Tailoring enthusiasts may already be aware of a new ability coming in Cataclysm called Unravel. This ability allows Tailors to "extract the elements of fire and water" from a stack of Embersilk cloth. On the surface this sounds great, and maybe even a bit overpowered. Based on what I'm seeing in the beta so far, you'll be unable to level Tailoring without it. The recipes that have been mined so far require a large amount of volatile elements, as much as five times higher than needed for Leatherworking or Blacksmithing. Of course, this information isn't final. But assuming it's in the ballpark, it portends a tough road for Tailors. Especially since many of you are Enchanters, which means your companion profession won't help at all.
I'm calculating the need for at least 600 volatiles to skill all the way from 450 to 525 in Tailoring, most of those fire and water. I have yet to figure out where volatile fire comes from, I've only gotten volatile earth/shadow from mining obsidian. It's possible that it will drop from higher ores, but that won't really help availability. Volatile water has been dropping from fishing since that was implemented this week. Naturally there should be plenty of it floating around once folks decide to work on their fishing. But once again it looks like fire will be the bottleneck in crafting.
This is where the Unravel ability comes in... you can sacrifice a stack of cloth and convert it into volatile elements. The tooltip only lists fire and water as possible results, which makes sense since that's the bulk of the volatiles needed. The only downside I see here is that when you're trying to level Tailoring you probably won't be stoked about destroying cloth. But if that's the only way to progress I assume most will suck it up and do it.
I decided to give up a few stacks of my precious Embersilk stash to test the Unravel ability. I cried the whole time. Ok, maybe not actual crying but my inner hoarder screeched a little. I can already tell that my cloth stash is outpacing my volatile stash by a good bit, so I felt I should make the sacrifice for the greater good. I did five stacks of cloth to see what sort of volatiles I could get. Here's the results:
First stack: 10 volatile fire and 5 embersilk scraps
Second stack: 11 volatile water and 7 embersilk scraps
Third stack: 9 volatile water and 2 embersilk scraps
Fourth stack: 10 volatile water and 6 embersilk scraps
Fifth stack: 11 volatile water and 4 embersilk scraps
The embersilk scraps are gray trash that you can sell back to the vendor for about half the price of the embersilk cloth. As you can see, I was getting an average of 10 volatiles per unravel action. The tooltip indicates that you'll get 8-11 and it looks like it stays mostly on the upper end of that range. The dismaying part for me? Four out of five stacks gave me water and not fire. I would really like to see that evened out so Tailors can craft their items without creating a glut of volatile water. We already have too much eternal water floating around that isn't used. Enabling Tailors to unravel cloth for volatile fire will just encourage them to plow through tons of cloth and cast away the excess water. Alternately I'd like to see more crafted items using volatile water and relying less on volatile fire as a component. In WotLK it is near impossible to find a popular item that uses eternal water. Surely we can correct that problem instead of perpetuating it, I think.
For those of you curious about the early leveling progression, you might be interested to know that the only yellow recipes for me are Ebonweave/Moonshroud/Spellweave Robes and the Glacial Bag. The unravel ability was gray when I trained it and the Embersilk bolt is yellow. My tailor is currently capped at 450 skill. In all likelihood you'll want to focus on making embersilk bolts for skill points rather than making old gear. The good news is that cloth is dropping quite nicely in Cataclysm so collecting it should be as bad as it was in Northrend.
As always, feel free to post questions and research requests in the Comments section :)