A Primer for First-Time Fiber Producers Who Wish to have Commission Weaving Done by Thistle Hill Weavers
This might serve as a guide for first time fiber producers who wish to have a value added product from their own fiber.
We very much want to work with you and we want to produce a very high quality product from your fiber but first we need you to understand the process and become familiar with what we offer and how the process works.
Thistle Hill Weavers produces very high quality woven goods. We are custom and commission weavers.
- A commission weaver takes your yarn and produces a product.
- A custom weaver uses our company’s yarn and produces a product.
If you are supplying the yarn, then you are a commission client. Commission clients are responsible for the yarn quality and quantity.
Thistle Hill can help both to source the spinning and help to determine the size or count of the yarn if we are approached before the yarn is spun.
Weaving is quite different from knitting.
In most cases knitting yarn is lofty and is a finished product by itself. In the weaving process, yarn is just one of the ingredients in making a product. It is not an end product and it needs to have more yards to a pound (YPP) i.e. thinner than knitting yarn so that it goes further. Length is not a consideration in knitting.
How much is enough to start?
The Yarn MUST BE ON CONES when it comes to Thistle Hill Weavers. In weaving we need at least 40 pounds of yarn, between 1800 and 1400 yards to the pound, to produce a beautiful set of throws, blankets, and also produce other products such as scarves from the same set up (warp). This usually produces about 20 throws or a combination of throws, scarves, and shawls depending your interest.
Weaving’s hidden costs:
Weaving has a waste factor that knitting does not have. The waste amount is the same for a warp (the long yarns that make up a woven piece) that is 24 yards long or for a warp that is 100 yards long. We recommend that longer warps, at least 48 yards long on the warper, since that will eliminate some of the issues that occur with shorter warps
Set up time:
The labor to set up a project includes: setting the creel, winding the warp, threading the loom, sleying the reed, tying onto the apron and making a pattern chain. For most fiber producers this is like feeding animals for a year before you harvest the fleece. If that is spread out over a longer warp the cost per yard is less. In a 24 yard warp, which is our minimum, the cost for set up is often too high to recoup in selling your product.
If the yarn is of good quality, the weaving time on most of these projects is relatively short compared to the set up time on a per piece basis. But weaving a web does not mean that the fabric is finished; no fabric is finished just by weaving.
Once the web is woven, the individual pieces need to be cut. First we do the inspection and repairs and some finishing. This takes time and we also need to test finish one piece so that we know the SHRINK RATE. This differs from yarn to yarn and from year to year with the same yarn. We can destroy a good project if we misjudge the shrinkage rate.
The finishing on natural fibers can make or break an item. We take great pride in our finishing techniques, which range from simple steaming to complex embossing. Finishing individual pieces like scarves and throws takes time. Fringing, knotting, pressing and labeling are part of the process that we offer but these are calculated by time. We can estimate every part of a job but we charge a labor rate of $45.00 per hour for all of our work (your car mechanic charges way more)
If we create a special project for you, we will not use that same exact weave or color way for another fiber client for at least two years. However, many of our patterns are historic and cannot be copyrighted or protected. Only the designs that we create have that property.
With commission clients, you are responsible for your marketing. We can advise you on what products we see selling best; we can sample your yarn and tell you how we think it would be best used in a woven fabric but we are not responsible for helping you sell your items.
If you would like us to create samples before we go into production we are very happy to do this. We only need .5 pound of each color yarn that you want to use. This is very helpful if you are a first time client as we can get a better sense of the shrinkage, the style you are looking for and the best way to use your yarn before it goes into production. We charge a set fee of $250.00 for a full set of samples.