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Any one who passed through a New England village on a week day a century ago, or rode up to the door of a Pennsylvania or Virginia house, would probably be greeted with a heavy thwack-thwack from within doors, a regular sound which would readily be recognized by every one at that time as proceeding from weaving on a hand-loom.

The presence of these looms was, perhaps, not so universal in every house as that of their homespun companions, the great and little wheels, for they required more room; but they were found in every house of any considerable size, and in many also where they seemed to fill half the building. Many households had a loom-room, usually in an ell part of the house; others used an attic or a shed-loft as a weaving-room. Every farmer's daughter knew how to weave as well as to spin, yet it was not recognized as wholly woman's work as was spinning; for there was a trade of hand-weaving for men, to which they were apprenticed. Every town had professional weavers. They were a universally respected class, and became the ancestors of many of the wealthiest and most influential citizens to-day. They took in yarn and thread to weave on their looms at their own homes at so much a yard; wove their own yarn into stuffs to sell; had apprentices to their trade; and also went out working by the day at their neighbors' houses, sometimes carrying their looms many miles with them.

Weavers were a universally popular element of the community. The travelling weaver was, like all other itinerant tradesmen of the day, a welcome newsmonger; and the weaver who took in weaving was often a stationary gossip, and gathered inquiring groups in his loom-room; even children loved to go to his door to beg for bits of colored yarn--thrums--which they used in their play, and also tightly braided to wear as shoestrings, hair-laces, etc.

The hand-loom used in the colonies, and occasionally still run in country towns to-day, is an historic machine, one of great antiquity and dignity. It is, perhaps, the most absolute bequest of past centuries which we have had, unchanged, in domestic use till the present time. You may see a loom like the Yankee one shown here in Giotto's famous fresco in the Campanile, painted in 1335; another, still the same, in Hogarth's _Idle Apprentice_, painted just four hundred years later. Many tribes and nations have hand-looms resembling our own; but these are exactly like it. Hundreds of thousands of men and women of the generations of these seven centuries since Giotto's day have woven on just such looms as our grandparents had in their homes.

This loom consists of a frame of four square timber posts, about seven feet high, set about as far apart as the posts of a tall four-post bedstead, and connected at top and bottom by portions of a frame. From post to post across one end, which may be called the back part of the loom, is the yarn-beam, about six inches in diameter. Upon it are wound the warp-threads, which stretch in close parallels from it to the cloth-beam at the front of the loom. The cloth-beam is about ten inches in diameter, and the cloth is wound as the weaving proceeds.

The yarn-beam or yarn-roll or warp-beam was ever a very important part of the loom. It should be made of close-grained, well-seasoned wood. The iron axle should be driven in before the beam is turned. If the beam is ill-turned and irregular in shape, no even, perfect woof can come from it. The slightest variation in its dimensions makes the warp run off unevenly, and the web never "sets" well, but has some loose threads.

We have seen the homespun yarn, whether linen or woollen, left in carefully knotted skeins after being spun and cleaned, bleached, or dyed. To prepare it for use on the loom a skein is placed on the swift, an ingenious machine, a revolving cylindrical frame made of strips of wood arranged on the principle of the lazy-tongs so the size can be increased or diminished at pleasure, and thus take on and hold firmly any sized skein of yarn. This cylinder is supported on a centre shaft that revolves in a socket, and may be set in a heavy block on the floor or fastened to a table or chair. A lightly made, carved swift was a frequent lover's gift. I have a beautiful one of whale-ivory, mother-of-pearl, and fine white bone which was made on a three years' whaling voyage by a Nantucket sea-captain as a gift to his waiting bride; it has over two hundred strips of fine white carved bone. Both quills for the weft and spools for the warp may be wound from the swift by a quilling-wheel, small wheels of various shapes, some being like a flax-wheel, but more simple in construction. The quill or bobbin is a small reed or quill, pierced from end to end, and when wound is set in the recess of the shuttle.

When the piece is to be set, a large number of shuttles and spools are filled in advance. The full spools are then placed in a row one above the other in a spool-holder, sometimes called a skarne or scarne. As I have not found this word in any dictionary, ancient or modern, its correct spelling is unknown. Sylvester Judd, in his _Margaret_, spells it skan. Skean and skayn have also been seen. Though ignored by lexicographers, it was an article and word in established and universal use in the colonies. I have seen it in newspaper advertisements of weavers' materials, and in inventories of weavers' estates, spelled _ad libitum_; and elderly country folk, both in the North and South, who remember old-time weaving, know it to-day.

It seems to me impossible to explain clearly in words, though it is simple enough in execution, the laying of the piece, the orderly placing the warp on the warp-beam. The warping-bars are entirely detached from the loom, are an accessory, not a part of it. They are two upright bars of wood, each holding a number of wooden pins set at right angles to the bars, and held together by crosspieces. Let forty full spools be placed in the skarne, one above the other. The free ends of threads from the spools are gathered in the hand, and fastened to a pin at the top of the warping-bars. The group of threads then are carried from side to side of the bars, passing around a pin on one bar, then around a pin on the opposite bar, to the extreme end; then back again in the same way, the spools revolving on wires and freely playing out the warp-threads, till a sufficient length of threads are stretched on the bars. Weavers of olden days could calculate exactly and skilfully the length of the threads thus wound. You take off twenty yards of threads if you want to weave twenty yards of cloth. Forty warp-threads make what was called a bout or section. A warp of two hundred threads was designated as a warp of five bouts, and the bars had to be filled five times to set it unless a larger skarne with more spools was used. From the warping-bars these bouts are carefully wound on the warp-beam.

Without attempting to explain farther, let us consider the yarn-beam neatly wound with these warp-threads and set in the loom--that the "warping" and "beaming" are finished. The "drawing" or "entering" comes next; the end of each warp-thread in regular order is "thumbed" or drawn in with a warping-needle through the eye or "mail" of the harness, or heddle.

The heddle is a row of twines, cords, or wires called leashes, which are stretched vertically between two horizontal bars or rods, placed about a foot apart. One rod is suspended by a pulley at the top of the loom; and to the lower rod is hitched the foot-treadle. In the middle of each length of twine or wire is the loop or eye, through which a warp-thread is passed. In ordinary weaving there are two heddles, each fastened to a foot-treadle.

There is a removable loom attachment which when first shown to me was called a raddle. It is not necessary in weaving, but a convenience and help in preparing to weave. It is a wooden bar with a row of closely set, fine, wooden pegs. This is placed in the loom, and used only during the setting of the warp to keep the warp of proper width; the pegs keep the bouts or sections of the warp disentangled during the "thumbing in" of the threads through the heddle-eyes. This attachment is also called a ravel or raivel; and folk-names for it (not in the dictionary) were wrathe and rake; the latter a very good descriptive title.

The warp-threads next are drawn through the interspaces between two dents or strips of the sley or reed. This is done with a wire hook called a sley-hook or reed-hook. Two warp-threads are drawn in each space.

The sley or reed is composed of a row of short and very thin parallel strips of cane or metal, somewhat like comb-teeth, called dents, fixed at both ends closely in two long, strong, parallel bars of wood set two or three or even four inches apart. There may be fifty or sixty of these dents to one inch, for weaving very fine linen; usually there are about twenty, which gives a "bier"--a counting out of forty warp-threads to each inch. Sleys were numbered according to the number of biers they held. The number of dents to an inch determined the "set of the web," the fineness of the piece. This reed is placed in a groove on the lower edge of a heavy batten (or lay or lathe). This batten hangs by two swords or side bars and swings from an axle or "rocking tree" at the top of the loom. As the heavy batten swings on its axle, the reed forces with a sharp blow every newly placed thread of the weft into its proper place close to the previously woven part of the texture. This is the heavy thwacking sound heard in hand-weaving.

On the accurate poise of the batten depends largely the evenness of the completed woof. If the material is heavy, the batten should be swung high, thus having a good sweep and much force in its blow. The batten should be so poised as to swing back itself into place after each blow.

The weaver, with foot on treadle, sits on a narrow, high bench, which is fastened from post to post of the loom. James Maxwell, the weaver-poet, wrote under his portrait in his _Weaver's Meditations_, printed in 1756:--

    "Lo! here 'twixt Heaven and Earth I swing, And whilst the Shuttle swiftly flies, With cheerful heart I work and sing And envy none beneath the skies."

There are three motions in hand-weaving. First: by the action of one foot-treadle one harness or heddle, holding every alternate warp-thread, is depressed from the level of the entire expanse of warp-threads.

The separation of the warp-threads by this depression of one harness is called a shed. Some elaborate patterns have six harnesses. In such a piece there are ten different sheds, or combinations of openings of the warp-threads. In a four-harness piece there are six different sheds.

Room is made by this shed for the shuttle, which, by the second motion, is thrown from one side of the loom to the other by the weaver's hand, and thus goes over every alternate thread. The revolving quill within the shuttle lets the weft-thread play out during this side-to-side motion of the shuttle. The shuttle must not be thrown too sharply else it will rebound and make a slack thread in the weft. By the third motion the batten crowds this weft-thread into place. Then the motion of the other foot-treadle forces down the other warp-threads which pass through the second set of harnesses, the shuttle is thrown back through this shed, and so on.

In order to show the amount of work, the number of separate motions in a day's work in weaving of close woollen cloth like broadcloth (which was only about three yards), we must remember that the shuttle was thrown over three thousand times, and the treadles pressed down and batten swung the same number of times.

A simple but clear description of the process of weaving is given in Ovid's _Metamorphoses_, thus Englished in 1724:--

                        "The piece prepare And order every slender thread with care; The web enwraps the beam, the reed divides While through the widening space the shuttle glides, Which their swift hands receive, then poised with lead The swinging weight strikes close the inserted thread."

A loom attachment which I puzzled over was a tomble or tumble, the word being seen in eighteenth-century lists, etc., yet absolutely untraceable. I at last inferred, and a weaver confirmed my inference, that it was a corruption of temple, an attachment made of flat, narrow strips of wood as long as the web is wide, with hooks or pins at the end to catch into the selvage of the cloth, and keep the cloth stretched firmly an even width while the reed beats the weft-thread into place.

There were many other simple yet effective attachments to the loom. Their names have been upon the lips of scores of thousands of English-speaking people, and the words are used in all treatises on weaving; yet our dictionaries are dumb and ignorant of their existence. There was the pace-weight, which kept the warp even; and the bore-staff, which tightened the warp. When a sufficient length of woof had been woven (it was usually a few inches), the weaver proceeded to do what was called drawing a bore or a sink. He shifted the temple forward; rolled up the cloth on the cloth bar, which had a crank-handle and ratchets; unwound the warp a few inches, shifted back the rods and heddles, and started afresh.

Looms and their appurtenances were usually made by local carpenters; and it can plainly be seen that thus constant work was furnished to many classes of workmen in every community,--wood-turners, beam-makers, timber-sawyers, and others. The various parts of the looms were in unceasing demand, though apparently they never wore out. The sley was the most delicate part of the mechanism. Good sley-makers could always command high prices for their sleys. I have seen one whole and good, which has been in general use for weaving rag carpets ever since the War of 1812, for which a silver dollar was paid. Spools were turned and marked with the maker's initials. There were choice and inexplicable lines in the shape of a shuttle as there are in a boat's hull. When a shuttle was carefully shaped, scraped, hollowed out, tipped with steel, and had the maker's initials burnt in it, it was a proper piece of work, of which any craftsman might be proud. Apple-wood and boxwood were the choice for shuttles.

Smaller looms, called tape-looms, braid-looms, belt-looms, garter-looms, or "gallus-frames," were seen in many American homes, and useful they were in days when linen, cotton, woollen, or silk tapes, bobbins, and webbings or ribbons were not common and cheap as to-day. Narrow bands such as tapes, none-so-pretty's, ribbons, caddises, ferretings, inkles, were woven on these looms for use for garters, points, glove-ties, hair-laces, shoestrings, belts, hat-bands, stay-laces, breeches-suspenders, etc.

These tape-looms are a truly ancient form of appliance for the hand-weaving of narrow bands,--a heddle-frame. They are rudely primitive in shape, but besides serving well the colonists in all our original states, are still in use among the Indian tribes in New Mexico and in Lapland, Italy, and northern Germany. They are scarcely more than a slightly shaped board so cut in slits that the centre of the board is a row of narrow slats. These slats are pierced in a row by means of a heated wire and the warp-threads are passed through the holes.

A common form of braid-loom was one that was laid upon a table. A still simpler form was held upright on the lap, the knees being firmly pressed into semicircular indentations cut for the purpose on either side of the board which formed the lower part of the loom. The top of the loom was steadied by being tied with a band to the top of a chair, or a hook in the wall. It was such light and pretty work that it seemed merely an industrial amusement, and girls carried their tape-looms to a neighbor's house for an afternoon's work, just as they did their knitting-needles and ball of yarn. A fringe-loom might also be occasionally found, for weaving decorative fringes; these were more common in the Hudson River valley than elsewhere.

I have purposely given minute, but I trust not tiresome, details of the operation of weaving on a hand-loom, because a few years more will see the last of those who know the operation and the terms used. The fact that so many terms are now obsolete proves how quickly disuse brings oblivion. When in a country crowded full of weavers, as was England until about 1845, the knowledge has so suddenly disappeared, need we hope for much greater memory or longer life here? When what is termed the Westmoreland Revival of domestic industries was begun eight or ten years ago, the greatest difficulty was found in obtaining a hand-loom. No one knew how to set it up, and it was a long time before a weaver could be found to run it and teach others its use.

The first half of this century witnessed a vital struggle in England, and to an extent in America, between hand and power machinery, and an interesting race between spinning and weaving. Under old-time conditions it was calculated that it took the work of four spinners, who spun swiftly and constantly, to supply one weaver. As spinning was ever what was known as a by-industry,--that is, one that chiefly was done by being caught up at odd moments,--the supply both in England and America did not equal the weavers' demands, and ten spinners had to be calculated to supply yarn for one weaver. Hence weavers never had to work very hard; as a rule, they could have one holiday in the week. What with Sundays, wakes, and fairs, Irish weavers worked only two hundred days in the year. In England the weaver often had to spend one day out of the six hunting around the country for yarn for weft. So inventive wits were set at work to enlarge the supply of yarn, and spinning machinery was the result. Thereafter the looms and weavers were pushed hard and had to turn to invention. The shuttle had always simply been passed from one hand to the other of the weaver on either side of the web. The fly-shuttle was now invented, which by a simple piece of machinery, worked by one hand, threw the shuttle swiftly backward and forward, and the loom was ahead in the race. Then came the spinning-jenny, which spun yarn with a hundred spindles on each machine. But this was for weft yarns, and did not make strong warps. Finally Arkwright supplied this lack in water-twist or "throstle-spun" yarn. All these inventions again overcrowded the weavers; all attempts at hand-spinning of cotton had become quickly extinct. Wool-spinning lingered longer. Five Tomlinson sisters,--the youngest forty years old,--with two pair of wool-cards and five hand-wheels, paid the rent of their farm, kept three cows, one horse, had a ploughed field, and made prime butter and eggs. One sister clung to her spinning till 1822. Power-looms were invented to try to use up the jenny's supply of yarn, but these did not crowd out hand-looms. Weavers never had so good wages. It was the Golden Age of Cotton. Some families earned six pounds a week; good clothes, even to the extent of ruffled shirts, good furniture, even to silver spoons, good food, plentiful ale and beer, entered every English cottage with the weaving of cotton and wool. A far more revolutionary and more hated machine than the power-loom was the combing-machine called Big Ben.

    "Come all ye Master Combers, and hear of our Big Ben. He'll comb more wool than fifty of your men With their hand-combs, and comb-pots, and such old-fashioned way."

Flax-spinning and linen-weaving by power machinery were slower in being established. Englishmen were halting in perfecting these machines. Napoleon offered in 1810 a million francs for a flax-spinning machine. A clever Frenchman claimed to have invented one in response in a single day, but similar clumsy machines had then been running in England for twenty years. By 1850 men, women, and children--combers, spinners, and weavers--were no longer individual workers; they had become part of that great monster, the mill-machinery. Riots and misery were the first result of the passing of hand weaving and spinning.

In the _Vision of Piers Ploughman_ (1360) are these lines:--

    "Cloth that cometh fro the wevyng Is nought comly to were Till it be fulled under foot Or in fullyng stokkes Wasshen wel with water And with taseles cracched, Y-touked and y-tented And under taillours hande."

Just so in the colonies four centuries later, cloth that came from the weaving was not comely to wear till it was fulled under foot or in fulling-stocks, washed well in water, scratched and dressed with teazels, dyed and tented, and put in the tailor's hands. Nor did the roll of centuries bring a change in the manner of proceeding. If grease had been put on the wool when it was carded, or sizing in the warp for the weaving, it was washed out by good rinsing from the woven cloth. This became now somewhat uneven and irregular in appearance, and full of knots and fuzzes which were picked out with hand-tweezers by burlers before it was fulled or milled, as it was sometimes called. The fulling-stocks were a trough in which an enormous oaken hammer was made to pound up and down, while the cloth was kept thoroughly wet with warm soap and water, or fullers' earth and water. Naturally this thickened the web much and reduced it in length. It was then teazelled; that is, a nap or rough surface was raised all over it by scratching it with weavers' teazels or thistles. Many wire brushes and metal substitutes have been tried to take the place of nature's gift to the cloth-worker, the teazel, but nothing has been invented to replace with full satisfaction that wonderful scratcher. For the slender recurved bracts of the teazel heads are stiff and prickly enough to roughen thoroughly the nap of the cloth, yet they yield at precisely the right point to keep from injuring the fabric.

If the cloth were to be "y-touked," that is, dyed, it was done at this period, and it was then "y-tented," spread on the tenter-field and caught on tenter-hooks, to shrink and dry.

Nowadays, we sometimes cut or crop the nap with long shears, and boil the web to give it a lustre, and ink it to color any ill-dyed fibres, and press it between hot plates before it goes to the tailor's hands; but these injurious processes were omitted in olden times. Worsted stuffs were not fulled, but were woven of hand-combed wool.

Linen webs after they were woven had even more manipulations to come to them than woollen stuffs. In spite of all the bleaching of the linen thread, it still was light brown in color, and it had to go through at least twoscore other processes, of bucking, possing, rinsing, drying, and bleaching on the grass. Sometimes it was stretched out on pegs with loops sewed on the selvage edge. This bleaching was called crofting in England, and grassing in America. Often it was thus spread on the grass for weeks, and was slightly wetted several times a day; but not too wet, else it would mildew. In all, over forty bleaching operations were employed upon "light linens." Sometimes they were "soured" in buttermilk to make them purely white. Thus at least sixteen months had passed since the flaxseed had been sown, in which, truly, the spinster had not eaten the bread of idleness. In the winter months the fine, white, strong linen was made into "board cloths" or tablecloths, sheets, pillow-biers, aprons, shifts, shirts, petticoats, short gowns, gloves, cut from the spinner's own glove pattern, and a score of articles for household use. These were carefully marked, and sometimes embroidered with home-dyed crewels, as were also splendid sets of bed-hangings, valances, and testers for four-post bedsteads.

The homespun linens that were thus spun and woven and bleached were one of the most beautiful expressions and types of old-time home life. Firm, close-woven, and pure, their designs were not greatly varied, nor was their woof as symmetrical and perfect as modern linens--but thus were the lives of those who made them; firm, close-woven in neighborly kindness, with the simplicity both of innocence and ignorance; their days had little variety, and life was not altogether easy, and, like the web they wove, it was sometimes narrow. I am always touched when handling these homespun linens with a consciousness of nearness to the makers; with a sense of the energy and strength of those enduring women who were so full of vitality, of unceasing action, that it does not seem to me they can be dead.

The strong, firm linen woven in many struggling country homes was too valuable and too readily exchangeable and salable to be kept wholly for farm use, especially when there were so few salable articles produced on the farm. It was sold or more frequently exchanged at the village store for any desired commodity, such as calico, salt, sugar, spices, or tea. It readily sold for forty-two cents a yard. Therefore the boys and even the fathers did not always have linen shirts to wear. From the tow which had been hatchelled out from harl a coarse thread was spun and cloth was woven which was made chiefly into shirts and smocks and tow "tongs" or "skilts," which were loose flapping summer trousers which ended almost half-way from the knee to the ankle. This tow stuff was never free from prickling spines, and it proved, so tradition states, an absolute instrument of torture to the wearer, until frequent washings had worn it out and thus subdued its knots and spines.

A universal stuff woven in New Hampshire by the Scotch-Irish linen-weavers who settled there, and who influenced husbandry and domestic manufactures and customs all around them, was what was known as striped frocking. It was worn also to a considerable extent in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The warp was strong white cotton or tow thread, the weft of blue and white stripes made by weaving alternately a shuttleful of indigo-dyed homespun yarn and one of white wool or tow. Many boys grew to manhood never wearing, except on Sundays, any kind of coat save a long, loose, shapeless jacket or smock of this striped frocking, known everywhere as a long-short. The history of the old town of Charmingfare tells of the farmers in that vicinity tying tight the two corners of this long-short at the waist and thus making a sort of loose bag in which various articles could be carried. Sylvester Judd, in his _Margaret_, the classic of old New England life, has his country women dressed also in long-shorts, and tells of the same fabric.

Another material which was universal in country districts had a flax or tow warp, and a coarser slack-twisted cotton or tow filling. This cloth was dyed and pressed and was called fustian. It was worth a shilling a yard in 1640. It was named in the earliest colonial accounts, and was in truth the ancient fustian, worn throughout Europe in the Middle Ages for monks' robes and laborers' dress, not the stuff to-day called fustian. We read in _The Squier of Low Degree_, "Your blanketts shall be of fustayne."

Another coarse cloth made in New England, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the Carolinas was crocus. The stuff is obsolete and the name is forgotten save in a folk-saying which lingers in Virginia--"as coarse as crocus." Homespun stuff for the wear of negroes was known and sold as "Virginia cloth." Vast quantities of homespun cloth was made on Virginian plantations, thousands of yards annually at Mount Vernon for slave-wear, and for the house-mistress as well.

It is told of Martha Washington that she always carefully dyed all her worn silk gowns and silk scraps to a desired shade, ravelled them with care, wound them on bobbins, and had them woven into chair and cushion covers. Sometimes she changed the order of things. To a group of visitors she at one time displayed a dress of red and white striped material of which the white stripes were cotton, and the red, ravelled chair covers and silk from the General's worn-out stockings.

Checked linen, with bars of red or blue, was much used for bedticks, pillow-cases, towelling, aprons, and even shirts and summer trousers. In all the Dutch communities in New York it was woven till this century. When Benjamin Tappan first attended meeting in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1769, he was surprised to find that all the men in the church but four or five wore checked shirts. Worcester County men always wore white shirts, and deemed a checked shirt the mark of a Connecticut River man.

It is impossible to overestimate the durability of homespun materials. I have "flannel sheets" a hundred years old, the lightest, most healthful, and agreeable summer covering for children's beds that ever any one was blessed with. Cradle sheets of this thin, closely woven, white worsted stuff are not slimsy like thin flannel, yet are softer than flannel. Years of use with many generations of children have left them firm and white.

Grain-bags have been seen that have been in constant and hard use for seventy years, homespun from coarse flax and hemp. I have several delightful bags about four feet long and two feet wide, of rather closely woven pure white homespun linen, not as heavy, however, as crash. They have the date of their manufacture, 1789, and the initials of the weaver, and have linen tapes woven in at each side. They are used every spring--packed with furs and blankets and placed in cedar chests, and with such usage will easily round out another century.

The product of these hand-looms which has lingered longest in country use, especially in the Northern states, and which is the sole product of all the hand-looms that I know to be set up and in use in New England (except one notable example to which I will refer hereafter), is the rag carpet. It is still in constant demand and esteem on farms and in small villages and towns, and is an economical and thrifty, and may be a comely floor-covering. The accompanying illustration of a woman weaving rag carpet on an old hand-loom is from a fine photograph taken by Mrs. Arthur Sewall of Bath, Maine, and gives an excellent presentment of the machine and the process.

The warp of these carpets was, in olden times, a strong, heavy flaxen thread. To-day it is a heavy cotton twine bought machine-spun in balls or hanks. The weft or rilling is narrow strips of all the clean and vari-colored rags that accumulate in a household.

The preparing of this filling requires considerable judgment. Heavy woollen cloth should be cut in strips about half an inch wide. If there were sewn with these strips of light cotton stuff of equal width, the carpet would prove a poor thing, heavy in spots and slimsy in others. Hence lighter stuffs should be cut in wider strips, as they can then be crowded down by the batten of the loom to the same width and substance as the heavy wools. Calicoes, cottons, all-wool delaines, and lining cambrics should be cut in strips at least an inch wide. These strips, of whatever length they chance to be, are sewn into one continuous strip, which is rolled into a hard ball weighing about a pound and a quarter. It is calculated that one of these balls will weave about a yard of carpeting. The joining must be strongly and neatly done and should not be bunchy. An aged weaver who had woven many thousand yards of carpeting assured me the prettiest carpets were always those in which every alternate strip was white or very light in color. Another thrifty way of using old material is the cutting into inch-wide strips of woven ingrain or three-ply carpet. This, through the cotton warp, makes a really artistic monochrome floor-covering.

In one of the most romantic and beautiful spots in old Narragansett lives the last of the old-time weavers; not a weaver who desultorily weaves a run of rag carpeting to earn a little money in the intervals of other work, or to please some importunate woman-neighbor who has saved up her rags; but a weaver whose lifelong occupation, whose only means of livelihood, has always been, and is still, hand-weaving. I have told his story at some length in my book, _Old Narragansett_,--of his kin, his life, his work. His home is at the cross-roads where three townships meet, a cross-roads where has often taken place that curious and senseless survival of old-time tradition and superstition--shift marriages. A widow, a cousin of the Weaver Rose's father, was the last to undergo this ordeal; clad only in her shift, she thrice crossed the King's Highway and was thus married to avoid payment of her first husband's debts. It is not far from the old Church Foundation of St. Paul's of Narragansett, and the tumble-down house of Sexton Martin Read, the prince of Narragansett weavers in ante-Revolutionary days. Weaver Rose learned to weave from his grandfather, who was an apprentice of Weaver Read.

In the loom-room of Weaver Rose a veritable atmosphere of the past still lingers. Everything appertaining to the manufacture of homespun materials may there be found. Wheels, skarnes, sleys, warping-bars, clock-reels, swifts, quilling-wheels, vast bales of yarns and thread--for he no longer spins his thread and yarn. There are piles of old and new bed coverlets woven in those fanciful geometric designs, which are just as the ancient Gauls wove them in the Bronze Age, and which formed a favorite bed-covering of our ancestors, and of country folk to-day. These coverlets the weaver calls by the good old English name of hap-harlot, a name now obsolete in England, which I have never seen used in text of later date than Holinshead's _Survey of London_, written four hundred years ago. His manuscript pattern-book is over a hundred years old, and has the rules for setting the harnesses. They bear many pretty and odd names, such as "Rosy Walk," "Baltimore Beauty," "Girl's Love," "Queen's Fancy," "Devil's Fancy," "Everybody's Beauty," "Four Snow Balls," "Five Snow Balls," "Bricks and Blocks," "Gardener's Note," "Green Vails," "Rose in Bloom," "Pansies and Roses in the Wilderness," "Flag-Work," "Royal Beauty," "Indian March," "Troy's Beauty," "Primrose and Diamonds," "Crown and Diamonds," "Jay's Fancy," "In Summer and Winter," "Boston Beauty," and "Indian War." One named "Bony Part's March" was very pretty, as was "Orange Peel," and "Orange Trees"; "Dog Tracks" was even checkerwork, "Blazing Star," a herring-bone design. "Perry's Victory" and "Lady Washington's Delight" show probably the date of their invention, and were handsome designs, while the "Whig Rose from Georgia," which had been given to the weaver by an old lady a hundred years old, had proved a poor and ugly thing. "Kapa's Diaper" was a complicated design which took "five harnesses" to make. "Rattlesnake's Trail," "Wheels of Fancy," "Chariot Wheels and Church Windows," and "Bachelor's Fancy" were all exceptionally fine designs.

Sometimes extremely elaborate patterns were woven in earlier days. An exquisitely woven coverlet as fine as linen sheeting, a corner of which is here shown, has an elaborate border of patriotic and Masonic emblems, patriotic inscriptions, and the name of the maker, a Red Hook, Hudson valley, dame of a century ago, who wove this beautiful bedspread as the crowning treasure of her bridal outfit. The "setting-up" of such a design as this is entirely beyond my skill as a weaver to explain or even comprehend. But it is evident that the border must have been woven by taking up a single warp-thread at a time, with a wire needle, not by passing a shuttle, as it is far too complicated and varied for any treadle-harness to be able to make a shed for a shuttle.

Hand-weaving in Weaver Rose's loom-room to-day is much simplified in many of its preparatory details by the employment of machine-made materials. The shuttles and spools are made by machinery; and more important still, both warp and weft is purchased ready-spun from mills. The warp is simply a stout cotton twine or coarse thread bought in balls or hanks; while various cheap mill-yarns or what is known as worsteds or coarse crewels are used as filling. These, of course, are cheap, but alas! are dyed with fleeting or garish aniline dyes. No new blue yarn can equal either in color or durability the old indigo-dyed, homespun, hard-twisted yarn made on a spinning-wheel. Germantown, early in the field in American wool manufacture, still supplies nearly all the yarn for his hand-looms.

The transition half a century or more ago from what Horace Bushnell called "mother and daughter power to water and steam power," was a complete revolution in domestic life, and indeed of social manners as well. When a people spin and weave and make their own dress, you have in this very fact the assurance that they are home-bred, home-living, home-loving people. You are sure, also, that the lives of the women are home-centred. The chief cause for women's intercourse with any of the outside world except neighborly acquaintance, her chief knowledge of trade and exchange, is in shopping, dressmaking, etc. These causes scarcely existed in country communities a century ago. The daughters who in our days of factories leave the farm for the cotton-mill, where they perform but one of the many operations in cloth manufacture, can never be as good home-makers or as helpful mates as the homespun girls of our grandmothers' days; nor can they be such co-workers in great public movements.

In the summer of 1775, when all the preparations for the War of the Revolution were in a most unsettled and depressing condition, especially the supplies for the Continental army, the Provincial Congress made a demand on the people for thirteen thousand warm coats to be ready for the soldiers by cold weather. There were no great contractors then as now to supply the cloth and make the garments, but by hundreds of hearthstones throughout the country wool-wheels and hand-looms were started eagerly at work, and the order was filled by the handiwork of patriotic American women. In the record book of some New England towns may still be found the lists of the coat-makers. In the inside of each coat was sewed the name of the town and the maker. Every soldier volunteering for eight months' service was given one of these homespun, home-made, all-wool coats as a bounty. So highly were these "Bounty Coats" prized, that the heirs of soldiers who were killed at Bunker Hill before receiving their coats were given a sum of money instead. The list of names of soldiers who then enlisted is known to this day as the "Coat Roll," and the names of the women who made the coats might form another roll of honor. The English sneeringly called Washington's army the "Homespuns." It was a truthful nickname, but there was deeper power in the title than the English scoffers knew.

The starting up of power-looms and the wonderful growth of woollen manufacture did not crowd out homespun as speedily in America as in England. When the poet Whittier set out from the Quaker farmhouse to go to Boston to seek his fortune, he wore a homespun suit every part of which, even the horn buttons, was of domestic manufacture. Many a man born since Whittier has grown to manhood clothed for every-day wear wholly with homespun; and many a boy is living who was sent to college dressed wholly in a "full-cloth" suit, with horn buttons or buttons made of discs of heavy leather.

During the Civil War spinning and weaving were revived arts in the Confederate cities; and, as ever in earlier days, proved a most valuable economic resource under restricted conditions. In the home of a friend in Charleston, South Carolina, an old, worm-eaten loom was found in a garret where it had lain since the embargo in 1812. It was set up in 1863, and plantation carpenters made many like it for neighbors and fellow-citizens. All women in the mountain districts knew how to use the loom, and taught weaving to many others, both white and black. A portion of the warp, which was cotton, was spun at home; more was bought from a cotton-factory. My friend sacrificed a great number of excellent wool-mattresses; this wool was spun into yarn and used for weft, and formed a most grateful and dignified addition to the varied, grotesque, and interesting makeshifts of the wardrobe of the Southern Confederacy.

Though weaving on hand-looms in our Northern and Middle states is practically extinct, save as to the weaving of rag carpets (and that only in few communities), in the South all is different. In all the mountain and remote regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas, and I doubt not in Alabama, both among the white and negro mountain-dwellers, hand-weaving is still a household art. The descendants of the Acadians in Louisiana still weave and wear homespun. The missions in the mountains encourage spinning and weaving; and it is pleasant to learn that many women not only pursue these handicrafts for their home use, but some secure a good living by hand-weaving, earning ten cents a yard in weaving rag carpets. The coverlet patterns resemble the ones already described. Names from Waynesville, North Carolina, are "Washington's Diamond Ring," "Nine Chariot Wheels"; from Pinehurst come "Flowery Vine," "Double Table," "Cat Track," "Snow Ball and Dew Drop," "Snake Shed," "Flowers in the Mountains." At Pinehurst the old settlers, of sturdy Scotch stock, all weave. They make cloth, all cotton; cloth of cotton warp and wool filling called drugget; dimity, a heavy cotton used for coverlets; a yarn jean which has wool warp and filling, and cotton jean which is cotton warp and wool filling; homespun is a heavy cloth, of cotton and wool mixed. All buy cotton warp or "chain," as they call it, ready-spun from the mills. This is known by the name of bunch-thread. These Pinehurst weavers still use home-made dyes. Cotton is dyed black with dye made by steeping the bark of the "Black Jack" or scrub-oak mixed with red maple bark. Wool is dyed black with a mixture of gall-berry leaves and sumac berries; for red they use a moss which they find growing on the rocks, and which may be the lichen _Roccella tinctoria_ or dyer's-moss; also madder root, and sassafras bark. Yellow is dyed with laurel leaves, or "dye-flower," a yellow flower of the sunflower tribe; laurel leaves and "dye-flower" together made orange-red. Blue is obtained from the plentiful wild indigo; and for green, the cloth or yarn is first dyed blue with indigo, then boiled in a decoction of hickory bark and laurel leaves. A bright yellow is obtained from a clay which abounds in that neighborhood, probably like a red ferruginous limestone found in Tennessee, which gives a splendid, fast color; when the clay is baked and ground it gives a fine, artistic, dull red. Purple dye comes from cedar tops and lilac leaves; brown from an extract of walnut hulls.

The affectionate regard which all good workmen have for their tools and implements in handcrafts is found among these Southern weavers. One assures me that her love for her loom is as for a human companion. The machines are usually family heirlooms that have been owned for several generations, and are treasured like relics.