World Textiles


Global woven technology

Anything with a global perspective wins extra points for me. This is the world’s best book on the world’s textiles. In a single volume you get a taste of all the varieties of weaving, dying and cloth-making on this planet, now and in the past. It’s yummy, and stunning. The book is very intelligently designed, logically organized, and magnificently printed (full color). No how-to, but a whole library of inspiring patterns and traditional loomed, tied and knitted methods from all over the world in one portable tome. There’s no single volume comparable to this book. Great source material for weavers, of course, but also artists, designers, craftsmen, and anyone who makes stuff. Here are what threads can be!

-- KK 06/9/05


Lace is a European invention, made by the poorest of women to adorn the clothing of the rich. Probably the most recent traditional textile-making technique to come into existence, it seems to have originated in Italy or Dalmatia (the coastal region of of the Former Yugoslavia) in the 15th century, but the technique and the fashion for its use spread rapidly to countries as far apart as England and Russia.

It is a widespread practice to sew two separately woven pieces together to make one textile which is too large to be woven in one piece on any available loom. This is the method of construction, for example, of rugs made by the Balouch in Afghanistan or of hinggi mantles woven on Sumba in Indonesia. In a very few places textiles are made by sewing together a large number of very narrow strips. Apart from the ghudjeris, or horse blankets, of Uzbekistan virtually all stripweaves are to be found in West Africa. The best known is the kente cloth of Ghana.

Untying wefts for weft-ikat cloth at Sukarara, Lombok, Indonesia. The pattern was resist dyed into the wefts before they were woven. This may involve tying, untying, and retying the yarn several times to dye different parts of the pattern in different colours.

Women, from Uzbekistan, wearing ikat fabric known as abr or "cloud" cloth. On their laps are the tied bundles of threads for abr after dying, which they will unravel.