Weaver  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotAlthough some production weavers work in a factory, most are self-employed. They can work from their own at-home studio or rent a studio with other artists.

"Most weavers are self-employed. A few work for other weavers who have production studios or produce large-scale works on commission. Many of the latter serve as apprentices," says Lois Wyndham, administrative coordinator for a weaving organization.

dotWeavers create hand-woven artwork from scratch. They begin by designing an item on paper or on the computer. After the item is designed, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to weave the item. Scarves, jackets, towels and table runners are some popular woven items.

Weavers use a loom to interlace two sets of threads. They first hand-string the loom with the warp (yarns or threads). The loom is threaded in the pattern for the woven piece. Then other threads (called the weft) are wound on a bobbin that fits in a shuttle. A foot treadle raises the warp threads so the shuttle can pass through (called throwing the shuttle).

"I use a calculator, pens, pencils, warping boards...a bobbin winder and shuttles. Last but not least, the vacuum cleaner. A weaver produces a lot of lint," jokes hand weaver June Person.

dotSelf-employed weavers must have savvy marketing skills. They sell their work to craft stores, through the Internet, at shows and in catalogs. Developing a niche in this industry makes your work more marketable -- and brings you more money.

"Finding your niche is the key. The things I sell, nobody else sells," says Steven Medwin, a hand weaver.

dotSelf-employed weavers can look forward to working their own hours. Since they usually have a flexible schedule, dedication and organization are crucial. Sometimes an entrepreneurial weaver may need to work long hours or weekends to complete a project. Many choose to weave part time while they hold down another job.

"I spend three days a week as a mechanical engineer and three days a week weaving," says Medwin.

dotWeaving can be peaceful and meditative -- but it can also be a pain in the back! Weavers spend long hours sitting in front of a loom. Back pain and injury is common in this profession. "Some experience back pain. It's necessary to have good posture and to take breaks and stretch," says Person.

At a Glance

Interlace two sets of threads into cloth craft items and clothes

  • Better know your loom from your warp and your weft from your shuttle!
  • Savvy weavers market to craft stores
  • Take classes at hand-weaving guilds or local recreation departments