Posted by: bschutzgruber | February 26, 2016

Weaving at Cobblestone Farm

Ever since I was a kid, my dream job has been to work at a place like The Henry Ford Greenfield Village doing weaving and fiber craft demonstrations.  Well… I’ve gotten my wish!  This fall and winter I have had the pleasure of demonstrating weaving as a volunteer at historic Cobblestone Farm in Ann Arbor.

Cobblestone Farms13

The house itself has a fascinating history.

The Cobblestone Farm Ticknor-Campbell home, completed in 1845, was originally a two-family home. Benajah Ticknor, a U.S. Naval surgeon, and his brother Heman Ticknor, whig​ politician and farmer, shared occupancy of this classic revival structure with their families from 1835-1860.  The William Campbell family then owned the farm from 1881-1972 where three generations worked the 225 acres and kept the house essentially unchanged for 91 years.  In 1972 the family sold the house and remaining 4 1/2 acres to the City of Ann Arbor. The house was in rough shape at this time as you can see in University of Michigan film student 1975 documentary Cobblestones and Memories. But 40 years of slow and steady work has restored much of the house.  Interpreted to reflect its mid-nineteenth century appearance, the sit​​e provides a view of past rural life in Washtenaw County Michigan.   Today the site is administered through the Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Services with support from the Cobblestone Farm Association.​​​

Upstairs at the end of the hall they have a loom.

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It had been used in the past to demonstrate rag rug weaving but had not been in working order for years as the warp was a tangled mess.

Now there are times when you just has to ‘cut your losses’ and start over… and this was one of them!  I cut off the what had been woven and was able to unwind the remaining warp, stretching it down the hallway. Then slowly…… carefully…… 3 of us spent 4 hours winding it back on.


From there I was able to thread up the heddles and reed to get things ready to start weaving.

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I did a web search to see what I could find out about the loom itself:
Union Loom Works – Boonville, N.Y.


Union Loom Works existed from 1880-1940.  They produced looms intended for weaving rugs for home use or for sale as a cottage industry.  Oriental Rug Company purchased the patent to the Union Loom and I was able to download a copy of the manual!

Union Loom No36 Manual


Instructions for unpacking, taking the loom upstairs, explanation of terms, how to weave, how to get quality work, care of your loom, how to warp, designs you can easily make, are just some of the topics covered.

“At first glance, it may appear difficult to operate a loom, but as you get into it you will be surprised how easy it is after all.  A few things may bother you a little but as you become familiar with the loom, you will have no trouble.”

All the things you can use for your rugs (including old carpets and grain bags), how to make pillows (using silk and velvet rags), portières (door curtains), shopping bags and blankets are also described as well as advise on managing your weaving business.

“As nearly everyone has a supply of old rags, wornout clothing and other waste textile material, it is usually easy to obtain orders for custom weaving from you friends and neighbors as soon as you mention having ordered a loom.”
“Signs – Place a large placard on a tree in front of your home, tacked to the house-front itself, if preferred, or put inside a front window.  This method is good anywhere, but especially good if you reside where there is considerable traffic past the house.”
“You should make from 75c to $1.50 per hour”
“Many customers who become proficient on their looms find lucrative and enjoyable employment showing others how to weave.  Sometimes they form classes, thus swelling their income by a considerable sum.”
“As your custom trade develops, it may be advisable to have two looms….”

 The age of the loom at Cobblestone has not been documented.  Many of the Union Looms I found listed online date back only to the early 20th century.  But the basic design has not change really – all the elements of this loom could well have also been found on one in the late 19th century so having her up and running will give visitors a taste of yet another aspect of daily life from a bygone era.

And I’ve been told there’s another smaller loom down in the basement……..














  1. This is awesome Barb! Congratulations!

    Marcia Gutiérrez Bilingual Storyteller & Photographer

    Tell the stories to the world and we will remember the roots as the branches reach for the sky!

    • Thanks, Marcia. It’s been fun and I’ve learned a lot about the house and families listening to the docents.

  2. Very interesting. Looking forward to hearing and seeing more about this!

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. […] posts (Doin’ Demos, Weaving at Cobblestone Farm, and Waulking and Art Fair and more) I’ve talked about how I enjoy demonstrating weaving, […]

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