Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Early looms and weaving in Colonial North America.

From the time of his arrival in "ye Back Country" of Pennsylvania, Irishman James McCullough earned a living as a weaver, throwing the shuttle to provide his neighbors on Conococheague Creek with all types of linen, woolen, and cotton cloth. His journal shows that, between 1750 to 1758, he turned out "chaker," "hickrey," and white "shirtin;" "stript" linsey for breeches; "bagin" and "tow clouth" to make sacks; and "girthin" for horse blankets. When he concealed his loom shafts, "wolling reed," "puley Stocks," and "other youtencels" in hollow trees during Indian alarms, he was protecting not only the means of his livelihood but a community resource.

In 1640, the General Assembly of Connecticut also tried to persuade its colonists to sow hemp "that we might in time have supply of linen cloth among ourselves.

Weaving in America
When the first European settlers came to America, they
brought with them a type of loom that had been used in
Europe since before the 1300s. It was a horizontal frame
loom, one that hand-weavers still use today.
In the South, plantation owners built weaving shops
where slaves and servants produced cloth for bed ticking
and garments. A few estates even began turning out
elegant silks 
and fine linens. 

Because textiles 

were of little

value compared 
to tobacco, most 

planters preferred 

to import cloth

from England.

At page 33, "Society of Colonial Wars" it is recorded that Squire Boone I, 1696-1765, served against the Catawba and Cherokee Indians on several occasions. He was justice for Rowen County, NC. This record establishes membership for Squire Boone's descendants to the Colonial Dames of America. 
Squire Boone enlarged his farm by thrift. He continued his trade of weaving and kept 5 or 6 looms going making homespun cloth for the market and neighbors. 

A few metal parts from spinning wheels and looms have been excavated—reminders that the pioneer housewife who spun the thread and yarn, and wove the cloth for her large family, was seldom idle.

Weavers were a universally popular element of the community. The travelling weaver was, like all other itinerant tradesmen of the day, a welcome newsmonger; and the weaver who took in weaving was often a stationary gossip, and gathered inquiring groups in his loom-room; even children loved to go to his door to beg for bits of colored yarn—thrums—which they used in their play, and also tightly braided to wear as shoestrings, hair-laces, etc.

Loom types and countries used in.

Weaving and dyeing process in early New York.


Weavers made cloth from yarn in Albany for most of its formative years. Cloth was used locally and also as a barter item in the fur trade. Weavers provided a basic and essential part of the pre-industrial city's production economy.


Gorges Smythe said...

I've noticed that they seemed to always weave full width and then trim off excess to make garments. It would seem that they could mark the size of garment they needed on the warp and eave only enough extra for shrinkage. I've never heard of anyone doing it, though. It would seem then, that knitting and crocheting would be more efficient use of thread or yarn. Don't really know, just thinking.

Le Loup said...

If I remember Gorges, I will ask my wife when she comes home tonight.