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Handbooks for beginners


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The really useful, essential weaving handbooks for beginners are not many. Here’s a selection.

A good handbook should first and foremost be clear because, as Peter Collingwood said, “the selection of the terms we use today must be such that as many people as possible can understand each other". On the other hand we should also keep in mind what Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.



If we want to steer clear of the pernicious “beautiful little projects” proposed by women’s magazines, and start practising “weaverly” thinking, we should get ready for a little effort on purely technical books written for the textile industry, such as those by Scanzio, Watson, Oelsner and Dale.

In them we will find in greater depth what we studied in Black, Tidball and Cyrus, three excellent old handbooks for handweavers. At a higher technical level, Straub and Kirby are also illuminating. The really good old handbooks are still unsurpassed.



SHARON ALDERMAN. Mastering Weave Structures. Transforming ideas into great cloth. Loveland, Co. (US): Interweave, 2004, 258 pages., col. ill., ISBN 978-1-59668-137-8.

LILY BLUMENAU. The Art and Craft of Hand Weaving. New York: Crown Publishers, 1955, 134 pages., b&w.

MARIANNE STRAUB. Hand Weaving and Cloth Design. New York: Virgin Press, 1977, 152 pages, b&w and col. ill., ISBN 0-670-36037-6.

FERNANDO SCANZIO - UGO PEDRAZZO. Intrecci e strutture dei tessuti. Torino: Paravia, 1988, 520 pages, b&w ill., ISBN 395 1808 8

MARY KIRBY. Designing on the Loom. London & New York: The Studio Publications, 1955, 96 pages., b&w ill.

WILLIAM WATSON. Textile Design and Colour. London: Longmans, 1954, 484 pages., b/n ill.

G.H. OELSNER. A Handbook of Weaves. New York: Dover Publications, 1952, 402 pages, b&w ill.

MARY E. BLACK. New Key to Weaving. A Textbook of Hand Weaving for the Beginning Weaver. Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1961, 573 pages, b&w ill.

HARRIET TIDBALL. The Weaver's Book. Fundamentals of Handweaving. New York: Macmillan, 1962, 173 pages, b&w ill.

ULLA CYRUS-ZETTERSTRÖM. A Manual of Swedish Hand Weaving. Boston: Charles T. Branford, 1956, 271 pages, b&w ill.

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