So in this corner of the world there are lots of textiles--cloths, scarves, clothes, reams of fabric--and many of them are locally or at least semi-locally made. Heck, probably many of our textiles back home are coming from this corner of the world.
I had the opportunity of stopping by a development project a couple of weeks ago to see the manufacturing process. First, thread is spun from white cotton or silk- that part usually happens in Chiang Mai, in the North. It then gets sent here on huge spools.
Once it has arrived in Udon Thani, the huge spools are unravelled into long loops, which can then be died. If the fabric will have a pattern in it, that pattern is actually died into the thread before it gets woven.
|The yellowish color being pointed to in the fabric is the base color. Before the fabric was woven, it was tied off with strings, like in the thread on the right. The thread is then died blue before the strings are untied, leaving undied sections|
After the thread has been died, it is spun again from the long loops onto more manageable bobbins.
|This particular spinning wheel is made out of an old bicycle wheel|
Finally, once the thread is on bobbins, it gets woven into bolts of fabric with a large loom. Weaving on the loom is a full body activity: the feet control pedals which alternate the height of the strings parallel to the y-axis. One hand used to pull levers which shoot the bobbin seated in a shuttle back and forth along the x-axis, and the other hand is used to pull a comb back to ensure that the threads are tight.
In this particular weave, the woman is using three different single-colored threads, rather than the died threads we saw above