The Weaver's Dance

On a loom that whispers, with shuttles that fly
And bobbins that chatter as the hours go by
I'll not lay in one thread of mere chance
As I work in the motion of the weaver's dance.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Laundry Days?

Many of us know the joy of taking fresh laundry off the line and breathing in the wonderful fragrance as a reward for our labors.  I do that with our household laundry and, though I started hanging out clothes before it was popular, I still take some pride in being a little more 'green'.

But, the handwoven yardage that comes from my looms needs to be put through the machine wash and the machine dry to bring about the maximum shrinkage in consideration of my buyers.  During these "laundry days", the magic is when I take the yardage out of the dryer!

I always grin from ear to ear when I see 'batches' like this.  Each piece, whether yardage or "This-N-That's", has been zig-zag stitched to protect them from unraveling during the washing and drying processes.

These photos show just a few of the many 'behind the scenes' efforts that are never seen when my yardage is hanging in my booth or when I show cloth to a visitor to my studio.

If I were to make a complete list, it would include, but not limited to, the following: shop for and buy the warp thread, measure the warp into up to 15 chains of up to 70 yard lengths, dress the loom (a huge sub-list!), tie on warp, choose weft(s) and wind (load) bobbins.....weave weave weave, cut off the yardage, zig-zag each end of the yardage, wash it, dry it, hand roll it onto the display roll, tag it, smile, smile, smile.

I charge by the yard after all these steps have been taken to create the maximum shrinkage so, depending on the fiber content, I might weave a yard and a half to get that yard that I sell.

I've been asked about my pricing and, in my booth especially, I've even been criticized for the rates I charge!  Off of Jimmy, and basic fabric off of Margaret, I get a lovely bunch of fabrics that are only $35.00 a yard...what a deal, huh?

When I explain my pricing, visitors do seem to settle down and understand and what I say is....  In the industry, shops will double, or even triple, my price, so that $35/yard quickly becomes $70/yard or even $105/yard.

Though I think the shops are wonderful and I would be honored to be in them.... I have tried to resist putting my yardage in shops ONLY because, in my booth or my studio, the deal is you buying directly from the artist....and I get to meet YOU in the process, too!

Though I've started an Etsy Shop at CatBryschCreations on Etsy, I will continue to keep my prices as low as I can there, too. I can take PayPal and credit cards now, so I can offer more conveniences to my buyers... with a little added cost to me, but this is worth a try!

My dream is to find the adventurous individuals who sew and want one-of-a-kind fabric to do it with!  Also, I hope that some clothing designers will find me for special limited lines or art pieces.  I am continually in awe of the creativity and spirit of people who want to sew with handwoven goods.  They are all fearless!

And now....HERE'S A Trick of the Trade!

We've all been have dressed the loom, wound bobbins, put in the header and now...there in front of you is a minefield of hang-ups everywhere!!

If you are weaving with 20/2 like I do, or LUREX at 88,000 yards per pound (no kidding!), these weft threads will catch of anything...they will catch on the knots of the warp, whether you use knots, bows or lash on and they will catch on the loom parts, making the first part of your fabric s l o w . . . . to say the least.

AND, there's no safe place to put your shuttles, if you are using 2 or more. There's the photo above of what used to be a torturous problem for me that would not go away until you weave enough to advance those knots around the breast beam and down.

Well, there's a little thing I do that helps and it takes me less than 10 seconds to do....the materials I use are 2 alligator clips, 2 clothes pins and a piece of fabric (mine's a piece of old sheet) which is as long as my widest loom and about 15" in width.  Mine is folded to create that size.  Check out the photo at left which is speaking 1,000 words....

Now, the photo at left shows after one advance...and to advance the whole affair until those knots are all the way around,  remove the alligator clips and leave the sheet wrapped around the tie-on bar....the pressure at the beam will hold it fine.  The clothes pins are underneath there pinned securely to the tie-on cords (or cloth if you have that) to give a stable 'cloth' for the shuttles to rest and not fall through....we don't want that!!!

This cloth goes from loom to loom until all my fabrics are well on their way and the booby traps are GONE!  I hope that, if you have this problem, that this trick will help you.  This has cut my weaving time, in this early stage, down to 1/4 of what it used to be with all those hang-ups!

I'm sending out happy weaving thoughts and Miles and Miles of Smiles, Cat B.

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