Kirkman House Textile Center
Walla Walla Textile Artists have joined with Kirkman House Museum to present a history of weaving, sheep raising, and the wool industry in the Walla Walla Valley. As part of this living history, a Weaver’s Cottage has been established on the grounds with a loom and typical furnishings of that time. The focus is on textiles produced in the home in the era of 1850 to 1920, including household linens and coverlets using hand-spun wool with dye colors from plants in the Dyer’s Garden.
Another facet of the Textile Center is a loose coalition of knitters, quilters, embroiderers, weavers-spinners-dyers, and other textile artists meeting periodically at Kirkman House Museum to share ideas.
The Textile Center holds monthly Spin-Ins one Sunday a month. Everyone is welcome to bring a spinning wheel and join in.
Autobiographical Sketch of Peggy Hoyt, Weaver
Peggy Hoyt was the founder of the Kirkman House Textile Center and long time supporter of the museum. Most of the equipment in the Textile Center was donated by her and most of the furniture was made by her husband Ken. Ken also made the cabinet currently located in the museum’s library. Peggy not only donated the items in the Textile Center but also paid for the renovation of the cottage that houses the center. She also wrote two books: The Story of Coverlets and Drawlooms, American Style, both of which are on sale at the museum for $25. Her contributions are greatly appreciated and her legacy is assured for generations. If you would like to purchase either of these books please call the museum or stop by.
I married later in life and have no children. I am lucky to have a husband who enjoys woodworking. He has made most of the small looms I’ve used in teaching, my spinning wheels and most of our furniture, mainly walnut. I have been interested in textiles since childhood. A family friend let me weave on her loom. I majored in Home Economics at Oregon State University and taught for 20 years. During those years I traveled a good deal and took a sabbatical in 1962 and spent several months in Norway learning to weave, spending the rest of the time traveling through Europe. When I came back and married I spent 12 years teaching weaving in various locations around Walla Walla. I started like most weavers in the ‘70s with emphasis on texture and color. I enjoyed spinning and dyeing my own yarns.
Gradually I became interested in fine yarns and more complicated equipment to produce more complicated designs. In 1976 I spent a couple of weeks in England at a workshop with Theo Moorman1 which was wonderful. Then in 1977 I went to Finland to learn something about drawloom weaving which led me to buy a standard Glimakra loom to which I gradually added drawloom attachments mainly of my own design thanks to the help of my husband Ken.
So for about 20 years my weaving life centered around the shaft draw and single unit drawloom2. I also became interested in the historical aspects of weaving, including coverlets. I worked with the local Ft. Walla Walla Museum setting up educational exhibits3 and in 1988 in conjunction with the Washington State Centennial, we held a Coverlet Registry program at which time we documented over 50 coverlets owned by people in the area. At this time needing communication with others with similar interests in both the drawloom and coverlets, I joined the fledgling international Complex Weavers organization and helped to organize various study groups and shortly after chaired the groups for 6 years4 I joined three of the study groups related to historical American weaving5 and in my studies, rather than weaving full sized coverlets, I wove miniatures easily displayed for educational purposes.
Then my interest turned to more complicated European designs of the Middle Ages with the intricacies woven on my single unit drawloom which could handle 400 units although I used only 200. At this time I joined the Complex Weaver Medieval Textiles study group6 and a Lampas7 study group enjoying and learning much from contact with both professional and non-professional scholars and artists. And because linen was such an important fiber in the Middle Ages I became interested in spinning and weaving my own linen which is still a favorite.
Finally after almost 40 years of weaving I wondered what to do with all the books, weavings and equipment I have accumulated over those years and have been lucky to find three other textile artists interested in developing a Textile Center. We found the Kirkman House Museum willing to donate the use of a cottage on the grounds of the museum which we converted to The Weavers Cottage in 2002. We also published two booklets8 which are on sale through the Textile Center. And now the Kirkman House has allowed me to use the newly furbished walnut paneled library to house my books and weavings which are on display and available for research by the public in June, 2005.
1 - WEAVING AS AN ART FORM by Theo Moorman
2 - DRAWLOOMS (double harness) CW study group notebook
3 - PRAIRIE WOOL COMPANION magazine, issue 16, pgs. 18, 28, 33
4 - COMPLEX WEAVER JOURNAL, Sept. 1994, compilation p. 192
5 - AMERICAN HISTORICAL WEAVING. CW study group notebook
6 - MEDIEVAL TEXTILES, CW study group notebook
7 - LAMPAS CW study group notebook
8 - THE STORY OF COVERLETS; DRAWLOOMS, AMERICAN STYLE