Sunday, 5 July 2015


The fourth component of "How Long Does It Take to Make a Blanket" follows the weaving process and includes several elements of particular enjoyment for me as the woven fibres are transposed into finished cloth.

Once the warp has been completely woven, it is cut off the loom at the very beginning of the long stretch that I wove. This means loosening the front beam and unwinding it all into a roll on my lap. This is a bit crazy but quite fun, as a long warp weighs a lot but proves the work I've done. So any struggle with the bulky roll of cloth is actually more satisfying than frustrating.

The roll can be carried easily to a flat place on the floor with good light for cutting apart blankets. Towel warps I usually carry to the sewing area and cut them apart right before sewing to minimize fraying.

Hand fringing of blankets is a good task for light conversation, daydreaming or watching TV. Wool blankets usually require at least 1 1/2 hours per end; cotton blankets take up to two hours. The total fringing time for each blanket does add up but it really finishes the blanket nicely. Machine-hemmed cotton blankets take up to about a half hour each to zigzag both ends before hemming.

Blankets are then washed. Wool blankets I handwash with lots of gentle agitation and soaking time. After several rinses they go into the washing machine for spinning on a delicate cycle. Cotton blankets go right into the machine for washing and they receive the highest setting for the spin cycle. Only then do the fringes pass my test that the knots will hold. All blankets are hung to dry. I straighten them out on the line (whether indoors or outside) and pull the edges straight so that they dry as evenly as possible. Then I usually like to stand back for a moment and admire ...

Blankets next go to the ironing board. I first cut off the loose fringe below the knots to make them look tidier. Cotton blankets often require brushing with a de-linter to remove the film of lint and make the colours purer.

Each blanket side is then pressed: up one side, down the other, turn over and repeat. I clip loose ends at the selvedges, check over and over for any skips or flaws, and fix what should be fixed. Most small skips are better left, proving the blanket was human-made by an imperfect weaver. Serious flaws make the blanket unsellable ... lesson learned, don't do that again, Jane! Finally, I sew a label onto all blankets.

I check again for short ends to clip and any skips. Finally, a new set of blankets is neatly piled and taken back to the studio for the final steps that I'll cover in Part 5.

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