Hand Woven

handloom graphicWeaving is an age old method of textile production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth, and the simple equipment that facilitates this process is called the 'loom'. Loom is the basic equipment for hand weaving, and on basis of their structure and technique, there are several types of handlooms or semi-automatic looms.

Hand-weaving is a precise manual weaving technique and the motion of the handloom (vertical or horizontal) is operated by skilled human hands without using any source of energy like electricity. The longitudinal threads are called the 'warp' and the lateral threads are the 'weft'. The warp forms the pile or “face” of the rug and the weft makes the base or “backing” of the rug.
handloom rod1
handloom rod2

The yarn (dyed or undyed as required for the design), in hank form is wind over bobbins with the help of 'charkhas' (a manual spinning wheel), thus transforming it into linear form. This process enables the laying out of yarn length for weaving. A simultaneous process carried out is 'warping', which is creating the base yarn that runs along the length of the fabric. It is attached to the loom lengthwise before the weaving begins. The warping process converts the hank yarn into a linear form to give the length on the loom. It is done on a huge drum (called Taana machine) and the width and desired quality of the product is decided at this stage. The drum also helps to calculate number of threads and the length of the warp.

handloom warping1
handloom warping2
handloom shuttle
The warps are stretched onto two beams. The individual warp threads are drawn through 'heedles' (these are made out of rods or cords, each with an eye, through which the warp thread is drawn) taken through a set of 'reeds' (this is a comb like frame that pushes the weft yarn firmly against the finished cloth after each insertion) and tied onto beams located at both ends of the loom. The heedles separate the warp into two sections which allow the weft threads to pass between them easily. For weaving motifs on the cloth, looms are equipped with dobbies or jacquards cards which help in lifting segments of the warp yarn into the weft is an advanced form of weaving.
Then the hank yarn for weft is wind onto a 'pirn' (it’s a small bobbin). The weft yarn is then inserted on a 'shuttle' (a small wooden device used to carry the weft thread back & forth between the warp threads). By sitting facing the length of the warp, the weaver pulls the cord that controls the shuttle, simultaneously pulling the moving sley towards him/her. The first action throws the weft yarn through the warp (hence the term throw shuttle), and the second sets the weft yarn firmly in place.
Warp threads are raised and lowered by manual shedding motion to form shed. Through this shed, the shuttle is passed carrying across the weft thread which is beaten against the woven fabric by the movable comb like frame i.e. reed. When the heddle is shifted, the two sets of warp reverse position, binding the weft into the fabric and opening other shed. Handloom weaving involves three Primary Motions i.e. Shedding, Picking and Beating. Shedding motion separates warp threads, according to pattern to allow for weft insertions or picking prior to beating. Picking is the operation wherein after the shed has been formed, the length of weft is inserted through the shed. As soon as a weft yarn is inserted, the reed pushes or beats up the weft to the fell of the cloth. All the three motions are carried out by the weaver manually for weaving of the fabric by interlacement of warp and weft. The manipulation of the foot pedals to lift the warp is in sync with the throwing of the shuttle which carries the weft yarn, and this requires great deal of harmony between the mind and body.

While weaving carpets, the artisans weave the weft, creating the different patterns & textures. To create the pile, the yarn is wrapped around a special flat iron rod during the weaving process and then cut to ensure equal height. This technique permits a wide range of finishes, from simple and delicate short-strand pile, shag rugs to more elaborate loop pile involving various yarns. If the top of the loop is cut (manually with a blade), then we get cut pile carpet. If left as it, then we can have loop pile carpets.
Hand woven fabric has a different texture from mill woven fabrics due to the low speed it is woven at and also the equipment used for weaving. Different textures are created in handloom by using different thicknesses’ and qualities of yarn in the same length and width of fabric. These textures help create distinct handloom products. The only disadvantage of this technique is without dobbies or jacquard cards, only straight line designs and simple geometrical patters like squares & rectangles can be made.
Lastly, although the power-loom/ mill-woven products are quite cheaper due to mechanization & bulk production, and the handloom products expensive mainly due to huge wage components, but still they have an amazing beauty of their own!