Fibre Arts Library

Old books on wooden shelf..jpg

weaving thru the scw library

Every month the SCW librarian will feature a
book from our guild collection.
Please follow Covid19 protocols when in the library.


A Weaver’s Garden    Rita Buchanan


This book was generously supported by the Herb Society of America and written by a Botanist who wanted to combine botany, gardening and weaving all in one project. Rita had her own garden plot when she was seven, and acquiring a loom about the same time, she weaved her first scarf at the same age.


"A Weaver's Garden" covers a wide range of topics from history of plant fibers to dyeing, soap plants for cleaning textiles, fragrant plants to scent and protect textiles, including textile pest repellents, and the final chapter is creating a garden. Rita has studied several museum collections of prehistoric and historic textiles.


An example of the rich lore in the book is in the section on Stinging Nettles: first she gives a description, "unbranched stems, up to six feet tall and opposite, heart shaped leaves with toothed edges". She talks about the flowers and the tiny hairs that penetrate your skin, and inject chemicals that cause painful burning and itching.  


The North American Indigenous people used the fibers from the wood nettles to spin cordage and make fishnets. In Europe, nettle fibers have been used since the Bronze Age to weave sails for boats and mesh fabrics for sifting flour and filtering honey.


During World War one nettle fibers were used on a large scale. At that time cultivated fibers were so scarce that the Germans collected over two thousand tons of wild nettles, and used the fibers to weave fabric for military uniforms.


 From her research, she found out "nettle fibers can be woven into a velvet fabric even smoother and finer than cotton or silk velvet". Her husband, Steve, did the illustrations for the book and they are a beautiful contribution. This is a very interesting book and I would recommend it to brush up on your plant identification, and learn so much while the snow flies, that you can apply next year as you have adventures with textiles, gardening,  and weaving.