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There are some weaving terms that may mean different things to different people. I think “production weaving” falls into that category.

My Weaving Goal

My Weaving Goal

Sometimes production weaving means putting on long warps to maximize weaving versus set-up time. The longer the warp, the more you can weave before you have to rethread the loom. Other times, it means weaving A LOT of one type of thing. I have come to understand production weaving as weaving with an eye toward time and cost efficiency.

I have friends who put on long warps for towels and then challenge themselves to weave every towel differently. They change the treadling. They change the weft color. They change something in each towel so that they are all related, but different. That takes some planning, but once you get going, it’s exciting to see the warp growing like a flower bed of multi-colored zinnias. And when that warp comes off the loom, it’s fun to see how all the towels work together.

Related but different towels

Related but different towels

My mother once suggested that I weave one item in several different color choices like commercial stores offer. In a way, that’s what those long warps do. They produce several different towels, but all related. However, the difference between the handwoven and the commercial towels is the weaver has the freedom to make small changes in increments, whereas textile factories set up each loom to do one thing and one thing only. Small changes cannot be made without significant effort.

Sometimes I will weave related items as sets. I intentionally combine four different but related napkins in a set. Once I wove a long warp all of different napkins and sold them individually so people could choose what they liked. Some liked this freedom. Others wanted sets of identical items.

I am working on training myself to economize on my time: longer warps, tying on when I can instead of rethreading from scratch for every warp, weaving items in batches. But in the quest to become more efficient in my production, I don’t want to sacrifice the artistry that makes handweaving stand out over commercial fabric.

When you shop, do you like to see a set that has identical members, or do you like variety in your “sets”? Tell me what attracts you.