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?"...
...well, okay, not really 🙂
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...
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!
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.