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Sabahar Part 3: The Weavers

Whenever I get home from India or Ethiopia I struggle to stay in the other place for as long as I can. I want to savour every minute of my time away but alas I get sucked back into my other world with all its demands and all my good intentions get put on the back burner. One of the wonderful things about working with Sabahar is that even when I’m not there, I stay in touch with Kathy weekly and that makes me think I’m still there 🙂

So here we go with the 3rd of 4 posts about the Weavers, Spinners and Dyers of Sabahar.  

Sabahar now has 2 weaving studios where 30 weavers work 5 days a week along with another 65  weavers who weave from their homes close by.  

Sabahar 1 is a bright busy studio that hums with the sounds of shuttles and beaters and produces 100’s of metres of handwoven cloth each week.

These are a modern version of a traditional Ethiopian style loom. The 2 harnesses are suspended from a metal frame
And the warps sit on the floor in their bundles.
Several yards of the warp are released from the big warp bundle where it travels around a post at the end of the loom approximately 7 feet away from where the harnesses and reed hang.
After it turns the post it is attached to the previous warp behind the heddles.
There is no tension device other than a hole in the end of the cloth beam and final tensioning is done by tightening the warp around a post.
The weavers weave as far as they can possibly reach by pushing the harnesses back on the frame above. The treadles are attached from the harnesses and they can be kicked back as well. It really helps to be tall working at these looms.
The warps are tied on to existing warps behind the heddles and pulled through. Well…they actually aren’t tied, they are plied.
This leaves a join rather than a knot.
This is the easiest way to thread the looms because they do not have heddle eyes like we do

The harnesses are purchased from the heddle maker who makes the harnesses for all the weavers in the area. When you think about how fine all the warp threads are…nothing heavier than 20/2 cotton…it really is awe inspiring to watch.

The other style of loom looks much more like our looms. A traditional frame with back beam and tensioning device. There are 4 of them fitted with makeshift flying shuttles. These looms are saved for all the wider fabrics like blankets and table cloths.

Some of the weavers work from home. Just like us, they give up space within their homes 🙂 Their looms are constructed with spare timber and are extremely simple.

The fabrics that are woven on these looms are extraordinary!

The pride of the weavers is so evident. I can’t find the words necessary to express my admiration and respect for all their achieve.

In this studio, warps criss cross through each other with a jumble of cords hanging from the ceiling. All very orderly 🙂

In another small home the looms are part of the furniture.

Sabahar 2 was created in an effort to provide some of these weavers with another option. Kathy has rented a house in a newer area that is close to the existing weavers. Here they can come to work in a bright, clean and spacious working environment with running water. This space eliminates some of the stress for the weavers working and living in such small quarters.

They have new looms and lots of bright light. A few of the looms are 4 shafts and they have more treadles 🙂

Both the weavers and winders are so happy.

I hope to finish my final post in a few weeks. It will be a summary of my time at Sabahar this past March and goals for the future.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers,
Jane

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June 2019 Newsletter

Huckleberry Waffle

Have you ever made a warp that seems to get the better of you? It seems like an awesome idea when it is an idea, but then it makes its way to the loom and you stand there saying….what was I thinking?

It all started with The Harvest Splendour Tea Towel Kit from last fall. It is a 3 stripe design with 2 side sections threaded with alternating curry and brass from our organic 8/2 cotton collection with a centre of lovely stripes in reds, plum and burnt orange. While I wove those towels I got so excited about the colour and weave patterns that popped out in the side sections. My next warp was an entire warp of alternating brass and curry from selvedge to selvedge….wow….what a lot of brass and curry! I tried to love it but it was too much.

After a couple of weeks of doing nothing I added a few zinger stripes of plum, but it still seemed wrong. Around the same time my friend Sharon was weaving waffle weave. She had woven an entire yardage for a bathrobe. It looked great so I went home and rethreaded my loom to a waffle threading and started to play with all kinds of sequences and different treadlings and tie-ups, it was just what this warp needed…some texture to go along with the colour.

Three towels later I noticed that I was running out of warp….how that happened is beyond me….I never make short warps. I was just getting in the zone and it was over….so I made it again playing with different colours and another 8 yards later I had 9 new towels…each one different, using repetitive sequences in Waffle, Plain Weave, Twill and Huck all on one threading.

I have written the pattern describing the design process and it includes all the tie-ups and treadling sequences to create some pretty wonderful patterning. They are all woven in organic 8/2 cotton which was so fitting as I wove them over the Easter weekend and it was Earth Day.

We love Venne’s GOTS Organic yarns, here’s more kits!

It’s The Little Things

We’ve had weavers ask us how to read a draft so we’ve made a little video explaining the basics and the different types of drafts you might come across.

ANWG Conference 2019 – Prince George, B.C.

JST is coming to ANWG with armfuls of silks! We’ll have a booth in the Market Hall, come by and say hello. Market Hall will be open from Thursday June 13th to Saturday June 15th. 

JST Online Guild members’ meet-up is on Saturday the 15th at 12:30pm. We’ll meet at the Prince George Civic Centre’s outdoor Plaza. Grab a lunch and come meet Jane and fellow guild members. Everyone is welcome!

We love to hear from you!

Like what you bought from us? We’d love to hear about it and you can do so by leaving us a review right below the item!

You may have noticed that all of our products, newsletters & blogs can now be shared through Social Media or sent via email. Simply click on your favourite way of sharing and pass it on!

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May 2019 Newsletter

Two custom colour ways in silk

I do believe Spring is here to stay. In honour of her return and because we’ve had so many requests for this colourway… we’ve done another small run Playing with Pastels and Cheryl, our wonderful hand dyer, has created a very small run of West Coast Wonder inspired by the water that surrounds and nourishes us.

New 16/2 Linen from Venne

Last month I dropped in on René and Mischa van der Venne in the Netherlands and spent a wonderful couple of days hanging out with two marvellous people AND exploring a warehouse of organic yarn. We are committed to expanding our line of organic yarn. This month we have added 16/2 GOTS certified organic linen in 21 colours. GOTS stands for the Global Organic Textile Standard. The aim of the standard is to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.

The process of making our sample cards

Why do we charge $5 for our sample cards? We thought we’d better explain why and the reasoning behind it. All sample yarn is cut by hand. All the sample cards are punched by hand. The length of the yarn is such that you can compare, side-by-side, any thread with any other thread. We don’t use sticky tape to adhere our yarn to the sample card – tape stiffens and becomes brittle over time – we thread the yarn into the sample card. Two Salt Spring gals are responsible for constructing our sample cards; let’s here it for Christine and Susan! 🙂

The JST Helpline is dead, long live the JST Knowledge Base!

If you’ve not used the JST Helpline before, it’s a compendium of as much knowledge about weaving as we could squeeze onto the interwebs. But it hasn’t been used as often as we thought it could be. So we’ve relaunched/revamped the JST Helpline. It is now called – cue drumroll – the JST Knowledge Base.

We want to make it the first place to go when weavers encounter a problem. Having a problem with your Jane loom? Check the Jane loom section of the JST Knowledge Base. Maybe you’re asking yourself can I wind two threads at a time? Or perhaps you’ve pondered the question, how do I tie-up a sinking shed loom? 

Or try searching the knowledge base. You should see suggestions appear and become refined as you type.

If you find the article useful, give it a thumbs up. If you felt like the article didn’t hit the spot, click thumbs down. Either way, leave some feedback and we’ll be able to refine the article for other weavers.

Linen spring cleaning

Spring is a great time to have a linen sale. The following are all 10% off, whilst stocks last…

16/2 Wet Spun Line – Bleached
16/2 Wet Spun Line – Natural
30/3 Wet Spun Line – Natural
33/3 Wet Spun Line – Bleached
40/2 Wet Spun Line – Bleached

And, we have some large cones of 5/2 warp twist cotton that need to find a new home. These are 10% off too 🙂 There is a lot of yardage on these puppies, it is a fabulous yarn but unfortunately we have to buy it on these huge cones and that seems to put weavers off… so if you’re interested in any type of production work that requires a lovely natural cotton at 2100 yds. per lb… this yarn is for you.

Warp Faced Weaving is up next on the Online Guild

You don’t want to miss the next episode which airs May 23rd. Warp Faced Kits are available on our website!

How heavy is cone?

It depends.

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Sabahar Part 2: The Dyers and Warpers

In my last post you caught a glimpse of the amazing work and skill that goes in to producing the yarns used in the cloth woven at Sabahar. Now it’s time to visit the dyers and the warpers… two more steps necessary to bring these amazing Ethiopian textiles to life.

Last year Kathy was able to construct two new buildings. One was for the dyers and finishers and the other was a beautiful modern shop where all these beautiful textiles are displayed for the appreciative customers of Sabahar.

The dying studio is fabulous. It has big washing spaces outside where the water is treated and recycled for watering the gardens. They have a fancy dye machine that is used for skeins of mill spun 40/2 cotton warp that is used as a base warp for many of the fabrics. All of the handspun cotton and silk are dyed in pots just like we do… but they just do so much of it.

Just taking my skeins for a walk… all scoured and ready to dye…

The new dye and finishing building

Sabahar’s new dye and finishing building, check out the great sinks out front…

They have one large mechanical dye machine… and several smaller dye machines…

All dye water is treated in a simple treatment system and the water is used in the gardens…

Everyday the lines are hung with different colours. These are skeins of handspun cotton and silk

The Warpers

After the yarns are dyed warping is next. I always say that there are a dozen ways to do something, well now I believe there are 13 :)! Before I went to Ethiopia the first time in 2016 I could never have imagined this type of warping. Or that it was possible to make such long warps with such simple equipment and with so many threads used in a single bout. Imagine warping with 30 threads at a time!

Thirty cones of 40:2 cotton

Thirty cones of 40/2 cotton are being used in this warp…

There are several warping stations… all pretty much the same. Nails along rough wood. That’s it!

Once the warp is made it is wound into something that resembles a giant cocoon… rather fitting really as they are surrounded by cocooning silk worms.  It starts just like we start a ball of yarn by hand they just don’t make it round. And the cross is at the end.
The 40/2 cotton is pretty darn fine but the 40/1 cotton is so fine I could barely see it and it is… yes a single strand. This only comes from the mill in skeins. They load up the skeins onto a wagumba which is a giant swift.  Thirty skeins are loaded on, thirty individual ends are found and then the warper carries the wagumba up and down the warping board while he is making his warp.
Another view of the giant swift
A 70 yard warp

This is what a 70 yard warp looks like on it’s way to the loom where it will be transformed into 40 towels.

The metal warping mill

And then they have one trusty metal warping mill which I felt right at home with. Ermias and Aiyelle made a new warp for us to use in the Research and Development Department.

Next blog post

Part three: The Weavers of Sabahar and their brand spanking new R&D dept.

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The Silk Producers, Spinners, Dyers and Weavers of Sabahar in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Part 1: of a story about my recent trip to Ethiopia where I worked with the weavers, spinners and dyers of Sabahar in Addis Ababa. I did several posts about this trip on Facebook but I know there are a lot of you out there that don’t hang out on Facebook or other social media and you are important to me too… so here goes.

This story all begins with one amazing woman named Kathy Marshall from Beaver Lodge Alberta. Kathy has lived in Africa since 1994 working in the area of agriculture and development. Kathy’s desire to create a business that specialized and celebrated the rich textile traditions in Ethiopia began in 2004 with one weaver and several spinners working out of her home.

Fast forward 15 years and Sabahar now employs over 200 artisans. Weavers, spinners, dyers, silk farmers and finishers. It is an amazing success story that sits on top of a mountain of determination, dedication and above all, love.

There are so many parts to this story but it really should start with these lovely little critters… eri silk moths. By the way, Saba is the Amharic word for queen and Hari is the Amharic word for silk… a perfect name for Sabahar.

Sabahar is the pioneer of silk production in Ethiopia. Kathy brought her silk cocoons from Assam India where Eri silk originates. The name eri comes from the Assamese word “era”, meaning castor and that is exactly what these caterpillars eat. Ethiopia has an abundant supply of Castor trees which made it a perfect silk match for the country.

It takes five days for the eggs to hatch… they moult four times during their lifespan of approximately 45 days depending upon the temperature… this little guy on the left is almost full grown, the pair on the right are fully grown… when they get to this size and become pale in colour you hold them to your ear, rub their backs and if they sound hollow, they’re ready to spin… two caterpillars are placed in a paper cone, trays of cones sealed up ready to spin… it takes two days to spin and another seven days for the metamorphosis to occur…

A cup of caterpillars

I put two caterpillars in this glass mug and weighed down a piece of paper with my cell phone. It was amazing to watch them spin their cocoon. Their little heads circled round and round while they extruded the silk into the unique shape that Eri silk is spun into. They will fill any shape they are put into… the cocoons that come out of the paper cones are cone shaped. If they are put into a square container, the cocoon will be square… truly amazing.

Spinning

Cotton spinning on drop spindles has a strong tradition in Ethiopia and Eri silk has similarities to cotton. The caterpillar spins a staple silk unlike other silk worms which spin a filament silk, like Bombyx and Tussah. Eri silk cannot be reeled making it the perfect fibre to give to traditional cotton spinners. The cocoons are first boiled and the spinners spin directly from these cocoon masses.  Along with spinning Eri Silk, Sabahar employs dozens of cotton spinners who spin in their homes.  Everyday spun cotton is collected and delivered to Sabahar for sorting and quality control.

Cocoons are boiled and spun directly from these cocoon masses… the silk is spun on wheels, while the cotton is spun on drop spindles… every day deliveries of cotton arrive and are sorted into different grades… the cobs are turned into skeins ready for dyeing.

Spinning outside

Next blog post

The next blog post is about the dyers and the warpers of Sabahar.

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March 2019 Newsletter

The Great Snow Storm of 2019 follows on the heels of The Great Wind Storm of 2018

I know that so many of our readers put up with snow four or five months of the year but we don’t get too much of it and when we do it is a lovely treat… for a couple of days 🙂 After a couple of days it becomes quite apparent that we are wimps out here on the west coast of Canada – a snow conversation around here starts like this… “Hey Honey, where’s the snow shovel?” “Oh, I think it’s down in the orchard under all the snow.” We got 18 inches worth of white stuff and we never did find the shovel. But all the whining aside it was peaceful and beautiful, until it wasn’t anymore.

The Producers!

We’ve had multiple requests lately on making a repair heddle and how to read a reed substitution chart. The easiest way to do this was in a little video, so here you go…

How to make your own repair heddle.
Do you only have one weaving reed? Don’t let that get you down! Here’s how to use the handy dandy Reed Substitution Chart. It will help you access the many possible ends per inch with only one reed!

Fibres West 2019

A lot of people are asking if we’re going to Fibres West this year. Alas, we are not. Jane has the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and work with the weavers of Sabahar once again. It was a chance that was too good to pass up. The JST crew refused to go to the show without her! Boo yah! We hope Brenda and all the vendors at Fibres West have a fabulous show so please go support them.

Spring cleaning!

We’ve given our website a facelift! We’re always trying to make things more user friendly and cleaner looking. We’ve updated a lot of our photos, the next thing we’re going to tackle is the Online Guild forum and make it easier to use.

Next Online Guild episode

The next Online Guild episode airs on March 14. Come and learn all about log cabin.

The Coneheads are coming!

We have a brand spanking new cone winding machine. Grant has read the manual and is ready to rock and roll. This should mean we’ll have fewer gaps in our inventory.

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Handweaving in India, Part 2: Oh, the Fabrics!

Handweaving in India, Part 2: Oh, The Fabric!

It is so nice to be able to step back in time and revisit past journeys through our photos. The digital age has made it so easy to click, click, click and I think I took over 4000 pictures on my first trip to India. While having that many photos is wonderful, it also makes it hard to pick just a few, LOL. In this post I’ll share some of my favourite pieces that made their way home with me on that trip that I told you about in the January 29th post (click here if you missed it!).

Just to remind you, the village is in West Bengal, north of Calcutta. This village is famous for its extraordinary weavers, very fine weaving, Saris and an inlay technique called Jamdani. The majority of the weavers wove on simple 2 shaft looms, with fly shuttle attachments. Warping is an extremely meticulous process due to the fine warp threads and the finished fabric is breathtaking.

The piece below was woven on 2 shafts with reeled silk. The warp was black and the weft was the colour of copper. If you look right down in the bottom left hand corner of the photo below you can see what the cloth looked like when it came off the loom….simple flat plain weave. All of the texture that you see in the body of the cloth was done by using the thumbs to force the warp threads apart after the cloth was taken from the loom. When I first brought it home it had a wide border all across the bottom about 6” wide but over the years I have been adding texture to the piece by demonstrating how the warps threads were moved. I don’t have much space left to demonstrate…so I’ll have to go back and get another one. When I hold this cloth in my hands I realize that another artisan used their thumbs on every square inch of the cloth shifting the warp threads exposing the weft threads.

Handweaving in India, Part 2: Oh, The Fabric!

I have draped the scarf on Mary our wonderful model to show you this simple piece of plain weave in all its glory.

Handweaving in India, Part 2: Oh, The Fabric!

The next piece is an amazing example of beater control. It is woven in plain weave with weft faced bands of 3/1 twill. The warp is like a cobweb, so incredibly fine it almost disappears. A band of gossamer plain weave is woven and then a band of 3/1 twill is woven that covers the warp as it becomes weft faced but because the threads are so fine it has a drape and effect that is absolutely stunning.

You can shift those weft bands into the open space but in the 9 years I have had this piece they have never shifted on their own.

Handweaving in India, Part 2: Oh, The Fabric!

Handweaving in India, Part 2: Oh, The Fabric!

Another of my favourite simple plain weave pieces has several things going on.  The warp is cotton with a silk weft. This scarf is so soft…..it is difficult to describe just how it feels in the hand.

At first glance it is easy to see the horizontal space that is left every few inches, again controlled by the beater but it also looks like there is denting in the warp.  Denting is a technique where you leave an empty dent open in the reed. Those black vertical lines look like empty space but upon closer inspection it is really 3 ends of one colour and then one end of black, there is no denting happening in the piece just the illusion of it. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to use my thread magnifier to figure out what is going on in these pieces.

Handweaving in India, Part 2: Oh, The Fabric!

Handweaving in India, Part 2: Oh, The Fabric!

The last piece in this post is woven on 4 shafts and is plain weave threaded into blocks. Some threads are on 1 and 2 and another block is on 3 and 4.

It can be woven with a simple tabby tie-up where both blocks weave plain weave from selvedge to selvedge like you see at both ends or it can be woven with one block always weaving plain weave while the other block doesn’t weave at all. The is accomplished in the tie up. The threads on 1 and 2 are always changing places but the threads on 3 and 4 stay in the middle and have one pick that floats over the entire block of them and the next pick floats under them. When you weave this way through the entire length of the cloth you end up with stripes where your warp has no take-up because there is never any interlacement through them, just over and under them.
Those stripes are the wavy ones and they were warped in silk where the other plain weave blocks are warped in a very fine wool. The entire weft is the fine wool. There is also a fabulous graphic threaded into those blocks. It is such a simple idea and every part of this cloth, the hand, the drape, the shiny, the matte, the thin stripes, the wide stripes, the colour……screamed take me home! 🙂

Handweaving in India, Part 2: Oh, The Fabric!

Handweaving in India, Part 2: Oh, The Fabric!

I am so happy to be able to share these particular weavings because this cloth and the weavers of this village challenged beliefs that I had carried around since I started to weave 30 years before. They challenged my ideas around sett, use of reed and beater and about what you could and couldn’t do with thread or structure…it changed my entire thought process around design. I had always loved plain weave but I gained a profoundly deeper respect for it than was there before. I will be eternally grateful to these weavers, for their extraordinary skill and vision and for the gift they shared with me during my 10 days with them. Namaste.

Like this post? Please feel free to share their beautiful work on Pinterest using the graphic below!

Handweaving in India, Part 2: Oh, The Fabric!

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In Memory of Ann Belau

Once upon a time there was an online weaving guild and some weavers formed groups to follow along with the guild. There were big groups and small groups, formal guilds, and informal get-togethers. Some groups took on weaving projects or challenges together. Sometimes, they put on shows to share the beautiful things they created.

Ann Belau belonged to two of these groups. One was a small local group in Three Rivers, CA; the other was the venerable, valley-wide guild Handweavers of the Valley. It’s clear Ann was a key member of her weaving groups—a teacher, an organizer, an event planner—and that she was driven by her own innate desire to learn as much as she could of spinning, dyeing, and weaving.

Left to right: Ellen Henderson, Ann, Linda Hayden, Mary Lou Hanson, Sophie Britten.

I really connected with Ann and her weaving group when, last October, she designed the foyer for the 39th show and sale of her local guild—displaying her study groups samples of all the episodes of the online guild. It was, by all accounts, a stunning display of colour and weaving. As guests arrived, Ann sat at her loom and gave teaching demonstrations of preparing the loom for weaving. At the time, I was thrilled and inspired and a little awed to think that I had had a part in such a truly remarkable achievement.

Ann has left us now, although she will never truly leave her family, her community, and her weaving friends, by all of whom I know she was deeply loved.

But I am still thinking about Ann, about her weaving group, about the people she connected with, and about the people who connected with those people. I am reflecting on how weavers who belong to an online weaving guild—in the cloud!— still find ways to organize, to connect, and to form community and engage with one another in meaningful ways.

I always get this sense of awe watching people take up the lessons of the guild and run with them. But there was something about Ann and her group that laid it out for me in a new way. Somehow, thanks to Ann and the people connected to Ann and the people connected to the people connected to Ann–I saw something new about the creative spirit and how it tends to organize.

First, we weave and then, we find one another. We self-organize–in guilds, in small weaving groups, at the community centre, in our homes. We are bigger than the organizations we create, but we also sometimes find our home there, as Ann’s daughter says Ann did. We decide to create beauty out of our own spirit; then we find our partners, our sisters, our friends. And then we create astounding things together. We work, we create, we talk, we share, we laugh, we learn—and we produce beauty.

Maybe we are like the bees. Maybe each of us is a single bee. In solitude, we weave our own life and experiences. But then we find one another and come together, and maybe then we are like a hive. And within our hive, we reach out with our sisters for craft, for mastery, and for beauty. And then one day, when we leave the hive, maybe we are like Ann—we launch into the open air with sun on our face, the wind in our hair, the blue sky over our wings—on a mission to find the flowers, and then to dance their location for her sisters, also working and dancing under the sun.

This is what we do. It really is what we do. It is the most beautiful thing imaginable. And I am so, so privileged to be included in that. I have all of you to thank for it, but it took Ann to show it to me.

To see some of Ann’s beautiful work, please read this blog post written by her daughter, who has given us permission to share the link here.

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February 2019 Newsletter

Alpaca Lace, Tweed and Prime Alpaca. 25% off sale

Our beautiful Alpaca yarns have been lonely for too long so I have decided to let them go at great savings. All remaining stock will be discounted until these beautiful skeins and cones have found a new home. Now’s the time to add some to your stash.

100% Super-fine Alpaca made in Peru. 1330 yds/lb. Available in 1/2 lb skeins – 664 yds/skein. We carry this yarn in two styles, Prime and Tweed. All colours are naturally occurring. It truly is a heavenly fibre. In plain weave the prime Alpaca weaves up beautifully at 10 epi and the Tweed is fabulous at 8 epi. Both variations full beautifully.
Lace weight Baby Alpaca. This yarn is spun from the finest quality of alpaca fibre. It knits or weaves to a luxurious, supersoft hand. It is beautiful as a weft on a silk warp. After you finish your project all it needs is a gentle wash in warm water, a rinse and hang to dry. Finish off with a nice steam press.

880 yds/100g cone.

More Bouclé Blankies

Do you remember those gorgeous blankies from last newsletter? Well I just couldn’t stop working on them. The first lot were soft and subtle in their colour ways and you know me… I love hot and humid, LOL. So here you go… two limited edition colour ways: Salt Spring Berries and Carmanah Caress.

Coming up next on the Online Guild


Get set to learn about Cramming and Denting in the next episode airing February 7th. It is the perfect technique to follow on the heals of Denting which we did in January.

Latest Blog

I have had a few requests to write a bit about the weavers of India and those beautiful fabrics you seeing hanging in the studio during the videos. I will add a new post to these threads every month and you’ll see just why I’m always talking about these artisans. They are so inspiring.

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Handweaving in India

Handweaving Around the World: India - on the Jane Stafford Textiles Blog

A few weeks back I received a request for information about the beautiful textiles on the back wall of the studio in the videos. Laurel asked if I could share some information about them…. how they were woven, where I found them, interesting facts about them and about my travels.

Handweaving in India: some of the beautiful handwoven samples on display in the JST Textiles studio

What a great idea… those textiles are hanging on the wall because they provide me with more inspiration than I could use in a lifetime and they are all woven in India.

In 2011 I was invited by Charlotte Kwon of Maiwa Handprints in Vancouver to go to India and assist as a weaving facilitator at a Masterclass she was hosting in a village some hours north of Calcutta. That trip changed my life in more ways than I can say. I have been back to India several times since and have also worked in Ethiopia. I’m actually going back to Ethiopia in March to continue working with some of the very fine weavers at Sabahar and I’ll certainly post about that little adventure.

Going to India confirmed what I have always believed…..that we can weave the most beautiful fabrics on the simplest of looms. If our technique is top notch and we train our hands and eyes we can accomplish great things. If we question our beliefs about right and wrong (or it must be done this way) we come to understand that there are a million ways to approach things and everyone needs to embrace what works for them and that is dependent on the resources we have on hand.

There are 8 million handweavers working in India every single day. Their use of pattern is like a language, it has great cultural meaning and is miles deep. The fabrics created are extremely different between villages, regions and states. This means you could spend a lifetime learning about cloth in India.

I could go on and on but I think I’ll start with the warping process in the first village I was in. I’ll add a new post every other post.

Remember, in rural India weaving is a village affair, imagine walking into a village where 1000’s of weavers are busy at work. I was in heaven.

A simple 2 shaft pit loom. Notice that the beams are all made from giant bamboo. The weavers sit on the ground with their feet in a dugout where the treadles are.

Handweaving Around the World: India

This is a reeled silk warp being prepared. In this village they start by making a gigantic sectionally wound warp and the warping reel will hold warp for many looms. Once it is all on, the weavers bring their thread beams in and wind off enough for their sari or whatever they are weaving.

Handweaving Around the World: India - on the Jane Stafford Textiles Blog

Handweaving Around the World: India - on the Jane Stafford Textiles Blog

Handweaving Around the World: India - on the Jane Stafford Textiles Blog

The thread beams and harnesses are taken outside when there is bright sunlight to thread them.

Handweaving Around the World: India - on the Jane Stafford Textiles Blog

Then the beam and harnesses go back onto the loom where they are sleyed and weaving begins.

What a blast!

Handweaving Around the World: India - on the Jane Stafford Textiles Blog

Hope you’ll come back for more.

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Handweaving in India - on the Jane Stafford Textiles Blog