All Fiber Arts

Weaving on the Atayal Loom part 2- All Fiber Arts

Weaving on the Atayal Loom

by Kathleen Forance Johnson
The first step in any weaving process is to set up a system whereby two sets of strings or threads can be interlaced. The up and down threads are the warp and the across threads are the weft. Shown below is Bakan Chan, my Atayal friend and weaving instructor working at my house in Taipei. The warp thread is wound in a continuous circle around a series of pegs on a warping bench.

Winding the warp on the pegs of the warping bench and attaching heddle strings (left branch of the "Y" peg}.

This assures equal warp length and tension. At the same time string heddles are looped using a separate thread on the warps as they are wound (see above). These string leashes will be aMched to a heddle suck and raised and lowered in sets. The order in which these sets of warps are raised and lowered and held in place by the crosswise weft threads determines the weave structure and pattern. A series of sticks is inserted into the warp to hold it in the proper order while it is transferred to the loom. In order to weave cloth the weaver has to create tension between two opposite ends of the circular warp. At one end she inserts a footboard which she will push on with her feet, and ties the other end around her waist using a sturdy cloth beam attached to a belt.

When the weaver begins to weave she creates tension on the warp by pushing with her feet on the footboard. With the other end of the warp secured by a belt around her waist the two ends of the warp are straightened and pulled tight. With the warp threads taut, she can separate them into two layers keeping them apart with a shed stick, which creates an opening between the two layers. The crosswise weft thread is wound on a bobbin stick, which serves as a shuttle and is passed through the open shed. Where the up and down warp threads interlace with the crosswise wefts the web or cloth is created.