in 52 Weeks
My mother, Betty LaFara, began weaving in the mid-1960s.  She became interested in weaving when she was helping a Girl Scout troop with their Textile Arts Badge. Soon after, my father bought her a loom. It was old and needed repair, which he happily did, and I now wonder if that was really why he bought it. That first loom was fairly basic, just four harnesses and small enough to sit on a card table. After cutting her weaving chops on that first loom my mother soon moved on to an eight harness, floor loom. It was large enough for nearly any project she could design. Over the years, my mother has made all sorts of beautiful hand-woven textile items.
Indiana State Fair 
Many of the photos I do have are because she received recognition for her talent at the Indiana State Fair and, therefore, photographs were taken. My mother received the “Sweepstakes” purple ribbon for weaving four years in a row. The 1967 sweepstakes was awarded for the fabric she used to make herself a two-piece suit. It was a lovely shade of blue and the photo does not do it justice, I wish I had one of her wearing it!
In 1968 the weaving sweepstakes was awarded for the fabric my mother wove to make drapes for the large window in our living room. That year she also won two blue ribbons and a red ribbon. In 1969 the sweepstakes was awarded for fabric she wove featuring the use of leather strips and fashioned into a tote bag. She won a blue and red ribbon, also, that year. In 1971 the sweepstakes went to the blue-green fabric my mother later used to make a vest. The brown fabric in the photo won a blue ribbon and she used it to make a poncho-like cape.
My mother’s recognition at the Indiana State Fair for her weaving led to many weavers seeking her out for instruction. She taught weaving lessons at a shop in Broad Ripple called the Craft Kaleidoscope for many years. She also did demonstrations at craft fairs, art shows, museums, and schools. One place she demonstrated was Connor Prairie Farm which is a living history museum and she wore a historical costume and wove on a 19th-century loom in a log cabin!
I wrote about my mother being a competitive weaver on a sheep to shawl team for the week 42 prompt last year, Sports. 
After weaving a large piece of fabric, most weavers do not want to cut the cloth. Although my mother did make many tailored items from her hand woven fabrics, she preferred to make loom-shaped clothing. She designed these projects to use whole pieces, usually rectangles, to make tunics, vests, dresses, and skirts. While doing genealogy research I often come across ancestors who may have been weavers. In their estate papers, I find references to personal property items that include spinning wheels, looms, fabric on hand, and sheep. I like to imagine my ancestors shearing their own sheep, spinning the wool, and weaving cloth for clothing. Possibly they fashioned clothing much the same as my mother did, by letting the loom dictate the shape.
In addition to clothing, my mother made various home decor items, big and small. Pictured here is a sampling of the hand-woven projects she made. The photo of her at the loom with the purple fabric is a rug she wove for me, actually 3 rugs, and I still have them. That large loom was found in a barn, in pieces, in very poor condition. My father spent months cleaning, repairing, and making parts for the old loom. The only room in our house large enough for the loom was our basement. And, when we moved in the late-70’s the new house had no space for that big, old loom.
I wish I had more photos of my mother’s various hand-woven, textile items. She made so MANY over the years. When my parents downsized 20 years ago my mother sold her largest looms. Then, about 15 years ago, she gave up weaving (mostly) and took up a new textile passion: quilting.
A very small sampling of my mother’s quilts. Click on one to see a larger view.
Week 19: Food and Drink
Besides prizes for weaving, my mother also won a few Indiana State Fair ribbons for her jellies. Pictured here are her blue ribbon mint jelly, red ribbon grape jelly and white ribbon currant jelly.
- Blog post, Family Finds: Mother; https://barblafara.com/mother/
- Web page, Indiana State Fair: Competitions and Contests; https://www.indianastatefair.com/p/state-fair/competitions–contests
- Blog post, Family Finds: Sports; https://barblafara.com/sports/
Submit a Comment
Frank Takeo Flucawa
Born Takeo Furukawa on 15 March 1883 in Tottori-Ken, Tokyo, Japan, little is documented of his early childhood. Family oral history stories say that the young Takeo experienced hunger, poverty and the loss of his family. Additionally, the stories tell of friendship, spiritual learning and scholarship.
David L. Osborne: His Indianapolis Homes
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne, lived at over 20 addresses around Indianapolis between 1876 and 1942. I thought it would be interesting to see all the old buildings and homes where he lived in my hometown of Indianapolis.
The Marriage of David and Jennie Osborne
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne (1848-1942), was a widower with two young sons in 1886 when he married Jennie Warbington (1857-1918) in Minneapolis on the 27th of May. I decided it was time to put sources to the story.
Do You See A Resemblance?
While working on a family photo project I decided it would be fun to compare side-by-side my father and his parents, at similar ages, to try and discover a family resemblance.
Probate of Jesse King 1868
Jesse King was born in Ohio (probably in the vicinity of Chillicothe) in 1805, he was a son of Philip King and Mary Leah Wright, both of Pennsylvania. Philip King was a farmer, he married Leah Wright in 1801 in Somerset, PA, they had six children, of whom Jesse was the third.
Letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary
A handwritten letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary to the then president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. It was her last appeal for a War of 1812 pension, sadly the pension was denied. The letter gives a glimpse of a woman who had no formal education, a poor farmers wife, then widow, mother of nine, she probably just wanted some independence through an income of her own.
Sarah Smith: Challenge
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 2: Challenge
So much about genealogy research is a challenge, perhaps the most common challenge is the ‘brick wall,’ meet Sarah Smith. 18?? – 1846
Laferre to LaFara: Unusual Name
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 3: Unusual Name
The surnames in my tree are typical of common western European names. However, the name that is unusual among these names is MY surname: LaFara.
Luella Pressell: Surprise!
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 6: Surprise!
Just when you think you know everything about an ancestor, surprise! I thought I knew most everything about my paternal great grandfather David L. Osborne, 1848-1942.
Rumple Family Photo 1895
For all of us who are procrastinating about labeling photos I have one thing to say, “Be considerate of the genealogist of the future!” My maternal grandmother was very good about labeling old family photos, and there is one, in particular, I found very informative.
Conrad Rumple: Bachelor Uncle
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 10: Bachelor Uncle
My uncles are the marrying kind, sometimes more than once!
I had to go back four generations for a bachelor uncle, my great-great-great uncle Conrad Rumple, 1833-1911.
Conrad was an older brother to my great-great grandfather on my matrilineal line, William Rumple, 1839-1912.
George Lafary and Catherine Landon: Large Family
My great-great grandparents, George Lafary and Catherine Landon, had a relatively small family, three of their six children survived to adulthood. However, they both came from large families of nine siblings and nearly all survived to marry and have children.
In The Paper
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 13: In The Paper
It’s fun to find articles in the paper mentioning one of my relatives. Mostly they are birth, marriage, divorce and death events. But, it’s the oddball articles in the papers I like the most.
Genealogy Brick Walls
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 14: Brick Wall
We all have a brick wall, that one ancestor who defies all research. I decided I would work at my brick walls by generation, I broke through the last of my 3rd great grandparent brick walls, now I am working on 4th great grandparents.
Catherine Landon: Out of Place
I realized I did not have a date of death for my great, great grandmother, Catherine Landon Lafary. A fresh search uncovered the date and much more. Out of place, but once discovered, everything fell into place.
Immigrant Ancestors, Fresh Start
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week1: Fresh Start.
The varied reasons my European ancestors immigrated to North America for a fresh start.
William and Uva Lafara: Favorite Photo
I have many favorite photos among my collection of family artifacts. Currently, my favorite photo is of two little children from 1916 who were a complete mystery to me until last spring.
So Far Away
My great-uncle Frank immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1905 to further his education, so far away
I get excited when I discover an ancestor with the same name as a friend, or co-worker, or neighbor. Maybe we are related!
This is a wonderful post. You put some much into your stories. Thanks for sharing. I couldn’t think of what to share on this theme.
I know how that goes, I could not think of anything last week… Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.