Salish Blankets

The Salish were known as the weavers of the Pacific Northwest. They used the materials around them, hair from mountain goats, and fibers from native plants such as Indian hemp and stinging nettle.

Salish blankets and other weavings were collected by Captain James Cook on his expeditions to the northwest coast. Many are now in museums collections throughout the world. Looms found at archaeological sites in the area measured 5 ft. in height and 6 ft. in width. Looms were warp frames, consisting of 2 upright sides embedded into the ground. Crossbars fit into carved slots on the sides. The lower crossbar could be loosened to release the tension. The warp was rolled forward as the weaving progressed. The crossbar was tightened and weaving continued.

Salish Weaving, Paula Gustafson
Salish Weaving

The Salish are known for their twill blankets. As the looms did not have heddles that could be raised, the twill designs were all hand-picked, the weft crossing the warp, over two and under two.

The yarn was spun on spinning whorls made of wood or whalebone, measuring 3 to 6 inches in diameter. Some natural dyes were used, but the Salish preferred the texture of the twill weaves to elaborate designs. When other yarns became available through trade, the Salish adapted their traditional techniques to the new materials.

More about Salish Weaving
Woolly Dogs
Eflowera tells of a special breed of wool dog whose hair was spun by the Sto:lo Nation for use in their woven blankets.

About the Nations of the Pacific Northwest
A gallery of native art.

Chief Joe Capilano Blanket – Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre – You Tube

Sto:lo Artistic Traditions
The formal elements of Salish artistic design and the revival of the Salish weavers guild.
The Last Viking: The Warp and the Weave
A history of weaving and spinning in the Cowichan valley and the use of dog wool.

Do you have any experiences with Salish weaving? We’d love to hear about it.

Salish Weaving
Salish Weaving: Primitive and Modern, As Practised by the Salish Indians of South West British Columbia
Working with Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy and the Cowichan Sweater
a href=”″ rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Contemporary Coast Salish Art

Hand Weaving Books
Weaving on a Little Loom (Everything you need to know to get started with weaving, includes 5 simple projects

The Key to Weaving: A Textbook of Hand Weaving for the Beginning Weaver
The Weaver’s Companion (The Companion Series)
Learning to Weave
The Big Book of Weaving: Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs and Materials
The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory
A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns: From the Friends of Handwoven
Krokbragd: How to Design & Weave
Doubleweave: On Four to Eight Shafts
Double Weave: Theory and Practice
Magic of Doubleweave: The Best of Weaver’s (Best of Weaver’s series)
Weaving In the Arts: Widening the Learning Circle
DIY Woven Art: Inspiration and Instruction for Handmade Wall Hangings, Rugs, Pillows and More!
>On the Loom: A Modern Weaver’s Guide

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Last Updated on April 1, 2020 by Paivi Suomi

By Paivi Suomi

I've had an interest in weaving, looms, yarns and textiles since I was a small child. I learned to knit, crochet, sew, do needlepoint at my mother's knee. My grandmother was a Saami from northern Norway. I am very interested in studying more about traditional Saami and Finnish style weaving and handicrafts. Paivi Suomi