Monday, 11 January 2010

Weaving for profit

Please don't take what I'm about to write the wrong way. I feel very privileged particularly during the current economic time to have a profitable business with low overheads and I don't underestimate the value of that for a minute.

Yet when my tasks are so mind-numbingly boring and unchallenging I often start to think the grass is greener on the other side. By that I mean friends and family who do something they really enjoy and want to get out of bed for, that pays their way too. I'd be quite happy to take home less money for something I really enjoy because I'd be happier and have a richer life.

If I worked very hard at weaving and got much better at it... is there any way to make money from weaving?

Take jewellery for example, you could open a shop and sell fabulous things like one of the jewellery shops called Westwood Rocks I keep gazing at.

However how does it work with weaving?


  1. A problem for weavers in the UK is that the general public have no concept of what handweaving is (there is a much better knowledge and understanding of handweaving in the US).

    A visitor in our home was admiring my woven scarves, tried to persuade me to sell one, kept saying how lovely they were, how people would pay a lot of money for such beautiful scarves, was very persistent although I said they were presents for my family ... then offered me £20. A very quick calculation told me £11 + £9 = £20 was the value of the yarns I had used. I explained this, and that a number of hours work had also gone into the loom preparation & weaving. She was astonished, as her mum used to make a scarf in an evening on a knitting machine.

    If you look around the web sites of professional weavers in the UK you'll see that most of them teach, and I suspect this is the main source of their income.

    I suggest you don't give up the day job in a hurry, but be thankful you have means to pay for your weaving and an endlessly fascinating and useful hobby.

  2. I think you're quite right Dorothy, people don't have a concept of the cost involved, meaning it would be very hard to scrape a living. Perhaps it's the Monday blues!

  3. I know there are several weavers here in the US and Canada who make a living with weaving. On my site are several links to these - Weaving a Life (Laura Fry) and Sandra's Loom Blog (Sandra Rude) are just two examples.

    Like you, I, too, dream of making a living by doing what I love to do. My husband is lucky enough to do what he loves and I want to join him. That being said, I do plan to do a LOT of teaching, so Dorothy has a point.

  4. hey charlotte, thanks for the link there like

    i myself was grappling with this problem for some time. i kind of figured it's to do with a mixture of good design and marketing (my weak points, i couldn't sell water to a dying man in the sahara, even if i did put it in a pretty bottle) and limited mass-production.

    i figure if you can combine it with sewing and such and make things from your fabric then there's something in that. however for myself i reckon the main hope comes from aquiring a simple mechanical loom, like a hattersley or some such thing, though a pneumatic loom, like one of those AVL wonders they make in the states might be more sensible as they're still in production and apparently a great deal easier to maintain.

    that being said, if you're weaving a simple pattern like a 2/2 twill (which i've done a lot of) it's quite amazing the production speeds you can get up to with a shuttle race and such. the same could be said for dobby weaving i imagine, though i've yet to try my hand at that.

    to be honest i don't have any answers, i'm a bit of a back-to-the-lander, with no garden these days, but still envisage it as a sort of supplementary income, but not my only income. teaching is definitely profitable, in the range of 100 pounds a day for an inexperienced teacher with an unusual skill that people can pick up in a day (like TW or knotted pile)

    keep at it anyway, and don't go around thinking that your day-job is keeping you from weaving. i never got more weaving done than when i was working 10 hour shifts as a general labourer 5 days a week.

    like someone said, if you want something done, give it to someone that's busy.

  5. I think it is really hard to make a living weaving - for weavers all over the world.

    Another option, since you're in software, is to consult. I worked with some one who would work for 4-6 months, and then pursue something fascinating to him for the rest of the year. You might be able to do something like that and make as much as you would as a weaver.

    I hear you on the Monday morning blues.....I'm not working in engineering any more because it gets so grueling and monotonous after a while - even though the money is good.

    Good luck figuring it out!!


    PS: And thanks for the color suggestions for my "ugly" green warp. I'd never have thought of combining it with pink. I have some very special pink in my studio right now. Maybe I'll at least sit the two yarns next to each other for a bit to see what I think. I suspect I'm reserving that pink for something else....but you never know!

  6. Thanks everyone for your comments, it's all food for thought.

  7. I can do it only because my husband has a day job, and he's OK with me living the life I love. The best year so far, I made not quite NZ$2,000; last year, around NZ$300, and that's turnover, not profit.

    In New Zealand, we have the same problem as the UK, I think; handweaving as a skill is very underestimated, even by some fellow weavers, and the monetary value people place on handwoven items is dismal compared to jewelry, ceramics, paintings, or even felting.

    I don't want you to be discouraged, because it could happen, but having your feet in both camps (weaving AND earning a living) for the time being sounds like a saner option.

    Sell your handcrafted items online.


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