Hands to the Spindle

Texas Women and Home Textile Production, 1822-1880

978-0-89096-699-0 Cloth
6 x 9. 160 pp. 9 b&w photos., 12 line drawings.
Pub Date: 03/01/1996
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1996 Summerfield G. Roberts Award, presented by the Sons of the Republic of Texas1996 Liz Carpenter Award, presented by the Texas State Historical Association
It is said one piece of fabric can tell of the hardships, blessings, and realities of a woman’s life, as well as her community’s life.

In nineteenth-century Texas women’s hands created most of the clothes their families wore, the blankets used to cover their tired bodies, and the textiles that furnished their homes. Spinning, weaving, dyeing, and knitting of clothing and linens gave them the [palette] to display their abilities and their dreams of a better future. These day-to-day activities of Texas women spinners and weavers come to life in the award-winning author Paula Mitchell Marks’ Hands to the Spindle.

The hum of the spinning wheel and the clatter of the loom provided regular accompaniment to the lives of many Texas women and their families.

Producing much-needed garments and cloth also provided an escape from the worries and isolation of frontier life. One charming early chronicler, Mary Crownover Rabb, kept her spinning wheel whistling all day and most of the night because the spinning kept her “from hearing the Indians walking around hunting mischief.”

Through the stories of real women and an overview of their textile crafts, Paula Mitchell Marks introduces readers to a functional art rarely practiced in our more hurried times. Photographs of some of their actual handiwork and evocative pen sketches of women at work and the tools and dye plants they used, skillfully drawn by artist Walle Conoly, bring the words to life.

Written in an interesting and informative style, this study, the will be valuable for western history buffs, specialists in the field of spinning and weaving, and readers interested in adding another dimension to their knowledge of women’s studies.

Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series

Published by Texas A&M University Press