A Look Back on Handwoven


imageplaceholder Linda Ligon
Founder, Interweave

Someone asked me what was my favorite Handwoven issue from the 1980s. Well, since the magazine first came out at the very end of 1979, every subsequent issue was new and fresh and an adventure. I love them all.

The magazine was not the polished production then that it is today. We were winging it. I’d go to a weavers’ conference, see someone walking around in a great-looking top, and I’d whisk her into the ladies’ room and take it right off her.  (Well, I would trade my top for hers, wouldn’t just leave her in the lurch.) Then her top would go back to the office and we would reverse-engineer instructions for it, because we were on deadline.

We kept a loom in a room in the old house our offices were in, and if we were one project short, one of us would rush upstairs and throw on a warp and weave off a placemat, or a stole, or whatever. We got some great projects that way (and some seriously not-great ones, I confess).  Our tech editing was sketchy those first years. If you happen to have old issues in your stash, approach them with care.

We had no budget for actual models, but pulled friends off the street or staff members from their desks. (There were only about five of us, so that was a bit limiting.)

By the end of the decade, we had cleaned up our act. Jane Patrick was editor, Jean Scorgie was producing splendid designs with impeccable instructions, and we actually planned ahead.

It’s hard to believe that all this was almost forty years ago.  If one were to take the weaving instructions from those old issues and re-do them in today’s colors and textures, and photograph them with a 21st century aesthetic, I wonder how they would look? The threadings are timeless. And the joy of weaving hasn’t changed at all.


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