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Michael Weaver Project

A bit of history... A few years ago, after her uncle died, a friend found an early weaver's pattern book in his trunk. It contains 51 hand-drawn patterns which belonged to a professional handweaver, the book thought to have been used for a customer to select a coverlet pattern. Inside the cover of the leather-trimmed book  in faded ink reads: "Michael Weaver's Coverled Book" and "This book bought in (fades out) Union County on March 25 in the year of Our Lord AD 1827". Who was Michael Weaver? Which Union County? Answers to these questions have taken us on quite an adventure.

Several things about this book are unique, even rare: the use of 6 colors -- blue, red, black, orange, green and yellow -- double the number of any other known from that era; and examples of German weaves -- Hin Und Weider and Gebrochne Twill -- the latter being the only known example in color. The patterns appear to be quite accurate visually and, with the choice and placement of colors, constitute an important historic record.

After some years of research, the family has been traced with their locations known. As it turns out, it was Michael's brother John who actually became the weaver. And he wove for many decades in Ninevah PA, only a few miles from where I now live! I have developed a slide program of the story with all its adventure, mystery, documentation... and even a ghost or two! Not only have we located the pattern book but also John's record book with his listing of the coverlets and other weavings he did, the structure and how much he sold them for and to whom. We have also traced down in the Weaver clans, seven coverlets which have survived which John wove. We are on the trail of Number Eight right now. And, if that is not enough, we now have tintypes of the family, including John and his wife Polly!

Jarvis Overshot-Inspired DW Coverlet

Our plan is to publish this book, which spans two centuries, updated with examples of the patterns being used today. Over the past few years over 200 weavers have joined to weave these patterns. Although each pattern has been assigned 5 times, we still do not have all the patterns woven! Currently we also have over half quilted and the patterns applied to embroidery and a variety of other techniques as well. We are still seeking individuals to weave these 4 and 5 block patterns and use the designs for other art/craft applications. Each is set up as profile draft for weaving and on a graph paper grid for other methods. Supplementary materials are included.

Bob Owen & Coverlet

Helen Jarvis wove a spectacular 3-panel "overshot-inspired" doubleweave coverlet of all-wool in one of the Michael Weaver patterns for our project. This coverlet has won a number of national awards. Not only is the structure impressive and the colors, precision and perfection only begin to describe it. This coverlet has to be seen to be believed! It is proof positive that Helen is the finest coverlet weaver in the world.

Traditional or innovative? Let your preferences, techniques and imagination be your guide. How about these for interesting variations below on that same MW #35 pattern? Click on each to see the details!


JOIN US!  This project is learn-as-you-go, no hassle, no rules, no immediate deadlines. Do any size in any media in any way you wish. We even let you set your own dues! (To cover our costs we simply request a donation of any amount when you join.) Your pattern can be done "as is" or used as a jumping off place for innovative work, such as we see above. Create a weaving, quilt, embroidery, crochet, parquet, etc. or any combination of techniques which can be traditional or modern in interpretation. The work of art is yours -- we ask simply for a slide (preferably) or clear print of the entire finished piece. For example, if it is a quilt, please shoot it flat from both sides and include close-ups of select areas. Contact Sigrid for a pattern and additional reference materials.

PHOTOS TOP TO BOTTOM: A page from the "Michael Weaver Coverled Book"; Close-up of Helen Jarvis' coverlet; Bob Owen admiring the Jarvis Coverlet at an event at the Michigan League of Handweavers Conference where it was exhibited several years ago; four enhancements of MW#35.

Abel, Isabel I., Multiple Harness Patterns from the Early 1700's * The Snavely Patterns, Altoona PA 16601.

Adrosko, Rita J., Curator of Textiles, John Hargrove: The Weavers Draft Book and Clothiers Assistant, National Museum of History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, Worcester, American Antiquarian Society, 1979.

Burnham, Dorothy K., The Comfortable Arts: Traditional Spinning and Weaving in Canada; National Gallery of Canada and National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, 1981; note especially Chapter 6 on German Traditions.

Burham and Burnham, Keep Me Warm One Night: Early Handweaving in Eastern Canada, University of Toronto Press, 1972.

Crosson, Janet Gray and Ruth S. Kerr, The Repp Family Memorandum and Weavers' Book 1735 - 1831, Published by Ruth S. Kerr, 47 North Main St., Homer, NY 13077, 1990.

The Homespun Textile Tradition of the PA Germans, exhibit of the work of spinners, weavers and dyers at the PA Farm Museum of Landis Valley, published by the PA Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, 1976.

Hargrove, John, The Weavers Draft Book and Clothiers Assistant, Intro by Rita J. Adrosko, Worcester, American Antiquarian Society, 1979.

Heisey, John W., A Checklist of American Coverlet Weavers, compiled for the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Hilts, Pat, Ars Textrina, Volumes 13 and 14: special volumes reproducing the 2 earliest books on weaving, rare works by Marx Ziegler and Nathaniel Lumscher from south Germany; includes a glossary of old German weaving and dyeing terms, Winnipeg, Canada, 12/90.

Hilts, Pat, Ars Textrina, "Roses and Snowballs: The Development of Block Patterns in the German Linen-Weaving Tradition", Vol. 4; and "Ligethur Arbeit: A 17th Century Compound Mounting and a Family of associated Weaves", Vol. 7.

Holroyd, Ruth N. and Ulrike L. Beck, Jacob Angstadt Designs Drawn from His Weavers Patron Book, two volumes, 1976; Jacob Angstadt * His Diaber Book * replica of an early 19th century manuscript with interpretation, 1992.

Jarvis, Helen, Weaving a Traditional Coverlet, Interweave Press, Loveland CO, 1989.

Landes, John, A Book of Patterns for Hand-Weaving from Drawings in the PA Museum with threading drafts and notes by Mary Meigs Atwater, published by the SO CA Handweavers' Guild, 1717 N. Gramercy Place, Hollywood, CA 90029, Nov. 1977.

Reinert, Guy F., Home Craft Course: PA German Coverlets, Vol. 9, Kutztown Publishing Co., 1947.

Strickler, Carol, A Portfolio of American Coverlets, Vols. 1 through 5 of 125, Boulder, CO 80302, 1981.

Swygert, Mrs. Luther M., Editor, Heirlooms from Old Looms: A Catalogue of Coverlets owned by the Colonial Coverlet Guild of America and its members, privately printed, 1955.

Thomas Jackson, Handweaver, Shuttle Craft Publications, Whidbey Island, WA.

Wass, Janice Tauer, Weaver's Choice: Patterns in American Coverlets, Illinois State Museum, Springfield IL, 1988.

Wilson, Sadye Tune and Doris Finch Kennedy, Of Coverlets: The legacies, The Weavers, Tunstede, Nashville TN, 1983.


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