Friday, July 04, 2008

Handsewn

It is very easy to forget that there are ways to do things by hand. Time-proven methods which worked for many, many years before the Industrial Age invented a machine to do the same work. Say, such as a needle and thread.

Not that I'm suggesting that the pre-machine method is necessarily better. Just that when you're thinking of the most familiar, or most efficient, or easiest way to get a job done, that your mind doesn't jump out of the expected groove very readily. What you perceive is only what your available brain space allows. I was thinking sewing machine, so I couldn't see other options.

As a result, I've been dithering around finishing the cloth on the loom because I no longer have a sewing machine. And it's much faster, and somewhat more of an insurance policy, to zig-zag all of those individual warp threads on the machine before you toss many hours of hand weaving into the washing machine to be finished. (Unlike knitting, weaving usually wants to be manhandled in the wash cycle and then throw into the dryer so that all those tiny holes in the fabric take up. It's the inverse of lace finishing: you want to shrink the cloth and disappear the openings.)

I also was dragging my heels because I'd run short on the warp and hadn't come up with a plan for that, either. I'm weaving pillowcases out of organic 10/2 cotton. The pattern calls for 6 inches of plain weave, hemstitching, then 1 1/2 inches of plain weave, 56 inches of basket weave pattern, then repeat the edging. And I was down to 50 inches of basket weave and not enough warp left to complete the second edge like the first.

But today, my mind let the thought of hemstitching creep in. And I realized that yuh - I could hemstitch the ends of the cloth in the same way that I'd hemstitched the decorative effect, and it should hold all the ends until I hem the cases. I just have to keep it away from the strange little dog who lives in our house.

Cat? Chicken sitting on an egg? You decide. And no, a yoga eye bag filled with flax seed and lavender doesn't seem to adversely affect his innards too much. Nor Meow Mix. Nor pine cones.

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