Shadow Weave: An Impressive American Original

Mary Atwater developed shadow weave 80 years ago. Learn how she did it in this video clip.

Susan E. Horton Jan 10, 2022 - 3 min read

Shadow Weave: An Impressive American Original Primary Image

In the February 1942 Shuttle-Craft Bulletin, Mary Atwater introduced the concept of shadow weave, color-and-weave patterning that went beyond simple (but beautiful) log cabin and houndstooth types of designs.

I have a sister who is a history buff and here is how you can tell: She read the 818 page Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow including the footnotes. A few years later, she got tickets to see "Hamilton", and she reread the book before going to see the musical, although she didn't mention reading the footnotes the second time.

Whereas my sister finds American history fascinating, I find weaving history fascinating. I was watching Introduction to Shadow Weave and when Jannie Taylor talked about how shadow weave was invented, I was astonished. To think that people had been weaving for thousands of years, and then Mary Atwater came along, and without the benefit of weaving software developed what she called shadow weave is frankly amazing.

It may not be "Hamilton", but watch this clip to learn how Mary Atwater invented shadow weave and how it evolved from the 2 drafts she presented in 1942 to the thousands of drafts we have today. I think you'll be impressed. I was.

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Here is a list of the books and periodicals Jannie references in the video. Not all are still in print but you may be able to find them in your guild library. For sure you can find the Handwovens in our shop!

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1000 (+) Patterns in 4, 6, and 8 Harness Shadow Weaves, 1976 by Marion Powell. Note that this book was published 34 years after the Shuttle-Craft Bulletin. Today, 40 odd years later, it is out of print but still much sought after.

• Mary M. Atwater's introduction to shadow weave in the February 1942 issue of The Shuttle-Craft Guild Bulletin

• Marian Powell's 1976 release of 1000 (+) Patterns in 4, 6, and 8 Harness Shadow Weaves

• The 1987 monograph study Parallel Shadow Weave by Elizabeth Lang and Erica Dakin Voolich

• The 2020 book Shadow Weave Simply: Understanding the Weave Structure by Susan Kesler-Simpson

WEAVER'S Magazine, Issue 14, 3rd Quarter 1991, includes Jannie's shadow weave coat that was in the 4-shaft Hall of Fame.

• Past Handwoven issues that featured shadow weave, including:

Weave well,