Wednesday, July 12, 2017

1982 (13) - Weavers

Main Street, Nantucket

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

The first month working at Nantucket Looms went really fast.  Ed and I both finished our warps of stoles - fifteen each - and they all sold.  We each did a scarf warp, also mohair, which yielded nineteen scarves.  It took me 2-1/2 days to weave my nineteen scarves.  Those sold too.  The mohair items really went like hotcakes! 

My next warp was navy blue wool, which would produce tweed fabric.  (The tweed fabrics were made up into wool shirts that were sold in the store.)  I dressed the loom with a warp that was 36 yards long.  There were 800 threads in the warp - 40 inches wide, at 20 warp ends/inch.  Back in Ann Arbor, I never would have believed I could weave 36 yards of anything….  I wove the first sixteen yards in four days.  I was surprised at how much I was enjoying the weaving.

Nantucket Harbor

It wasn't long before I was off the big loom.  The second week, Karen (another of the weavers) was late one day.  Sam, the manager, asked me to go downstairs and weave with him.  Just then Karen arrived and I told her, half-joking, "Boy, am I glad to see you!  I was going to have to go downstairs and weave with Sam."  Later Sam asked me if I didn't like working on the big loom.  I told him I was more comfortable on one of the smaller looms, but that I didn't really mind weaving on the big loom.  Sam said there wasn't any point in my doing it, if I wasn't enjoying it (seriously??), and that was that.  Ed was fine on the big loom, so he did the afternoon shift with Philip.  Sam and Karen wove on the large loom mornings and evenings.

When Ed finished his mohair scarves, Sam asked him to do a sampler similar to the project downstairs, which they would cut up and send to potential customers.  Ed worked on that project in the mornings.  The warp was fine linen, and there were 1200 warp ends, 30 ends/inch.  It took a while to thread a loom with 1200 warp ends!  For this special fabric, the weft was a thick plant fiber called Ramie.  For the sample project, Ed would weave with one, two, three, and then four thicknesses of Ramie.  Ramie was a naturally fireproof material.  This fabric was sold as wall covering for upscale offices in New York City. 


Ed also did some repair work on the looms.  The tie-ups to the treadles on the big loom were faulty - they had metal snaps that kept breaking.  Ed redid them with Dacron rope.  It also improved the ease of weaving on that loom.  When he started working with the linen on his loom upstairs, his brake kept slipping, so he rebuilt that too.  At first we were hearing, "But we've done it this way for 18 years....”  It wasn't long before they just let Ed go ahead and repair and improve things.

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