Although 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.
Weavers 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.
Self-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
"Finding your niche is the key. The things I sell, nobody else sells,"
says Steven Medwin, a hand weaver.
Self-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
"I spend three days a week as a mechanical engineer and three days a week
weaving," says Medwin.
Weaving 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.