Hand Weaving for Plimoth Plantation

Recent Events - 2011

Some weaving was completed this year and is now in use at Plimoth. Besides the items shown below (photographed by Plimoth), Barbara Provest wove some beautiful linen toweling.

Billington Blanket

Billington Blanket by Nancy Kronenberg

Linen Cupboard Cover

Cupboard Cloth by Barbara Provest

The Billington Blanket's single ply wool (twill sett 18epi) was donated by Harrisville Design while guild member Kate Smith at Marshfield School of Weaving vegetal-dyed yarn for the stripes.  Two record books are now in progress with the above projects documented, as well as a lot that was learned in doing the blanket.

The Winslow and Brewster Houses' blankets are underway.  Plimoth is looking forward to even more guild weaving in the coming year and so are we !

Field Trip to Plimoth - 2010

A group of members interested in weaving for Plimoth visited them on November 8, 2010.  We looked at sample books from earlier weaving done by guild members, books with pictures of period textiles, the Historical Clothing and Textile department's inventory of hand wovens, and items in the village. We noted some weaves, setts, color patterns, dimensions, and fabric uses.

We were told that guild weaver Mary Merrill visited England c.1975 and researched textiles of the period.  She wove a number of pieces in Harrisville Design wool singles. Since our visit, Marjie Thompson has pointed out that the Pilgrims who came from Holland (having fled England 12 years earlier seeking religious freedom) may have brought German-influenced weaves such as Gebrochen or Hin und Wieders (point twills.)   About half of the original settlers came from Holland and the rest from England.

Susan Holding Blanket

Susan holding a blanket

Barbara Holding Towel

Barbara examining a towel in the, er, light

Virtually all the weaving is done in single ply wool and linen.  The sample books, which show earlier weavers' ideas on how to do period weaving do show some two ply.  We found a range of items from very ambitious to quite modest undertakings.  There is a great deal of plain weave yardage in the bedding and clothing.

Linens - Towels and Cupboard Covers

Linen towels served to dry articles.  They featured small  patterns in weaves such as Diaper.  Cupboard cloths are put on shelves.  The picture above right shows a towel.  To the right is a closeup of a sample in Huck weave.

At one house we marveled at a 47" square linen table cloth in what looked like an 8H Spot Bronson weave. 

Linen Weave

It should be noted again that we were looking at comtemporary weavers' ideas of what might have been brought from Europe during 1620 - 1627.   Bronson may not have been among these weaves because record of it is hard to find till the late colonial period. (Dorothy Burton in her book, Versatile Bronson, Weavers' Guild of Boston, ©1984, refers to a "Martha Washington" towel in spot weave, an early name for Bronson.)


Cushion covers can be left-over yardage (e.g. from bed hangings) or woven especially for the purpose.  Sizes varied but a typical size is 20" square, finished.  Plimoth completes the cushions by stuffing with recycled feathers.



Guild weavers are now working on the two blankets described below.  Marjie Thompson states that the blankets would have been lightweight, woven firmly, epi in the 20's.  Fulling would have mostly been left to time, use, and body moisture.  The closest blanket samples to this that we saw were Harrisville Design singles sett at 15epi and, indeed, they were not fulled much.

For the Winslow House, a blanket in green with brown or grey stripes is planned.  Harrisville Design single ply will be used for this project.

Blanket Sample Brewster

For Brewster House:

Lower left is a sample of a bed hanging done by Mary Merrill.

A blanket is needed in red and black to coordinate with the bed hanging.

Upper right is a potential sample for the coordinating blanket in Harrisville Design singles heavily fulled.  It was sett at 16 epi.

Blanket Center Seam

Blanket Construction

All the blankets we examined were for short full width beds.  They were woven in two panels and joined down the center as shown at left.  They had rolled hems.

Tufted Bed Rugg

What is a Bed Rugg?

At left is an example.  This one looks like a sheep skin from a distance.  It appears to be plain weave, two layers, with thick tufts of wool in the top layer.  Guess:  the puckering in the bottom layer is due to the wool tuft attachments in the underside of the top layer.


We looked at several kinds of yardage:  clothing, mattress ticking, pillow cases, and bed hangings. Clothing requires more cloth than you would imagine - 27" wide and 8 yards or 36" wide and 5-6 yards.

Below is a skirt yardage project undertaken in 2002 by Patty Meyer with assistance from Rita Ciaranello, Linda Lincoln, and Marjie Thompson.  They shared Patty's loom to weave fourteen yards.  The finished skirt is worn by "Katharine", wife of Governor Carver.  Thanks to Patty for the photo and data.

Skirt Yardage

Yarn:  20/2 Mora by Klippan/Borg, closest that Plimoth could find at the time.

Sett:  30 epi, beat hard for 28 ppi.  The result was a firm fabric.

The yarn took two years for Plimoth to obtain and even then one color was not available.   If dyeing lead times are still  long, we have the option of dyeing locally.

Katherine Bradford Skirt

Photo taken by Plimoth