Weaving Books: What Are Your Favorites?

Halcyon has a book club. Did you know? I had't read her newsletter emails for a while because I've been so busy, but I had to register right away. And there's is a Handweaver's Pattern Directory!! Save me, Weaving Goodess, not only am I poor, but I haven't got any room on my bookshelf...

So, weavers, what was/were the first weaving book/s you bought, or were given, do you remember? I bought my first three from Amazon after I test-drove a few from the North Shore Library in August 1995, and they were:

* Sharon Alderman's A Weaver's Notebook,
* Betty Linn Davenport's Hands On Rigid Heddle Weaving, and
* Susan Gilmurray's Weaving Tricks (1981)

Alderman's book I liked so much I bought three; I gave one to my mother, and had (and still do) her save the third in her house, just in case mine got lost or damaged. My first copy is pretty tatty now, as it lives under my bed.

Davenport's is still good when I want to look up hand-manipulated techniques, though I haven't done them in a long while. Gilmurray's is a used copy even in '95, and has little notes penciled in by the previous owner/s. It saved me from many predicaments in my early days, and still now I love the drawings and the explanations.

At one point I got New Key to Weaving, and upgraded to Key to Weaving, but I find weaving books without photos or drawing excruciatingly difficult to understand, so it sits in the best position in the bookshelf, and gets pulled out whenever someone refers to it, or I have to learn a new structure and other books fail.

When new weavers ask me to recommend a book, it's been Deborah Chandler's Learing to Weave, except I have to tell them to ignore the Front-or-Back treatise until they've dressed the loom a few times.

Madelyn van der Hoogt's The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers catapulted me from plain weave to multishaft when I recklessly signed up for a Bonnie Inouye workshop in 2002. I love the graphics in this book. I arrived at Weaver's magazine quite late, (in fact, I paid for my subscription and received two copies before they shut it down), so this and their Best Of series give me a taste of the excitement that magazine must have brought to weavers when it arrived in their mailboxes.

Three books I keep carrying around are:

* Bonnie Inouye's Exploring Multishaft Design,
* Alice Schlein's Network Drafting: An Introduction, and, though less frequently,
* Deramay Keasbey's Designing with Blocks

A short while ago I was invited to join an on-line study group of Bonnie's book, and you know I did. For the first time I'm reading beyond Chapter 1, and it's really an excellent book, but I must admit it's the musings, questions and comments by my "classmates" that help me understand the text. Left alone, my eyes would tend to glaze over the text and settle on the drafts. And naturally I'm quite behind in the study group.

The one I had to buy relatively recently is Carol Strickler-edited A Weaver's book of 8-Shaft Patterns from the Friends of Handwoven because everybody around me refers to it, and it's a great gazing book, as well as to learn new structures.

Don't get me wrong. I have heaps more on the bookshelf, and I've justified the purchases because I learned to weave from books, but I never said I read them all. I think I've read ... four of them from start to finish. Others I've started and put then down, or read only pertinent chapters, but I can tell you I have looked at the graphics in all of them enough times that I remember many; it's almost creepy when I go back to a draft or a photograph and can recall exactly when and where I saw it last.

I have enough weaving (and other) books to keep me happy for the rest of my life without requiring additional purchases. At least I can stay happy reading them for the first time for probably a decade. (I'm also a slow reader.) But since I've been good the last few years, I think I might get a couple more this year. And at the top of the list just now are two conflicting choices: Allen A. Fannin's Handloom Weaving Techology Revised Edition (and there's not a lot of graphics to gaze in this tome), or Matisse, His Art and His Textiles: The Fabric of Dreams, which I had a chance to drool over at the local Polytech library. I think I'll get more enjoyment out of the latter, but I'd also like to learn the type of information inside the former.

For now, Bonnie's study group is keeping me busy. I'm reading it, with the assistance of my new friends, and lots of extra "stay behind class" correspondences with Bonnie. I'm so lucky.


  1. I think my first weaving book was Marguerite Davidson's "A Handweaver's Pattern Book", but I quickly moved on to 8 shaft books -- pattern being my great love.

    Sharon Alderman's "Mastering Weave Structures" is a new favorite of mine.

  2. The new book by Anne Dixon, Handweavers Pattern Directory arrived on my doorstep this week! I would urge to to look at your bookshelves, shuffle things around a bit, see if you can find a little more space - I am really delighted with this book. It is superb. I'm intending to write a review on my blog, so won't say more just now ;)

    Thanks for writing about your weaving books! There's several of my favourites there, but I'm a bit puzzled by what you say about the Key to Weaving, as my 1952 edition has very useful black and white photos.

    I have Allen Fannin's book, it's not the revised edition, wouldn't say I'd learnt lots from it, although I have learnt bits and pieces (like details for loom aprons that I made). Also, he's very opinionated, and sometimes I want to ask WHY as he doesn't say how he arrived at his conclusions. I'm glad I have a copy, but also glad I got it cheap and second hand so don't feel my money wasted!

  3. Davison, yes, yes, but I got that surprisingly late, (I went from plain weave to 16 shafts in a matter of weeks by necessity,) so I must say I refer to it often still, but I didn't "grow up" with it.

    I like the Alderman Pattern book; I find it interesting in the open-ended-ness (??) where we're supposed to try things on our own after her descriptions.

    Dorothy, I was afraid you were gonig to say that about the new Dictionary. Hummm....

    Re. Key, I had Chandler first, you see, and a few years later was able to view Chandler's video as well. Being of half-Sesame-Street generation, I like the quasi-video-footage of photographs in Chandler's book. Then a few years later when an ex-weaver gave me her Black, I was overwhelmed by the lack of visuals.

    I borrowed Fannin from Agnes last year, and. as you, I found many of the bits interesting, but not immediately pertinent. Perhaps I should look for it second-hand, too.


I love comments. Thank you for taking the time to leave one. But do be sure to leave your real or blog name.