The process behind creating our Signature handwoven alpaca pieces
There are many stages in the production of each hand woven product, from the initial sourcing of the British Alpaca fleece to the hand washing and finishing of the woven item. Please watch this short film to see the whole making process.
Our Signature handwoven collection is all made here in our Edinburgh weaving workshop. Every piece is an exclusive one off item, and takes up to 10 days to create, which is why we often describe them as our ‘handwoven paintings’.
The making process begins with us hand selecting the finest quality British alpaca fleeces from small alpaca breeders here in the United Kingdom. Alpacas come in a beautiful range of 22 natural colours – so we choose undyed fleeces for both their richness of colour as well as the fibres’ softness and lustre. We then have each fleece individually spun in a small mill in the Scottish Borders before it is returned as yarn ready to be woven.
The greatest care is taken to ensure minimum wastage of the beautiful yarn. Once a new design has been drawn out we measure out the quantity of yarn required to complete each piece. As each alpaca produces its own unique shade of fleece we can’t easily get more if we run out halfway through weaving!
Handweaving takes great skill in preparing the loom as well as in the weaving itself. Firstly the warp (the yarn that runs vertically) is measured up and threaded through the shafts to create the first layer of the design. Each strand of yarn must be at the correct tension and position to achieve the correct pattern and quality of finish in the weaving. The second layer of the design is created in the peg plan, which is drafted up and translated into the little pegs and holes that are hammered into the wooden ‘lags’. These define the order in which the shafts lift up and down, and this combined with the carefully threaded shafts come together to create our intricate woven patterns.
Once the hand weaving is underway, the beginning of the piece is hand stitched while it is still on the loom. Once the piece is cut off, this stitching transforms the edge into our gorgeous statement fringing. Most woven scarves will be cut from a wider length which is why many have either stitching or a raw edge at the sides. Our hand woven scarves, shawls and wraps are all woven individually – which means we can give them a contrast border and complete finished edge. It takes more time and concentration in the weaving, but we think it is worth it to produce a more luxurious finish and enable them to last.
When the weaving is finished and it is cut off the loom, each piece is hand stitched to secure any loose ends. At a glance, they would now appear complete – however the next stages make all the difference in the world to the drape and beautifully soft handle of the hand woven alpaca. Each item is individually hand washed at specific temperatures. There are 6 stages to the washing process to ensure the correct finish is achieved before the products are flat dried. The tassels are then carefully separated to create the wonderful volume of the individual strands of yarn. Then each piece is hand brushed and steamed to relax the fibres and create the luxurious soft handle and graceful drape.
Finally it is time for the signature and boxing up; a label is sewn on and each item lives in its own protective bag for safe keeping. We document each and every piece, keeping note of the design, colour and weaver who created it. In time we will build up an archive and be able to trace the story of every individual item we have made.