Weave a Little, Leave a Little

October 02, 2019

Weave a Little, Leave a Little

In some ways, the process of weaving is not that hard to understand. A group of threads is strung in one direction, then another group of threads is guided one by one in a perpendicular direction over and under, and voila, you have cloth! However, from that simple process, strikingly different fabrics can be created with complex weaving designs, different types of fiber, as well as varying the size and proportions of the different tools and accessories, not to mention the actual loom.

fresh greens scarf

Mayamam Weavers offers beautiful scarves woven in what we call a “windowpane weave” due to the spaces left in the fabric. Those spaces make the fabric light and airy. The weavers call it weave a little, leave a little. This simple technique offers many design options since the intensity of color changes with the number of threads per inch.

One design complexity comes from the way the threads are put on the loom. The weavers work from a design, calculating the threads necessary for the specific width of stripes considering the type of cotton fiber. Sometimes the design calls for two colors in each strand.  Threads are wound around half pound cones which are arranged on a rack in the order that the design requires. The threads are strung onto the warper in that order. As the warper is turned, the threads form a kind of sausage. When it is complete, the sausage is placed on a loom and the tedious process of laying out the threads and then threading them through the strings begins.

When the fabric is completely warped and ready to weave, the weavers weave about a meter of cloth.  The quality control coordinator arrives to make sure everything is as it should be. Her independent pair of eyes helps to avoid costly errors that continue for the length of the fabric. When the women weave scarves, they weave the requested number of scarves with fringe by leaving the length of thread between each length of scarf. After the fabric is taken off the loom they cut the individual scarves and hand braid the fringe. For the infinity style, they can weave straight yardage, then the seamstresses complete the scarf by sewing the seams.  

Mayamam Weavers currently weaves scarves in 12 striking colorways, all available in the traditional fringed style or the infinity style. Our scarves are woven of 100% cotton and must be dry cleaned. Cotton fiber has a very good memory and wants to return to its original self. In general, that means cotton shrinks if the warp has been stretched tight (it has). And for our lightweight leave-a-little scarves, the cotton fiber wants to fill in the holes that the weavers have left. So, washing the scarves would change the nature of the fabric significantly. The holes will fill in. The result would still be beautiful, but not as lightweight.

Check out our Windowpane Weave Scarf Collection.

Teal Earth tone stripes handwoven scarf

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