Liz Gipson – Small Acts

This is what I’ve been thinking about lately: commercial cloth. After watching a documentary about the Triangle fire on American Experience on PBS, I can’t get the clothing manufacturing process out of my head.  Before coming to work at Schacht Spindle, I had really abstract notions of what it means to work in a factory and the kind of skill it takes to do production work.  Those Triangle girls worked without the luxury of health insurance, paid vacations, adequate breaks, or reasonable work weeks – let alone a co-op garden.

I made the case in the introduction to Weaving Made Easy that weaving is a small act of rebellion.  It makes us aware of how the cloth we depend on for our everyday survival is made.  Just as kindergarteners learn that milk doesn’t come from the grocery store, we learn that cloth is made from yarn that is spun from fibers that are grown by people.

That cloth, which is now mostly produced by machine, still has to be constructed largely by hand.  Whose hand made my pants?  Whose hand sewed my

The Houston Hotshots

couch?  I want to know these things.  I now find myself writing e-mails to my favorite clothing manufactures to say things such as, “I'm just curious where your clothing is made and what kind of relationship you have with the factory.  I love your clothing design and function, and I wonder who makes it? ” We will see if they write back. 

I thought about this traveling back and forth from Texas where I taught a group from the Contemporary Handweavers of Houston how to teach the basics of weaving on a rigid heddle loom — I’ll call them the Houston Hotshots. They will go out and offer their services to area yarn shops to trick yarnies into learning to weave.  I like the idea of these rebels spreading out into the city.  In the meantime, I’ll keep writing my e-mails.

Liz Gipson

Editor's Note:  Liz Gipson is the former Managing Editor of Handwoven. Please visit Liz's blog at




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