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A Weaving Shed and Fashions to Buy
(..and tying on new warps my way)
Vijayalakshmi Nachiar is the Director of Appachi Eco-Cotton Pvt Ltd (www.ethicus.in and www.thecottontrail.com. She showed us around her hand weaving shed , her design studio, and her shop for which is called Ethicas, “The Ethical Fashion brand”.
In the large weaving shed were perhaps 30 jacquard looms, all operated by handweavers—men because lifting the threads on jacquard looms is really heavy lifting. There were two women contentedly sitting on a mat twisting the fringes for scarves.
I asked her how the weavers tied on new warps and was THRILLED that they do it exactly as I recommended in a previous post before my trip. The photo of the white and red threads shows a new warp tied to an old one. The “knot” was really a kind of twisting. One of the women (I wonder if this is a woman’s job) came over and demonstrated how the two warp threads are twisted/knotted together. The old warp is still in the heddles and the new one is all beamed on, just like I have shown.
Then we were shown Vijayalakshmi’s design area at the end of the room where the weavers were working. She has innovative designs that reflect Indian craft and tradition however, her products are not only saris. They make garments, accessories and home furnishings and the style and taste are lovely. I bought a scarf that was like the color “blanket” that she uses in her design work to choose her colors. In the blanket all the colors of threads are in both the warp and weft so she can see exactly the color that is the result from the different threads crossing one another. In fact, she designed a scarf like a color blanket. I love owning a scarf that is really this tool that many weavers’ know about. The blue fabric is just one of the ones I saw and liked. Vijayalakshmi has a very easy nickname which is Viji.
In her cotton spinning mill (previous post) they spin long staple cotton (160s size) for the Japanese market with their handpicked locally grown cotton.
Handlooms at Home
We visited two homes with looms and were told that most of the houses in this village in Pollachi, had a loom.
One house had this tall and fairly modern-looking jacquard loom. It looked like it took up most of the house, but we didn’t see more than the room with the loom. The husband and wife both weave in shifts for all but 3-4 hours a day to weave saris that are on order.
You can see us walking by the wall of another home which is much lower. There is a jacquard loom with the jacquard mechanism high over head, but since the ceiling is so low, the warp threads are at floor level. You can see someone’s feet in the photo to show how low the threads are to the ground. Then the feet are in a pit where the pedals are which operate the loom and the jacquard mechanism. These pit looms are traditional in India. The photo with a woman standing beside the loom shows the jacquard mechanism high above the loom. This is what makes patterns in the cloth (a simple explanation). [click first photo below]