Category Archives: information sheet

The History of Weaving in India

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This is a fascinating and well researched article I found this week on “International THE NEWS”.  I have just added the links and some pictures.

It’s one of those pieces that you find out stuff you never knew, whether or not you are interested in history or weaving – smile!

Weaving history

271282_9853525_magazineJanuary 22, 2018.  By Pooja Dawani

The Indian sub-continent has a rich and ancient history of textile art and exports, with the heritage spanning almost 5,000 years. It’s been found that fabric-making was an important part of people’s lives even at the time when the Indus Valley Civilisation flourished.

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Excavated ruins of Mohenjo-daro, Sindh province, Pakistan, showing the Great Bath in the foreground. Mohenjo-daro, on the right bank of the Indus River, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first site in South Asia to be so declared.

The excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro reveal that the spinning wheel or the charkha was an essential part of the sub-continental household. Other than practices of resist-dyeing, hand-painting, and embroidery, the Indus Valley people were masters in the art of weaving.

The Vedic Aryans and the Buddhists who settled in this region after the Indus Valley Civilization also used the charkha. The entire cloth-making process which was done by hand, involved great skill and the sub continental textiles were unrivalled for their excellence. Foreign travellers like Marco Polo (1288) and Tavernier (1660) wrote in detail about the excellence of the subcontinent’s cotton fabrics and there are many accounts of our textiles being exported to trade centres widely separated geographically, like Rome, Zanzibar, Java, Bali and Egypt.

When the Mughals ruled the subcontinent, hand spinning and weaving continued to be an important occupation and the era brought in use of gold and silver brocades, fine-figured muslins, fabulous weaves, printed and painted fabrics, exquisite carpets, intricate embroideries and endless variety and designs being produced on a mass scale.

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Jahangir investing a courtier with a robe of honour, watched by Sir Thomas Roe, English ambassador to the court of Jahangir at Agra from 1615 to 1618, and others

Emperors Akbar and Jahangir took personal interest in developing the crafts, and the fabrics from this region became even more exquisite and ornate.By the 16th century, foreign traders including the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, and the British had begun to come to India from the West and by the 17th century, the English traders had set-up the East India Trading Company with the main object of importing Indian goods including textiles. With this fascinating background, it is no wonder that modern day Pakistan, like neighbouring India and Bangladesh, still has a huge industry centred on textiles.

 

The textile sector in Pakistan contributes about 10 percent to the GDP which for 2016 is stated as about $283.70 billion. So the total size of the textile sector comes to about $28 billion. The sector contributes nearly one-fourth of industrial value-added and provides employment to about 40 percent of industrial labour force. Textile exports for Pakistan are valued at around $10.29 billion.

Even though the last decade saw the textile industry of Pakistan flounder in the face of incessant power and gas cuts, the textile industry seems to have bounced back as bank advances to the sector were record high in 2016.

Under Textile Policy 2015-19, Rs64.15 billion will be spent to increase the exports of textile and clothing items from the existing $13 billion to $26 billion by 2019. Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of cotton in the world and holds the largest spinning capacity in Asia after China and India.

A recent report issued by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reveals that year-on-year growth in textile sector advances has been Rs90 billion in 2016 in contrast to the net retirement of Rs30 billion in 2015.

Pakistan FashionWith this resurgence of the industry, recently a lot of interest has been shown in reviving the craft of Pakistan textile art. This year’s Fashion Pakistan Week Spring/Summer Show also focused on the revivalist trend of ethnic crafts and embroideries, and many designers retraced their steps and went back to their roots in search of design inspiration.

Focusing on reviving old art forms that are indigenous to the region and using them in modern designs, not only helps empower the craftsmen who have been trained in centuries’ old crafts by their forefathers, but also promotes the previously disappearing native crafts that are threatened by extinction otherwise.

Pakistan is home to many beautiful crafts like woven textiles and embroidered products from Swat and other regions. While weaving is carried out in many major cities, Swat in particular is a long established weaving centre whose blankets are mentioned even in early Buddhist texts. Or the embroidered textiles and leather crafts from Balochistan which are used to make shawls, caps, vests and an assortment of dresses. In Sindh, different types of woven textiles are a common sight in the cities of Hyderabad, Khairpur, Hala and Thatta.

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Sindhi ajrak

Ajrak, a unique pattern produced in Sindh is printed on shawls and caps and has become a unique symbol of Sindhi culture. Similarly, phulkari from Multan, block-printing from Lahore, chunri, and rilli work are all artful displays of the rich heritage of Pakistan.

Some local brands have invested in bringing these traditional textile designs into the mainstream.

One such revival story is that of the hand-woven khaddar, which had all but disappeared from conventional fashion.

Khaddar is a natural fibre cloth made out of cotton, silk or wool and has a long history in the sub-continent. Khaddar’s revival in India was advocated by Gandhi who envisioned the versatile fabric as a panacea to India’s poverty and the cloth became the symbol of nation’s struggle for freedom.

In Pakistan, the revival of handloom weaving can be principally credited to a local start-up, Khaadi. The brand has been chiefly responsible for ushering in the ‘khaddar culture’.

Despite being a major producer and exporter of superior quality cloth for decades, the boom of fashion in the country is a fairly recent phenomenon and Pakistani designers have caught the eye of many outside the country. Brands have played a vital role in transforming a manufacturing focused textile industry to a more holistic market that also encompasses a focus on retail and fashion. Although developing rapidly, these two areas are still in their nascent stages it promises to blossom into something befitting our splendid legacy.

A History of Shawls

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This is a really interesting piece I found recently, by Jen of Roving Crafters written in 2016 – I’m not sure if she is still blogging as it seems she was having problems with her eyes in the last post I can find on her site – but there are plenty of free tutorials and other interesting pieces on rovingcrafters.com, and if you want to read the original of this unashamed copy click HERE

Venetian widow, Cesare Vecellio, 1585-90

Technically the shawl as a garment and as a word comes from 14th century Persia. They were woven rectangles worn over the shoulders and made from kashmiri goat. That’s significant I think because Kashmir was a major trade center. Knowledge and supplies and all sorts of other goodies coming out of India had to go through Kashmir to get to the western world. In fact I personally believe its very likely that the shawl as a garment originated in China, was adopted by India, and from there passed to the weavers in Kashmir (but I can’t find any sources to back that up).

From Kashmir, shawls spread to southern Europe and North Africa. Ethiopians took to wearing large rectangular shawls that can be wrapped around the body once and then over a shoulder.

Ethiopian boys in traditional shawls
16th century French pine figures of female saints wearing blue shawls

Manila shawls took Spain by storm in the 15th century.  These were square pieces of woven silk with hand embroidered designs. They seem to have picked them up from the Philippine islands (again I’m saying the shawl is a Far East garment) and once the Spaniards had them, they went to the New World.

All these early shawls were woven. They were made in whatever fiber was on hand; silk in the east, cashmere in the near east, wool in the New World. They were square or rectangular in shape and usually large enough to wrap and fold around the body.

Decorative lace shawls seem to have come into fashion in the early 1800’s. The earliest styles were made on tambour or other netting with intricate designed stitched/embroidered on that base fabric. This seems to be when shawls became circular and triangular.

Hand embroidered Spanish blonde lace on ecru silk net, circa 1830’s.
A French fashion plate displaying a shawl of black Chantilly lace, circa 1865.

Then the knitters and crocheters got into the business of shawl making. That’s when the styles and shapes of shawls seems to have really exploded. Knitters in the Shetland Islands started making haps,

Jessie Thomson knitting by her fireside at Lower Huyea, Haroldswick while wearing a hap shawl. circa 1930

knitters in America made sontags,

The “bosom friend”, aka sontag from Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, 1860.

crocheters in Ireland made collars,

Irish crochet collar, circa early 1900’s

and so on.

Up through the 1920’s shawls and stoles and wraps were worn by ladies in English speaking countries of all economic levels. Wealthy women wore creations of handmade lace and silken embroidery. Working women wore cheaper, machine made imitations. But all women had a shawl or two to dress up and cover up.

Not so today. Today its a rarely seen specialty item. For those of us who do wear shawls there is a dizzying array of styles and shapes and choices. And isn’t that just wonderful? We get to borrow on all these traditions of shawl making and invent some of our own. Shawl patterns can be found big or small, in every shape, in lace, cables, and color work. You could spend a lifetime making shawls and not explore everything.


The Twelve Days of Christmas – Lyrics (Part 3)

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This is the third part of my little series of the Twelve Days of Christmas – see my previous two posts – part 1 & part 2

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Just before I go on – I want to wish all my readers – and my many followers a very

MERRY CHRISTMAS
and I hope you have a peaceful time
over the holiday period!
And – to let you know that my Etsy Shop will remain open and that for almost the Twelve Days of Christmas (which is normally taken to be the period from Christmas Day to Epiphany 6 January)  

from 25 December to 3 January

there will be 10% OFF all listings

new etsy banner

As this is a very well known Christmas Carol, I was assuming that most people knew what I was talking about – but a couple of people have asked me for the Lyrics, and it makes a lot more sense if you know why various sections have been picked out to talk about the symbolism of the birds mentioned.  They are copied in full below.  Of course, they are repetitive, because the Carol is sung in the form of a game, adding an extra line each time, and if you want to know a bit more about the history of the Carol and the changes made to the Lyrics over the centuries there is a very informative page on Wikipedia.

12DaysChristmasBIRDS-1On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
A Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the second day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the third day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the sixth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree1

On the seventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree1

On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Nine Ladies Dancing
Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree1

On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Ten Lords a Leaping
Nine Ladies Dancing
Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree1

On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Eleven Pipers Piping
Ten Lords a Leaping
Nine Ladies Dancing
Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree1

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
12 Drummers Drumming
Eleven Pipers Piping
Ten Lords a Leaping
Nine Ladies Dancing
Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

THE NEXT EPISODE – PART 4 – WILL BE ABOUT THE THREE FRENCH HENS

 

A Post for Christmas – The 12 day Carol!

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It is now too late to guarantee that any orders not already received, can be posted in time for Christmas, but my Etsy Shop will remain open and any orders will be posted as soon as the postal services resume over the holiday period.

So I thought I’d indulge in a Christmas subject – a post I found on Countryside Magazine

Exploring the 12 Days of Christmas History and Life in the 18th Century, and the meaning behind the birds in the Carol.

IT’S QUITE A LONG AND INTERESTING ARTICLE, SO I’M PUBLISHING PART 1 TODAY, AND WILL PUT UP THE REST IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS – SMILE

12-days-of-christmas-meaning

By Christine Henrichs

Understanding the 12 Days of Christmas meaning adds something special to this favorite traditional carol. Its repeating verses make it fun to learn the list of traditional gifts: A partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, three French hens, four calling birds, five gold rings, six geese a-laying, seven swans a-swimming, eight maids a-milking, nine ladies dancing, 10 lords a-leaping, 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming, all reflect things that were familiar to life in 18th century England and France.

In a nutshell, here’s the 12 Days of Christmas meaning: In the Christian religion, the 12 Days following Christmas are the time it took for the three wise men to make their journey to the stable where the Jesus was born. January 6 is celebrated as Epiphany. Religious meanings have been imputed to each day’s gift, but there isn’t any historical documentation for that. To me, it’s interesting because it tells us about what life was like back then.

The 12 Days of Christmas meaning is interesting to explore through a historic lens. The song lists many wild and domestic birds that brightened life in those days of political upheaval and revolution. It was first printed in the 1780 children’s book, Mirth Without Mischief, but it was already old then. It may have originated in France, as three French variations exist. The First Day’s signature partridge was introduced into England from France in the late 1770s, shortly before the carol was formalized in print and published.

12 Days of Christmas

The Partridge in a Pear Tree

The partridge is a colorful choice for the first gift. Partridges include lots of different species with bright plumage on their rotund bodies. The gray or English partridge, a Eurasian native, was known in England then. It came to North America around the turn of the 20th century, directly from Eurasia. It has adapted well and is now fairly common in North America. They are hardy birds, able to survive cold winter conditions in the Midwest and Canada. They aren’t much for flying, with a stocky body and short, round wings. Most flights are low, at eye level and shorter than 100 yards. They are 12 to 13 inches long with a wingspan of 21 to 22 inches and weigh about one pound.

The hens may lay as many as 22 eggs in a clutch and hatches of 16 to 18 are common. They are not usually raised as domestic birds.

Among modern chickens, the name Partridge survives today as a recognized color variety in both large fowl and bantam Cochin, Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte, Chantecler, and Silkie breeds. It is similar to the Black Red pattern, the name more appropriately applied to game birds, according to Dr. J. Batty in his Poultry Colour Guide of 1977. Males and females differ, with males have rich red plumage on their heads, backs and wings, glinting with lustrous greenish black. Females are more subdued, mostly reddish bay with distinct penciling. The Standard of Perfection details the requirements of the Partridge color pattern description.

 

For my Readers, all over the World – a re-blog of “Winding Yarns into balls by hand”….

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nostepinne woundI’ve been checking my stats recently to see how many people have been visiting the blog and where they come from and what posts they are reading – yes I can tell all that with one click!  (But be reassured, I can’t tell WHO it was, so you’re secrets are safe – smile)

I can honestly say that my readership is WORLD WIDE!  I think I have had readers from almost every country in the world – lots of you are, of course, from the UK, but almost as many are from the USA, and all over Europe, and recently quite a lot from Australia, China and India.

I’ve noticed that, apart from my post about the Ystalyfera  Landslip,  which someone else must have publicised on social media, without telling me – (over 100 hits in one day!) smile – the most searched for post is this one: Winding Yarns into balls by hand – with or without a nostepinne which is also listed under the i/sheets tab (an archive of my ‘information  sheets’ or free tutorials – which I haven’t kept up to date lately, by the way!)  And by now,  you must have realised what that picture on the right is doing on this page.

Anyway, to save you the trouble of looking for it,  I thought I’d just repeat it here for those of you that are interested – and as I have only just sold the last nostepinne I had, and wasn’t actually going to buy any more in at the moment – this is NOT a sales ploy! (But do have a scroll down to the previous post – smile!)

Originally posted in August of 2015 – 

HuH – I can’t find a way to copy the whole thing after all, but this is the most important stuff – especially the video!

This is a very useful tutorial I found via Sheila Dixon’s Hand Spinning News, which has a video that takes the mystique out of how to use a Nostepinne, or any useful stick, to allow you to wind hand spun yarn, or just oddments of wool into tidy balls, manually.

It is copied directly from Roving Crafters – she calls them “cakes” – and she says on her blog that it can be freely copied – so I have!

How to Hand Wind Yarn Into a Cake

Winding warn cakes Confession #1:

I like to wind yarn. Its fun. Its an excuse to play with my yarn and when I wind up other knitters’ and crocheters’ yarn (I’ve been known to do that) I get to play with their yarn too. But its more than just play time. A nicely wound yarn cake will save you headache and frustration and make for a more pleasant knitting and crocheting experience.

A yarn cake sits flat on the table. It has a nice easy end to draw out of the center. If its done right, the yarn won’t tangle up and the cake won’t flop or bounce around. A yarn cake as a great and wonderful thing and nearly every yarn shop in the world will wind up your yarn into a cake with their ball winder.

But you don’t need a ball winder to make a yarn cake. You just need a stick. A dowel will work. So will a broom handle, a fat knitting needle, or the empty tube from your next roll of toilet paper. If you want to be fancy-pants about hand winding yarn, you can get a nostepinne. But only really hopeless yarn-geeks bother with those.

Confession #2: I own three nostepinnes.

I also own a ball winder but sometimes I make yarn cakes by hand and not just for fun. If I only have a small amount of yarn, say 50 yards or less, I wind it into a little cake using a small nostepinne thin stick. That works out much better.

 

 

 

 

Branch Weaving – another way to use it

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branch_weaving_3-CROPI found this advert in The Republican Journal – no I don’t read it, I just clicked on a link about branch weaving!  

You can find my previous post on Branch Weaving HERE – so when I saw the advert for a Branch Weaving Workshop below, I was ‘blown away’ by the picture, and the idea of using this method to weave flowers and plants.  I have slightly edited the information about the workshop (left out phone nos etc), but if anyone actually wanted to join this workshop on 1 October – there is a link to both the artist and the Friends of Sears Island.

Of course, as I am in West Wales, and many of my readers are in India, Australia, and all over the world, as well as many in the USA, it’s unlikely we’d be able to go – smile – but if anyone does, please do get in touch and tell us about it!  (see the suggestion in my post about ‘reviewing’ any craft events you go to.)

Branch weaving with Cirillo

Friends of Sears Island workshop

Courtesy of: Sandi Cirillo

SEARSPORT  (USA) — The Friends of Sears Island invite the public to a branch weaving workshop with local artist Sandi Cirillo Sunday, Oct. 1, from 9 a.m. to noon. She will lead program attendees on an exploration of Sears Island while gathering natural materials to create a weaving, suitable for display in the home or a child’s room.

Participants will look for a small but sturdy branch and then learn how to weave on found items. Everyone on this outing will learn more about the environment on Sears Island and how important it is to protect it.

Cirillo has been a fiber/mixed media artist for more than 25 years. A retired art educator, she gives many different fiber workshops in the Northeast, North Carolina, locally at her home studio in Searsport and through Bucksport Adult Education. For more information about her and her work, visit especially-for-ewe.com.

Sears Island is on Sears Island Road, off Route 1 just east of Searsport. Participants should park along the causeway at the end of the road and meet at the kiosk near the island gate by 9 a.m.; and bring a beach blanket, to sit on while weaving, and a pair of sturdy scissors. Sturdy shoes, suitable clothing for hiking, a snack and water is recommended, plus bug spray if desired. No pets are permitted for this event.

For more information and updates in the event of inclement weather, visit friendsofsearsisland.org and the group’s Facebook page