Not a lot of making going on

So, for the past few weeks, there hasn’t been a whole lot of making. This has meant that there really hasn’t been all that much to post here. Also, I’ve been crap lately at actually taking pictures, but hopefully at least one of them I have managed to take will make up for that.

I’ve been working on my socks. The second one was well on it’s way to completion after knitting it up a second time, so I ripped out the first one and started that one over. That one, as of yesterday, is now nearing completion. Soon I’ll have another pair of socks I can wear. Woo!

The Gothic Cross shawl is finished and has been tested out – it’s warm, but not overly so. It provides me with a snuggly alternative to wearing a coat in the office when the air conditioning is on (which it really hasn’t because although it’s June, and we put the air conditioners in the windows, the temperature has really been in the “England” zone of “New England”). Everyone who’s seen it in person has commented on the softness and the (extreme) length, all in a positive way.

I have been doing yard work every moment I’m home and it isn’t raining, which, if you live in the northeastern United States, you know is not as often as I’d like. There’s been raking, leaf blowing, brush hauling, tree felling (small ones), branch cutting…wash, rinse, repeat.

When I’m not outside, I’ve been tidying inside, trying to tame the making sprawl in the house. The fleeces are all washed and put away in new bins. I’ve tidied up some errant yarn that I’d bought on sale for knitting sweaters later on. There was a spare bin (after some reorganizing) for filling with weaving yarns. (After filling that, I determined that I cannot buy any more weaving yarn until I start selling stuff!) And I’ve been making pants for my friend. She sent me a box of several fabrics a while ago, which is now rapidly being washed, dried, cut, and sewn into pants. I’m very happy with how they’re coming out!

The foxes trot more often through the backyard these days. There are a bunch of new martins flying around. The owls have been hooting – I’ve not seen them lately, and was worried that they’d flown away, but I’ve decided they’re busy raising little owlets.

I can’t wait to have time to get back to weaving! The embroidery bug has lurking on the horizon as well. I can feel it watching me with its beady little eyes. The mosquitoes and black flies are out, so spoon carving will have to wait a bit.

Let’s see…oh! I participated in the MA Sheep & Woolcraft fair over Memorial Day weekend as the weaver in a fleece to shawl competition (though, because there were no other teams, it was billed as a demo). I had forgotten to bring a measuring ribbon with me, but knew I’d put on extra warp, so we all decided that I’d weave until the end. This meant that instead of the required 2 yards, we accidentally produced a shawl 120″ long (plus fringe). Oops. The spinners did a terrific job supplying me with yarn! Lots of kids and parents showed up, we talked with them and answered questions, so over all it was a successful demo.

Over this past weekend, I also got to hang with my nieces, which was thrilling beyond description. I hadn’t seen them in about seven years, and even then it was never a real visit, just a brief ‘hi’. Actually, the time I spent with them this weekend was the most time I’ve ever spent with them in my (and their) whole lives. Can’t wait to hang with them again! They’re growing up into really amazing people.

And now for some pictures:

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This poppy and a bunch of its friends nearby opened last week.

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Can you believe I took these with an iPhone? I can’t.

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I uncovered these guys while I was raking yesterday. They didn’t move a muscle, but I’m pretty sure they were just trying to blend in so as to not get eaten.

Fingers crossed that I’ll be able to get the mundane stuff done soon so I can get back to the usual program.

So. Much. Wool.

There’s been a lot of crafturgency going on lately. Frankly, it’s been difficult concentrating at my day job, especially when I work in front of All Teh Internetz, basically. I mean, weaving drafts, knitting patterns, colors, dyes, how to make [insert thing here]… I’ve been fortifying myself with tea and chocolate, quietly determined to cross things off my work diary list, but man. Just… man.

Maybe I should just post some pictures. That should get things started.

The week of Valentine’s Day, I wove two bath mats, washed and dried the cloth three times for maximum shrinkage, hemmed one, and gave it away just last week. The other is for sale! When I get a chance to get some more blue thread, it’ll get hemmed and can be packed up and shipped. It’s 20″x 30″ almost exactly. (If you’re interested, please leave a comment!!)

Sunday, February 19th, I went to visit a shepherd friend of mine with another friend and I bought two fleeces, fresh off the sheep 24 hours earlier. The one on the chair turned out to be huge – that’s from sheep 420. The smaller fleece is from 807. I started washing 420 right away, and you can see the lovely grey locks I got! I was sort of hoping the yellow tips would come off with carding, but they mostly haven’t. Of course, as soon as I had some dry wool, I spun up the tiniest bit – so shiny!

So, this wool. This particular fleece from 420 was large to begin with (5 or 6 pounds?), but after I washed it all, it pretty much doubled in volume:

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The bag in the back is only a tiny bit less full because I combed some.

Which means I had to buy combs so I could comb the wool. Which was fiiiine. I’ve been wanting a pair of combs for a while. For some reason, I’d been taught that a flick carder was all you needed, and I hated that stupid thing so much. No one told me about combs until kind of recently – it turns out that combing not only lets you produce a greater quantity of ready-to-spin fiber, it also gets more of the crap out (you thought your wool was really super clean? Comb it and watch what else falls out!), AND you have much better control over the quality of yarn you’re spinning.

But before I get to the combs… last weekend, I had to go back to see my shepherd friend and buy 420’s sibling’s fleece:

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Yes, 421. 421’s fleece is perhaps slightly bigger, but also greasier, so it was heavier – 7 lbs. I love it so! It’s still waiting in the queue to be washed as I’ve started washing 807:

The fleece on the floor – darker brown, but there were some surprising greys in there too! I am currently very carefully working out of buckets. Two cold soaks, then a hot soak in slightly soapy water, then a hot rinse, and dumping all the water outside so dust, dirt, and dissolved lanolin don’t affect the septic system. I read something about someone using a dash of vinegar in the rinse water to restore the pH to the fiber, which I thought was a good idea. I think it also makes the fiber shinier and softer, which would make sense according to other things I’ve read about shampoo and conditioner for humans. And my experience dyeing silk, which is also a protein fiber, includes a lot about a mild acid restoring the pH. In the same place, I also read that adding a few drops of clove oil might repel moths, though there’s no proof. I liked this idea too, so I’ve been doing that. I love the smell of wool – raw, clean, wet, dry – but this new smell is really good too, if extremely subtle. And hey, if it repels moths, I’m all for it. Plus, I just happened to have clove oil from a previous project. So.

I’m not done washing 807 yet – I’m about 2/3rds of the way through. Hopefully, I’ll have it done by the weekend! There’s still so much to get done, but I really would love to have 807 off the floor at last.

Last weekend, I also started a hat (finally). This hat had a very long start. I think I cast on four times and had to rip it out, threw the pattern in the corner for a while, pointedly ignored the hat, then had to finally get a new set of double pointed needles because OMG the circular one I’d tried using, the one recommended in the instructions, was too long. I nearly gave up. I’ve knitted two sweaters, countless pairs of socks, even cabled socks before I learned to read a pattern – I just made the cable up, and fingerless mitts. A hat shouldn’t be difficult. It’s a hat. I should be able to bang one out in a weekend, but noooooo. Murphy and I have a very special relationship. Easy? Then for Kate it will be difficult. I persevered. There’s a mistake in it, but I’m not ripping it out. I didn’t notice until about two inches past it, and this hat needs to go to it’s intended recipient (where it should have gone two months ago, dammit). I have strong feelings about this hat. Strong feelings.

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It’s coming along. I’m calm. Honest. Calm. I’ll knit two or three more after this.

So THEN…

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…there were pancakes. I had a bunch of things that were going to go bad, mostly buttermilk. But also some eggs. And I had the dry ingredients left over from a cake that wasn’t to be (the wet ingredients didn’t make it, but the dry ingredients were set aside for a couple of weeks). And there was a half of a container of sour cream left. And hey, oh, hmm. Here’s some almond meal that’s been in the fridge for I don’t want to think about that. Smells okay. What else? Orange flower water. Sure. Oh! And some fresh blueberries that somehow made it through the week without getting eaten or going bad. Huh. Better use those up. I might have added a bit of cornmeal too.

I literally poured things into a big bowl, added more baking powder, and stirred, then ladled it out onto a buttered sautĂ© pan, and voilĂ ! Pancakes. Some with blueberries. Two with chocolate chips (turns out, I’m not much of a chocolate chip person when it comes to pancakes). There are still quite a few in the freezer. They’re delicious!

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Yeah, so while the hat was happening, this is as far as I’ve gotten on my cardigan that I really wanted to be done for April. Yeah. Um.

Then there was the local Orchid Show! I finally, finally remembered this year and got myself down there nice and early. Alas, I did not buy a single orchid (such restraint, don’t you think?!), but admired all of them, and checked prices for next year. I have three phalaenopses that I have not only NOT managed to kill, but they’re actually growing (one has decided to bloom again from the same stalk it put up last summer without me having to do anything). I think another orchid or two would not be out of place at my abode one day. However, I’m saving to buy a house, and that comes first. sigh

In the meantime, I did a little more spinning. I think this was while 420 was still drying and my hands were just itching to spin some wool. (What about weaving? I know! I wanted to weave too! Such is the curse of crafturgency!) Last year, I bought a couple fleeces – Scottish Blackface, in fact – from this same shepherd, and having done some pre-purchase research, had decided to spin yarn to weave a hearth rug. See, wool doesn’t burn well at all. Linen and cotton go up like crazy (and honestly, you should try dryer lint in the fireplace or woodstove one day – just try it, it’s mostly cotton, it’s pretty and makes you take those warnings about dryer fires a bit more seriously), but wool just smoulders and goes out, which is why traditional hearth rugs are made of wool. (YAY WOOL!) Sparks can fly on them all the want, the wool will save your floor. (Further experimentation is required to see if a burning stick or log can burn the wool, however.) Plastic fibers will melt. Linen and cotton, as I said before, will very happily burn very brightly and quickly. Wool won’t at least where sparks are concerned.

Anyway, weaving. So, this particular breed is special because it has three particular types of fiber: tog, thel, and kemp. The tog is the long hairs, the thel is the fine undercoat of squishy, soft wool. The kemp is dreaded by all spinners: it’s a weak, crunchy fiber that doesn’t really contribute (that I’ve found) to your yarn, breaks and gets everywhere while you’re spinning. You can sort of see a bit of it sticking out from the yarn on the bobbin in the picture above, but some of that is also tog. Some spinners separate the tog from the thel and spin them separately, but you can also spin them both together, which is what I decided to do. I experimented spinning both ways last fall, but ultimately decided that any rug I wove would be nicer with all the fibers incorporated into the same yarn. (I might do a whole post on this breed and a bit of history…)

Mostly, I kind of thought I’d try to get this wool spun up before starting to spin 420, but OH! I want to spin 420!! Crafturgency!!

But first? I have to comb the wool. With those new combs I went on about earlier. Behold!

They’re really sharp, and really good at getting all the fibers lined up nicely! I’m so very happy with them! Yes! I did already stab myself and bleed all over them! Here are the results of combing:

The top bag of nests is 420 – I can’t believe how full that bag is and how little of a dent I made in the fleece. The bottom bag is of 807. Because I’m still not done with washing that fleece, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Though, this morning, I decided to spin a little 807 just to see. That wool is just so soft. And isn’t it beautiful?? I’m surprised at how dark it came out and how shiny and soft the resulting yarn is, though 807’s fleece is a bit softer than 420. Did I mention that 807’s wool is soft? I’m so very happy with it! I’ll take that yarn off and probably Navajo ply it so I can see what a three-ply yarn looks like. Then I’ll likely carry it around with me, taking it out to see it in the light, petting it, oh yes, my precious…

Ahem. Yes. Wool. We loves it.

So, Projects Also Planned!

These four cones are of mercerized 10/2 cotton, and they were purchased for a commission. I am to weave some dishtowels for my friend Lee who needs a gift for someone later this month. I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to arrange the colors or what sort of twill I’ll do, but there’s enough yarn that I could likely do another three sets of four (I think), and that will give me Options. The weaving draft next to it isn’t necessarily related, though it might be interesting to do this pattern (Gothic Cross) with these lovely pastel colors. Otherwise, I’m definitely weaving this pattern with WOOL. I think it would be really beautiful in a single color wool, not fulled as much as that sample from my last post so that the pattern is super subtle, but wows you when you see it. I had thought that Gothic Cross was only for 8-shaft looms, but came across this (the voice in the back of my head said, no! Surely a 4-shaft loom can weave this! It’s diamonds!), and quickly saved/printed it out. I. Can’t. Wait. I want a shawl in a medium to dark spring/willow mixed green. Right. Now.

I told you. Crafturgency has set in pretty firmly these days.

Oh! I nearly forgot! There are a bunch of black birches in the yard where I live. Up until yesterday, I had thought there was only the one huge, tappable one, but once I wandered around in the woods a bit, I discovered at least two more. Three black birches! I have one tap and bucket. I shall buy two more taps and buckets, and just maybe I’ll be able to get some sap and boil it down and make birch syrup. Maybe. Cross your fingers!

 

Wool Success!

When the opportunity came up to learn to weave, my first thought was that I could weave cloth from which to make clothing. Very quickly, I decided the first such project would be wool for a coat, but of course, I needed to actually learn to weave first. Which meant cotton, because that’s easy. (We’ll forget the linen experiment for now.) I did try wool once at the very beginning, reading that it was a forgiving fiber, but there was no instruction how how to to treat it, and I hadn’t any experience weaving much of anything else yet, and there was no real advice on what kind of wool to buy, so that didn’t go well. The result was a stiff, brillo pad-like scarf-shaped thing. The next time was more recently – last September maybe? – but I did plainweave with Jaggerspun 8/2, and beat it a bit too aggressively still not understanding how that was supposed to work, so the result was a stiff, though softer cloth. I consulted with my weaver friend who works at Webs (I am SO LUCKY to live 4 miles from Webs!), and upon seeing the stiff, plainweave cloth, she immediately advised, “You can’t beat it like cotton! You have to squeeeeeeze the weft in place. Treat it gently – just kiss the little lamb with the beater!” I take her advice very seriously.

And so, this past Sunday, I decided to take a little break from cotton and wove another sample. This time with wool, in a bird’s eye twill with very careful beating:

The above pictures are from before fulling – this cloth was fresh off the loom. The purple is 100% wool (Jaggerspun 8/2 Heather), the lighter color (pale, dull pink) is 100% baby alpaca (Hatfield from Valley Yarns). The multi colored yarns are just some handspun bits that were kicking around. I quickly knotted some fringe and continued to the fulling process!

This fulled cloth is SO SOFT. You just want to squish it and hold it and squish it again. I wish it were blanket-sized! You can see after the yarns bloomed that the pattern is now a lot more subtle in the purple warp and weft – I’m not sure I like that. In any case, I think more experimentation is required. The end result will be a shawl for me, and perhaps a shawl or two to sell. Or more. I need to make a couple to test.

Last night I went to the local weaver’s guild meeting and became a card carrying member! (Well, I’m a member – I’m not sure if I get a card…) The benefits are many: a pretty extensive library I can borrow from pretty freely, people I can thrust my latest experiment at without signs of flinching away, wisdom from other weavers, and cookies once a month at meetings!

In other news, this morning I had to shovel a bit of the porch. There are icicles on the roof of the second floor that are dripping onto a section of the porch under which I park my car. Icicles were forming on the underside of the porch right over the car and that was worrying. So I shoveled a bit.

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Since I couldn’t get out the back door to where the problem spot was, I had to go out the front door (which is normally not used in the winter) and shovel a path to around the corner.

We have a lot of snow right now.

Also, it’s going to be 40F today. And I hear 50+F on the weekend. It’s going to be a lot of water.

Also, Monday is a holiday for me, which means MORE WEAVING. I hope to have more cotton stuff woven (bathmats) and another wool sample, possibly a competed shawl. And rip out the 3″ of the cardigan I started knitting so I can do it up correctly. And knit up another hat so I can get that in the mail. And finally just fix J’s sweater so I can give it back to her. But also, housework should get done at some point, and sleeping should also happen, so we’ll see…

 

 

Bath mats

Yesterday was a snow day for me. Finally, it seems winter has come here in western Massachusetts! The snow started about 7am, and I took this picture at about 9:45am. By about 11:00am, there was a foot of snow on the railing. It finally tapered off and stopped by about 4pm or so, and two hours later, the wind started howling.

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So what do I do when I am not at work? Why, I get up early, make tea, and get right to work on a project. In this case, the bath mat warp was on the loom, and all that was left was to sley the reed and tie on. This went pretty quickly (hour and a half?), and then I started throwing the shuttle, which always really exciting. You spend all the time to get the warp just right, and it has to be absolutely perfect, but the only way to be absolutely sure is the when you start throwing the shuttle. So much suspense. Deep breath, throw, beat, throw, beat, throw, beat. And if everything is as perfect as it should be, you see the pattern come alive!

Alarmingly (and perhaps predictably), I’ve got a weaving-related injury: my right foot does most of the treadling, and since I’m treadling for several hours at a time, the muscles in my foot decided to rebel and cramp and be otherwise very unhappy. The remedy is ibuprofen, rest, ice, then gentle stretching and strengthening, which meant that all treadling yesterday had to be done with my left foot. I am not left-footed. Things went very slowly. But I did finish!

So. Two bath mats, all woven, hemstitched, washed, dried, and ironed out (for accurate post-wet finish measuring). I hemmed this morning.

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I am so in love with this green!

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I’m not 100% sold on the edges, but I have Ideas for more mats! And just look at that fringe!

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Can’t decide which I like better: fringe or hem…

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The reverse of each.

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Here you can sort of get an idea of how thick they are.

I tested the fringed mat out this morning – it worked really well! It’s absorbent, and I find the size to be just about perfect. The fringed one came out to be 20″ x 30″ (incl. fringe), and the hemmed one came out at 20″ x 27″ (3″ worth of hem total). I’ll measure again after each wash/dry for two or three weeks to see if there’s any more shrinkage, and to note how they wear. This yarn is mercerized, which means it’s a bit stronger, shinier, and takes dye better than unmercerized, but it also means it’s slightly less absorbent. Mercerized cotton (I believe) should hold up better in the long run.

I am going to try a different treatment to the selvedges (edges) in the next run, too. Should be much neater.

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Which I did. I totally did get all the things (or nearly all the things) done:

  1. Vacuum the house – check
  2. Wash and dry all laundry – check
  3. Finish weaving the six yard warp, wash and dry twice, cut apart into towels, iron hems, hem. – check
  4. Sewed a pair of pants for my friend, from start to finish. – check
  5. Knit with friends for a few hours at LYS – check
  6. Cook lunches for the week – (almost check – 3 lunches made, need 2 more)
  7. Grocery shopping for the week – (almost check)

So, the house is squeaky clean, and I still got other stuff done! WOO!

Behold!

This was the MOST DELIGHTFUL cloth to work with – cotton denim, very dark blue, with some stretch – but it’s not clear who made it. The suspicion is that it’s Robert Kaufman stretchy denim, but I won’t know for sure until I order some more and compare. If all works out, I’ll order enough for two more pairs of pants for my friend, and some for me! Made on Saturday, hemmed on Sunday.

Its kinda hard to see, but the white one is actually two-toned: white warp, natural weft. My favourite one is the green one, of course! I don’t know what happened with the green/pink/yellow one – maybe I was just really tired? It’s not my usual color palette. But I’m really starting to love bird’s eye twill.

img_1801See what I did there with the hem? It delighted me to no end that I could get a design element just by folding the cloth over. Isn’t it pretty? The details can be so interesting.

I also came up with another Plan: weaving a bath mat.

Okay, okay. I hear you: why not just buy one? Isn’t that a lot of work?

But that could be said for pretty much everything I make. 3/2 mercerized cotton was on sale, I wanted to play around with it for possible future endeavors, and I’ve never in my life actually owned a bath mat. I use a small towel that I hang up after every shower. I don’t like those fluffy, rubber-backed rugs for bath mats because they end up soaking water and everything else up and tend to look ratty after a couple months of washing, and they end up smelling funky. So, I’m not looking to make a rug, just a mat. Or two, so I could rotate them. Or make one and sell one. I’m not sure.

In any case, I bought two cones of 3/2 cotton, one willow green and one white, enough to make at least 2 bath mats measuring 20″ x 30″ finished. At first, the plan was for stripes, but using the colors evenly would be insurance against running out of one color if there was a mistake in my math, so they’ll be twill, probably bird’s eye. Yes, there probably should be a ton of floats in there for extra absorbancy, but an even twill will probably be fine. (It’ll be fiiiiiiiiiine.)

Also, this is an experiment to see what the resulting cloth will be. For perhaps future blankets. Or other mats. So, really, it’s a sample, hopefully fairly useful when all is said and done. And then, if it all works, perhaps there will be actual bath towels. And washcloths. And hand towels. OOH! And then, maybe curtains! And if I could weave yardage, there’s a bathrobe in there somewhere…. Guys, who wants to buy stuff from me so I can fund all of this?

Today, we’re having Weather: snow to start, then freezing rain, then maybe some plain rain provided it gets warmer. It could be exciting driving today.

 

 

New yarn!

That new yarn arrived yesterday! I’m really tickled. I looked everywhere for the right shade of blue to go with that beautiful golden orange I waxed about the other day because I have Ideas about copying an overshot colorway I found online made by someone else. The pattern is from Weaving Designs By Bertha Gray Hayes: Miniature Overshot Patterns, but you’ll see once I’ve managed to get another warp on the loom for overshot. Which will be soon. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

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Bluuuuuuuue!

 

In the meantime, as soon as I got home last night, I immediately wound up a quill with some gorgeous blue and started towel #5. Aaaand then I somehow finished it this morning before work. One more towel to go on this warp.

I’m thinking maybe black for the next towel. Actually, I might try black and white clasped weft, something I’ve been wanting to try for some time. It may not really work as a dishtowel in the end, but it would be an interesting experiment.

BUT. I have to switch gears and make some pants for my dear friend Jenny (hi, Jenny!) who even sent me the fabric (quite a while ago, I’m embarrassed to realize) and I said I’d make them, and then totally forgot because I got distracted with weaving. Which is not like me at all, but I need to rectify this and just make them. They don’t take long, so I’ll be able to get them in the mail on Monday morning.

Then I starting measuring a new warp!

Experimental weekend

So, the weekend was busy. Really busy. Let me explain.

I’ve been toying with the idea of selling some of my handmade stuff. The “profits” (because, really, most people wouldn’t be able to afford my time beyond $5/hr, so we’re talking mostly cost of materials here) could go towards my hobbies, and if even marginally more successful than half of minimum wage, it could go towards helping me pay off my car loan and student loan. Weeeell, I can hope.

I also have some new brand (to me) of weaving yarn: UKI. A friend had told me about how it’s really the gold standard for mercerized cotton, so when an opportunity came up for me to get a cone or three without shipping costs, I decided to go for it and bought white, natural, a wonderful golden orange, and a nearly perfect red.

The goal of this past weekend’s adventures was to gather data for both figuring out if a profit were at all possible, and to see exactly how great this UKI yarn is. The first step for figuring out if profit is possible is to add up the total cost of materials used and time spent working with them in a given project. (The second step is to see if the market will bear the cost of your finished product, but I’m not there yet.) I already have receipts, so I needed to find out how long it takes me to complete a given project. Because there is a definite economy of scale in weaving, I broke it all down into steps.

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The first block of steps involve measuring the warp, getting it on the loom, and then getting all the ends in order so you can start throwing the shuttle (what most people think of as “weaving”). This is a six yard warp, and I would say that the four yard warps took about the same amount of time – the difference was really only in the measuring and beaming (winding the warp onto the back beam while it’s under even tension). But two yards don’t make a huge amount of difference. Since this and the last three warps have required the same amount of heddles to thread (600), the time spent is about the same. If I were to beam a 12 yard warp, the only difference in time spent in this top block would be in actually measuring out and winding 6 extra yards.

Now I know I weave about 15″/hr as I’ve been keeping track over the last 12 towels. That’s 12 hours to weave half a dozen towels. (Which does not include hemming.) Already, you can see that about half of this project is spent getting the warp on the loom. But, in that delightful economy of scale, if I were to put a 12 yard warp on, and say that it only adds two more hours (for argument’s sake – there is a slightly faster way to measure the warp), then throwing the shuttle is up to 24 hours, but getting the warp on and ready is only 12 hours.*

Well. You can see that I think about this a lot. I’ve also been thinking about weaving rugs and wool or silk shawls because I think I’m more likely to get paid a better hourly wage than for dish towels. Though I do love weaving dish towels SO MUCH!

The really interesting thing about all this is yes, it’s a lot of work, but this is how cloth is still woven. Much is done by machinery now, but there are people who run the machinery, and make sure of dye lots, and make sure there are no mistakes, etc etc. And that cloth is later cut out to be sewn together into the clothes you’re wearing right now. This process of making cloth is at least 20,000 years old. Think about that for a moment. Twenty thousand years. TWENTY THOUSAND years. Not two thousand. Not ten thousand. One thousand years would even be famazing. We as a species have been clothing ourselves with fibers that human hands processed, twisted together, and woven (and we haven’t covered spinning yet, which is a whole other can of worms) in basically the same way I’m weaving towels.

The really, REALLY interesting thing is that because hardly anyone in the first world has been exposed to this process, it’s super easy for them to opt for bargain prices that, in the end, don’t actually pay the people involved in the manufacturing process what we in the first world would consider a living wage. (I need to find references for you guys.) All the time, I hear, “oh, I could never use that towel! It’s too nice!” And then they go to Walmart and spend $1.99 on a dishtowel that’s been made by the same process. I mean, I get that not everyone has $25 to spend on a single towel, but…this is getting into a different rant, so I’ll stop now and save it for another day.

Ahem. So. The other goal for this weekend’s weaving adventures was to see how this UKI yarn really weaves up. And I’m smitten. Compared to the yarn I had been using, this stuff is smoother, glossier, much tamer and less prone to tangling, and it weaves up so well! Also, weirdly, my selvedges seem neater. I’m pretty sure this is not due to all the practice I’ve been getting, but rather some quality of the yarn. I’ve woven two complete towels so far with UKI brand yarn wefts, and the third, which I started this morning, is with a previous brand weft.

I’m REALLY happy with those edges. Really. I know they’ll shrink up and neaten even more once the cloth has been washed, so I’m less critical pre-wet finishing. In this case, I think the edges will look really professional post-wash. Exciting!

We’ll see how it washes and how it wears. I’ve got another few cones coming in the mail – they should arrive this week. I’m going to have to sell something to address the dip in my bank account… wish me luck!

*This is the amount of time it takes for me to work with my loom, which is old, slightly rickety, very much handmade, and has wooden ratchets and pawls. And no crank levers. Which means I wind the warp on by physically grabbing back beam and rolling it. One day, I’ll be able to buy a newer loom with metal ratchets and pawls, and lots of crank levers, which should speed things up considerably.