Yellow Leaf Hammocks

June 2, 2016

The colorful story behind swinging seats that look good, feel good, and do good.

Nothing encourages easy, breezy summer days quite like a hammock. But when the design is as bold, beautiful, and gives back to a worthy cause, we make plans to keep it up all year long. Created in collaboration with Yellow Leaf Hammocks, our yellow leaf hammock and yellow leaf hammock chair are hand-woven with multicolored weather-resistant/fade-resistant yarn by artisans in Thailand.

Launched in 2012, Yellow Leaf trains and employs The Mlabri, a group of people who have previously battled exploitation, slavery, and malnourishment, with safe, dignified work. Most of the weavers are mothers who are given the flexibility to weave at home and make their own schedules. In the past four years, the number of trained weavers has grown from 25 to 200 (with a planned 160 additional jobs to be created this year) and weavers recently send two Mlabri children to university with money saved from their work.

Yellow Leaf Hammocks is breaking the cycle of extreme poverty through sustainable job creation, and we’re honored to partner with them. So what goes into the production of a single hammock? We’re sharing the fascinating process below, which can take as many as 6-7 days to weave with over 3.5 miles(!) of yarn.

Step 1: Hammock Design Selection
Each weaver has a different skill level, so it’s important to match weavers with designs that suit their experience level (our design is one of the most sophisticated because of all the stripes!).

Step 2: Yarn Preparation
A single hammock design can use anything from one to six (or more) colors of yarn. Because each hammock uses more than 3.5 miles of yarn to create, the yarn is measured by weight instead of distance. An interesting note on colors: Yellow Leaf works with weavers from different tribes, which has a fascinating implication when it comes to the various colors in the designs. For example, the Mlabri people refer to blues and greens by the same word and Hmong weavers group most dark colors as “black.” For the CB2 hammocks, they designated each color with a Thai name and an ID # to make sure that people felt confident that they were using the right colors. After a weaver has made a design a few times, she usually can move more quickly and several of the signature hammocks are designs that weavers know by heart.

Step 3: Loom Preparation
Each hammock is woven entirely by hand. In preparation for weaving both hammocks and hanging chairs, the weaver wraps long strands of yarn around a custom-made loom crafted of wood or pipe frames that can be adjusted to different positions depending on the design.

Step 4: Shuttle Preparation
The shuttle is the slender stick that carries yarn through the loom to create interlocking loops that make each hammock so “ridiculously comfy.” So prior to use, the shuttle is wrapped with yarn. To create horizontal stripes, the shuttle would be prepared with a contrasting color than the yarn first wrapped on the loom.

Step 5: Weaving
A single hammock features more than 50,000 interwoven loops.

Step 6: Scale Lines + Eyes
There are three main parts to a hammock: the bed, the scale lines, and the eyes. The scale lines are the strands that attach the bed of the hammock to the eyes (the loops at either end). Adding the scale lines looks simple because they aren’t woven, but it requires incredible precision to ensure they’re the exact same length.

Step 7: Quality Control
Each weaver does her own quality control checklist before bringing her hammock to the hammock house, where another woman is responsible for the final quality control check. She checks each component of the hammock for perfection. And yes, she lays down in every single hammock to test it for comfiness!

Step 8: Payment
It’s our policy that only a weaver can pick up the payment for her hammock. Her brother, father or husband cannot pick up her compensation. This is incredibly important because research has shown that women typically invest 90% of their income into the health, nutrition and education of their families. (For men, the percentage is more like 30-40%). Empowering mothers is our method for breaking the cycle of poverty in these communities.

CATEGORIES: backstory