A Continuum of Heritage -
Weaving and the Structo Loom
Artist's Statement - NANETTE MOSHER

As a child, living in Virginia with my grandmother, I watched her weave rag rugs on the Union 36 loom which I now possess.  I learned to crochet with leftover warp, and marveled at the "fancy" evening bags she wove from the  8" Structo four harness loom now in my loom room.  But I didn't think much about this until, as an adult, I  moved to Freeport, IL, and the YMCA offered a class in weaving--which happened to be taught on Structo floor looms--made in Freeport.  So, I took up weaving, and before long fell heir to Mom's looms.

Then, I read The Joy of Spinning (by Marilyn Kluger, Simon and Shuster, 1971) and found a peaceful, relaxing way to feel as if I had really "made something from scratch"--inspired  at the time by projects for a graduate level craft class.  And wool to sort, wash, card and spin was easy to come by:  farmer friends even had "black" sheep as well as white ones, and invited me to come watch the shearing and choose fleeces.  I soon realized that there are many aspects that make big differences in any wool to be handspun.  Color, length, hay or  burrs in the wool, "sheep berries", variations in coarseness or fineness, all make a difference in how much fun it is to work with any single fleece.  Even roving, already prepared for spinning, which by then was on the market commercially, can have disappointing surprises.

About that time we moved to the "country"--five miles from town, with fences and outbuildings.  Guild friends, including Mary Boeke Hill, guided and encouraged my timid eagerness to have my own sheep.  It only took a few seasons to settle on what was, for me, the ideal spinning fleece on the ideal breed of sheep, carefully fed and sheared to produce the fleeces used in most of my spinning and much of my weaving.  The fact that these animals are also my pets gives me justification, perhaps, in practicing this anachronistic craft.


(close-up of rug to the left)
Design aspects of any loom-woven object are by definition controlled by the loom.  Frustrated by the limitations of Mom's two harness rug loom, I purchased an 8-Harness 45" Gilmore Loom, which was used for all of the rugs on display here.  (Weavers will note that only 4 of the harnesses were used in the rugs.)  Planning a  2 -block Summer and Winter structure, I spun and wove one rug for the "Save the Sheep" project of Interweave Press, using a British long-wool rare breed.  For comparison, I did a similar rug using the natural colored wool from my own Cheviot sheep.  Because spinning the yarn for a rug is no small project, most of the rugs on exhibit are woven from commercial yarns which have, in most cases, been re-plyed and re-dyed to obtain the desired weight and color.  Many are in straight twill weave, with patterns derived from the use of multiple colors and bound weave sett.  The use of twill is actually an idea that came from the use of bound weave Rosepath patterning on the 8" Structo loom (a structure not directly suitable for rugs because of  the long "floats" on the  back).

Even though the articles displayed here may seem quite unrelated, there is really a continuum of heritage, chance, opportunity and experience that links them all, from looms and antique advertisements to miniature overshot coverlets and heavy twill rugs.  I greatly appreciate The Dining Room's creative approach in giving Mary Boeke Hill and me the opportunity to show these looms and handwovens.

Artist's Statement -- MARY BOEKE HILL

Mary Boeke Hill became interested in the Structo Artcraft looms nearly 20 years ago when she purchased her first Model 240 for $40.  First manufactured as toys, these looms became used by and marketed to, as is true today, serious weavers.

By 1922 the Structo Manufacturing Company (founded in 1912) was manufacturing two all-metal looms painted in black and blue enamel.  One wove a 4" wide cloth  and the other 8" wide.  The  looms were marketing to people convalescing "to produce much art work" and to "Little Sister and Big Sister too."

The looms came complete with an instruction manual, pattern charts, warp, four shuttles, a draw-in hook and a wrench.  Some of the parts of the frames of the metal looms were directly evolved from some of the Structo building sets.

Well-know weaver Mary Meigs Atwater wrote the "Manual of Instructions for Structo Artcraft Looms Numbers 240, 420, 600" in 1930.  She also hand-drafted at least 23 weaving patterns for use on the various models of Structo Looms.

By 1932 Structo had filed six new loom patents, including the steel hexagonal warp beam and the pre-filled warp spools.  "We perfected this year a method of supplying warp on individual spools for use on these looms which simplifies their use and we shop thousands to our loom users throughout the country."

Ten different models were offered for sale by Structo in 1941.  But World War II was to have a huge impact on Structo.  Following the company's sale to another company, the loom life was bought by Dick Blick Art Supplies of Galesburg, Illinois in 1972.  Dick Blick sold looms through it's catalog through 1978 and still retains the rights to their manufacture.

If you would like to be on an e-mail list to be notified of future exhibits
or if you have questions about the current one, contact Knitter's Treat.

Knitting workshops are held in Monticello
(Lucy Neatby in March/April and Irene York in July 2003).
For information about future knitting workshops
contact Ruth Sybers at Knitter's Treat.

As always, a heartfelt thank you to Rhoda Braunschweig  who plans and David Braunschweig who assists in "hanging" each exhibit.

Photos by Lori Manning Berg
Copyright © 2003.
Web Designs by Lori

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Past Displays:
Valentina Devine Creates
Wearable Art
Moving Weft
Men Who Knit
Quilts by the Thursday Friends
Katherine Pence Inspired by Everything