When I started working with Peggy the only compensation I asked for was blankets to give for Christmas. Quite honestly, being there, observing and helping in small ways was really compensation enough.
In one of my earliest posts about Bedfellows Blankets – It’s Always Something – I talked about the problems of badly spun yarn. There were two jobs that were being woven for the same person with the same bad yarn. One warp was finished and shipped. The other has seen an off again on again relationship with the loom over the past 9 months. Yes, that warp and I have been in close contact since I started going there. It’s now affectionately referred to as the WFH (warp from hell). Two hundred yards that have slowly and painfully made their way into cloth.
The pattern for the original job was a twill but had to be woven with double threads to give it more strength. A little over 150 yards were woven, repaired and brought to the finisher before making its way to the customer.
There were hours of mending broken threads. Finally during the summer, with the cost overruns the customer cut their losses and there we sat with 50 yards or so still on the beam. It sat there for a while.
Peggy rethreaded it a number of different ways and finally began weaving a few throws when time permitted. Warp threads still broke but different yarns for weft helped a little.
It was still an exercise in frustration. But . . . the finished throws were quite beautiful. I decided these were the ones I wanted for gifts. I brought a couple home – one herringbone and one plaited twill and wrapped them for Christmas. I asked if I got some yarn for weft could we weave one for me. I got a resounding “Are you sure?”
I got some lovely Harrisville Highland which proceeded to cause no end of problems because the weight of the yarn was just a little too much for the bobbin winder. The temps were subzero outdoors and around 55 in the weave room. Antique, oil-filled machines do not like cold temperatures so the process was slow. Finally we were off and running.
Ahhh, I love that sound. If you turn the sound up as high as it goes that’s what it sounds like with your ear protection on. I’m not sure why my grandfather wasn’t deaf.
Well, we were stopping every 10 to 15 picks as usual. The whole process was pretty painful. Photographing is was – challenging. During that little video two threads broke that I didn’t see on either side of the frame. Yup, now I was just thinking about the repairs.
Knotting the fringe was the final job before wet finishing – into the washer, cold water gentle, line dry.
The finished throw is truly wonderful. The yarn fulled as I expected making a soft, thick blanket. The fringe looks almost like raw wool ( it almost is) because it had to little twist in it. I probably should trim it and will eventually but I’m just enjoying it for now.
These past months have given me a new respect for artists who create these treasures. People will buy them and love them but will never know what went into their making. The time, the care and often frustration.
Peggy wove 3 more throws the other day while I was there. One went pretty well, the other two not so much. There’s probably another 20 yards on the warp and I asked her when she was going to be done with it – just cut it off. She told me she was going to continue to work on it. She did it to honor the wool. So with time and patience that’s what she’s doing and for me that’s the most important lesson of all.
If you’re interested in one of these throws contact Bedfellows Blankets and ask about the WFH.