Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Narratives & Conversions: Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, October 11–14, Toronto, Ontario


Copyright 2006 by the author.


Swedish weavers who arrived in the United States in the early 20th century before World War I found hand weaving a dying art in the United States, but their own skills were valued. American textile mills produced inexpensive and vast quantities of fabrics, but there was also growing interest in reviving the lost arts and crafts of the Colonial and pioneer eras. Influence from the European Arts and Crafts movement and the Bauhaus design philosophy was growing in modern America. These factors created new opportunities for a revival of hand weaving.

Sweden, by contrast, had retained its strong craft tradition in the face of late-arriving industrialization. A system of preservation societies and craft training in the folk (free public) schools and in arts and crafts schools in Sweden meant that such skills were widely known and valued. For Americans interested in weaving in the early 20th century, Sweden and Swedish sources became an important source of knowledge, equipment, tools, yarns, books and personal instruction. Swedish weavers taught fine, traditional weaving in several American craft communities, art centers, schools and colleges prior to WWII. Some Americans visited Sweden and other Scandinavian countries in search of weaving education and inspiration, a cross-cultural experience that continues, enhanced by computer access.

This study highlights Swedish weavers whose presence was featured in American weaving and craft publications and organizations. The Handicrafter, Handweaver & Craftsman, Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot and Handwoven magazines between 1924 and 1970 were examined and followed up with archival research and personal interviews.