Conversations surrounding Early Canadian Weaving

Are hand woven textile objects more than just a document of traditions born from the necessity of survival? How does hand weaving cloth still play a role in contemporary textiles? These questions pertain to my research this year. I have become very interested in the concept of origin and heirloom and how objects provide the importance of the handwoven coverlet as a crucial piece of the textile history of early Canada. Canadian textile Curator Dorothy K. Burnham provides us a foundation for defining the connective thread running from the importance of materials and culture in the past to the present. Immigration plays a key to the social, clinic economical development of cloth production in the home.

i1995_0289_i1_front
Coverlet for the bed. North America: Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada. C. 1860. L 234 cm x W 184 cm. Cotton and wool. Hand woven, overshot, hand-sewn. From the Textile Museum of Canada Collection.
keep-me-warm
Burnham, Dorothy K., Harold B. Burnham. Keep Me Warm One Night: Early handweaving in Eastern Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973. Print.
keep-me
Photograph from Keep Me Warm One Night Exhibition. Royal Ontario Museum. 1971. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

In art history my research into early Canadian handweaving lead me to this wonderful book called Keep Me Warm One Night. It goes into great technical detail about the handweaving and  the importance of the coverlet in Canadian homes. This textile object served as a functional item for warmth on the bed, which was thought to be “the center of the home” (Burnham and Burnham 141). Coverlets were also equally beautiful in their craftsmanship often using handspun and hand dyed wool yarns. This cherished textile within the home of so many early Canadian homes serves as a point of entry to investigate identity. This book has opened my eyes to a truly detailed and rich history of weaving in Canada. As I move forward with my work I continue to consider ‘home’ as a key to my own identity and influence in my handwoven work. 

Rael