Antique Weaving Traditions: Our Week at The Marshfield School of Weaving
The Marshfield School of Weaving
The Marshfield School of Weaving is situated in the gorgeous, mountainous town of Marshfield, Vermont. Founded in 1974 by Norman Kennedy, the school predominantly specializes in teaching the time-tested textile methods of 18th century Britain and early America. They proudly house a large collection of antique four-post looms and other equipment, which the students learn to use during their instruction.
Our designer was able to spend the last week in August there, surrounded by breath-taking hills, mooing cows, and the sound of clacking looms. We hope you enjoy this photo collection as much as she enjoyed her stay there!
1| Location + School:
Directly outside the school, the surrounding view is spectacular and inspiring!
One of the main weaving rooms is located within a beautifully remodeled barn. This photo shows only three of the many barn frame looms at the school, along with a small table top loom used for smaller projects.
On the opposite side of the main room are two antique dobby looms. The dobby mechanism, which allows for more complex patterning, is the iron contraption which sits on top of the loom frame. If you've ever been to our mill in Monmouth, Maine, you'll notice some interesting similarities and differences in machinery! Even though time has changed the technology, so much of the process remains the same.
Our designer set out to make a small set of towels using the traditional methods taught at Marshfield. The first step was to make the warp. To do so, she used a free-standing warping board and a spool rack, which allows multiple threads to be warped at once.
Here is the finished chained warp, ready to be moved to the loom. Crisper weather inspired the autumn-like color scheme. But there's still lots of green there, though, so don't fret - we're not rushing winter or anything!
At Marshfield, bobbins for adding filling (also called the weft) are wound on large wheels, like the ones pictured here.
Finally time to weave towels! A flexible measuring tape is pinned to the side to keep track of how much fabric is woven per towel. This warp is long enough to make four towels.
Our designer usually uses table looms for development projects at the mill, so weaving with a floor loom was completely new to her! Sometimes notes taped where they're visible is a must. Pictured here are also two end-delivery shuttles, one filled with green yarn and one with orange. These are used to pass the weft threads through the shed.
This photo shows the underside of the loom and the treadles. On a floor loom, the weaver controls the lifting of the harnesses (and thus, the pattern produced on the fabric) by pushing down select treadles with their feet.
3| Finished Material:
It's very satisfying to complete a weaving project! Here are the final towels we ended up with. Our designer was able to practice different techniques on each one. It's amazing the variety of color and pattern that can be produced on a single warp.