Finger Weaving

Cherokee Fingerweaving

Finger weaving has deep roots in Native practice where handcrafts were necessary and provided beauty. Fibers for making cordage were obtained from dogbane (Indian hemp), milkweed stem bark, basswood bark, mulberry bark, and other plants. A stone disk with three holes appears in the archaeological record and is thought to have been used to create three-ply cordage and ropes (cords are stronger when wrapped around each other). Woodland cultures twined bags, wove burden straps, and made nets for fishing and catching water fowl. Turkey feather capes were made using cordage to secure the feathers together. Mound cultures created lacy open work and woven garments (cotton was a Native crop in Mexico and nearby areas). In the Northwest Coast, dog and mountain goat fleece was used for weaving. We know about past fiber work through charred remnants of weavings, through materials found in caves where cool, constant temperatures refrigerate and preserve old materials, and through impressions on ancient pottery where fabric was pressed into damp clay pots.