Posted by Marla Mallett
on December 31, 1998 at 16:30:42:
Daniel and all:
Here, in answer to a question about my reference to WEFTS CROSSED
BETWEEN SHEDS, are some drawings that show how weavers have done
this. It is such a distinctive weaving practice that I think we
should look for this detail in our rugs whenever possible. It
may or may not ultimately prove to have diagnostic significance.
Since I have found crossed wefts in some NW Persian rugs that
I presume are Kurdish, it seems relevant to the current discussion.
Here's the process:
The weaver first inserts a pair of wefts in an open shed, one
from each side of the rug. (See the on-the-loom drawing below.)
These wefts meet somewhere in the center of the warp, where the
weaver brings both yarns to the front surface, out of the shed
together. After everything is beaten into place, she changes
the shed and re-inserts the yarns in the new shed. The wefts
cross as each is carried onward in its original direction.
This practice provides a ground weft yarn to carry upward around
the end knot at each selvage, strengthening the edges slightly.
Chinese weavers even developed unique attached selvage constructions
to use in conjunction with this practice.
When Near Eastern weavers have crossed wefts in their rugs, they
have done so primarily to save time. When two weavers work together,
each can lay in a weft from her side toward the center, beating
it into place from the rug's edge inward, toward the loose end.
When the shed is changed, the two weavers exchange weft yarns,
reinsert them in the shed, and continue. The two people can simultaneously
wrap or interlace selvages on their respective sides. It is efficient
since one person need not always be waiting.
If you would like to determine if the wefts in a rug cross, there
are several features to investigate. It is easiest to look for
actual weft crossings. On the back of a rug, if you carefully
follow a pair of wefts, you may find a short float where one weft
has crossed two warps to jump upward. If you stick a pin through
the rug at this point for a marker, on the front you will find
a corresponding float where the second weft makes the crossing.
These floats are scattered randomly so the rug is not weakened.
These are easiest to see in Chinese Ninghsia rugs, so I've marked
several such floats in the example below.
The yarns may cross as shown in the drawing below, however, so
that one weft binds the other. The binding weft on top makes
a sharp diagonal or vertical turn. This feature is more difficult
to detect, but is the one I've found most commonly on south Persian
rugs. Floats that cross three warps are usually just errors--skipped
warps--and are not a sign of crossed wefts.
Occasionally crossed wefts appear in rugs with three weft picks
between rows of knots. In such examples, we find not only ordinary
crossings between each row of knots, but on alternate rows we
find wefts that jump upward over the row of knots also. To do
this, weavers bring their wefts to the surface in the center of
the rug and leave them dangling while they complete a row of knotting.
Then they insert these weft yarns in the new shed, where each
continues in its original direction.
Another clue to detecting crossed wefts is dependent upon the
weaver's choice of yarns. In several South Persian, NW Persian
Kurdish, and Anatolian rugs that I have examined, it has been
easy to see crossed wefts, since the weavers used leftover materials
and in some places the two wefts were of contrasting colors.
In such pieces it is possible to follow a pair of wefts and see
clearly where the two change positions. Their sequence can be
checked in an area near one SIDE of the rug. If weft yarns are
red and brown, for example, and alternate red-brown, brown-red,
red-brown, etc., we can assume that these wefts cross in the middle.
When such sequences are found on Göklan Eagle-gul rugs,
for example, we can assume that those pieces have crossed wefts.
It is important not to check this sequence in a rug's center,
since the crossings are erratic there. We usually don't need
to bother looking for crossed wefts in rugs with deeply depressed
warps. I've only found them in one such Chinese aberration.
I'm eager to know where anyone finds this detail, and so will
appreciate it if you let me know. Have a Happy New Year hunting
for crossed wefts!
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