Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mandvi, Gujarat - Household Textiles

In early April we found ourselves in Mandvi. We hadn't planned to visit but it kept on coming up in conversation with local people as a good place to go to. We were quite pleased with ourselves as we got there from Bhuj on a local bus which we organised by ourselves without the help of friendly staff from wherever we were staying, which was how we had been organising our transport up until then. All the signs at the bus station were in Gujarati script and we couldn't find any English speakers - Virginia got it all sorted and put us on the right bus.

Mandvi is a delightful place and as it is not on the main tourist route there was no hassle. As with virtually everywhere we visited in India everyone was kind, courteous and helpful. The town had everything that we could want- beaches, bazaars, medieval gates and walls, lovely food, a palace, shipbuilding (magnificent - I will have to intrude it into this weaving blog), tie dying and weaving.

We stayed at the excellent Rukmavati Guest House. It was quite hot so we usually spent the afternoons there having a nap, chatting or reading. I found some of the household textiles quite interesting. I had my pick glass with me so I spent a couple of happy hot afternoons looking at them in detail. I had bought myself a book of graph paper in Bhuj so I was able to attempt  to record my interpretations of these fabrics. Our host was a  bit concerned at first as I rifled through his linen cupboard until I explained what I was doing. I think that he thought that I might be mad!

Cotton Blanket
This was not a particularly remarkable piece but I was very taken with the subtle shift in the weft colours. My photographs does not do it justice - something similar in mercerized cotton might be most effective. I ended up wearing it at times.

Cotton Hand Towel
The analysis of this was quite tricky because the threads kept shifting as I tried to determine which one was going over and which one was going under. The colours had faded so much that it was difficult to work out the sequence so the one shown below is part guess work as the pink and white were virtually indistinguishable.

This pattern was lurking under a synthetic cover that had been put on the cushion. It was torn and I spied the pattern through the hole. For some reason that I can't fathom I didn't take a photo of it.

All of these drafts can be done on a straight 24. I have never woven anything substantial in cotton so perhaps this can be my next project after I done enough wool scarves to keep family members happy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Delhi - Design Ideas for Transparancies

We were in Delhi for four days right in early March right at the start of our trip to India. We stuck to the tourist straight and narrow, visiting the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid mosque, India Gate and the government buildings around the Rashtrapati Bhavan. I found the Red Fort rather melancholy probably because I knew that what we see today is just a shadow of its former glory but the Jama Masjid mosque was alive and vibrant with its purpose and the government buildings were interestingly quirky.

I wasn’t really expecting to see anything relating to textiles, but I soon became fascinated with the sheer volumes of colour that emanates from any group of Indian women.  The amount of beautiful decorative details on the buildings, particularly the Red Fort, will provide me with plenty of ideas when I finally get round to doing some transparency weaving.

The pictures below show some of the lovely decorative detail on the buildings we saw and some of my preliminary work to convert then to cartoons 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weaving in Kotay, Gujarat

On the 1st April this year my wife  and I visited the village of Kotay in Gujarat. We were a third into a twelve week trip we took earlier this year to India. My wife wanted yoga and meditation, I wanted textiles and we both wanted what ever India would serve up; we weren't disappointed on any counts.

We were in the village to look at the C10th Shiva Temple (which was very impressive and sad in the way that long abandoned buildings that have lost their people are).

In the village we tracked down the house of a weaver (with the help of some local youths who had decided to become our guides) and invaded his privacy. He was weaving a shawl  with some lovely inlay work. His loom was 4 shaft counterbalance with a fly shuttle and there were additional sets of heddles behind the shafts that were hand raised. As I was imposing on his time and I did not have his language I was unable to determine how these were threaded.

The diagram on the left is a scan of the notes that I wrote shortly after the visit.

This was my third opportunity to look at how hand loom weavers work in India and the equipment they use. I am still reflecting on the contrasts between the Indian production hand loom weaver and the western hobby weaver (me). I have yet to finalize my conclusions.

I have put the draft into my weaving software and I am happy to say that I can do it on a straight 24S threading  I am not sure however that I have the patience.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Diamonds and curves

Well, the streaky twill scarf is finished and is hiding on the cloth beam whilst I work out what I am going to do for the next scarf. I played around with the profile draft for my threading and came up with a traditional looking diamond pattern.

I used the block substitution feature on my weaving software (Pixeloom) to come up with a draft that looked quite nice. I have built up a small library of twill blocks that I can use for substitution so rather than using the traditional blocks with a clear cut and straight twill lines (on the left) I used the one on the right one which is much gentler and kinder to the weaver with a variable beat. The drafts on page 61 of "A Weavers Book of 8-Shaft Patterns - Strickler" shows what I mean.

I wove a little bit of sample and it all looked good.

After my supper I went back to the loom and looked at what I had woven and I looked at the draft and after a bit of contemplation I decided that whilst what I was about to weave would be very nice as a table runner it would not be so good as a scarf.
A scarf must envelop and flow. I have a very nice scarf that I wove in red and black waffle weave which I was very pleased with at the time but which I wear less and less nowadays because it is not "scarfy" enough. It looks fine but does not sit round my neck in the same comfy way that a scarf in Brighton Honeycomb does. I decided to abandon this draft and come up with something else.

The joys of weaving software! My threading was a given but I could do what I liked with the tie up and treadling. I finally came up with this. The curved treadling is from Sandra Rude ( it was an article on the web where I got this threading and also the idea of  dedicating 4 shafts on a 24 shaft loom to the selvedge).Whenever I see a nice threading, tie up, treadling  or colour scheme I do a small draft and put them in my "Weaving Elements" folder. The tie up is of my own devising which I had to fiddle around with a bit to get rid of some long floats. It needs a bit more work; I "reflected" the treadling which doesn't quite give the right effect. A bit more work and then it gets woven!


 PS - Sorry about the text back grounds and inconsistent breaks between the paragraphs. I know that Mr Google provides this software for free , but....