Here I’ve answered a number of common questions about my weaving that I get while showing my work at craft shows. If you have other questions that aren’t featured here, please do let me know, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
How long does it take me to weave a scarf?
Usually between 8 and 12 hours, depending on the length of the scarf and how much yarn is used in making it.
A large portion of the time involved in making a scarf is actually spent spinning the yarn that the scarf is made out of. This is sometimes easy for even myself to forget, even though a typical scarf will have close to half a kilometer of hand spun yarn, which takes many hours to spin. Weaving the scarf once it’s on the loom takes a comparable amount of time to the spinning of its yarn, and together those two steps make up about 2 thirds of the process. But there are many other steps that aren’t as obvious, too – like measuring out the warp, planning out and drafting the pattern to be used, dressing the loom, tying the fringes, and finally washing it when it has all been completed. Together, these other steps will make up the final third of time invested in the making of one of my scarves.
How long have I been doing this?
I’ve been spinning and weaving since 2008, when I took the intro to weaving course at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. I acquired my own loom and spinning wheel the following year, and have been steadily working away ever since.
How did I become interested in spinning and weaving?
My mother was actually a spinner and weaver when I was growing up. I remember using her loom as a jungle gym, and living in a house that had a shop for her products on the first floor. But, being a young boy, I took that environment for granted and was never able to appreciate those things while I was growing up – I never imagined that those would be things that I would want to do some day.
It wasn’t until I went to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design to study ceramics that I revisited those childhood memories, after wandering into the textile studio one day. Being surrounded by the soft rhythmic sounds of the looms, the beautiful wooden equipment, and the colourful and soft wall of yarn, it simply felt *right* to be in that space. So I signed up for my first class the following semester, and haven’t stopped since.
Where does the fleece come from?
I get the majority of my fleece from the Last Resort Farm, in Malagash, Nova Scotia. I built a relationship with that farm while living in Nova Scotia after visiting with them a few times, and I greatly appreciate the love and care that they give to their animals.
If the yarn breaks while it’s being spun, how do you fix it?
If it breaks while I am spinning, I can simple overlap some of the fleece onto the already spun yarn, and continue spinning – integrating the old into the new. The strength of yarn comes from overlapping fibers that are twisted around each other, and as long as they are stretched out over each other while they are spun, the yarn will be strong.
What’s more troublesome, however, is when yarn breaks while weaving. When that happens, I unthread the broken yarn from the loom, and insert a new yarn – through the same heddle and reed – and attach it by wrapping it around a pin inserted into cloth. Then I attach a weight to the other end of it, so that it can hang off the back beam and retain proper tension. Once I have woven far enough along the replacement thread I’ve caught up to where the break would have been, I can then darn in the original yarn into the cloth, so that is overlapping with the replacement and then continue weaving with the original yarn. Like the overlapping fibers that give yarn strength, overlapping yarn into a weave structure will also give it strength.