I learned to cross-stitch when I was five years old, and to knit when I was seven, and to weave when I was 19. I started quilting when I was about 40. Now that I am retired from teaching, and live on a peaceful timber property in Texas, I can pursue those textile interests, and share what I learn. I am not an expert, just a very interested amateur.
Ulysses Grant Dietz, curator of Decorative Arts at the Newark Museum, arranged his first quilting exhibit in 1980, after being on the job only four months. His description of the exhibit perfectly expresses my goals for this blog:
It was not by any stretch of the imagination a scholarly effort. My selection was entirely based … on how each quilt appealed to my personal aesthetic. I have no shame in having done this: it filled a need and pleased an audience. I have no doubt that the visitors … went away a little bit better informed than when they arrived. Any curator who claims his or her job is grander than that is delusional. A curator’s interest is to spark interest and provoke thought.
from Unconventional and Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar, 1950-2000 by Roderick Kiracofe
In these troubled times, when I wonder if writing about simple joys is justified, I think of this quote:
…the central issue of our time: the impact of history upon moral being, the search for ways to survive spiritual ruin in a ruined world.
– Terrence Des Pres, quoted by the Poetry Foundation, writing on poet Czeslaw Milosz
Textiles and art help me deal with the impact of history on my moral being.
Over the years, a few people sent me stories of their love of textiles, and I have been so happy to provide them a platform. If you would like to do a guest post, please let me know in the comments!
Enjoyed reading your blog and love the name:)
Thanks! It took me months to come up with it, but once I did, it seemed so obvious! I enjoy your blog too – so cheerful, and we can all use that!
Awards ceremony at my place today. You have been awarded the One Lovely Blog Award. http://breezybooksblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/overture-curtains-lights/ 🙂
Thank you! I saw that! It means a lot coming from you because I love your blog. I am looking forward to checking out your other award receivers.
Your Greek dolls have the label of the YWCA in Athens. This is the Young Womens Christian Association. In Greek it is XEN – Χριστιανική Ένωση Νέων (Christian Union of the Young) as there groups were coed.
Congratulations! I have nominated you for the one lovely blog/ very inspiring blog Award. Head over and take a look at the rules on my site if you feel able to accept 🙂
Thank you! I will!
I am not sure if you “accept” awards. However, I just wanted to let you know I nominated you for 2. The Very Inspiring Blogger and One Lovely Blog Awards. To find out more you can go to my post for today and check it out. Thanks for being such a wonderful Blogger.
Thank you so much! I do have a hard time passing awards on sometimes, just because I’m not sure if my recipients want to participate. But I appreciate your nominating me! I will be sure to check out your other nominees as well – I find the best blogs that way!
Well that is ok. It is actually a lot of work to accept awards.It took me a couple of hours. Then trying to decide who to pick, and thinking of something interesting about myself. And how the heck to get those little awards to show up. Yeesh. Anyhow, I really just wanted you to know I like your blog. So that can be enough. 😀
I wanted you to know that I enjoy your blog and have nominated you for the Liebster Award which goes to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. See my post at http://unexpectedincommonhours.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/two-awards-today/ for the particulars. Even if you choose not to participate in the process , please know that you can post the Liebster Award badge on your blog site. Cheers, Deb
I have just nominated you for the Super Sweet Blogging Award! If you would like to accept, take a look here: http://thecraftypioneer.com/2013/10/06/super-sweet-blogging-award/ – no pressure, feel free to just take as a complement from one who enjoys visiting your site!
Thank you! I have been to your post and I have been enjoying the other blogs you nominated too!
Thanks for visiting my site and liking my post about creativity. It’s so amazing how we all have talents and can develop them when we share our talents with others. Thanks for sharing with us your textile skills. All the best with your blog 🙂
Lovely, can’t wait to have a proper look around your blog. We visited the Bayeux tapestry when I was about 6 and mum has been working on a section of it for years. She just picked it up again last week to finish off. 30 year projects!
You must have had a good look at it back then – they’ve redone the exhibit and put it behind glass that cuts out most of the light, now, right? Although you were only 6 – I don’t think I would have paid much attention at that age. How did your mom choose the section she wanted to reproduce?
Would love to hear from someone who knows about Martha Mood and/or her textiles. She was a San Antonio fiber artist who died in 1972. She did some very interesting wall hangings using embroidery, collage, etc.
I have never heard of her before, and I started weaving in 1979, so you’d think I would have. My weaving instructor was more into traditional techniques, though, and I don’t think she taught us anything about the modern textile are movement. I will have to look into her and I’ll let you know if I find out anything.
How did you come to know about her?
Hello! I just nominated you for the 3 Days 3 Quote Challenge if you would like to participate. You can check out my blog for the rules. https://unexpectedincommonhours.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/3-days-3-quotes-challenge-day-one/
Thank you! I accept! I think I will start in a few days.
Love the website – found it while job hunting. I have a doctorate in textiles, currently live in Austin (but willing to move) and it seems a shame that I have all this knowledge and no outlet for it.
Hi! I know you’ve made similar comments before, but they got lost in my inbox or something and I never saw them until months after you had posted. I am sorry that I don’t know anything about the professional side of things, I am just an interested amateur. Have you seen Worn Through ? It is a multi-author blog about the academic side of apparel.
Thanks I have seen that blog although not recently. I am actually a costume/textile historian and if you want to reply to me of line I know how I can get you a speaker (moi) on costume/textiles for no cost to you.
My friend Lonn Taylor wrote a column article devoted to you this week in the Marfa newspaper. Have just spent an afternoon roaming around your site and it is definitely my cup of tea. Delightful!
Just happen to be a retired NPS park ranger, coincidentally. Love your scholarly approach!
Elaine Harmon in Fort Davis TX
Thank you! It was so gracious of him to write it — I tried to tell him there are lots of people out there just like me!
I am really glad you enjoyed the blog and I hope you stop by often!
I have just seen this post on the Thread and Thrift blog, and thought you would love it! Such a beautiful quilt. http://threadandthrift.blogspot.co.uk/
I checked it out and you were right, it is right up my alley! Those are some beautiful fabrics in that old quilt. I enjoyed a lot of her other posts too. Thank you!
the lace bonnet that your gr grandma knitted do you know the time frame… when fashionable?
or when made?
I have a pic of my ancestor in a white bonnet and looks like mid 1800s to pre 1915 I think. My ancestor was in a thick blanket shawl and had the bonnet on in a photo taken in a professional studio somewhere pre 1900s I think…
My grandmother was born in 1915, but she was the fourth sibling born, so the bonnet could have been used before her. I believe it is crocheted out of cotton. I don’t know anything about when different baby clothes styles were fashionable, but here is a resource I have found very helpful in dating pictures:
The background and any furniture or props in the picture may be more helpful in dating it than the bonnet. Good luck and I hope you let me know what you find out!
Childrens/infant wear can be very difficult to date. If you can find the pattern that may be the way to find out more about it. Many women’s magazines had patterns and many patterns were published separately as well – but like to today the same pattern might be used for 20 years or more. Sorry I cannot be more helpful, and I am a trained costume historian.
Susannah Worth (Ph.D. Textile history)
Thank you, it is helpful to know that it is a hard topic. I know in some of the old cartes de visite I have, the babies are wearing clothes obviously handed down from a much older child too, just whatever the family happened to have.
Would you send me your snail mail address? I de-accession end a piece of calico from the 1980s I’d like to give to you, since you’re kind enough to comment on my blog regularly 🙂
Hi there, love the posts you have done on the viking sails- out of interest, my home town of vancouver bc is location for the 2018 TSA textile conference- september. the theme is deeply local- i will be doing workshops around the symposium on coastal living from different regions…. It would be great to see you submit a paper for presentation on sailing and the process of making the sails!!! Just a thought, let me know if you are interested and want more info. All the best, Sharon
Oh, thank you! I really don’t know any more than what I have posted, but I would like to look at the info, just in case I think I could do it if I researched a lot more by then, OR if I come up with another person who is more of an expert that I could suggest. (My email address is email@example.com just so you don’t have to hunt around for it.) Thank you again, you have made my day!
!! And FYI- one of the researchers mentioned in an article you linked to is in Burnaby- which is Vancouver. Linked city… Maybe you could co-present!? When I am on my computer again I will email you more info.
You have a lovely blog. We are looking forward to reading your posts. Have a wonderful day.
Wow! I’ve just been on a fantastic journey around your blog 😀 My deepest respect and thanks for all the knowledge you’ve gathered, written down and made so interesting for your readers!!
(Thanks for your visit 🙂 )
Oh thank you! I really like to track down little odds and ends about textiles. I looked at about 3 of your posts the other day, and I can tell I will need a lot of time to explore there too! I just bought a vintage book of needlework techniques and I think I will find a lot of those skills in your posts.
Hi, I enjoyed your article on the history of sail cloth.
Did you come across any information about earlier materials used in sail making. Specifically, I have seen it mentioned that Hemp has an advantage over linen and cotton as it does not rot as easily in salt water. Further, that early sails used canvas, and that the word canvas is derived from ‘cannibus’. The question I am researching is whether the Mediterranean sailors between say 1200 and 1600 may have been using hemp canvas sails? Any thoughts or information you can share would be very helpful. Many thanks, Reed
I have seen a couple of mentions of hemp, usually just very general, like “The sails were made of linen or hemp,” without regard to whose sails, when, and what percentage of sails. I have not been able to find out whether people chose hemp for sails for certain situations where it would be better than linen, or just because it was available where they came from.
I saw a mention in one book (that for some reason I did not buy, so I can’t refer back for any more information) that the town of Locronon in France was the source of sailcloth for many countries, and here is a website about that: http://linchanvrebretagne.org/lin-chanvre-bretagne_histoire-patrimoine_age-d-or-de-la-Bretagne.htm . But it covers the 17th and 18th century.
I have also found these scholarly journals but I have not purchased any of them – Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Journal of Maritime Archaeology. One of these days I am going to go to my local library and have the librarians help me access them!
Good luck, and if you find out anything, I would love for you to let me know too!
Thank you for visiting, and following. I think you would love some of the textiles in Portugal – I photographed some of the Castelo Branco embroidery, and the town has an art museum with paintings which would make wonderful tapestries. Portalegre is the town for tapestries!
Oh, thank you! I originally found you looking for information on Locronan, France — you were Google’s choice number four! I am interested in the history of sail cloth, and had found a mention in an old book that Locronan was THE town for sail cloth manufacture, that even during wars England and Spain would still stop off there to get their sail cloth. So I would love to go there some day. Now you have added some towns to my dream itinerary, and I am going to drop by your blog today to see that Castelo Branco embroidery!
Would very much like to be in contact with the poster on the subject of sail cloth. I have a Ph.D. in historic costume/textiles and found myself as the curator of a historic house owned by a yacht designer in the 19th century so that really rings a bell for me. Where exactly is this town in France the poster mentioned. Alas Europe is a dangerous place these days
Hi Susannah, This is the post I found about Locronan in Brittany: https://londontraveller.org/2016/09/25/a-walk-around-locronan/ The author is Candy Blackham and her most recent post also mentions the flax industry in Brittany.
However, the mention I made of finding out that Locronan was famous for sails was in a book I found in a used bookstore — as it was the only mention of sails in the book, I did not buy it, I just noted down the town for future reference, so I don’t know the title or year of publication of the book. Looking up Locronan online I have found various tourist board websites of the Rue de Lin and would love to visit there.
Hi I was looking at your persimmon dying as I recently dug out a tree and the roots seriously stained my hands orange, I had been wondering if it was used as a dye and thought you might be interested in the info after your experience with the fruit.
Thanks for thinking of me! Do you know if the tree produces those big edible fruits (about tomato size), or if it is a wild persimmon with about 1 inch fruits? I have had a piece of cloth soaking with the wild fruits for literally 4 years, and it has just turned dark brown, not too exciting of a color. But I have not tried the roots! Now I want to try them.
Way down here! You know I love your blog. You are so wonderfully creative! I want to do a pre-Christmas blog about potential Christmas presents for your creative friends, and I wondered — do you have a book? You are soooo into everything I thought I’d check. If you do offer anything for purchase, let me know. I’d love to feature you too. If you don’t — YOU SHOULD!
Claudia — Humoring the Goddess = http://www.humoringthegoddess.com
Oh, thank you, that is so nice of you! Someday I would love to put together a book of textile stories, but I don’t have anything yet. But thank you for thinking of me!
This is in regard to Mary Sophie Young, botanist. I thought you might be interested in a bit more information about her. I don’t have much but she was my husband’s great aunt. I am aware of only four brothers, one of whom was my husband’s grandfather. I do have more information on her family. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Dear Textile Ranger,
I have just found and read your blog. First Thank You for doing it. Textiles and their history has occupied me for over 35 years. In addition to my textile specaility of interest, I enjoy the whole field.. Textiles are like a huge jigsaw puzzle that is not completed yet.. Modern technology has come so far that it is causing re-analyzing of proto and ancient textiles, resulting in better understanding of them. I sent my email to subscribe to it so I can enjoy the new and share what I have learned with others. I lived in Houston and Dallas for a total of 40 years(we raised our 3 kids there) until a couple of years ago. One of my sons wants me to move back to the Houston area and I might.
Hi Elizabeth, I am so glad you enjoy the blog! I totally agree with you about the breadth and depth of the textile field! I have not posted much lately, but not for lack of interest in textiles; I still have plenty of ideas, I just can’t get to them.
I enjoy living in the Houston area — except for the humidity! I don’t think I would mind getting away from that but on the other hand it might be the only thing that is keeping me from withering away. 🙂
Thank you so much for commenting and I would love to hear more about your specialty!
Thank you for all the information that you had found about sails.
I tripped over your blog after I had read about wool sails in Viking ships–you may be interested in the book by Kassia St. Clair: The Golden Thread, 352 pages, published 2018 in Great Britain. It may not have made it over the Atlantic but I found it in our library here in New Zealand. The author covers all the fibers and also includes a lot of great historical snippets.
I’m a quilter too, trying to use up scraps that are stashed in my “linen closet”. (Another hand me down fabric word.) In fact, today is a good day to plan a scrap quilt for a granddaughter’s Christmas present! It is spring here but too cold at present to work outside–there is still snow on the mountain tops.
Thank you for the comment and the recommendation! Her book about The Secret Life of Colors keeps coming up in suggestions from Amazon but so far I have been strong, thinking I should finish the books I already have before letting myself buy any more. But now that you have recommended The Golden Thread, I HAVE to get both, right?
Life in New Zealand seems amazing. Years ago I taught preschool and one of the kids was from there — his mom had the best accent and was so nice. I learned a little about it but I have never been to that part of the world.
Are you pursuing sail history? I have come across a mention of Locranon, France, as a place where all the sails were made during (I think) the 1500s and 1600s. Supposedly even countries at war with France purchased their sails there. Then the king did away with their monopoly and their business failed, and not much renovation was done in the town since then. That means for us it is a beautiful time capsule of that era. But that is about all I have been able to find out. I want to practice my French and then go there some day! 🙂
I’m researching a chair that looks just like the one you repaired with red paracord. Do you know approximately when it was made or who the maker might have been? My chair has no identifying marks at all, but I’m hoping to find out more about it. Thanks so much.
I am no expert on furniture, but I did spend years working in a historical park, and I learned there that even in the late 1800s, this kind of chair was mass produced, and that is all I know. 🙂 I hope you find the information you are looking for!
Hello! I have an old weaving passed down from the Bertolet side of my family , who were located in the Oley Valley near Philadelphia. I am looking for information about it. It is not a full size bed coverlet now, but may have been originally. Looking for info on the weaving, if you could point me in the right direction or offer any insights, I would greatly appreciate it. I can send photos separately.
Ooh, this is very exciting! I would love to see photos and I will tell you what I know. A good address is textileranger at gmail dot com.
Great! How should I send the photos? Email, upload?
Nevermind my last message – I see your email! Duh!!
I am very excited to see them!