Mainly a part-time winter activity, weaving relies on a series of preparations that involve all family members. The men shear the sheep in the early spring when the wool is thickest. The shorn wool is taken to a carding mill where it is cleaned and disentangled and then returned to the farm for spinning. The flax required for linen is planted in the spring and weeded by the children in the summer before being pulled late in August. The seeds are removed using a comb, the flax is soaked to loosen the fibres and then the stalk is beaten with a stick to separate the fibres from the bark and the core of the stalk. The long fibres can now be carded in readiness for spinning. Whether using wool or flax fibre, it takes about eight to ten hours of spinning for the farmwife and her daughters to produce enough thread for just one hour of weaving.
The handloom used for weaving consists of four wooden posts joined at the top and bottom to form a boxlike framework about the size of a double bed. The warp unwinds from a roller at the back while another at the front collects the cloth. To weave cloth, the farmer's wife passes a shuttle containing the weft thread back and forth through the warp, using foot peddles to raise and lower alternate threads. The weaver pulls a batten hung from the top of the loom against the weft to push each thread firmly against the cloth already woven. Depending on the thickness of the yarn, it might take 40 passes of the weft to produce a couple of centimetres of cloth. A good weaver can produce about three metres of cloth in a day, but adjustments to the loom and repairs to broken warp or weft might slow down the process.