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Kantara Blog
  • Dressing the loom
  • Alia Kate
  • Weaving
Dressing the loom

"We went back to the warping, with us pulling, Georges cranking, Aliénor testing. It was not so much fun now. My arms ached too, though I would never have admitted it... Madeleine huffed and sighed and sulked next to me and Nicolas began rolling his eyes in boredom. "What do you do after you finish this tedious task?" he asked.

We thread the heddles, to make the shed," I said.

Nicolas looked blank. "Heddles are strings that pull every other thread apart so that you can run the weft through them," I explained. "You push a pedal and the warp separates into two. The space between those sets of threads is the shed."

"Where do you put the tapestry as you're weaving it?"

"It gets wound onto this beam here in front of us."

Nicolas thought for a moment. "But then you don't see it."

"No. Only the strip you're working on, then it gets wound on. You don't see the whole tapestry at once until you've finished."

"But that's impossible!--"

The Lady and the Unicorn
 

Nicolas' confusion and surprise mirrors my own. How do the artisans know what to weave next? Unlike the Brussels' tapestries in Tracy Chevalier's, The Lady and the Unicorn, Moroccan rugs do not have convenient paint-by-number cartoons behind them indicating the next design. In fact, oftentimes several women weave on the same rug in silence, all instinctively knowing what comes next.

  • Alia Kate
  • Weaving

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