A Thread Through Time: Modern Projects from our Swatch Archives

Produced for the 75th Anniversary of the Weavers Guild of MN, this book includes the story of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, a survey of textiles from the past 75 years through swatches and their patterns, and inspirational and beautiful projects made by forty-seven member artists.

A Thread Through Time allows the reader to examine swatches of cloth made during the last half of the 20th century and see how these now-historical pieces inspired contemporary textiles. – Lotus Stack, Curator Emeritus of Textiles of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

When I reflect on the people who are the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, I am astounded not only by their skill, but with their dedication, passion and tenacity. For seventy-five years, the Weavers Guild has struggled and thrived over and over again. Each time the going got tough it rose to overcome and move forward to do extraordinary things. – Margaret Miller, Founder and first director of the Textile Center.


About the Swatch Archive

A Thread Through Time anniversary book grew from the swatch collection of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota. Over the 75 years of the Guild’s existence, the collection has moved from various locations, and cared by various librarians. It is currently housed in a classroom at the Guild, available for anyone to use for inspiration to design something new or to replicate.

A swatch is a sample of woven fabric. They are frequently 4inches by 4inches, for convenience of storage in a notebook. To be useful for a weaver, the swatch is accompanied by a record sheet showing how the loom was threaded (the draft) and how the pattern was woven (the treadling). A complete record sheet will also say what yarns and how much yardage of them was used, how closely the yarns were compressed in the warping (the sett), whether the sample shrank when washed, and what the project was intended to be.

For the book, forty-seven members of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota created original works, using the Guild’s swatch archives as their resource. Each artist selected a swatch and interpreted that small sample in their own way to create a final project. Each swatch comes with its own story; some swatches were created by notable and formative figures in the local fiber community, such as Hilma Berglund. Participating artists matched the threading of the original swatch, and they decided what to create with their woven fabric. Each new piece is a physical manifestation of both tradition and a new generation of weavers.

These are the swatches and record sheets that are the foundation of A Thread Through Time. Click on a thumbnail image to access the full swatch and record sheet.

A Thread Through Time was made possible in part by a Minnesota Historical & Cultural Grant through the Minnesota Historical Society.

Available to purchase