Textile Book Club: Reference Materials

I love a well organized reference book that is industry specific. I can page through Electrical and Plumbing manuals with fascination and pleasure the way i can read Atlases and Travel guides cover to cover. I recently spent hours paging through a Print Pocket Reference book (International Paper Company’s Pocket Pal)… The plot may suffer a bit and there is no character development but the pictures and diagrams are abundant and interesting.

There are a few textile reference books that are must haves for any textile studio, especially in a weaving studio. These are the thorough tomes that guide and advise when inspiration or answers are desperately needed. Here’s two of them.

A Handbook of Weaves Gustaf Hermann Oelsner

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a weaving design studio where this book hasn’t been present- worn out dog eared and beaten up. If its not present, then its hidden away with some naive idea that its a secret trove of ancient knowledge. This isn’t a secret, its required reading, something you need to study and reference at least once a month.

This book reads like a book of chords for the guitar. You have the diagrams, explanation, and drafts, but you need to know your craft in order for the book to be of any use at all. There is only a quick discussion of warp, weft, yarn twist and drafting nomenclature, then it dives right into almost 2000 different weave drafts, starting with the simplest: Plainweave, then through twills, satins, crepes, and builds up to cords, ribs, deflected, then multiple layer cloths and variations thereof. Along the way there are explanations and diagrams of how yarn coloration sequences transform the weave into a different effect. Many of the classics like herringbone and honeycomb are there too. No chevron, hound’s tooth or sharkskin though.

The only thing this book lacks is a look at unbalanced constructions where you have more ends per inch than picks per inch, nor does it look at differing yarn sizes in the fabric. That’s fine, this is a handbook of weaves, not a handbook of fabric constructions.

Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles Phyllis G. Tortora and Robert S. Merkel

Forgot the difference between Hydrophillic, hydrophobic and hygroscopic again? Not sure that Frieze means the same as Grospoint? Struggling with the concept of Partially Oriented Yarn? What’s a Denier? Seriously, if sharkskin is not made out of sharkskin then what is it exactly? Time to get this book out and settle the arguments.

This is exactly what is says: a Dictionary of Textiles  and every textile person needs one. the only failing that I’ve found in it is that it does not have a pronunciation guide to settle arguments about how to pronounce ikat and other such trivialities.

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