Daughter: Handwovens for Her and Home An Interview

Alexandra in her studio

Alexandra Forby creates beautiful pillow cases, coasters, blankets and table runners out of her house in Savannah, GA. A graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, Alex started out as a fine artist in painting. After graduating she was inspired to try her hand at weaving. Her business Daughter: Handwovens for Her and Home Opened earlier this year. Alexandra's business is already taking off. Some of her products have landed into ShopScad a design store at the local college Savannah College of Art and Design. 

1. Who are you and what do you do? 
My name is Alexandra Forby and I am the owner of Daughter, a new brand for handwoven goods. I live in Savannah, GA with my husband, Jonathan, who is a freelance web designer and we have a dog named Cappi and a cat named Leela. I grew up in New Orleans, LA and that's where my family still lives. 

2. How did you come up withe the business name?
I have been pouring over the verses in Proverbs 31 since my husband and I got married one year ago (probably longer really). It talks about a woman who is strong, intelligent, respected, creative and nurturing. I want to be her. She also makes her family's clothing and bed linens by spinning yarn, weaving and sewing it together. She considers a field and buys it for her family's good. She sells what she makes. She is generous to her house and the poor. She is also loved by her husband and described as being worth more than jewels, and has his complete trust. She is precious in the eyes of the Lord, her Father-she, the daughter. That's where I started. I had other names in mind: Valiant, Wool&Flax... Etc. but these just didn't get the full picture for me because the other half of the reasoning is that it is universal to all women. We are all daughters.


3. Are you only going to be creating headbands or will there be more things in the future? 
No! Headbands are a very precious item to me and I love making them, and will probably continue to make them, but I'm also in process of making a set of pillows, I want to make table runners, kitchen towels, and what I'm most excited about next is a collaboration with an illustrator friend in South Carolina to make flower-pressing kits.

Other Daughter Products 

This may seem like a stretch in my all-weaving repertoire, but ask any weaver and fibers and flowers go hand in hand. Maybe it's the dyeing aspect- since many dyes for yarn come from flowers... And then from there, who knows maybe I'll move on to even more. I tend to get so excited I move around a lot from project to project. 

3. What's the process of creating the headbands? 
I weave on a rigid heddle loom- which is much smaller and more portable then say a floor loom. I first calculate how long and wide my warp (vertical yarn) needs to be based on the number of headbands I want to make and the spacers to separate each band, plus my warp waste (the part on the loom where I won't actually be able to weave because it's connecting it to the loom).

I usually weave many headbands in a row on one warp, which also helps to keep the line cohesive. I start weaving in the weft (horizontal yarn) and build my headbands one on top the other. Since I know I'll be sewing a backing on I have to weave my hem allowance so a 1" wide headband is 2" wide on the loom. I design each headband as I go and sometimes use patterns if I think it needs more interest. After I've woven all the warp I can I cut it off the loom and wash it to tighten up the threads.

Once dry I cut out all my backing fabric to match the headbands one by one- since some yarns shrink at different rates each one may be a little thinner or wider. Then I sew them together and add the elastic- which takes some finagling and a lot a patience. Then they are done! 

4. What's your favorite kind of fabric/fiber to use to create hand made projects?
I really love organic cottolin- which is usually 60%cotton and 40% linen. It makes for a very soft yarn that dyes beautifully and weaves well. I also have some hand spun cotton I've been working on from my friend's backyard. I'm really excited to weave that and dye it. 

5. Where did you find inspiration to create these hand made crafts? 
I've always loved working with my hands-even starting with my dad's concrete pouring company. Going to work with him was always a good day. I then went to school for painting and met a lot of other makers. I already knew how to crochet, but some friends taught me how to knit. That's when I really got hooked on fibers. One of my roommates was a Fibers major and did a lot of beautiful weaving projects. I was always inspired by her creations. 

Years later, I finally got the chance to work a little from home while nannying and decided I really wanted to get serious about weaving. It's a lot faster than knitting for me. ;) I made a couple pillows and ended up selling them so I thought I could actually do something with the things I make. 
I went to Making full-time in July. Headbands came to mind because I was always looking for a little something to put in my hair that wasn't overwhelming, but still had some interest to it. I love that the closer you get to these the more interesting they become. 
All of the products are also pretty directly related to that same proverbs 31 chapter. They are for a woman and her home- hence the other items like pillows and table runners coming up. 


Fun Questions
1. If you could meet any designer living or dead who would it be? 

Gustav Klimt has been one of my favorite artists for many years. He was mostly a painter, but did a lot of graphic design for his time. His paintings are some of my all-time favorites and some even have a woven feel to them. His painting often feel very intimate and soft, but somehow still make the subject (often women) look strong and striking. 

2. Who was your favorite literary hero growing up? 
I didn't do much reading outside of school growing up, but since graduating college I've devoured books like never before. I'd say my most memorable books from childhood were Gathering Blue and The Giver by Lois Lowry, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. At this stage in my life my two favorites are Little Women by
Louisa May Alcott and The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. Both mother's in those stories are inspiring to me and could probably be considered my literary heroes. 

3. If you could travel anywhere to see any historical landmark where and what would it be? 
If I could count the ancient wonders I would probably say the hanging gardens of Babylon, though I can't go there and there's really no proof they existed I don't think. I would also love to see the pyramids of Giza or visit Versailles if I could have the whole place to wander around alone for a week. 

4. What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
Anything dark chocolate I'm down with. Add some nuts, more chocolate and caramel= even better. 

5. What's your favorite color scheme to use when creating something new? 
I'm pretty partial to neutral or muted color schemes, usually in warm tones, but I also really love deep color. I have always loved indigo and deep reds which you'll see more of in my upcoming lines. Stay tuned!

You can check out Alexandra's Etsy shop here