IKAT 101

What makes Ikat weaving special is that the yarn is tied and dyed before the fabric is woven. Keep scrolling to see exactly what level of skill and concentration this craft requires!

If you've ever asked "who made my clothes?" then consider this:


Let's assume that each step is carried out by at least one, skilled individual before the fabric moves to the next stage on the production line, and count the steps involved in Ikat fashion!


Once you're done, conside the farmer, the cleaner, the spinner, the designer and the tailor - and that's ignoring the fact that multiple craftspeople are involved at each stage - engaged in making your Ikat outfit.


Here's a quick glimpse into the making of the Ikat fabric.

 

What makes Ikat weaving special is that the yarn is tied and dyed before the fabric is woven. Keep scrolling to see exactly what level of skill and concentration this craft requires!

Cotton fibre is cleaned, often bleached, and then spun into yarn.

Large reams of spun cotton arrive at the weaving unit, ready to dye and weave.

Some bundles are dyed entirely, because most Ikat weaves use tie-dyeing techniques only on the warp. This is why they tend to have uni-directional patterns!

But!
Weavers also create crossing patterns by dyeing both, the weft and the warp. This is called 'double Ikat' and it takes double the effort and precision!

 
 

Yarns are counted, knotted together, and then assembled (with some fine skills) onto this neat tool so that patterns can be marked and tied with precision.

 

The yarns are then hand-marked clearly and calculatedly in accordance with the intended design. This significantly mitigates wastage and reduces the scope for human error.

 

Tied and ready to dye ...
... and off to the vat we go!

 

Tied, dyed, and dried, the yarns are then fastened onto the removable loom-implement, once again with great precision. Every thread must be tied at the perfect point, in perfect line, in order to maintain the pattern.

Yarns are cut and set based on the purpose for which they are intended, like setting up smaller reels for scarves. Yardage woven for tailoring purposes are much, much longer, and can be up to 50m in length, non-stop.

That's an olympic swimming pool!

Aaaaand that's a wrap! (or a scarf, or a towel ...) on the first of many textile tours to come! How musical is the clickety-clack of the traditional handloom?!

This moment was the highlight of our visit to the Pochampally Handloom Park, which was founded collectively by 15 master weavers from the area, with the support of the state and central government, and members of the private sector. Today it employs around 500 weavers and other local craftspeople and specializes in the production of the world famous pochampally Ikat.

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