History and Handwoven

  Linen Napkins

Damask Dinner Napkins by Frances
Timbers from the March/April 1977

issue of Handwoven. 

I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t obsessed with history. Some of my earliest recollections were looking though my mother’s books from the King Tutankhamen exhibit in D.C.—I was probably the only child in my pre-school who knew what a canopic jar was.

Later, I studied and eventually worked in museums and archives. In school, I would spend hours in the archives in white gloves, gently paging through old documents. In past jobs, I interpreted history for the public and explained to people why it’s so vital that we preserve what we can of the past. I took classes on conservation so I could better understand and handle the heirlooms I interpreted.

Most people don’t realize that the most important and daunting job of anyone who works for a museum, national park, or historical site is finding a balance between having items on display and available to the public and keeping them safe in the collections room or archives.


Night Sky Scarf  
Scarf of the Night Skies by Kathy Bright
from the January/February 1997 issue 

When I started work at Handwoven, I was in awe of the fact that I had access to every single issue of not just Handwoven but also to Interweave, the magazine that started it all. I love leafing through the old magazines and seeing how so many of the projects from ten, twenty, or even thirty years ago are still so stylish and interesting today. I love reading about the history of weave structures, or reading interviews with famous weavers who have since passed on. With few exceptions, each and every issue of Handwoven is just as useful and informative as the day it arrived on newsstands, and I could get lost in the pages for hours.

Of course, as with museum artifacts, these issues need to be treated with care. Bringing our archive copies home to read on a Saturday is absolutely out of the question. These magazines are so much more than resources, they are a part of the history of Handwoven and their preservation is a top priority.

This is just one of the many reasons I love the Handwoven CD collections. They give me access to older issues without any worry. I can take them home and read them in bed on my laptop. I can print out articles and projects and mark them up to my heart’s content or cut out drafts to clip to my loom as I weave. I organize the printed articles and projects in binders by topic rather than by issue, so if I want to find a project in overshot or huck I don’t have to search and search.


  Oodles of Overhot
  The November/December 1997 issue of
Handwoven features oodles of overshot. 

The most recent in the series is the Handwoven 1997 CD collection and I am obsessed, especially with the November/December issue which features Swedish Lace, overshot name drafts, and a fabulous article about handwovens in the White House. As somebody who missed these issues the first time around—I was twelve in 1997 and my weaving knowledge began and ended with a neon pink potholder loom—I love these CDs and can’t wait until 1996 comes out. 


Christina Garton

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