This particular system of creating was invented by Margaret Fischer. Weaving as a process has been around since the beginnings of humanity, but this particular way of doing it is unique to Margaret. We choose to share it freely with you, to empower you to weave like us, if you have the desire and the means. We are able to weave tens of thousands of yards every year by doing it this way, with only two weavers doing the weaving part of the work. We hope to open a weaving school someday, so if you have the desire to learn our method hands on, please contact us!
Our inspirations come from nature, so we start our process but going outside and being in it. We like to bird watch, garden, hike, and travel, and over the years we gather inspiration easily and hungrily. We pick up feathers we find on the ground, we collect books about butterflies, we go to national parks and gaze around us. Beauty is everywhere, and it loves to be replicated, elevated, and celebrated.
Once a vision is in place, we start to gather the yarns. We have been collecting yarn from mill ends over the years. This is yarn that would have been trash otherwise, but we are able to take each oddball cone that was too this is that for its original purpose, and put it to good use in our cloth. That variation in yarn is what yields such stunning textures and color for us. We use 100% cotton, raw silk, dupioni silk, and wool from our own sheep that we raise on our farm.
We line up the cones of yarn onto large platforms like the one shown above. That assortment of yarns will eventually become the cloth called Canyon. Each yarn is placed according to the colors it needs to be next to in order to accomplish the vision, as well as with awareness to weights of yarn, and the challenging behaviors of certain yarns, for instance stretchy ones that sag after awhile, or fuzzy ones that create lint knots with their neighbors. When all the yarns are lined up, they get fed up through a screen hanging above them, then into a tensioning box(shown below).
After its warped on, Margarets threads every single yarn individually through the eye of a heddle, then a space in the reed. These objects are parts of that loom that control whether the yarn is up or down, and space the yarns equal distances apart, respectively.
Up until this point, Margaret will have spent roughly 40 hours on this section of the weaving process.
Now that the warp is ready, it is time to load it into the loom. We have two types of looms. Handlooms, which we built ourselves, and antique power looms, which we refurbished ourselves. Typically, the power looms are used to create singles cloth for shirts, skirts, tunics, and square shawls, while the handlooms are best for triples cloth that become ruanas, rectangle shawls, jackets, and vests.
The yarn feeds through the tension box, then comes down and wraps around the warp beam. Margaret does this in eight inch sections that repeat all the way across the beam. She has the option of mirroring the sections, to create different patterns and stripes down the length of the cloth.
The purple and greens yarns of this example photo will later become French Lavender cloth.
We beam on warps as short at 90 yards, and as long as 200 yards. We would love to go longer, but the beams get too heavy to lift and transport onto looms, so we usually settle for 160 yards. It is never enough, and we are always making new warps. As long as all the cones on the table haven't run out completely, and we still have replacement yarns, making a new warp is as simple as finding an empty warp beam, and starting the beaming process again. But when yarns run out, or the table get disrupted, we have to start the design from scratch.
A video of the process is shown below.
Once the warp is loaded on the looms, it is time to wind the bobbins. The bobbins hold the weft yarn and sit in the shuttle which passes back and forth during the weaving process. After winding them, its finally time to start weaving!
After we weave about ten yards of cloth, we cut it off the loom, sew the ends, and then shrink it in a hot washer and a hot dryer. The cloth relaxes, softens, and shrinks about 20%. Then we can cut the cloth, and sew it. When cutting we use specific shapes that fit into each other and use up every inch of cloth possible. We laid each yarn in there, one by one, and we do not want to waste our efforts by chopping it apart without planning and consideration. When sewing we use flat felled seams and rolled hems to ensure quality.
Thats it! After all that the garment is ready to be worn and loved by whoever claims it. Thanks for reading this far. if you have any questions feel free to reach out.