Off the Loom

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Yesterday I finished weaving a new length of fabric. As I sat there twisting fringe, my husband popped his head in, saw what I was doing, and exclaimed, "Wow! Did you just make that?"...

"Yep!"

...well, okay, not really 🙂

 

Winding the warp--Sally Fox's organic, Capay Valley-grown cotton

 

As you might guess, the process of weaving fabric is multifaceted.

Before weaving can begin, the threads that will make up the warp (the set of lengthwise yarns that are held in tension on the loom) must be wound on a warping board (above), threaded meticulously through the loom heddles and reed, and carefully wound onto the back beam of the loom (a process called "beaming on", during which proper tension is established, and any snarls or tangles in the warp threads are removed). The remaining ends of the warp threads are then carefully tied in bundles to the loom's front beam.

The manner in which each of the steps above are completed will determine the length, width, density, and potential pattern(s) of the final fabric. For a 13-yard warp, working alone, this whole process usually takes me around eight hours.

If one were to first tie and then dye the warp threads for ikat weaving, it may take more than twice as long. Add to that the hand spinning of warp and/or weft threads, and you have several days labor minimum before weaving can begin... Not to mention that someone (maybe you) raised the sheep or cotton, processed the fiber, grew the dye garden, and dyed the yarns 🙂

So, let all that settle in, and the threads are finally ready to be woven into fabric...

 

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What happens here depends largely on one's personal weaving style, loom, materials, and desired outcome.

When the weaving is complete, the process continues. Once cut from the loom, there is fringe to be twisted, and washing, fulling, drying, and ironing to be done before the fabric is ready to move on to it's final use... which could be immediate wear, or it might instead be snipped and sewn into garments or other household usefuls.

In light of all this, it may go without saying... that when you hold a handwoven fabric in your hands, you hold something precious--the result of so many stages and phases and hours of work and intent, and generations of knowledge developed and passed on.

 

To wrap it up (with a grin, a wink, and a twinkle in my eyes), here is what I "just made" 😉  Happy New Year!

 

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The warp is Organic Pima cotton 10/2, grown by Sally Fox, weft is mostly merino (white and naturally colored, also raised by Sally), along with a bitty bit of Santa Cruz handspun alpaca.

I love working with the variety of merino that Sally offers--the range of colors is so beautiful! The lighter colors come from the older sheep in her flock, darker from the younger ones... no wonder they all harmonize so nicely 🙂

To check out Sally's merino, which was found to be the finest wool in the state by a recent Fibershed wool study, please visit her online store.


 

6 Responses

  1. Bonnie Klatt
    | Reply

    This truly is lovely. I am eager to see how you use this fabric. As a weaver, spinner, dyer, knitter, etc I resonate with how you described the process!

  2. Bobbi McGowan
    | Reply

    Kori,
    I love your work. There is so much soul in the fabric you weave and the clothing designs are beautiful. Well done!! Thank you.

    Bobbi

    • ecotone.threads@gmail.com
      | Reply

      Thanks Bobbi 🙂 I took a look at your website–what a wonderful and inspiring mission you have in life! Best wishes on your path, glad to know you are out there, putting light into the world.

      Kori

  3. Betany Coffland
    | Reply

    Wow Kori!! Soooo lovely and “just made” indeed.:) Great to see your process and the pictures!

  4. Kathryn
    | Reply

    This is so inspiring! Growing up there were always a couple of large looms around the house, mostly collecting dust, but a ton of handwoven table cloths, place mats, and other small pieces. I know my mom also wove rugs (before she had us kids, I guess), but I never thought of really weaving fabric to sew with until reading your blog. Now my long-term crafting goal is to get my mom to set up her looms again and teach me how to use them. She made this sweet carseat blanket for her first grandbaby (incidentally my daughter) and all I could think when she gave it to me was how it would make a wonderful lightweight blouse.

    • ecotone.threads@gmail.com
      | Reply

      Hi Kathryn,
      How wonderful! I believe that the intimacy and satisfaction of weaving the fabrics we use in our daily lives still runs deeply in our souls, even if many of us are having to relearn skills that have not been passed down through the last few generations. I am wishing you the best in your journey, and so happy for you that you have a mother who can pass these skills on to you and your children!

      Warmly,
      Kori

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