I get the same reaction about handweaving sometimes--why would you ever spend all the time and effort it takes to weave cloth and make garments by hand when you can buy these things so readily and cheaply? Beautiful fabrics abound and "fast fashion" is so inexpensive as to be disposable. Why weave? Is it merely a harmless and rather peculiar hobby like, oh, building scale models of the Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks? And why buy handwovens? Why pay $75 or $95 for a scarf when you can snag one for $12 at Target?
I thought one answer might be found in looking at the process of making a handwoven item from start to finish. How do I get from here. . . .
The first step in weaving any project is preparing the warp (the lengthwise threads that are stretched under tension on the loom). The first step in preparing the warp is measuring it out. Actually, before I can measure it out I have to determine how long and how wide the finished piece needs to be, in order to do the math to determine how many threads will be in the warp and how long they must be. In order to do that I have to have a weaving draft, or pattern, in mind. Every woven piece starts with at least a couple hours with graph paper, worksheets and a calculator. (I've just purchased software that will allow me to bypass the graph-paper drafting I've been doing. So much faster! Woohoo!)
Here I'm winding the warp for this project, an infinity wrap ordered by a friend. This warp will be about 5 3/4 yards long (enough for two wraps) and 348 threads wide. The warping board allows me to easily measure and keep in order all this thread. Fun fact: One scarf contains 1500-2000 yards of thread--about a mile, more or less, every inch of which passes through my fingers twice before I'm done.
Before I can remove these measured threads from the warping board I have to tie them in several strategic places to keep the threads in order and keep them from tangling. Then I form them into "chains" (like chain stitch in crochet, using my hand as the hook), to make them short enough to move around easily.
No matter what the fiber technique, it always comes down to controlling tension, doesn't it? In the thread as well as the maker! Next comes threading. A task for another day. . . .