Having mastered Swedish lace, and being a huge fan of Mary Meigs Atwater and her teachings, I decided it was high time to study Atwater-Bronson lace.
Well, it was truly a surprise when my research revealed Ms Atwater was simply the person who reintroduced an obscure, nearly forgotten lace. No matter how vehemently she denied having any part in designing the lace, her popularity and commitment to saving old weaving patterns saw to it that her name was permanently linked with the Bronsons who were its originators.
After studying a drawdown of the weave, I was a little concerned that Bronson lace tie-up is 1 shaft against the other 3 on a four shaft loom. My ancient loom is a 45” LeClerc, a heavy built machine fine for making rugs. This means repeatedly raising 3 shafts at a time can be quite a trick, with resulting, possibly interesting consequences. Like a noticeable limp, or one leg a great deal larger than the other.
Never-the-less, in the interest of trying the untried, I quickly decided to make several kitchen towels using 8/2 unmercerized cotton with accents of space dyed cotton slub. I set to work to design a pattern, create a drawdown, and plan my reed size and supply needs.
At this point, I should mention how I tested the design, found problems and corrected them. However, since I made no test, I cannot, in all honesty, do this. In a hurry to create a beautiful finished product, I dove right in, warped the loom and began to weave with fervor.
The navy blue weft on navy warp rendered the design on Towel 1 nearly invisible. Also changes in beating between stops and starts were very noticeable in the areas with light warp and dark weft. However, I quickly finished the towel and, with high hopes and a slight variation in the use of the colored slub, began Towel 2, still with navy warp and navy weft. (I ask you, “Will she never learn?”)
By Towel 3, having grown bored with flinging navy weft back and forth, I decided to switch to the light blue of the warp between navy stripes. Well, what do you know? With use of different colored warp and weft, the Atwater-Bronson lace showed up beautifully. With the same colored warp and weft in the large areas, stops and starts were unnoticeable. (There must be one or two lessons here.)
Calling the project a success, I happily pulled the work off the loom, repaired the very few little imperfections in the weaving (a pleasant surprise to me), hemmed, washed and ironed my new hand woven towels. As I photographed them, I thought (hopefully), “Maybe the lace threads will fade a little and as time passes the design will show better.” You never know, anything is possible.
The original tie-up proved problematic, but after changing the order several times, I found a position comfortable for weaving. It may be a while before I weave this lace again.