Question three from Jacqueline at Cheapskate Blethering. Hop over to see her contest.
After a while, Jan and I wove exclusively in cotton. It is so reliable; the cottons we selected made lovely fabric with “good hand.” “Good hand” is old weaving terminology that simply means the cloth feels good. It is woven well, using appropriate pics and ends per inch for the thread selected, properly processed after weaving. Done right, I suppose distills the idea.
We wove our shirt fabrics with eight/two or smaller cotton threads, in plain weave or twill. We built interest with colors; blending tones, using bold colors or stripes.
Almost all our cotton thread we bought as mill ends; thread left from big jobs in big mills and sold by brokers. We selected carefully and seldom paid more than two dollars a pound.
Because we kept our material cost low we could sell our shirts at a price customers did not mind paying. In truth, there was no possibility we could order thread from a big mill, with minimum orders of hundreds of pounds.
Right now I am weaving with thread left from ten years ago. But, the odds and ends I am putting together are dwindling, and in April I will be in Boiling Spring, North Carolina, in the converted spinning mill Sheldon Small has converted to a thread warehouse. He warned me it is thousands of square feet; wear comfortable shoes.
Before we settled on cotton, Jan and I used a lot of different threads. Rayon, synthetics, novelties. They simply are not cotton. But one novelty thread taught us a valuable marketing lesson. The thread was boucle.
Boucle simply is French for “bump”. The thread can be cotton or synthetic; the latter have all the bling and jazz. It’s a time consuming thread to work with, but it makes an eye catching shawl or scarf. Jan, who was far more technically proficient that I, mastered the yarn and produced beautiful shawls with a V back.
At the first show we displayed them, we had no good place in the booth to hang the shawls, so I put them outside. People reach out and touch things as they pass. When they touched the lovely yarns they stopped to look, and often to buy. We soon called the shawls “the hook.” I set up every booth from then on with a “hook.”
And in tomorrow’s post about a favorite piece to weave, I’ll also tell you about my least favorite piece, and how it was “the hook” for twenty years.