Yesterday, I delivered a finished product to a client. I am pleased enough with how it turned out. Of course, there are also things I wish were better and can improve upon in the future. All in all, as my first baby blanket project, I am quite pleased. It has a nice weight and texture and is very soft. What’s next? I am weighing a few options, figuring out the queue.
Category Archives: Weaving : Lab Notes
Recent articles have me thinking more about the Slow Clothes (Fashion) movement. Driven by many of the same principles as the Slow Food movement, the Slow Clothes movement focuses on clothing produced in a sustainable and thoughtful way. Enabling conscientious buyers to know and control where their clothing comes from and the working conditions of the people producing it. Both models come from the feeling that we must take environmental, health and social issues into account when making purchases for even (and especially) our basic needs. Slow Clothes is therefore an answer to the current buy it cheap and throw it away mentality of our current system.
The August/September 2013 issue of American Craft Magazine, among other goodies, had a thought provoking article called Think Globally, Dress Locally, an interview with Rebecca Burgess by Danielle Maestretti. I hope you read it.
In the interview Rebecca Burgess, well known for her book Harvesting Color; talks about the Fibershed movement. You can find more about the movement at www.rebeccaburgess.com. The essence of a Fibershed is that fiber producers, processors and crafts people work together to produce clothing for their region. Again it works in a similar way to only eating locally grown foods.
One of the issues discussed in the interview was the lack of qualified crafts people, even if you can get the materials in your region, can you find skilled people to make your clothing? If so, can you afford it? www.fibershed.com gives a list of producers, designers and makers (a shocking lack of weavers) for the Northern California Fibershed as well as resources for others to start Fibersheds in their regions.
All of this presents me with an epic list of questions to explore; I would greatly appreciate any feedback or opinions you have.
Is this a mission I can get behind? (well, obviously)
I would need to learn the ins and outs of weaving for clothing production. Could I completely revamp my processes and tools to meet the needs of weaving yardage for others? Could I weave cloth fine enough for a summer shirts?
Could I collaborate with a seamstress or tailor to make the clothing out of the yardage I provide?
Would I enjoy weaving yardage?
Could/would my services and products be affordable? Could I afford them myself; even with the “I know the weaver” discount?
Since my region is rather limited in fiber production; what would my criteria be? Would it be reasonable to define my region as grown in the US on small sustainable farms?
Most of the handwoven clothing available on the market now are high end art pieces. Is their a market for the artisan model with an everyday approach to clothing design?
Another passion is to help support the efforts of organic cotton farmers in India and Africa, keeping them away from the debt of the fertilizer and chemical sellers. While this is not regional, for me, the spirit of it is the same. Would I be walking away from the potential to be a purposeful consumer of their products? Can the amount I purchase actually make a difference to these farmers in the first place?
These are all questions I plan to explore over the next few months. Again, I value your feedback.
Here are pics from my initial Indigo Dye day for Spring of 2013. I am not entirely satisfied with the saturation of color that was achieved. I plan to work on my dye pot more this week and do additional dips of my yarn and fabric.
This summer is also represents an opportunity to become obsessive about producing and doing the work. I hope you all see the results here.
With weaving a lot more over the past six months, a number of the classic weaving rules have been driven home; as well as a few rules and practices of my own. Here is a starter list:
1. Tension is King: If the tension of your warp is not good for the whole width of your project; re-tension.
2. Never Weave Tired: During the weeks before Christmas this year I was dead set on finishing some gifts I was planning on handing out. I would weave long after I was too tired to do anything else or after long shifts at work. The result was more treadling errors than I care to mention.
3. If you notice a mistake that you made 4 inches ago, have fun as you un-weave and fix it. The feeling of undoing what you just spent good time doing is far better than the feeling of not being able to look at the piece without noticing the flaw. Quality my friend, quality.
4. If you are not sure if you will have enough weft for a project; you won’t.
5. Try to wind as many bobbins as you can at once so you don’t have to stop weaving when you are in a groove just to load more bobbins.
6. We have all heard, loose string is evil. It really is. (the biggest time waster ever)
What are your weaving/art rules?
Each time I have dressed my loom over the past two years or so, I have been tweaking my warping method to find what works best and easiest for me. I recently began working with the “Warping on a Shoestring” method of dressing my loom. I am amazed at how much yarn this saves. I do not have anywhere near the loom waste. I have taken the premise, added some ideas from others and am happy to say the new warp (ready to be threaded) was the nicest, best organized and smoothest warp ever. Hip…hip…
I have a few goals for my weaving this year. Three of them are split into projects. The other two are habits I must work on.
1. Project Labels: In order to sell my textiles to the general public, legally, I need to have them labeled with my brand information as well as specific product info such as fiber content, country of origin etc. For items that are designed to take a lot of use and washing, I plan to have woven labels made anticipating they will be able to handle the use. Woven labels are a rather major (up front) cost of doing business so I am making the purchase a major goal for the next 6 months. If any of you have experience working with different sources for labels, I would love your input.
2. Product Development: I continue to make strides in perfecting my towel offerings, but have many more ideas for a broader range of products. I am planning for this year to bring more and better patterns, colors, designs and products to share with all of you.
3. Education: I need to seek more weaving education. Perhaps an apprenticeship or a few workshops.
Habit 1: Keep Records
Habit 2: Through practice and repetition: work faster.