What kind of weaving method is this?
June 4, 2009 1:31 AM   Subscribe

In this picture, what particular kind of sewing? knotting? weaving? technique is being used? It looks super difficult, and I want to try. Help me, MeFi!

From what I know, the colorful strip is made up only of those threads, without any foundation/warp. From the photo, it looks like the hands are currently doing some hand-knotting, and presumably the needle is used, too.

The black cloth is not very significant, it only serves as something to attach the woven piece to.

I've looked up knotting, handweaving, needle weaving, and tatting, but neither seems to fit the bill of sewing and weaving together threads to form a strip of cloth. Hopefully someone knows the specific name of this method?
posted by Xere to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It is a wide braiding tecnique.

It looks like you want something called Indian Braiding also known as finger weaving (not to be confused with finger knitting).

It was also popular in the 80's and 90's for girls in high school to do with embroidery floss, and was used in the 19th century to make Victorian hair bracelets.
posted by Tchad at 1:50 AM on June 4, 2009

Finger weaving.
Hair bracelets.
posted by Tchad at 1:58 AM on June 4, 2009

You might find 'friendship bracelets' useful as a search term - I can see some instructional videos on youtube. Smaller scale but it's just an expansion of the same knotting technique.
posted by carbide at 3:47 AM on June 4, 2009

I'm not so sure that it is finger weaving (I too made friendship bracelets in the 80s). It may be my monitor, but I think that I can see tiny cream dots of exposed canvas particularly on the cyan lozenges and I'm also pretty sure that I can see cross-stitches between the purple and yellow lozenges. I think this may actually be Bargello tapestry (this is a random google example). If my understanding is correct, I think there's a piece of cream canvas which has been overstiched onto the black backing. The loose threads in the centre of the design (not the ones at the bottom which are being knotted) certainly point more to needlepoint than knotting, but the needle in the image is rather sharp for embroidery though it would be appropriate if joining two pieces of fabric together.
posted by boudicca at 4:10 AM on June 4, 2009

I think boudicca may be right.

Bargello is heavier and could/would have a raw edge.
Braiding the edge would leave it smooth unless it was cut down for some reason.
posted by Tchad at 4:31 AM on June 4, 2009

It's not finger weaving- it looks to me that it is a true weave done on a loom.
posted by Eicats at 9:24 AM on June 4, 2009

It looks like the panel is being used as a filler between two pieces of black fabric, perhaps a pantleg. I would guess that the last thread in the design is being threaded into that needle and looped through the fabric and we are seeing the first knot in a new row after having sewn through the fabric. This would explain the ragged edge. I would think that, if there is a backer fabric, we would be seeing some at the unfinished edge. It looks like it is unfinished to me, especially since the tie is being done with a color not already present in the last finished row. The knot they are making is consistent with the kind of knots made in indian braiding. I have never made a knot like this in any embroidery and there is no tatting, lace-making, or crocheting gear to indicate those activities. I am with Tchad.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:40 PM on June 4, 2009

Response by poster: Someone sent me a link to this pdf file (also: non-pdf version at zoho). The article of interest is on Page 10, Needle Weaving.

The article says that the method involves a series of buttonhole stitches, and "To make a multi-coloured fabric, all threads required to create the pattern have to be drawn along, stitched down and concealed by the working thread. When another colour is needed, it is pulled up and used to make the requisite number of loops". Unfortunately, I still don't get it, and don't understand how to hide unused threads within the buttonhole stitches.
posted by Xere at 9:12 PM on June 4, 2009

The image on page 11 looks similar to your example.

I can only find references to the Indian method of braiding and bargello in the books I have out right now, but what they are writing about is not so different.

Buttonhole stitches are actually little half-knots. If they are made next to each other, they would cover the base threads. It works a lot like regular tapestry weaving - the unused colors get "carried" below the pattern and are then brought back up to the surface later on. This is why you do not see exactly the same color distribution on the back of tapestry even though you may see the same pattern. You are seeing the unused colors from the back.

In your case, instead of the unused colors being carried behind the piece, they are carried within the piece - unseen because the buttonhole stitch is worked densely over them.

If I were to try this, I would set up a small frame (not a loom, really, but close) to hold the threads in place on the sides. Then, starting with my colors, I would separate the working thread, bundle the carried threads with the guide threads I have set up and start the buttonhole knotting process. So I have two directions: my core threads right-left and my working threads top-bottom.

When I wanted to switch colors I would then pull the next color from the bundle I am carrying inside the previous stitches and work the buttonholes the same way in the new color.

I think this makes the most sense since the edge of your piece is raw - threads have been trimmed. What I may have been mistaking for a braid is the diagonal end that is clean, but this may be the artist finishing up the lengths of working threads. If you look at the example on p. 11, you will see groups of threads that are to the left and right of the work that are incorporated into the design. I think these are the threads that were trimmed off in your piece.

I also just noticed that the black fabric she is working on is interfacing or stabilizer. You can tell by the textured mesh pattern on it (magnify around the needle area). I cannot tell whether it is sewn to the work initially, sewn or basted to it after, or just being used for visual contrast whilst she sews. All are valid reasons for it being there.

Over the next couple of days I will keep my eye out - there is a good encyclopedia of needle-craft somewhere around here...
posted by Tchad at 10:13 PM on June 4, 2009

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