What took you so long?

“How long did it take you to make this?”

This is a question dreaded by most artists and craftsmen.  Because this isn’t really the question that is being asked.  Frequently, what the questioner really wants to know is something like:

“Why did you spend your time making this thing?  Wasn't there something better you could do with your time?”

“Why do you charge so much?  Don’t you know that you can buy something like this for a fraction of what you’re charging?”  

The answer to the first question is simple.  I spend my time weaving because I love to do it.  We all have limited time.  Shouldn’t we spend it doing something we love?

The answer to the second is also simple.  I am almost certainly not charging enough.

“How long did it take you to weave this?”

The answer is - I really don’t know.  

I need to know.  In my day job - my living - I run a business.  I prepare budgets, revenue projections, productivity analyses.  I can tell you exactly how many hours each lawyer and paralegal need to bill for the law firm to be profitable.  

But at nights and weekends - in my weaving business - I don’t really know.  I’ve resisted knowing.  I need to know - but I don’t.  

I’ve tried tracking my time, at some point end up forgetting to start the timer, and then give up.  Ok, I’ve known lawyers who weren’t good at tracking their time, either.  On my current project, I’ve determined to do better.

I’m using an app on my phone that allows me to track my work according to task.  I’ve broke down the project into separate steps - planning, measuring, dyeing yarn, threading the heddles, winding the bobbins, weaving.  So now, for this project, I know.

I knew before - or had an idea.  But now I have figures to back it up.  For this project I can tell you that I can weave nearly ten inches in an hour - just over 7 hours.  But I can also tell you that the preparation - before I ever put my shuttle through the web, took nearly twice as long - almost 14 hours.  And, although the weaving is done, the project is not.  I’m guessing about another ten hours before the stole is completed. 

So, over 30 hours.  That’s how long.  I’m not sure I wanted to know, but now I do.  And it's a start.