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.
Weaving Books: Ethnic Textiles
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