Designing Weaves: How hard can it be?

I’ve been working on a project which requires me to use indigenous materials, particularly abaca. The colors are beautiful really, but I can’t feel but a little limited with the options given to me. Whenever we’d ask for a possible alteration of the combinations or a change in choice of yarns, we’ll be told that it will take a long time to make and this for me is just very frustrating. So it hit me. How do you design these materials? How hard could it really be? So this summer, I learned how to weave.  And weaving changed me in so many ways. Five days. Two trainors. A 15.5” x 80″ piece of cloth. And boy, it wasn’t very hard. It wasn’t very simple either. But it DEMANDS a lot of patience. But the result, EXTREME JOY! Here’s a quick synopsis of my work in progress during my 5-day workshop.
First day: Lecture + calculation of yarn requirements + warp preparation 

First I got to know more about looms.
Basic Weaving - Looms
The Jack-type Loom
Basic Weaving - Looms
Upright Looms in PTRI
Ms. Josie of PTRI
This is my teacher, Ms. Josie Garlitos of PTRI showing me the different machines for weaving.

Then we computed the requirements for weaving. I was SUPER EXCITED!

Basic Weaving - Computation
Here we compute for the total ends (or strands) of yarn required for the warp. This means we have to prepare approximately 748 ends! Before weaving it’s important to already know the size of the fabric you are going to make as well as the design you’re going to do. There is no undoing a wrong project estimate.

We only used polyester yarn / thread for this project. It’s the same thread used for sewing.

Basic Weaving - Warping
Warping process: Here are the first few yarns laid out on the warping frame.
Basic Weaving - Warping
A selfie while warping using a warp frame. I did this for about 4 hours during the first day and for 2 hours more the next day.
Second day: Warp preparation + beaming + drawing-in of yarns
Warp preparation continues and finally…
Basic Weaving - Warping
End of warping. We prepared enough warp for 4 meters x 14″ of fabric.
Basic Weaving - Preparing the Warp
Once the warp ends are removed, you tangle them like this (the colors I chose kind of look like Rapunzel’s hair, don’t you think?)
Basic Weaving - Beaming
Attaching the warp to the loom. The crisscrossing threads allow the yarns to be organized, preventing these from getting tangled. These are crisscrossed already during the warp preparation
Basic Weaving - Beaming
The yarns are now attached to the loom.
Basic Weaving - Beaming
View from the top at the side of the back beam
Basic Weaving - Beaming
Yarns evenly spread out using the raddle.
Basic Weaving - Beaming
Yarn ends are turned on the warp beam. This can hold up to 10 meters of of warp.
Basic Weaving - Beaming
Close up of the yarns as they are evened out for beaming
Basic Weaving - Beaming
Ms. Tess teaching me how to spread out the yarns.
Basic Weaving - Drawing in
Each yarn will need to pass through this wire with a hole called “heddle”.
Basic Weaving - Drawing In
After inserted to the heddle, yarns are then tied together to avoid getting tangled.
Basic Weaving - Drawing In
I ended day 3 with 500+ yarns successfully drawn in the heddles.

Third day: Drawing in of yarns + denting + weaving (Dry run)

Basic Weaving - Drawing In
All 752 yarns drawn in. Finished this in Day 3.
Basic Weaving - Denting
Next process is called denting. Two yarn ends are inserted to the dents of the reed.
Basic Weaving - Denting
I drew a plan for denting. Ms. Tess allowed me to play with the design even if this was not taught during basic weaving.
Finished denting on Day 4. Took me a while since I made things complicated. haha..
Finished denting on Day 4. Took me a while since I made things complicated. Haha.
Now it's time to tie the warps onto the front beam.
Now it’s time to tie the warps onto the front beam.
Basic Weaving - Denting
Me and Ms. Tess after successfully finishing the warp preparation.
Basic Weaving - Denting
Ms. Tess checks the tension of the warps before weaving.
Basic Weaving - Weaving
Finally it’s time to weave! Here’s my first inch of weaving. I felt so elated! Imagine, it took 3 working days to prepare the warp and the challenge is all worth it!

  Fourth day: Weaving (Approx. 30” of fabric finished!)

Basic Weaving - Weaving
I decided to play with different thicknesses and colors to see how it would turn out.
Here you see a warp that snapped. This is how you remedy a snag if it happens.
Here you see a warp that snapped. This is how you remedy it if this happens.
Basic Weaving - Weaving
For the final design of the scarf, I used 3 types of thickness and color.
Basic Weaving - Weaving
Playing with weaves and thickness. Plain, basket and twill weave. Here you can see the effect when you experiment with thickness, color, spacing, denting and type of weave. It’s important to note also the effect of varying dent spacing and thickness. This created thick and thin vertical lines which creates a sort of a plaid effect.
Basic Weaving - Weaving
Along the way you will find yourself getting dizzy when you do alternating twill weave. Twill weave is my favorite weave so far because I am able to come up with zigzag or triangular designs.

Fifth day: Weaving (Approx. 52″ of fabric — I finished my scarf on the 5th day!)

Basic Weaving - Weaving
The fabric is now long enough to be rolled under the cloth beam.

basic_weaving_3

Basic Weaving - Weaving
My weaving ends here. 82 inches of cloth (more than 2 meters).
Basic Weaving - Finished Product
The ends are cut and removed from the loom. The excess are tied to lock the weave to prevent them from fraying.
Basic Weaving - Finished Product
My finished project. My very own woven scarf. 🙂
Basic Weaving - Finished Product
This is not only my first woven piece, but also my notes for my first weaving lesson.

Before I was so quick to criticize the details of our locally made fabrics. But after undergoing the Basic Loom Weaving at PTRI, I am a changed woman. If there is anything I learned during these 5 days of intense practicum, weaving is not an easy task and requires tremendous amount of patience (as Ma’am Josie would say) and it is truly a humbling experience. I now treasure every millimeter of every handwoven piece made and I am in awe of the person who dedicated his/ her life to weaving these fantastic works. I will never look at weaving the same way again.

Ms. Josie of PTRI
Me and Ms. Josie of PTRI

My sincerest thank you to PTRI for providing this training at a very affordable rate. My special thanks goes to my extremely patient and creative instructors – Ma’am Josie and Ma’am Tess. Thank you so much for being so patient with me. I really learned a lot about textiles and I salute you for giving your all to keep this tradition alive.

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