I know i haven't had much of substance to say recently, but i haven't been idle. Oh no.
You've seen the green and white scarves from a previous post maybe, and perhaps you've also seen in my last post a tri-colour scarf shot on the loom from a curious angle. I was originally going to call that series of scarves "Accidentally Irish" because i didn't realise till the warp was on the raddle that it was basically an irish tri-colour, and thus something you can't wear or sell in certain parts of Northern Ireland or the Central Belt if you're an excessively careful sort like me.
Now, I am developing with this a scarf that can be woven inexpensively. In the first warp i left 5 inches between scarves for twisted fringes. And that's all well and good, and terribly nice, but it took me ages to twist the fringes up for finishing. So i scrapped twisted fringes in the name of efficiency. In the second, Accidentally Irish, warp I decided to leave half an inch between scarves, separating them with a warp stick from the table loom. I then washed the entire warp together, and then cut them apart, as the finishing process (60 degree wash and 30 minute tumble dry in the laundrette with the rest of my washing) binds the fibres together so well that they'll never unravel. This worked very well
This way i got an extra scarf out of the warp. 7 instead of 6. Nice. It takes me the best part of a day to make and beam the warp, although i'm pretty sure i'm doing something wrong in the beaming process, and although i am currently incapable of vocalizing my thoughts on this issue, i think i know what it is, and i think i'll get it nailed next time. It doesn't take much longer to actually weave the warp up.
This is the longest warp i can get out of my warping board when it's put together. Obviously, the next thing is to make a longer warp. Presumably, by taking the warping board apart and nailing each end to the wall at a greater distance from one another. Another method may be sectional warping, but that's just fraught with difficulties.
Now, that's great, and all fairly obvious if the aim is to make very nice scarves with very good selvedges that show off my skill as a weaver. But that's not the aim at all. The aim is to make very nice scarves with nice, reasonable prices that show off my skill as a sensible weaver for a mass market. Thus, the idea is to make wider warps. Each scarf is 400 ends wide. I have 1000 heddles. Therefore i can only make 2 scarf width warps. my loom is wide enough to take a 1200 end warp at least, but i don't have enough heddles. curse. I have been in touch with Lunds of Bingley, and they don't make heddles anymore (it's them that made the frames for my loom, back in the 70's)
Even so, it shouldn't take much longer to warp an 850 end warp than a 400 end warp, and so i can weave twice as many scarves in only a little longer time. So, call that 14 scarves in 3 days, to be generous with time. That's not a bad rate really, as far as i'm concerned. Working on the basis that whatever i make, i'll eventually sell, then spending all this money on wool (at £10 a kilo, each scarf costs £1.10 in wool, with loom wastage taken into account) and all this time on weaving is probably the best investment i could concievably make these days. And i have so far managed to sell almost everything i've made. It just comes in fits and spurts.
Here's the math
3 days work = £150 (i used to work for £25 a day as a labourer, so i'm being generous here)
14 scarves worth of wool = £15 (1 scarf worth of wool is accounted for as loom wastage)
Laundrette fees = £8
Total price of manufacture = £173
Minimum price for each scarf = £12.35
Getting there, getting there. My aim is to develop a range of scarves, and associated working practices, that allow me to sell them for £10-15 to the public and £5 to shops and suchlike.
With a 3-scarf warp of that length i can make 21 scarves in just under 4 days. It's not bad, but it's not good enough.
The aim now is to develop the ability to produce 100 scarves in 6 days. To do this i will need much longer warps. I believe this is possible, at least with the loom i'm using now, which is a very nice loom and makes me happy.
Here is the math
100 scarves of wool = £102
50 hours work @ £6/hr = £300
Total Price of manufacture = £402
minimum price for each scarf = £4.02
I could concievably sell for £3 or less and still make it worth my while. This being based upon that fact that one can live quite comfortably on £80 a week without recourse to benefits.
Mind you, everything that's made has to be sold. And that's something i don't know anything about: selling.
I have no illusions however, and i shall persevere. I will make a living out of this.