In my last post, I discussed how to build a traditional Chinese loom from scratch. Today, we are going to learn how to thread the loom. Let’s start with a photo of how the whole thing looks when it’s threaded and in action:
The woven fabric to the left is completed. You can see to the right of her hands the two planes of vertically stretched threads that meet at the ends closest to her, forming a ‘V’ shape. Those are called the warp threads and they are stretched taught across the entire length of the loom. Each thread is held in its own individual loop made out of the white string suspended from the top of the loom. The white string is attached to pedals at her feet which she presses to bring the bottom plane to the top and vice-versa. Each time the planes are switched, she passes a thread horizontally through the ‘V’ space made by the planes. This is the weft thread, which gets packed down by the giant wooden comb in Aiyi’s hands in the photo above.
Here you can see how each of the white loops are wrapped around bamboo dowels in order to create the suspension. This photo also helps to give you an idea of the two separate planes of warp (vertical) thread.
The thread is knotted in a special way at the end of the loom to make it easier to feed more thread through the loops as needed.
When the fabric is done, it is rolled onto a piece of wood used to make a bolt:
As you can probably imagine, with so many threads and ropes hanging around, it gets tangled pretty easily! This method of weaving is pretty simple, but it becomes tedious because a weaver must constantly get up and adjust the warp threads that have become tangled from being switched back and forth. Stay tuned for a video of *yours truly* wearing traditional Chinese clothing AND weaving on this loom.