Cover image for The weaver's craft : cloth, commerce, and industry in early Pennsylvania
The weaver's craft : cloth, commerce, and industry in early Pennsylvania
Hood, Adrienne D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
230 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
European origins -- Landholding and labor -- Flax and wool: fiber production and processing -- Spinning and knitting -- Weaving and cloth finishing -- From loom to market: meeting consumer demand -- Weaving moves into the mills.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TS1324.P4 H66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Cloth was one of the most important commodities in the early modern world, and colonial North Americans had to develop creative strategies to acquire it. Although early European settlers came from societies in which hand textile production was central to the economy, local conditions in North America interacted with traditional craft structures to create new patterns of production and consumption. The Weaver's Craft examines the development of cloth manufacture in early Pennsylvania from its roots in seventeenth-century Europe to the beginning of industrialization.

Adrienne D. Hood's focus on Pennsylvania and the long sweep of history yields a new understanding of the complexities of early American fabric production and the regional variations that led to distinct experiences of industrialization. Drawing on an extensive array of primary sources, combined with a quantitative approach, the author argues that in contrast to New England, rural Pennsylvania women spun the yarn that a small group of trained male artisans wove into cloth on a commercial basis throughout the eighteenth century. Their production was considerably augmented by consumers purchasing cheap cloth from Europe and Asia, making them active participants in a global marketplace. Hood's painstaking research and numerous illustrations of textile equipment, swatch books, and consumer goods will be of interest to both scholars and craftspeople.

Author Notes

Adrienne D. Hood teaches history at the University of Toronto. She is a former curator of textiles at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In Colonial Pennsylvania, the manufacture of woven cloth evolved simultaneously with the Merrimack Valley production in Massachusetts. Following the mode of European tradition and gender division--women spun, men wove--immigrant weavers of farm communities produced cloth for local needs. However, with the emergence of industrialization, women in Massachusetts took over, moving to factories, while the old way, now on a commercial basis, lived on in Pennsylvania. Although older research focused on the development of textile technology and labor in New England, Hood (Univ. of Toronto), a historian and former curator, concentrates on the diverging Pennsylvania model of Colonial craft manufacture and its transition to a capitalist economy. In lieu of extant cloth from the early production--used fabric was made into paper or used up by the military--she has combed tax and probate records, account books, newspapers, and journals in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She tracks the processing of fiber from flax and sheep to spinning, knitting, weaving, and finishing. This thorough study includes illustrations of equipment and pictures of swatches and clothing. It should interest both general readers and scholars of social, economic, and labor history. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. M. Tulokas Rhode Island School of Design