More from a weaver’s notebook…

In my last post I introduced a charity shop find, a weaver’s notebook from 1925-26. I’ve had a great reaction, so here is some of the latest information and leads – and a lot more photographs. Hopefully there’ll be more to come as I follow up on everything…

notebook A

One of the most interesting leads came from someone studying textiles at Glasgow School of Art; he had seen a very similar book – same layout of book, same type of examples – in the archives there. I’ve also been given contacts at many relevant museums and textile collections, and details have been passed to the head of textiles at Cardonald College – A J Easton, the keeper of this notebook, lived in Cardonald. And another person was able to find an exact address from records in Glasgow: 52, Carsaig Drive – certainly a family with the same surname lived there at the right time, and the address in the book is Carsaig Drive. I’ve searched the 1911 census, but no records match (the 1921 census isn’t yet available).

I’m still no closer, however, to working out exactly how the book came to make its way to an attic in Porthmadog. The mother of a friend, a very bright 103-year-old and local historian, spent a lot of her life living near the house where the book was found. She recalls that it was always tenanted (rats, no records except a vague possibility in unpublished censuses / electoral rolls). But she also added that during the War there were a lot of evacuated families living in Port, and that every available space was filled with people from all over the UK. She had a feeling that the link might lie there… Who knows, there may never be an answer.

I’m not sure I mind, though; in a way, it’s enough that the notebook itself has survived. I do find it rather poignant – and heartening – that it should have materialised after nearly 90 years, and am still amazed at it, given that there must have been so many opportunities for it to end up in a skip. I suppose that’s why I’m trying to find out more. I can’t imagine for one minute that A J Easton would ever have considered that people would be looking at his/her everyday  work notes early in the 21st century. You can never tell (assumes Yoda-like tone: ‘tell, you cannot’).

Anyway, more images. This is the very last entry, from March 1926:

notebook b

Many contemporary weavers have been in touch to tell me about their notebooks – as a non-weaver I’ve needed lots of help to understand what I’ve been looking at. One on Ravelry also used navy and white for her twill samples, to give ‘strong contrast between warp and weft so you can see clearly where the yarn goes over or under’. Another added that ‘the idea is to choose something that allows you to see the weave structure easily and to compare various weave structures without being distracted by different colours’ – an excellent point, especially for someone like me who is so easily led astray by delicious colours. It also looks extremely likely that the twill samples at least would have been woven by A J Easton, which was one of the things I wanted to know.

The book isn’t just about twills, though they do seem to have fascinated A J, and there are also examples of other things. So I have decided to put up a lot more pictures and let everyone have a proper look – just click on one for a slideshow – and I will keep posting (and tweeting) any developments as I follow up on all the leads…


19 thoughts on “More from a weaver’s notebook…

  1. Sue

    I do hope you can track down the family. If it were a relative of mine, I’d be delighted and proud to have this wonderful journal. The samples are beautiful, but I particularly like the herringbone (?) one you tagged “lovely pattern”.

    1. kate Post author

      I think, alas, that I’m going to have to give up there – but if I can’t find the weaver’s descendants, perhaps I can find a museum who would like the notebook – that’s what we’d really like…

  2. TextileRanger

    I have a 1906 book of drafts called Grammar of Textile Design by Harry Nisbet, published by Scott, Greenwood & Son in London. The preface says that it is a text-book for students of weaving and designing in all branches of the weaving trade. I don’t see any of AJ’s drafts or diagrams in it, though, so as you are following leads, I thought that knowing one source where the drafts didn’t come from, might save you some legwork. 🙂

    1. kate Post author

      That’s interesting, thank you; the period would be about right – I don’t imagine that 20 years here or there would have rendered that book out of use, especially given that WW1 intervened. Someone suggested that AJ might have been an art student rather than an apprentice in the weaving trade (there’s a similar notebook in GSA archives). My next step will probably be contacting them…

    1. kate Post author

      That’s a very good idea – it’s looking increasingly as though I’ve reached a stop at this end (Snowdonia) of the line…

    1. kate Post author

      For this, I think you’d need to travel back in time. Not seen anything like it for years and tears, and I’m a stationery slut. Er, someone who loves stationery – a lot.

  3. Alison Addicks

    Hello, Just stumbled google-wise across your blog posts and I wanted to tell you about a similar notebook in the North Hallerton archive: Ralph Watson’s Weaver’s Notebook, 1804. I purchased the microfilm from the archive ($179USD) and had it digitized ($200) and transcribed all the drafts (all profiles, to be transformed as “diaper” weaves) and hoped to freely share my work on – but the Archive refused permission, stating that the book was a “revenue stream” and they would not allow it to be freely available. So I would very much like to see this Glasgow book transcribed and made freely available. The samples are beautiful.
    Alison Addicks
    Rice, WA

    1. kate Post author

      Hi Alison,

      I would very much like to pass this book on to someone who would love it and find it even more fascinating than I do, and who would understand it (I am not a weaver). I’m rushed off my feet today, but I’ll try and message you directly later.

    2. Michael Devaney

      Hi Alison,

      I’ve just seen your post about Ralph Watson’s notebook. Ralph was my great x 4 grandfather. Born around 1748, he was described by a contemporary as an extensive weaver of damask, huckabacks, plain linens etc. and he advertised widely in provincial newspapers: an example of one such advertisement is shown below. He was long remembered in the family (my grandfather’s middle name was Watson) and I would love to know more about him. I wondered whether the notebook contained any autobiographical information.

      Saturday, March 26, 1803

      Carpet, Damask, Diaper, and Linen Weaver,
      RETURNS his most grateful Thanks
      to the Noblemen, Gentlemen, Ladies,and
      others for their past favours for upwards of thirty
      years, and begs leave to inform them, that he con-
      tinues to weave Carpets,  Damasks, and Diapers, of
      all sorts, from half a yard to two yards and a half in
      breadth, in the most approved manner both for quality
      and beauty. Those who please to fix upon any
      Pattern, Coat of Arms, or Name, may have the same
      wove in Table Cloths, etc. with the greatest accu-
      racy. He also weaves all sorts of Striped, Checked,
      and Tickings; Huckabacks from half a yard to two
      yards and a half wide, and all Housewife Work, in
      the neatest manner.

      1. Alison Addicks

        Michael Devaney, Hello, and delighted to read your comment. If you could send your contact information I would be happy to share the digital copy of Ralph Watson’s weaving notebook with you. My email a e a d d icks (at) g m a i l(dot) com Please remove spaces, and I will look forward to hearing from you.
        On my upcoming trip to the UK I had hoped to research a bit more into Ralph’s background but I am limited by time and my inability to drive a stick shift on the incorrect side of the road – so I am limited to train and bus transport. I will be in Bath, York, and Whitby, and then two weeks in Scotland.

  4. Kathryn Cameron

    I am a student at Sabhal Mòr College on Skye and am doing a research project into early weaving patterns, particularly of Harris Tweed, would you – or any of your followers – have any kind of information that would be useful to me please? I found you on a search and love this old journal. I have contacted the Harris Tweed Authority and am also waiting to hear back from them, many thanks, Kathryn

    1. kate Post author

      I’ll publish this on the post – have you thought of contacting any relevant branches of the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers? They are often a repository of useful information…

      Will ask around, too, but can’t think of anyone I know personally who might be able to help – good luck!

    2. Alison Addicks

      Kathryn, I’ll be traveling to Scotland August 29 this year and I would be very interested in meeting with you. I have 4-5 days before my tour leaves out of Glasgow, and a few days afterward – Meanwhile, check out the resources held at


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