Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cost of Weaving a Handspun Silk Scarf

In yet another attempt to get everything caught up, so I can start fresh in the New Year; I finally worked on finishing my last Network Twill Scarf. This scarf used my handspun silk as the warp and 2/8 Tencel as the weft. The scarf is beautiful, but as I looked at it and started to figure out the cost, I became weak in the knees and felt somewhat faint…..if I pay myself just $10.00 per hour, this scarf, lovely though it is, came in at around $300.00 to make! Frankly I don't think that the silk shows up at all well, what a mistaka to maka!I thought I’d share my cost breakdown with you…so you can share my pain!

I hand spun the silk warp way back in the spring. The cost of the silk to spin was $25.00
The cost of my time to spin $50.00
I plied the silk using 2/120 silk thread $135.00 per lb $ 9.00
The plying time was another $50.00
Niddy Noddying it off the bobbin added another $10.00
Washing, drying and skeining $10.00
Pulling the warp $10.00
I tied on the warp, so saved money there $20.00
Actual weaving time, with hem stitiching $40.00
Twisting the fringe the first time $15.00
Cableing the fringe $15.00
Beading costs and time $20.00
Washing, drying and pressing $10.00
This is the fringe twisted once on the right - way too much variation and it tended to bridge and clump. On the left it is cabled and now it looks much better, but what a waste of time!
Amazing isn’t it? I’m pretty sure it really cost more than that, but I just lie to myself and stick my fingers in my ears… Now onto something that makes me happy… Singer Steam Press. It’s wonderful! I’m finally getting that lovely hard pressed finish I wanted and McSteamy (his new name) is so easy to use! I must admit to getting all carried away and pressing my guest room pillowcases, and then standing back and feeling very Martha Stewart!

I’ve taken on the job as Guild Librarian for my local guild and the first task I set myself was to catalogue the books and enter them on librarything. I’ve spent a number of hours photographing the covers that were missing and now I want to have short reviews to add to make it perfect. To that end I’ll be reviewing my library on this blog.
The Key To Weaving A Textbook of Hand Weaving for the Beginning Weaver by Mary E. Black. This is the weaving Bible! Here’s a book which provides concise, clear information on virtually every weave structure out there. In most cases Mrs. Black provides you with a draft or step by step instructions so that you too can weave it perfectly. This is the book that I use most to get the basic weave structure information and background. This is also the text book that the Guild of Canadian Weavers uses for the Master Weaver Program. If Mary Black says it, you can take it to the bank! I highly recommend this book.


Restless Knitter said...

I had near to the same thoughts about a scarf I just wove. As I finished it, I was thinking there was no way I'd sell it (if I were going to, that is) for less than $200. I'm still a little slower than some so I wouldn't even be making $10 an hour.

A lot of people talking about the steam presses lately. Now I want one of those too!

Life Looms Large said...

Any math that factors in the cost of labor (and of course it really has to) makes it easy to see why textile production has repeated moved to countries with a lower cost of labor. And it also makes you realize how strong a force the desire for clothing made in a less labor-intensive way must have been before the industrial revolution.

I do find discussions of pricing really hard to figure out....because everything I make would have to be extraordinarily expensive to pay myself anything reasonable.

I keep hearing about steam presses too. Must investigate!

Your scarf is very beautiful!!! Hopefully worth the investment in time to you!


Delighted Hands said...

Great post-no, MONEY is not the reason we keep weaving, is it!?! The scarf is a beauty tho!

Peg in South Carolina said...

I wonder if you wouldn't have liked the scarf a lot better if you had used silk for the weft? Preferably your handspun. The whole feel/hand/look of the piece would have been quite different. But even commercial silk weft I think would have resulted in something you would have liked better.
If I thought about cost of labor in what I do..........I would probably never do it. Since I do not sell my things, I have the good fortune of not having to consider that.

Susan said...

The scarf is lovely no matter the cost. (Sometimes it just doesn't 'pay' to add up the time and materials!)

A local guild member worked out what she had into a stunning circular knit lace shawl (in indigo no less) and placed a price tag of $480.00 on it at the sale. She hoped to *not* sell it but someone did pay that and happily took it home.




Take a blind eye to the cost and enjoy the scarf it is lovely. And your Martha Stewart pressing is a bit scary but if you enjoy it, then "it's a good thing" LOL.. Now if you start talking into an imaginary camera then it's time to walk away from McSteamy.

deborahbee said...

It is frightening to put a price on handmade goods!!!The truth is they are priceless...unless of course yopu intend to sell them!!As i sit arounf waiting for my laptop to be repaired and waiting to post until it returns I have so enjoyed your posts. Clear and inspirational. thank you so much

plainweave said...

I (somewhat fondly) call my studio the "sweat shop" because I would be very, very lucky to get near $10.00/hour. $2.50/hour if I streamline: no twisted fringe, no beading and certainly no hand-spun - NO FUN!
So, instead I weave for myself or to sell if I want to hone my skill or work out a unfamiliar structure. If one somehow factors in ones own education maybe the math is less "sweat shop-y". Beautiful projects no matter how you calculate.