How Long Did it Take You to Weave This Scarf?

If you have ever demonstrated weaving in public or sold scarves at a craft show, you probably recognize the title of this post. I believe it is because of the linear nature of weaving that people often ask how long it takes to weave something. I can’t imagine that they ask the same of a painter or a woodworker. How long did it take you to paint that picture? How many hours did it take to make that chair? Those would be odd questions, wouldn’t they? In 20 plus years of weaving, I still don’t have a good answer, and that’s because I’m not sure what to include. For instance, do I include:

weave this scarf

Gathering yarns for a project Photo credit: George Boe

  • Design time?
  • Hours on the Internet searching for the right yarns?
  • Sampling?
  • Time spent winding skeins into balls?
  • Time spent unweaving and reweaving, or unsleying and resleying, when I found errors?
  • Hours in front of the TV twisting fringe?
  • The 20-plus years I spent getting to this place in my weaving career?
weave this scarf

Silk wool scarf with twisted fringe Photo Credit: Susan E. Horton

Actually, I believe that the person asking the question really just wants to know how long it took me to thread the loom and weave the scarf. None of the above really concerns them. Therein lies the problem.

I once answered the question of how long it took me to weave this scarf without including all of the above bulleted points. The customer looked at the price tag and remarked that I was doing pretty well. I was, to say the least, astounded, partially because the cost of the yarn wasn’t even in the equation, but mostly because quick math showed I was charging less than minimum wage would require. Ever since then, I give a more detailed answer and never answer with a simple number of hours spent weaving. As a weaver, I feel one of my jobs is to educate the public, and downplaying the time it takes to weave a scarf isn’t part of that job. Now my answer usually begins with, “It depends . . .”

Weave well,

Featured Image: Layers of Air Scarf by Janney Simpson from Handwoven November/December 2016. Photo Credit: Joe Coca

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  1. Kari F at 9:10 am February 7, 2018

    I am a painter as well as a weaver. I am asked all the time how long it took me to paint the painting. All the time! It is very difficult to answer, for all the same reasons you gave. Sometimes it’s just easier to say “all my life”. Because it has taken me my lifetime to get to the point where I am able to create a piece of artwork like that.

  2. Shiela D at 9:23 am February 7, 2018

    I had a craft business and was up against this question all the time. I guess there’s a reason why a plumber is very clear on his bill about the cost of parts and labour. (People swallow that and *he’s* asking for a lot more than minimum wage).

    I’m not sure why we have this instinct to try and calculate the cost of a beautiful thing in terms of the time spent crafting it. I don’t suppose anyone tries to calculate the time that an iPhone takes to put together – I’m guessing the time is minutes or even seconds, and people queue to spend hundreds of pounds on it.

  3. Mariellen S at 5:15 pm February 9, 2018

    I used to do chair massage at a local festival. We sold the massages in 15 minute increments. It was wonderfully amusing to me when people asked in all seriousness “How long does a 15 minute massage take?”

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