How long does it take to weave a ________________?
If I had a dime for every person who asked how long it takes to weave something we could all go out to dinner. And probably have drinks and desserts. It's a perfectly reasonable question but I almost never have an answer. If we were production weavers, or we worked in a sweatshop we would probably know exactly how long it takes to weave this kitchen towel. Unfortunately, I'm a flitter. I weave for a bit but as soon as I get up to get another cup of coffee or to go to the bathroom, or to answer the phone, I move on to some other task. I could put a stop watch at my loom and start and stop and come up with a total amount of time but that never happens.
I'm working on a new run of kitchen towels that I am thrilled with. The warp is stripes of naturally colored cotton along with white. The weft is a single color among the colors of the warp. It's an easy weave and right now my selvedges are perfect. Wait! I should not have written that. I don't want to anger the weaving gods. Let's just say I'm happy with my selvedges right now. The weaving is going about as quickly as it ever does.
I went back to the house for lunch on Sunday after I finished a weaving a towel and when I came back out to the studio I decided to time myself. I started weaving at 2:20 and finished at 3:30. That looks like an hour and 10 minutes for a single kitchen towel. Well, not exactly.
I had to stop weaving when the rain started. We haven't had rain in weeks so I grabbed my iPad and recorded 30 seconds of rain. Then I had to write a short caption and post it to Instagram. Then I got distracted looking at FaceBook... Oh, look! There's a squirrel! Wait! Stop! You are supposed to be timing this towel!
OK. I think I can take off 10 minutes for recording, writing caption, distractions, etc. That leaves a very convenient time of one hour to weave a kitchen towel. Now I have a number I can give when someone asks the "How long does it take..." question.
Of course, the time spent weaving is only a portion of the time I have spent on this project. I had to buy the cotton yarn - it's from Lunatic Fringe, by the way and it's wonderful! - and make all the design decisions. How long and wide were my towels going to be? What about the weave structure? Then there is measuring out the warp and dressing the loom, threading the heddles and sleying the reed. Plus the weaving. Then there is surging the ends of each towel, washing the cloth, boiling with a dash of ammonia to bring out the bold natural colors and finally ironing and hemming the towels.
So, the hour I spent weaving each towel is only a small portion of the time spent to create it. I have no idea how to measure all of that. And I'm not at all interested in doing the work to figure it out. I'd rather be weaving.
Did you notice? I remembered to add a safety pin at the end of each completed towel so now I can count how many I've done... at this point there are four. And this is the first time I've tried using a much finer yarn for the hems. This way they shouldn't be quite as bulky as they often are. I feel so daring!