Tablet Weaving and Ply-Splitting Books, Tools & Kits
Remembering Peter Collingwood (1922-2008)
Many of you have memories of our teacher, mentor, and friend, Peter Collingwood, who died peacefully and unexpectedly in his workshop on October 9, 2008. I would like to invite you to write down your special memories of Peter -- a few sentences or a paragraph -- and send them to me. I will post them here, in the order that I receive them. You can also e-mail me jpeg images. I will post what you send me, without editing. Please be sure to include your name, city, and country.
The photo was taken during Peter's tablet weaving workshop held at my house right before Convergence 1996. I would appreciate if the person who took the photo would contact me so I can give photo credit. Thank you!
Links to read more about Peter's life and work
from Pallavi Varia, Ahmedabad, India: Peter Collingwood will always be remembered fondly by me learnt tablet weaving from him during one of his last visits to India and recieving beautiful encouraging emails to do plysplit regularly
Its hard to say goodbye
Just one thing remains MEMORIES
May Gods rest his soul in peace and the MEMORIES of HIM be our guiding
lights in creative journeys ALWAYS
from Robert Schweitzer, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: As someone who is a self-taught tabletweaver from Peter's books, his knowledge and inspiration has been behind every piece I've woven and every class I've taught.
I was fortunate to meet Peter Collingwood when he came to Toronto to
lecture about rug making. I managed to make him laugh when at the end
of the lecture, I went to get my copy of "Techniques of Tablet
Weaving" signed - followed by a short string of people I had taught
who were also collecting TTW autographs.
from Judy Chapman, Minden, Ontario, Canada: I have three wonderful memories of Peter that I would like to share.
The first one is when I asked him to make me one of his linen inscription belts. The one he made for me had my first name in upper case letters throughout the inscription. It reads: "may love and Joy sUrrounD You always". He sent a little note along with the belt saying that he wished he had capitalized the "Y" in "always" instead of the "Y"
in "you" in order to balance it better. It is very special to me.
The second memory was of meeting Peter at Convergence (in Cincinnati I think). You may remember it Linda as you introduced him to me. I was so in awe of him that when he asked me what the inscription on my belt said I couldn't remember my name, let alone the inscription!
The third memory is when I responded to his offer of a tablet woven camera bag that he had bought in Tibet and no longer wanted. He apologized because it was made for tourists and not collectible. I cherish it as I do the memory of this wonderful accomplished and supremely talented man.
He will indeed be missed by so many.
from Guido Guido Gehlhaar: In 2001 there was a discussion on the TWIST mailing list on the so-called missed-hole technique. To my surprise, Peter Collingwood was very taken from my work in this
technique (see article here: http://firstname.lastname@example.org/msg00913.html)
and so I simply took the chance to ask him if it would be possible to meet him in
Blincoe's. We arranged this meeting on the first November weekend of the next
year (2002). My wife and me started our journey with a three days trip to London
and continued to Blincoe's on Friday evening (Nov 1st). I was very pleased to
meet this wonderful person and to get the chance to get to know him personally.
And I was also very impressed by his textile collection as well as his literature
collection on textile books. We spent there until Sunday Nov 3rd and I really would
have had like to get another chance to meet him again. Sadly he died unexceptedly
but he will always be remembered in my and my wifes heart and we will never forget
this wonderful weekend we could spend with him.
from Nancy Spies, Maryland, USA: My research in brocaded tablet weaving began with the annotated bibliography in Peter's book, "Techniques of Tablet Weaving". That, along with his gracious mentoring for years, are what made my own work possible. I always felt that I was standing on the shoulders of a giant, and humbly so. His legacy is immense, and I will miss him dearly as both a font of textile knowledge and as a friend.
from Kim Baller, Milwaukie, Oregon, USA: I never met him personally but have all his books except one. I've always admired his writing and sent him several emails over the years with questions to which he always responded thoroughly.
About 2006 I was in Powells' Books, a large bookstore in Portland Oregon, USA. In the weaving section there was an informational sticker below Peters book on rug weaving. The tag said, be sure and not miss this book by the "late Peter Collingwood". I took the tag to the information desk and told them I didn't think Peter was dead as I had gotten an email from him that week and he seemed fine then. The clerk said, "Oh my, sorry".
A few days later I emailed Peter with the story. I contrasted the incident to the quotation from Mark Twain that, "the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated". Perhaps it was the american humor, but Peter didn't find it really all that funny.
He was a wonderful man. I'll miss him.
from Gudrun Polak, Sunnyvale, California, USA: Peter's work first came to my attention at Convergence 1996 in Portland
when I saw the exhibit hall decorated with his rugs. There were 50 rugs
if not more, it was an awe inspiring sight.
Years later I started to learn card weaving and soon found that TTW had
explanations to most problems that I tried to understand. I especially
liked the diagrams that show precisely where the threads come from,
where they go. It gives you the basic understanding that you need. What
you also need is inspirations of how to use the cards to create patterns
and structures. No other publication comes close.
To my total surprise I found out later that Peter actually listens to
our on-line TWIST conversations and jumps in to answer questions. Many
times I had the feeling that he had just then thought about the same
problem that was presented. Of course, many times the very same topic
had also been covered in TTW.
Our conversation with Peter ended abruptly. We owe him a lot and did we
ever thank him enough? I thank you, Peter, for your work and your
While the Complex Weavers were disappointed that Peter could not be in
Florida this summer, we appreciated the more that he agreed to be filmed
in conversation, again explaining a few things that had not been
documented sufficiently, and bringing up new questions for us to think
about. (Note: Information about ordering the 2-disk DVD set is available on the Complex Weavers website.)
In October 2000 I had the bright idea to order TTW and "The Maker's
Hand" from Peter directly. Not only did he sign both books, he also put
his hand down on page 1 of The Maker's Hand and drew the outline. I
always thought this was a great a idea, now I know this book is a treasure.
from Marty Hartford, Manhattan, Kansas, USA: The weaving community has lost a great teacher and mentor. I was an avid fan of Peter Collingwood and treasured his books and writings. When I got the chance to take his tablet weaving class at Harrisville in 1995 it was a dream come true. It was surreal the first day he walked in to begin our session, and I was thoroughly captivated by his wit and wisdom. He was a truly inspirational force in my interest in all things fiber related.
from Harry Khan, Pakistan: I Came to know about Ply splitting through janis saunders and Linda Hendrickson's site,The technique was totally a new world to me.Through Linda i got an introduction to Dr.peter collingwood through emails .
He was very very encouraging and sympathetic with my efforts to learn tablet weaving and Ply splitting and told me about the places in sindh (Pakistan) where i can find ply splitted girths.
He was also very interested in the fact that i am also in medicine ,as the following note shows
"Linda Hendrickson told me you are very keen to learn... so I hope you can
get my book somehow.
I gather you are a medical student? I qualified in medicine in1946, but only
worked as a doctor for 5 years before giving it up.
i Finally got his books this year on the 8th of october ,and the sad news came to me the very next day.
I had always wanted to meet this wonderful person,but sadly my wish was not fulfilled ,but He will always be My Mentor and teacher through his wonderful books and more so because of his Kind encourgement and help.
May his soul rest in peace.
from Pam Howard, Brasstown, North Carolina, USA: I only met Peter once in Portland in 1996, but we talked by e-mail. In 1996, I was just beginning my journey into Tabletweaving. I had his book on Tabletweaving, which I consider the tabletweaving bible of all times. Peter was so kind and willing to share his knowledge and enthusiasm about tabletweaving, rug weaving, sprang and more. I always said that he would investigate and learn something to the best of his ability and then go to something else. Because of this intense interest in learning and investigation we have ALL benefited from it. Thanks you Peter Collingwood.
from Ford Elms, St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada: I spoke with Peter once, when ordering his books on tablet weaving, sprang, and ply-split braiding. Hardly enough time to have memories. What I am most appreciative of is his work in the preservation of these old, traditional techniques that, like all things traditional, are under threat from mass market, consumer culture. We humans have developed many, many skills in our long history, but we have let "high technology", essentially, babify us. We no longer know how to do the things that our grandparents, in some cases even our parents, considered the normal skills of life. Some of these skills have been lost so completely, that things our ancestors undertood clearly are thought in our generation to be the work of aliens! Peter is one of those who has helped us preserve what we can of what once was the skill set of humanity. We may never elevate these skills to the levels they once had but at least those who come after will have, if nothing else, a written record of what these skills were. Peter has contributed tremendously to that retention of knowledge, has given that gift to those who follow us, and his legacy goes on every time someone makes themselves a set of tablets and weaves themselves a band. Rest in Peace, Peter.
from Gina Barrett, Leicestershire, UK: When I first began tablet weaving, a friend told me I HAD to have the bible of tablet weaving by Peter Collingwood. And she was right - it's now quite dog-eared from continually referencing it. When I discovered the TWIST mailing list, and the fact that he answered questions posted, I thought it was quite wonderful that someone we all looked to was so ready to give advice.
With that in mind, some years after my discovering tablet weaving, I was asked to create a sprang sash. I knew that the only way I'd find the info I really wanted would be to get his book on sprang. But I couldn't find one anywhere. So, I plucked up the courage to email him and asked if he knew where I could buy a copy.
He offered my his own- broken apart with personal notations for changes and updates to be made for a reprint; a true working copy. And of course I was thrilled. I couldn't believe his generousity and encouragement.
He really will be greatly missed by all of us who play with threads.
from Errol Pires, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India:
Words are not enough to describe a Guru. Peter Collingwood was one such guru for me and for many others, who were interested in structures of all kind. i consider myself very fortunate to have met him 6 times in india and was once his guest at nayland.
a lot of what i know about ply-split braiding is because of his generous sharing and teaching when i met him. he was a great teacher, a simple and shy human being.
today i feel a great loss. we have lost a great weaver, a teacher and a fine human being.
may the gods grant him eternal peace.
i remember on his last visit to india, he used a walking stick and said " because i did not go to church, the gods are punishing me, where it hurts the most"
my condolences to his wife Elizbeth, son Jason and daughter Rachel.
Peter Collingwood is not in our midst today, but i believe he will still guide us all.
from Carla X. Gladstone, Bethesda, Maryland, USA: Although Peter was present in my life from 2001, when I began to weave, I met him only once, in April 2006. I was staying with friends in Colchester, and spent an afternoon at the Collingwood's house. We began with tea, while Peter and Elizabeth looked at the things I had brought. I had designed a little travelling tapestry loom with adjustable warp tension which a friend with woodworking skills had built for me. I wasn't surprised that Peter was interested in the loom, but I was surprised by the attention he gave to my textile samples. I had a mixture of kumihimo and tablet-woven pieces and he picked up each one and examined it with care.
There was one piece he particularly liked. I had woven one of the designs from "50 Designs from Around the World", but contrasting "warm" and "cool" colors instead of dark and light. He picked it up over and over again.
After tea, Peter took me to the workshop, where I got to see his collection of camel girths, tablet weavings, and ply-split objects that he had made.
I was impressed by the collection of textiles people had made for him, including a tapestry strip from Archie Brennan.
Peter seemed very relaxed and pleased to be showing off all his beautiful textiles. I didn't take a picture of his face - it would have felt like an intrusion - but I did photograph his hands, particularly when he showed me the macrogauze loom.
I am so sorry that Peter is gone, but he leaves wonderful memories behind, not to mention his textiles and his books.
from Diana Frost, Durham, NH, USA: Many years ago, he came to New Hampshire to give us a workshop on tablet weaving. I drove over to Concord from my house in Durham (the University of New Hampshire is here and was where my husband worked) each day to take the class. It was going well for me until one night when I took the day's subject home with me to work on it. It was a complicated one and I kept trying, undoing,and trying again, and again until I dissolved in tears! Late that night I finally got it right and went to bed exhausted and furious at Peter! The next day I told him that he had made me cry. He asked why and I told him. Very seriously he asked why I hadn't just cut out the weft rather than taking the time to try to undo it! I thought of the wasted material and then realized that wasting time was worse than wasting the puny threads I was using!
Links to learn more about Peter's Life and Work
Obituary in The Guardian newspaper, October 25, 2008.
Obituary in The Times newspaper, October 27, 2008.
Interview by Syne Mitchell for WeaveCast, a podcast for weavers. Episode 31: Complicated Weavers, September 14, 2008.
Ordering information for two-disk DVD of interviews produced for Complex Weavers Seminar 2008 . Peter discusses his life as a weaver, and also goes into details of shaft switching and macrogauze.
80th Birthday Tribute published in Handwoven magazine, 2002.
1987 Interview by Jane Patrick, then editor of Handwoven magazine, which originally appeared in the September-October 1988 issue. Posted on Jane's blog October 13, 2008.
This page created in October 2008, and updated on June 17, 2013.