miss Arizona on days like this when the sweat would just evaporate the second it comes to the surface. You never feel it. Just remember to drink your water. I have bathed, changed clothes, I don’t know how many times and I’m sitting here all wet yet. But anyway the loom is in pieces and we will see where will be its new home and when the next warp goes on.

That last warp I did get off and it is in a box. I still haven’t washed it yet. I need to take some time with it sometime and document it here but will see when that happens as miles to go before I have that kind of time and room again. It is funny as what I wanted with it didn’t come out the prettiest. I of course being me, ended up doing three shuttles and three different colors alternating every 4 picks for the last part. That slowed me down some for a project that needed done fast but it was the prettiest of the lot. Must get pictures.

Ok one last thought. I had seen how to do a “bulletin board” on my sloping wall and so for not very long had my bulletin board of bookmarks and pictures and whatever hanging over my shelves and table. I really liked it but alas it is no more.

My bulletin board

My bulletin board

Took the picture too quickly before it came down so it is fuzzy but I will remember it.

Side note. The triaxial box is staying out and easily accessed during this upheaval so hopefully I will get to do some weaving along the way.

Categories: Tidbits | Tags: , | 6 Comments

When Projects aren’t Going Well

OK, so I have warp on the loom that refuses to cooperate. 7 repairs hanging off the back with other broken threads. The sad part is that this is the same warp that I made the corded petticoat on with really no trouble. Why it is going south now is beyond me. But alas the end is in sight and I must get back at it today.

My corset is needing help as well so decided I really need to do a third mockup before cutting out the real thing so here goes. My big goal today. Must, though, watch videos again.

But during this time I have done a couple fibery things. I made more squares with my Zoom Loom and was running out of ready early handspun with color. So Saturday afternoon threw two small skeins of white in a crock pot with some Easter egg dyes of unknown color. It came out a bright green and not all fitting to current project so added some cherry kool-aid. Actually I think it was Wyler’s which is cheaper. So it came to a darker color. One skein took in the color wonderfully and I actually really like it though it did show a spot where a tie was too tight and no color got under but it doesn’t show really in the squares. Actually just little spots in the swatch and looks good. I think. Alas it would be nice to replicate this color but will never happen. Who knows what colors really went in that pot and how the skein became somewhat heather in its look. So the couple of squares I get from it will be in a special place.

The green skein and swatch

The green skein and swatch

Now the other skein I threw in at the same time took none of the color except for one of the plies on a short bit. Hmmmm…. I’m sure they are both wool and the same type as in my old stuff was all from the same place pretty much. So once again I threw in some more tablets of unknown color and a good glug of vinegar for good measure and cooked away some more. Now I have some pink yarn. Hmmm… At least it will blend in to the other squares somewhat.  As you can see in the photo just a bit of one ply did take on the darker color but that was all.  A mystery I would love to know why it happened but not enough to really spend my time now figuring out. Anyway both skeins can be used now, so I am happy with the results and will be dyeing more white wool for said project. Up to 62 squares for it and as the project has done a normal in my head – it is evolving and I need more than I planned in the beginning.

The pink skein and weird section of ply that did take the darker dye.

The pink skein and weird section of ply that did take the darker dye.

Now with all this going on and my actual favorite thing to do in the world is research, I started building up a Pinterest board with spinning and weaving. Now I was very picky as to what I pinned to it. Starting out with old painting then evolving into old photographs. It has been a fun journey and I would love to know more about some of the pictures out there. Some are so common and come in different forms. What was the original one? Was it all staged? Did said woman really spin or just look good? I also found some old postcards with spinning wheels like I haven’t seen before. There are a couple from France that are downright interesting. And of course so many different styles of wheels. Who doesn’t love a Norwegian wheel with all its craftsmanship and beauty? But being me of course my favorites are the ones from Ireland that are so simple and plainly cobbled together and similar in Appalachia.

I remember back when I first started this journey of spinning, I joined a spinning group online and not long after someone in Kansas asked about spinning in a historical context on the frontier. Right away many women in the northeast responded that no one was spinning at home any more after the mills were build in the early 19th century. Well, a few of us had done research and we immediately responded that yes they were spinning and gave sources. Looking at all these pictures sure backs up the fact that women were spinning in America long after there was available mill cloth.

But my thoughts also go to the lives these women lived. Some of these pictures come with stories and would we today, no matter how much we love the past, really want to live their lives? For a time I would say yes, but I would miss my modern conveniences I’m sure. Actually I would probably only really miss this computer I am sitting at right now with its access to a world of knowledge. And of course indoor plumbing on cold winter nights. These were not wimpy women such as myself.

Categories: Spinning, Tidbits, Weaving | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Projects Abound

Well, I am still working on the loom but as the left side kept getting worse, I decided that the best action was to cut it off and start fresh with retying it and making sure all the broken warps are in good order in the back of the loom, so here is where it sits at the moment. I am really liking what is happening in it if it would just go well.

Starting over with same project

Starting over with same project

I have also been weaving on my zoom loom with my handspun. Have quite a few swatches done and I am liking how these are looking. These are a great project for something easy that takes up little space and is fun to do. I am getting better at them as well which is a plus for liking more of them. I am hoping for enough that will go together that they will make a nice shawl or something of the ilk. With these it would be thick and warm so maybe something else by the time I start putting them together.

Zoom Loom swatches

Zoom Loom swatches

Then what is taking so much thought with time right now is my corset. I won the class from Boy am I glad I didn’t tackle this on my own or I would be already headed to the looney bin. I have made two mock ups and still have it too tight in the waist. So just took pictures and am about to send them on to get an expert opinion on the problem. Not the easy fixes I was hoping for that wonderful fit.

But as I came up to my room one day this week, I just stopped and took this picture of my table. Can’t remember now if that is corset one or two but the way it is laying should have been a hint. About how it stretches around my middle.

Trying to make a corset.

Trying to make a corset

So anyway, now back to all three projects. First to watch video and read about the corset sizing and then posting pictures for advice. Then maybe get to the loom if my brain isn’t fried and finish tying on and start weaving. And to relax this evening making some more Zoom Loom Swatches.

Categories: Sewing, Weaving | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

I Love Inventories – North

So I found Sarah North’s father’s name and inventory today as well as the one for Henry Earnest. Sarah was Henry’s daughter-in-law and she had married Henry’s son Felix. Her father was John North and he died in Washington County, Tennessee in 1794. Now I have seen his death date as 15 October 1794 but have discovered that date is actually the date of the sale of his property. So he died earlier in actuality unless something strange was happening. Hmmm….

His inventory filed in the August Sessions 1794 lists many fibery things. 10 head of sheep, 1 loom and tacklings (another great term for loom accessories), 1 large wheel, 3 small wheels, 1 pair cotton cards, 1 pair wool cards, 1 pair sheep scissors, 12 lb. wool, 1 flax break.

Now his sale pretty much is the same list. But at the sale 15 October 1794 Esther (his wife though unsure if Sarah’s mother as it seems he was married twice) bought 5 sheep £1.1s , 1 loom and tacklings £2.10s, 2 wheels and 2 pair cards 15s, 1 wheel and 2 spools 6s, wool 10s.

In comparison with Henry’s here we have more cotton references compared to Henry’s having more flax, but both have sheep and wool. Looks like Esther is not considering retiring from the need to spin and weave the cloth needed in the home since she bought back the loom, tacklings, and wheels, and cards. Rebecka North did buy one of the wheels. There must have been a few women in the home to man all the wheels but also in my latest reading in spinning history care was taken in having wheels for certain duties. They didn’t buy or build a one wheel to spin everything like we do today. They spun wool, cotton, flax on different wheels if possible. Amazing to think how the Great Wheel continued on despite what one would think as the treadle/flyer wheel should have made it obsolete but alas in many many inventories I have found a “large” wheel and “small” wheel in the same home.

Picture taken at Williamsburg

Picture taken at Williamsburg

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I love Inventories – Earnest

Ok, I have the loom warped and weaving. Today I had big plans to get a lot done. Really big plans and even for tonight. But alas I got sidetracked in the one way that can take down a whole day without a blink of the eye. Yes, I got to looking at family history again. I found something that was taking me around the mulberry bush and was looking promising but alas and alack…. I don’t think it holds water unless you can find more out there hiding somewhere. But in rambling around the centuries, I ended up back in 18th and early 19th century Green and Washington Counties in Tennessee and in some wills, inventories, sales and found some for two ancestors. Now since getting into spinning and weaving, I have an addiction to fibery finds in inventories done at someone’s death. One, they can show how much was done in an area at a certain time when looking at a group but also just to have a kinship with my ancestresses when I see what is found in their homes. I have written about Daniel Cummins’ inventory and sale and the fact that the girls there must have clothed the family. But now for more.

I am a proud descendant of Henry Earnest. There has been quite a bit of research done on his family. He came from Switzerland with his parents who died enroute. He was taken in by Lawrence Stephens and at age married Lawrence’s daughter Mary. By 1771, they moved from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia south into what would  become eastern Tennessee. There above the Nollichucky River he built what is known today as the Earnest Fort House.

Earnest Fort House from rear

Earnest Fort House from rear

Earnest Fort House from front

Earnest Fort House from front

I got to visit the home of Henry & Mary and it so makes one wish to see it as they knew it. As the road crosses the river today, the first thing you see is what has to be the back facing the river and road. There are three stories here and rather ugly. Wonder what once was? Then if you walk up the hill and look at the other side, you find a nice front door and stoop at the second story. But for what we don’t know about it’s first days we do know that it still looks like the fortress it has always been.

Henry died in 1809 and I have seen transcripts of his will but this time I found the ever lovely inventory and sale. So what fibery wonders did the family own? Quite a bit actually. The inventory lists less than the sale but both are interesting. So the inventory lists: 14 head of sheep, 1 loom reeds and gears etc, 2 hackles, 1 cotton wheel, 2 small wheels, 1 check wheel, set of spools, 1 ps fulld cloth, ps fulld linsey, some quantity of unbroke flax. This seems like quite the spinning and weaving shop.

But then we read the sale list and there is even more. Sale was 26 April 1809.

Mary bought back one pair cotton cards for  $.10, spinning wheel for $.10. Then quite a bit of the rest was bought by either sons or sons-in-law with a couple others sprinkled in. William Brown bought 6 yds. fulled cloth for $9.03, Samuel Snapp 3 yds. fulled linsey for $3, and 1 quill wheel $.29, and 1 reed and geers $.25, William Brown 3 yds. fulled linsey $2.50, Ezekiel Stanbury 3 yds. fulled linsey $2.48, Joseph Looney 2 3/4 yds. fulled linsey $2.02, and reed and geers $.97, Felix Earnest 8 1/4 yds. fulled cloth $14.50, John Cox 1 spinning wheel $1.20, Jacob Hiess 1 loom $4, Samuel D. Warren 1 reed and gers $1.61 and and another reed and gers $.81, Peter Earnest set of spools $.71, George Wells set of spools $.34, and 6 1/2 lb. wool $2.40, Peter Earnest 1 hackle $1.34, 7 sheep $8.27, and 7 sheep $5.02, Nicholas Long unbroke flax $1.16, Adam Shurley 1 clock reel $.80, Jacob Recer 5 lb. of wool $1.89, Jacob Earnest 7 lb. wool $3.25.

From these two lists I am thinking that Mary Earnest had a great loom set up with various reeds and “gers” or “gears” (I love the terminology in inventories for loom accessories.) I also am thinking that her daughters had set ups of their own and sent their husbands to the sale to get some of mom’s “reeds and gers” for themselves. After Henry’s death she lived with her son Peter, and I am thinking she kept at a bit of cotton spinning but that was it.

My direct ancestor, Felix Earnest, seems to have gotten quite a bit of cloth ready to be made up into something. Actually it reminds me that my dress fabric I wove was a 9 yard warp which off the top of my head I cannot tell you how much cloth came off the loom and was wet finished, but I think I have a bit of perspective of the 8 1/4 yds. fulld cloth he bought and what it took to make it. Alas mine was wet finished in a washing machine so I did get it a bit easier. I wonder if he got it for his new wife. My ancestress, Sarah North, had died in 1807 and Henry married Sarah Oliphant in 1808. I wonder if she was a spinner and weaver as Felix didn’t buy any of those items? Maybe a gift of cloth was a blessing.

One can dream up some quite interesting stories reading inventories.

Categories: Spinning, Weaving | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cummins Historical Note

Now I love history and of course with that comes the love of finding your own family history and what made you – YOU. It is kind of nice to be able to blame great grandfathers and such for some of your worse characteristics though that doesn’t give us any excuse not to correct those ingrained behaviors. Now since I learned to weave and spin, I have loved finding tidbits of both in my family history.

My maiden name is Cummins and I come from a proud lot. We go back to a Daniel Cummins who died in Chatham County, North Carolina in 1819. Now anything about Daniel aside of his probate record, a couple of deeds, one tax record, and one census record, is not known except that he left behind a wife and children amongst them my 3 great grandfather John.

Now for the fun here. In Daniel’s probate inventory are listed amongst the items “1 Loom and gears” “2 Cotten wheels” and “2 pare Cotten Cards”.

Loom and gears, cotton wheels, cotton cards

Next comes the sale of Daniel’s effects. The loom and gears sold for 50 cents, the 2 cotten wheels for $2.50 and the 2 cotten cards for $1.They were all bought back by Dolly (Dorothy Copeland Cummins), Daniel’s wife. Interesting note – the loom and gears were worth the same as one pair of cotton cards. I wonder if cards were as precious in North Carolina in 1819 as they were to become during the Civil War in the South and especially in Texas where I’ve found several references about this?

Dolly bought them each back

The next bit I find interesting in the set of accounts is that there was then a committee set up to apportion to Dolly and the children a years worth of supplies. These supplies included for food items corn, pork, sugar, coffee, and salt, Then is listed 200 lbs. of seed cotton and 10 lbs of clean flax.


It is obvious to me that Dolly and the girls were providing the family’s textile needs. I would love to know how long this continued and whether or not they continued this when they moved to Indiana. Alas and alack is that information still to be found somewhere or lost in time?

Categories: Spinning, Weaving | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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