Wednesday, November 23, 2022



Someone mused on line about books about Canadian textiles/by Canadian authors.  I started thinking about my learning curve, which began in 1975, and the history of handweaving in Canada.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, just what I can remember off the top of my head.  It will attempt to be somewhat chronological, but I don't know the actual publication dates of some of the books, so don't take the order as any kind of 'gospel'.

The first author I think more Canadians ought to be aware of is Oscar Beriau.  He is much better known in Quebec than the rest of Canada and I think he ought to be better known and his pivotal role in the development of Leclerc Looms should be recognized.  His grandson has created a lovely website which outlines M. Beriau's many accomplishments, including assisting weaving groups on the prairies.

Mary Black.  Ms. Black is very well known, but what may be less well known is that her roots are in Nova Scotia and her papers were archived online.  She, along with Mary Sandin and Ethel Henderson eventually set up the Guild of Canadian Weavers and the master weaver certificate program.  Last I heard, 29 people had successfully achieved the master level, with many more working on the other three levels.  This is a self-directed approach to learning - and testing - one's knowledge of weaving and it is not 'easy'.  Anyone who achieves the master level has invested a lot of time and energy into it.  

Ms. Black's book The (New) Key to Weaving is still around, and while dated in terms of graphics and approach, is still my go-to when I have a four to eight shaft weaving structure question.

Robert Leclerc.  M. Leclerc wrote a small book on how to weave as a support for people purchasing Leclerc Looms.  The booklet is now available as a free download from the Leclerc Looms website.  He also acquired the newsletters produced by T. Zielinski, sorted the information according to topic and then produced the Master Weaver Series of over 20 small booklets that are chock full of really good information.  Those books are still available for sale on the Leclerc website.

As people began completing their master level program, some of them began writing books, some of them as a direct result of their master level monograph.  

Nell Steedsman did several booklet type publications as did Grace McDowell.  Dini Moes (the only person I know of who achieved the GCW master, Boston Guild master AND the HGA COE certificate) published a book with swatches called Uncommon Threads.  All of these are now out of print but still reside in many guild libraries.

Linda Heinrich wrote The Magic of Linen, Jane Evans, A Joy Forever, Mary Andrews did a small run self-published book on fundamentals of weaving and of course I wrote Magic in the Water, then The Intentional Weaver.

Carol James has written about sprang and finger weaving.

Not weavers but historians, Harold and Dorothy Burnham became very well known for their book Keep Me Warm One Night, about coverlets, and Dorothy went on to write several other books including Unlike the Lilies about Doukhobor textiles in western Canada.

Paula Gustafson wrote about Salish Weaving (there is an older booklet but I can't pull the author's name up right now) and the Museum of Anthropology at UBC (Vancouver) has done some stunning exhibits around coastal First Nations textiles.  Cheryl Samuel has also written books about Chilkat weaving.

I'm not too familiar with knitting, but Sylvia Olson has written about the role of knitting in coastal First Nations culture and society.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is well known for her books on knitting.

As for magazines, there have been a number over the years.  Loom Music in the 1950s and into the 60s I believe.  Heddle, a short lived publication that I contributed articles to from time to time, until it faded away.  Now we have Digits and Threads by Kate Atherley and Kim Werker.

I am sure that there have been many more, smaller publications, regional publications, but these are just the ones I could pull out of my memory this morning.

We must keep our history alive and one way to do that is to remember those who have gone before.  Books are one way of keeping history at our fingertips.  


Loomacy and Lace said...

This is a test of the new comment system. Pretty seamless, for my Google/Blogger account.

Don't forget the books by that Laura person...

And there may be specialized titles - like Lithuanian Sashes - published by the Lithuanian Folk Art Institute.
In-house publications can be a treasure trove of ideas.

April said...

I was gifted a copy of Mary Black's book, and was lucky enough to see on of her looms. Another local author is one of our guild members here in Nova Scotia, Wendy Landry. She has written two books on Velvet weaving, and has done a lot of academic work as well. Her website, with pics, info, and links to her books, is veloutiere dot ca If you haven't already read those it might be something that you'd be interested in reading in all your spare time Laura :)