Monday, July 26, 2010

So where have I been?

Yeah, been gone.

I've done some fiber touring, namely gone to Peru. Just back today, Monday. Our tour leader made sure that all aspects of fiber production were included. Perhaps the most impressive was the backstrap loom weaving (not to mention spinning, fiber prep, dyeing and some knitting) at the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. First, we went to try our hands at backstrap weaving using a small number of warp threads. The resulting fabric is warp faced. Ie, the weft that you actually weave back and forth is not visible. Here I am with a patient instructor, at left. She was very young and cute and incredibly fast when she was sitting to demonstrate. Recalling the sequence of weaving was difficult for my addled brain. Once the basic weave was understood, then a simple pattern was added. Here's my attempt, in a bad closeup:

But what was really awesome was watching the skilled artesans handling many warp threads and working in very complex patterns at the same time. All are wool, although some fabrics were alpaca with I believe wool warp threads. Here several skilled weavers, photographed at the center in Chinchero also part of the Center for Tradition Textiles:

My back hurt with just a string tied around it for an hour; but the experts have a wider and lower woven band, as seen below center. Of course, the women sit on the ground or on a cushion, which would not have sufficed for me! At right is a loom hanging; you can see the warp thread in the vertical and the pattern at the bottom beyond the string heddles.

Here is a closeup of a runner that I purchased, as far as I can count the ends per inch of warp is about 22: