Uzbekistan Ikats: Part Three: An Interesting Weft Ikat

We saw this scarf and marveled how the ikat was done.

Upon looking at it closely we could see that the weft skeins had just been tie-tied randomly. We never saw a pattern develop, just random horizontal lines. Just 2 colors.

Then I saw the color blanket aspect of the whole scarf and the few and interesting colors that were used. For example, the warp had only red threads and green threads.

Many of us know that you get iridescence when you mix complementary colors which red and green are. So, in the areas where red and green crossed we do, indeed see iridescence.

It got too much for my brain to figure out all the wonderful combinations that were achieved in this scarf.

Then we discovered another scarf with the same type of weft ikat—where the weft threads are randomly dyed (and resisted, hence: tie dyed). This gave a completely different look to the regular warp ikats that we normally saw around Uzbekistan.

Another view of the scarf with the same wefts going all the way across the ikat patterned warp threads.

How interesting it was to travel with weavers on that trip. And I love re-living those days while getting these ready for the sale. Almost everything is numbered and photographed and, in the database, now. And everything around my apartment has Post It labels with numbers. The number for this scarf is 865. The hang tags are at the printers. That’s a next step and I have to decide on the prices! This is a huge job. All needs to be done by Nov. 19 and 20.

Uzbekistan Ikats: Part Two: The Heddle Maker Comes to the Weavers

The very most interesting part of seeing the ikat weavers in Uzbekistan was finding out about the heddle maker. I saw the weavers working and I saw them making the warps, but I kept asking “How do you thread the looms” and I would never get any answer. Only,“it happens.” Finally, after really, really insisting, they understood that I was asking about the man who comes to the loom when needed and makes the heddles for the warps—ON THE LOOM! They had him come to show us how he did it which was fabulous! This is a page in a large picture book for the region and I saw the picture of the heddle man and was overjoyed. (Simple things can make me very happy!) So, I spent $40 and bought the book. I always thought I could cut out the page and save it and make nice calendar pictures out of the rest of the book but none of that has happened.

Weavers know that the warp threads on the loom must be evenly tensioned and lined up. Every warp thread needs to be threaded through a loop, in our case loops of string. The loops are called heddles. You can see they all need to be the same size.

The complete heddle for each thread consists of two loops. This is not unusual in the world but not the way our American heddles are usually made.

The heddle maker brought his jig so that each loop is the same size. I loved the jig and wish I could have bought one. I am very sure I tried.

He found a cross that I’d never seen used before. I think it came from the regular weaver’s cross plus something like what we call the false cross. That way he picked up the threads for 4 sets of heddles. We would say for 4 shafts.

Here he is picking up his heddle string with a needle that is on the jig to make his loops of string. Probably a blunt needle.

All the string heddle loops for one shaft are on the needle, ready for a bar to go through to make the top of the shaft from which the tops of the heddles hang. Remember this is repeated for the bottom heddle loops forming the bottoms of the heddles.

Here he pulls the heddle bar through.

Now, 4 shafts worth of heddles are in place, the registration lines are lined up, and the weaving can start.

Wonderful Ikats in Uzbekistan: Part 1

I unearthed my pile of ikats from Uzbekistan when I found the Philippine blouse in the previous post. I’d forgotten how vibrant and beautiful the pieces I brought home were.

I also found my photographs that show precious aspects of the process of weaving these ikats. Here is a photo I took of men tying the warp threads. When they are dyed, what has been tied will resist the dye. When all the colors are dyed, they will be put on the loom and the pattern will loom into view as the cloth is woven. What a marvel! Here it looks like all the threads were first dyed yellow. Here they are tying the areas of the pattern where the yellow will be protected from the new dye colors. In so many techniques, it’s the way of resisting the dye that is the technique to make the patterns. This is sophisticated “tie-dye” for sure!

Here is a photo I took of a warp on a loom. Notice the woman in the back of the photo doing something. There you can see where the end of the warp is. The warps are tremendously long. In the previous photo the threads are folded several times on the tying frame so the pattern is repeated over and over for the very long warp when the length is stretched out.

The line across the pattern is so they line up perfectly. It’s called the registration mark. It would be at the ends of the warp shown in the second photo—where a repeat would be. I sought out fabrics where the registration lines showed because that interested me. Notice the mirror image of the design –that happens when the warp is folded back on itself on the tying frame.

Here’s a registration line visable on the warp on the loom.

Here is another photo of a long warp. Check out the remainder of the warp in the back corner.  So, for the entire length, the pattern has to match up.

Here’s a shot of the weaving room in one of the studios we visited.

Another shot of some of my fabrics.

More to come about my Uzbekistan textiles in posts to follow as I get them ready for my sale.