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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What is the most time-consuming aspect of weaving?

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

Folks always wanted to know, “how long did it take you to make this?”  Eventually I devised the answer, “From the time I start until the time I finish.” It generally got a laugh, and deflected the question without an answer.

In the end we had ten looms in the studio, each threaded for a different kind of fabric or weave. That eliminated the need to rethread the heddles. Our brother built us many wondrous jigs and fixtures. We literally could put forty cones of thread on the floor, run the ends through the holes in a fixture he built, put the ends through the tension box and commence turning a hundred and fifty yards of thread into each section. Then we tied the ends in sequence to the ends of the old threads, pulled it all through the heddles and reed, tied the sections to the apron and it was another warp to weave. Jan and I each could put on a new warp in a few hours. She could tie twice as fast as I could, though, and she often took pity on me and tied the new to the old.

Off the loom, the weaving is not fabric, it is “the web.”  It must be “fulled”, made full, all the little spaces between warp and weft brought together. In the old days the web was submersed in a stream, pounded with smooth stones. Put in a “fulling” tub and tromped by many feet or worked by many hands.

We did it in the washer and dryer.

Jan and I each cut out the garments, and sewed in the beginning. We were decent sewers, but not great, and when sewers came into our lives, we let them do what they did best. The first was Janet, who had a degree in sewing. I learned so much from her, from how to make a pattern to using the straight of the grain.

We had Sewin’ Susie, the wife of a childhood friend, and Linda, a costume designer. Linda was among the dearest people in my life. A kind and gentle soul who lived for her husband and sons. She was battling cancer when she came to us, and was a fighter to the end. We finished up our last two years without Linda, for we were planning on retiring and it was hard to think of anyone else sitting in Linda’s seat.

Every job was just part of the process of moving from thread to garments to sell. I never had an answer to “how long does it take you to make this?”, so I answered “from the time I start until the time I get done.



Sue at the serger, greeted by Fiona.
Angus and Fiona adored Sue.

19 comments:

  1. OK, all caught up now. our answer to that quest is usually 40 years for the etching and 20 years for the casting. Every year another year gets added to the total because it is the sum total of our work and knowledge that allowed us to make whichever piece. but I like your answer better.

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  2. I can't out how you put patterns into the fabric...well I think I sort of know, but it must take such a lot time and measuring.

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  3. Sounds unbelievably complicated to me.

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  4. I think that was wise to have sewers who were talented in that aspect while you and your sister did what you both are talented at; weaving.

    betty

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  5. Hari OM
    It's a 'piece of string' question isn't it? I like your measure... YAM xx

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  6. Sounds like a lot of work even with your brother's improvements. Whew. Cup of tea time.

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  7. Good deflecting skills Batwoman! Oh, and I wasn't able to eat that huge mound of onion rings, barely made it through the top 6, lol.
    My darling, however, ate that huuuuge plate of fries then polished off the dinner plate which followed!

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  8. Gosh, Joanne, that's amazing. Forty cones of thread on the floor and turning it into a hundred and fifty yards of thread in each section - a factory right in your front room. So sorry to hear about your friend Linda. Cancer is a horrible disease.

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  9. heddles, warps and wefts - weaving tech terms seems to be much like other industries. I should keep a few of these in my head for the next scrabble game.

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  10. I know what you mean it takes as long as it takes.
    Merle...........

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  11. What a huge operation you and your friend had. It is nice that your have returned to an art that you know so well. Would seem a waste not for you to return. --- barbara

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  12. I wish you could find a young artist or several to mentor in weaving, Joanne. All that knowledge needs passed on. Could you give classes in weaving as a side venture? (on a small loom expressly for that purpose)

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  13. As I'm reading the progression of your weaving "career", I'm hoping that something you loved to do did not turn into a "job". In my own life, I did have that happen and only many many years later do I again enjoy creating for my own enjoyment... not because I've accepted a commission or the such. I am so enjoying reading about your weaving life.... beautiful!

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  14. "using the straight of the grain" is so very important when cutting and sewing, even more so in knit fabrics. It seems to be completely forgotten in those sweatshops overseas (and possibly here too) that churn out t-shirts by the million. The t-shirts that look fine in the store but twist so badly after the first wash the side seams are halfway around the tummy, and necks are misaligned, sometimes badly. the hems? Forget about trying to straighten those out again!
    I'm very glad you and Janice had such competent helpers to make your clothing, that quality is what keeps people coming back to purchase again and again.

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    1. I pull a thread for straight of the grain for every pattern piece. It's what makes the garment hang straight. In factories they load the piece up with sizing to make it look good in the shop.

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    2. Pulling the thread was how I learned in sewing class in high school. Unfortunately we only had sewing class once a fortnight, home economics was once a week and every other week was cooking.

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  15. I continue to be enthralled by your explanations and breakdowns of weaving. It's endlessly fascinating. And is'nt weaving like writing that way? From the time you start until you're done.

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  16. Wow, you sure did have a lot of looms to use. And that was a good response to that repetitive question.

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