Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times

By Elizabeth Wayland Barber | Go to book overview

Introduction

"Four, three, two, one—good. One more bunch to go; then we've got to get dinner on."

I yanked the loose knot out of the last bundle of pea green warp threads and began passing the ends through the rows of tiny loops in the middle of the loom to my sister to tie up on the far side. The threads of the warp are those lying lengthwise in the finished cloth, and the most tedious part of making a new cloth comes in stringing these onto the loom, one at a time. Once you begin to weave in the cross-threads-the weft—you can see the new cloth forming inch by inch under your fingers, and you feel a sense of accomplishment. But the warp just looks like thread, thread, and more thread. At this moment I was balancing the pattern diagram on my knee, counting out which little loop each thread had to pass through on its way from my side of the loom to hers.

For nearly eight hours we had been working on the warp, between and around the interruptions. In the morning we had wound off the requisite number of green and chocolate brown threads of fine worsted wool, stripe by color stripe, onto the great frame of warping pegs—pegs that hold the threads in order while measuring them all to the same length. By lunchtime we were ready to transfer the warp to the loom, tying one end of the long,

-17-

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Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Other Books by Elizabeth Wayland Barber *
  • Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years - Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times *
  • Contents 9
  • Preface 11
  • Introduction 17
  • 1 - A Tradition with a Reason 29
  • 2 - The String Revolution 42
  • 3 - Courtyard Sisterhood 71
  • 4 - Island Fever 101
  • 5 - More Than Hearts on Our Sleeves 127
  • 6 - Elements or the Code 147
  • 7 - Cloth for the Caravans 164
  • 8 - Land of Linen 185
  • 9 - The Golden Spindle 207
  • 10 - Behind the Myths 232
  • 11 - Plain or Fancy, New or Tried and True 257
  • 12 - Postscript: Finding the Invisible 286
  • Illustrations 301
  • Sources 306
  • Index 323
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