The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects

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    Shuttles were textile tools designed to carry and move yarn back and forth through the warp which in turn creates cloth.

    Weaving reeds are a part of weaving looms that are used to separate and space the warp threads, which guides the shuttle’s movement across the loom and pushes weft threads into place. Reeds were interchangeable and different reeds were used to make different types of fabric. Despite many family narratives that claim female ancestors wove the textiles, generally weaving was a profession for men. However, there were exceptions, and in the Kentucky frontier there is evidence that enslaved men and women were also skilled weavers. More likely, the fiber was cultivated and harvested on the family farm. It was then prepared and spun into yarn by women who then turned it over to trained weavers who made it into cloth, which might be finished at home or sewn into clothing. In the early 20th century, during a revival of frontier craft, weaving became a skilled craft dominated by women.
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