Friday, October 22, 2010

That's a Warp (and a Weft).

Warp and weft are the two directions that threads lay in a woven piece of cloth. The warp runs vertical to the finished edge of the cloth while the weft runs horizontal.

The idea of integrating two directions of thread so that they become swaths of fabric, for dress or home, is ancient. There are garments fully constructed of harvested materials spun into thin threads and woven into cloth older (millennia older) than the mere idea of Jesus himself. The practice of weaving cloth is a godly one. Not to sound all ecclesiastical or nothin', but look at the fabric of your shirt. Take it in your hand and examine it close. See the interlocked threads? See them looping in and out, over and under each other. See that intricate pattern? Your shirt is probably made by machine, but imagine the incredible skill of a worker constructing that same cloth with their own hands. It's almost impossible to picture how it's done. I can tell you that there is a frame of wood, a couple of crossbars, lots of yarns of identical length strung in careful order over one of the crossbars. I can tell you that a wooden piece known as a shuttle goes between two layers of threads to create a weave, but can you picture that? I couldn't either. But, thanks to the combined efforts of Ms. Desiree Koslin, textile structure extraordinaire and her assemblage of Youtube weaving clips, I don't have to try and imagine it, I can watch it happen. Here are clips of all types of weaving going on all over the world.

A warp weighted loom experiment in America:

Two sisters weaving in Guatemala:

Weaving around a common pillar in Indonesia:

Rhythmic cloth making in Ghana:

A rare draw loom in Fez:

Maybe this is too much unwanted technical information for your fashion loving brain, but each and every one of your most favorite garments and coveted items of clothing come off of a loom (either mechanical or hand done). I for one love seeing the macro and micro of fashion.

I want a loom. Who's with me? We can get one here. Eh?

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