Calling All Indiana Coverlet Weavers

Indiana Coverlet Weavers coverIndiana Coverlet Weavers and their Coverlets

Submitter: During inventory at my middle school library, I came across this 1974 book that seems to have a very limited audience.  I can’t imagine any middle school student wanting to check this out.  Sure enough, it had only been checked out by two people–both teachers, long since retired.  It may have been used for a “Pioneer Days” project.  However, in the chapter on Dyes, one recipe starts out “Fill a large earthenware crock with urine…”  Those are not instructions you ever want to give a middle schooler!

Holly: No, they are not!  Is your middle school library at least in Indiana? This is a very strange choice for a middle school library anywhere, though I’m sure it’s a lovely book with uses elsewhere.

Indiana Coverlet Weavers dyes


  1. This book should definitely not be thrown away! If it’s weeded please make sure to give it to a local weaving or textiles guild.

  2. Why, it seems to me to be a perfect book for junior high! Wouldn’t the kids get a kick out of it? Sadly, they’d never open it to find out how funny (to them) it is. They’d READ! They’d share it with their friends!

  3. Maybe I’m sappy but it would be a good source of lost skills. There are so may things in the past that none of us are able to do. It’s all a part of history that shouldn’t be forgotten. If I had a horse and buggy, all I could do is look at them and say “Now, what?”.

  4. I’m amazed that WorldCat lists 87 holders of this book, and they’re not all in Indiana. I’m guessing the middle school copy was probably a donation from someone they didn’t want to offend.

    I’m from Indiana originally, and wouldn’t mind seeing this book. I had no idea there was a definitive Hoosier style of coverlets!

  5. Maybe it’s because I don’t work with middle schoolers and wouldn’t have to put up with the results of it, but I think they’d get a hoot out of being directed to fill a large earthenware crock with urine.

    And they’d learn what earthenware is. Win win.

  6. I have my great-grandmother’s handwoven coverlets, but not sure about the original dyebath!

  7. I’m a weaver and would love to have a book like this for my weaving guild’s library. It definitely does not belong in a middle school library, however. Yes, I’ve tried saving my urine to dye with. I gave up and just use synthetic dyes now.

  8. As if the urine wasn’t bad enough, you have to set it near the fire! Better do that OUTDOORS, well away from your property borders. Possibly you can only do that in Indiana, where there are many open spaces.

  9. This looks like an absolutely fantastic read! I mean, I can’t think of anything more interesting than learning about urination to dye fabric; can you?

  10. Au contraire, I’m guessing that if the kids knew about the urine pot, they might have checked out this book more.

    Although I myself don’t want to smell a pot of urine dye that’s been kept warm in the sun.

  11. My late mother, who was born in Ireland in 1907, told me that when she was young, women would bathe their hair in urine, to give it a glossy sheen.

    In other words, it was used as a beauty product. A free beauty product.

  12. Please find a local museum and donate the coverlet book to them. I worked for local historic foundation and people came to us frequently looking for books like this!

  13. The coverlet museum in PA already owns this book. It is a classic reference on early coverlets in the United States. I own a copy and refer to it often. Urine was used quite a bit for dying at one time. But, there is more than dye history inside. The story of the lives of the coverlet weavers of Indiana is wonderful reading for history lovers. Their coverlets have a beautiful and very distinctive look which I love and collect.

    If there is no one in the school who will use it to the potential inside, please place it in a museum with lots of 19th century woven coverlets. It was my first book on early woven coverlets and 30 some documentation books later is still my favorite.

  14. Today I purchased at auction a coverlet from 1853 by Henry Adolf, Hamelton Co. Indiana. Just purchased this same book on Amazon to find out some more info about coverlets and this weaver in particular. I agree there’s not much use in middle school. Glad its Jan’s favorite book. Hopefully there will be much information in there to learn.

  15. For coverlet collectors this is an important document of weavers from a specific region. It is no longer in print, so is highly prized by us. The Colonial Coverlet Guild of America, or the National Museum of the American Coverlet would be pleased to have this as a donation. You can Google them and find the contact info on line.

    Of course, this book is entirely inappropriate for a middle school, as it doesn’t discuss saving the planet, racism, tolerance, girl power, nor demonize men and boys, so would not fit in with any school curriculum.

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