LATOURETTE-Weavers - Fountain County INGenWeb Project

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Source: Kate Milner Rabb. Indiana coverlets and coverlet weavers. Indianapolis: Printed for the Society, 1928, p 408.

On the occasion of a visit to the Fountain County, Indiana home of the LaTourettes, the description of weaving on the 'double' coverlet loom was given the writer some years ago by Captain Schuyler LaTourette, son of the famous John LaTourette, weaver, a sketch of whose life appears later in the pamphlet. Captain LaTourette who died in March 1926 was so brisk in movement and so gay in manner as to give the impression of being much younger than 88 which age he claimed at that time. His French inheritance was evident in every look, word and gesture; his intelligence and his interest in every subject made his conversation delightful. He related the history of the family, showed us the old family BIble with the records and deplored the fact his father had changed his name from Jean to John. Captain LaTourette did not learn the art of coverlet weaving but his brother Henry who also lived in this coutny was an expert weaver who carried on the business for 20y ears. He gave us an elaborate description of the process, however; calling the making of double coverlets 'division weaving,' as did Arthur Osborn a very good descriptive name. The patterns were of heavy cardboard (we saw some later, looking much as music rolls for the pianola except that the holes are much larger). These patterns came in strips 15' long and 3 1/2 ' wide and were joined together to make a strip half the width of one of the strips that make half a finished coverlet. These strips, numbered and joined together by threads, turned on a metal cylinder and there wer eneedles which fitted into the perforations. Complicated as this sounds, it is nothing to what is to come. There were linen threads weighted at one end and controlled by what he called 'hand holts.' There were many treadles and the weaver, who sat before the loom, must feel for the pedals with his foot, much as does the performer on the pipe organ, throw the shuttle, reach up without looking to catch the proper one of the many 'hand holts,' release it, catch the returning shuttle and so on. The more I heard the process described, the less I understood it, but neverthe less it was interesting to hear Mr. LaTourette describe his father's skill in weaving, how he could throw the shuttle so fast that one could haerdly see it, how he and his daughter could reach up without looking and uneeringly take the proper 'hand Holt' and how much he enjoyed standing by and seeing the pattern reveal itself as the fabric grew. 'If I could see a loom, perhaps I could have a better idea of how it was all done,' I said to Mr. Fred LaTourette, a nephew. 'What is left of the old loom is out here,' he said and took me out to where he had dragged out the loom just before the original log house used as a loom house had fallen to ruin. We looked with awe at this old loom to which some of the threads and needles are still attached. Lying around it were some of the cardboard patterns, which have defied the weather, even to the penciling which indicates their number. Some of the professional weavers in this and in other states made a practice of weaving on the two lower corners of the coverlet, making the device on one corner right side out and wrong side on the other so that whichever side of the cover was put 'up' on the bed, the insciription might be read. The 'double' coverlet repeats the design on the so-called wrong side, with colors reversed. Sometimes these weavers wove only the date, as '1846' in a square, sometimes they wove their full names and date; again, the name or initials of the owner of the coverlet, the weaver's name, place of residence and dates sometimes a design of some sort and date. So far as I have been able to learn, the suggestion that this device was a trademark used by the weaver to identify his coverlets was made for the first time by Wm. Ross Teel of Indianapolis. - typed by: kbz

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