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Monday, February 16, 2015

Do you have a favourite piece to weave?

Question four from Jacqueline at Cheapskate Blethering. Hop  over to see her contest.         

 I had favorite colors to weave for the different kinds of shirts we made. I had to learn to weave red when I’d prefer to be weaving blue or green. Just because I didn’t like red (back then), more than a few people did. I would never be able to sell them a green shirt, and better have a red one on hand if I wanted to make a sale.

My very favorite piece we made for a short time, in the beginning, was a baseball shirt. Cut exactly like a baseball shirt, with tails and everything. It was too gender specific, so we retired it soon. I had one that I wore close thirty years. I lost it twice, and the second time it didn’t come back to me.

I wanted to add a jacket to our repertoire, and bought some soft, heavy cotton in three colors, natural, beige and natural/beige variegated.  I commenced putting the natural on my beam. I liked it so much, I put on a lot. It began running out just a few inches in. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound. As the natural ran out I continued with the variegated, and then with the beige. I wove with the beige. From left to right the fabric was natural, natural and beige variegated, beige.

What could I possibly make with it? I set it aside and thought. Eventually a raglan jacket came to mind, with like colors running into each other at the raglan sleeve and tying the jacket together. It worked. But the softness of the yarn was the big hit, not my clever salvaging of a stupid beginner’s mistake. 

It is called softball yarn, one unspun strand of roving plyed with a second fine cotton thread. We made it into a hooded jacket with a zipper and full facings. It was the most constructed garment we made. For twenty years. It was “the hook.” It was thirty percent of our business. 

We could not wean the public from it. By the end, as we slogged through weaving another run of fabric and sewing the jackets, we came to call it the jacket from hell.  Shhh. The customers  never knew. Then we retired. I gave the patterns for the jacket to a customer who intended to learn to weave to keep making it. I wanted never to be tempted for any reason to deal with that jacket.

No pictures today; I never used a picture of that jacket for a jury picture.

Update, 2/17/2014 

Although there are no jury slides of that jacket, I have friends with files. Linda has owned her jacket since the mid nineties and kept it in her van for emergencies requiring more clothes. Here she is in 2006, on her way to Race for the Cure in Cleveland.

Cara, helping a customer select rugs at St. James Court in 2011. Cara now owns the jacket, having borrowed it without returning it.

I have another picture of Alberta, Linda's mother wearing her jacket. It is embedded in an email; I'll post it if I can figure out how to  isolate it.

Alberta, Linda's mother. The shorter jacket did not suit her, and she bought the longer version. You would be right in thinking it came about by popular demand.


  1. Too bad about the jacket.

  2. Hari OM
    It's always a challenge, giving others what they want, not what we would prefer to give. That pretty much sums up the working life! YAM xx

  3. Haha - but I WOULD like to see a photo! :)

  4. Haha - but I WOULD like to see a photo! :)

    1. My friend Linda had one, at least twenty years ago. Her beautiful daughter appropriated it. Perhaps Cara will model one day, and I could really tell you some stories.

  5. Sometimes it is difficult to make a choice of one creation over another.

  6. Dear Joanne, you make us customers very, very curious (of course I want to see a picture of that jacket now). As to colours: preferences change in life - at least mine did. Before I preferred blue and turquoise, now I changed - as you know - to friendly soft pink (not rosa), and sometimes even to daring cherry-red (or rasperry).

  7. What a process! I am impressed more and more with your talents.

  8. I bet that was a mighty fine jacket and I can see how it would be popular and the hook (and a pain to make). I'm impressed you had the baseball shirt for over 30 years!


  9. Of course I'm just like your other readers... would love to see that jacket. But what I'd really like to see is that raglan jacket with the variegated colors... sounds beautiful!

  10. Awww I was hoping for your wonderful pics :)

  11. Your workmanship is a piece of art. Your skill and eye will serve you well in the years ahead. -- barbara

  12. You have so much talent. It's evident from your description of by-gone products and also from the items in your etsy shop. I love reading about your thought processes as you design.

  13. "The jacket from Hell", yet it sounds as if it really is the most perfect jacket, soft, hooded, zipped and with full facings!
    What a shame it was so tricky to make. I would have loved to see a photo.

  14. Good hook; a pity it was such a pain to make. Then again, your talent is amazing... especially to someone like me, who's all thumbs!

  15. you get pots like that....and galleries don't want "new" directions either...sad!

  16. that's probably true of all the handmade items that take off. the maker gets pretty sick of making it pretty quick.

  17. I am the Linda who Joanne has pictured running at the Race for the Cure with the prototype of the JFH. She tossed it at me and said, "keep it in the truck summer and winter." It served me well for about 20 years. That picture was a very cold october day on the Lake Erie waterfront and before the day was over it was freezing rain so it was my raincoat. It many times served as a snowcoat and in summer after getting hit by an unexpected downpour was a good body "towel".Many times it also served as a pillow or just cover-up. Cara stole it several years ago-I must admit that my aging body "outgrew" the zipper so it fit her much better. The think Joanne doesn't touch on is that she would really give you the shirt off of her back.You will NEVER regret anything you purchase from her. My only regret is that I was a cheap skate and didn't buy the jacket she will show that my Mother, Alberta, bought from her. I now have to wait to inherit it.