I had the opportunity to test out a Ruck Star Handwovens wrap, Denim Dreams, and fell in love. I’ll be giving you my full review, as well as sharing what some others had to said about Denim Dreams later, but first I wanted to give you an interview with the weaver behind Ruck Star, Amy Applegate. I asked around and collected questions from babywearers and handwoven lovers to ask Amy and she graciously agreed to answer them all!
How and when did you come into weaving?
“I liked the look of handwovens, but wasn’t too fond of the couple I tried. Then I got it in my head, well, I could buy a loom for the same price I would pay for a wrap, and then I could make my own. That would be awesome right? Of course it would be.”
What inspired you to start Ruck Star?
“One day I was chatting online with a close friend. After learning of all the things I needed to do to even make the wraps for friends I said, “Hey, why not just open shop?” And so we were chatting about names. I wanted a more rock star type feel to my business because, well, that’s me! As soon as she recommended Ruck Star I knew that was it. And so I started working on opening shop: getting legit, joining BCIA, becoming compliant. [It] took a lot before I even started weaving. And so I started with my testers and sent them traveling.”
How long does it take to weave a wrap?
“Hmmmm. I haven’t really measured the time frame. I know getting the yarn measured and put on the loom takes me about 6-8 hours with distractions.”
Where do you see your business going?
“I honestly don’t know. Allowing mama’s to snuggle their babies in something one-of-a-kind and me being able to put a little cash flow in savings is good for me.”
How do you work with customers to interpret their ideas into woven wraps?
“A LOT of talking. And more talking. Pictures. Drawings. I obviously can’t see what they see in their own mind so I do whatever I can to be able to make what is in their head come to life.
Describe a typical day
“I have to laugh at this one. There is no typical day for me. I work when I can, do things with the 4 kids [and] enjoy the time I have with them. That’s all I can do.”
How do I get one?
“Luck of the draw right now. Maybe some crazy contests in the future.”
What inspires you? How would you describe your design aesthetic?
“It’s hard to say what inspires me because a lot of times it is the most random of things. My design aesthetic is ‘different’. I didn’t want to create wraps that everyone else is doing. I like to be different — step outside the box if you will. Now if it’s a custom and they want something typical of the handwoven world, I am happy to do it, but for the ones I design I go for different.”
What led you to take up weaving?
“I was annoyed with the prices of second hand handwovens and no slots available with anyone so I started looking into making my own. And I went for it. I actually really enjoy it so I decided to open shop and spread the love.”
How does her world work with 4 crazy kids at home?
“Hmmm, it doesn’t. It’s always crazy. I weave when I can. Late nights are my friend. The kids are always busy with something, but there are down days where they actually entertain themselves, and I can weave more on those days.”
How do you explain to someone why a handwoven wrap is so much more costly than a machine woven? I’ve found that people who balk at the cost of handmade goods by true artists just don’t realize the hours, stress, skill, sacrifice, and dedication it takes to make something like that by hand.
“I am honest with people. I understand not all people can afford handwoven wraps, but for those that do there is a lot of work that goes into weaving just a wrap. It really isn’t just a wrap at the end. ‘Blood, sweat, and tears’ go into the wrap. Ok, not all the bodily fluids but you get my point. I put a lot into the wraps I make, from the mental designing to the physical weaving — it’s all me. I also explain to people that it usually takes me 8 hours to get the yarn ON the loom, and that is before I even start weaving anything so figure my hourly wage and you wouldn’t balk at the cost.”
How long have you been weaving? What weave do you use; plain, twill, chevron, herringbone, etc.? What yarn do you use?
“I have been weaving just a few months now. I am self taught and learn more every day. I have started with a plain weave and am teaching myself how to do twill weave. I just finished a chevron wrap and am very happy with how it turned out. I use 5/2 mercenized cotton, 8/2 unmercenized cotton, cottolin, and two ply hemp.”
Are you a babywearer? Have you seen woven wraps in use/handled them (machine or handwoven)?
“I am a babywearer. I found babywearing (in the proper way) with baby #3 and have been wearing for 4 years now. I have seen many, many, many wraps in the last four years (just check my swap feedback) both machine and handwoven. I think the handwovens have been pretty special and am much more appreciative of them now that I am weaving.”
How long does it take from start to finish? What do you do if you mess up?
“It takes me about 8 hours to get the yarn on the loom (getting faster the more I do it) and weaving just depends on what is going on in my life at the time. I can usually do 13 meters in a week sometimes, faster.” If I mess up, I take it apart, start over.”
How do you come up with the patterns/designs you will weave?
“Coloring, drawing, seeing the design in my head, or just going for it and not designing anything. (Denim dreams was not designed).”
How do you handle thread joins – how visible are they? Do you hide them at the edges or disguise them in other ways? Or do you prefer to leave them showing for character?
“I overlap them 1″- 2″ and prefer to do so towards the middle of the wrap. I try to put them in the darker colors because those hide them better. Some you just can’t hide and that is the added character.”
How do you handle your edges? Hemmed? Unhemmed? How straight can you reasonably expect? What size thread do you prefer?
“Right now I am doing unhemmed edges. I prefer them that way and the consensus seems to be the same. I try my very best to get them as straight as possible but again it is being woven by hand, and I am human not a machine so they will not be perfectly straight.”
I hope you enjoyed hearing from Amy of Ruck Star Handwovens. Be on the lookout for my review of Denim Dreams coming soon!