The process of weaving is supported by a number of activities like pirn winding, warping, dyeing, sizing, etc.
Preparation of Yarn
Cotton as well as silk is obtained from the traders of Kaithun, Kota and other parts of the country in the form of hanks (‘lachhis’). These require further processing before being put on the loom for weaving. The processes involved are:
Pirn winding is the process of transferring the yarns
from the hanks into spools of the shuttles used in the weft
while weaving. Pirn winding is also done for zari
thread / silk thread used for value addition during the weaving
process. Pirn winding is achieved by using a small swift consisting
of a rotary wheel attached to a harness of conveyor belt giving
a similar rotary motion to the spool mounted at the other
end. Rotation of the wheel by hands results in the rotation
of the spool and thereby the thread is wound on small spindles.
Warping is done for preparing the yarns to be used in the warp. The warping method used in Kaithun is known as ‘peg warping’, since wooden pegs are used in the process. These wooden pegs, locally known as ‘pinjras’, are placed along the whole length of the yarn so that a continuously criss-crossed set of two yarns may be obtained for the weaving process. (The criss-crossing later on helps in finding out the broken yarn on the loom during the course of weaving.) These wooden pegs are placed below a thick rope tied to a pair of iron pegs on each end and it is the length of the rope that determines the length of the warp being prepared. Presently this length is 30 yards, keeping in mind that at a time 5 saris of 6 yards each are woven on a loom. Thus, keeping a margin for wastage etc. the warp length is predetermined and yarns are wound around the two iron pegs, dug into the ground fully stretching the rope.
At least two persons are required for the entire process. While one person has to twist the yarns with a help of a heald, which has the yarns passing through it, the other person has to hold the stand consisting of the spools of the yarns. So one-person keeps on holding the stand of yarns, both of them take turns round the pegs to achieve the desired number of yarns in a warp.
Usually the activity is done in the open spaces or by-lanes near the house of the weaver, either by the non-weaving family members or by other hired persons, usually old-aged women of the village.
The number of rounds to be taken between the two ends of the rope is based on the number of ‘‘khats’ desired in the sari. Since each ‘khat’ is made of 8 cotton and 6 silk yarns in it, the number of rotations around the stands is determined by the capacity of the heald being used. Hence an original Kota Doria sari of 300 ‘‘khats’ has 2400 cotton and 1800 silk yarns in the warp.
Dyeing of the silk and cotton yarn is done by dyers.
For certain colors, such as Red, Foam Green etc. mill dyed
yarn is also purchased, which is quite rare owing to the high
costs of such yarns. Direct dyes owing to their easy use and
good retention on silk as well as cotton, are used by the
dyers. Dyeing is done of the readied warp as well as the hanks
for the weft. The process of dyeing involves the washing of
the hanks/warps, then dipping them in a warm bath of dye,
fixing of the dye and thereafter further washing and final
The present dyeing rates are Rs. 60 for one ‘paan’ (i.e. 30 yards of warp and yarn hanks for the weft for 5 saris). The rate is slightly increased for two colours in the same ‘paan’ or for dyeing the yarns in different colours for warp and weft for a “Rangoli” variety of saris.
The fascinating spectrum of coolers is the result of rich experience of the traditional dyers and vermiculate mixing of dyes which caters to the diverge demand of the market. Considering the growing environmental consciousness, eco-friendly and Azo-free Direct dyes of vat dyes are used these days. In order to meet the contemporary demand, the dyers are also using vegetable dyes to colour the yarn.
Sizing is mainly done for imparting the yarn enough strength, surface glaze and stiffness so that it can withstand the beating of the reed during the weaving process and also maintain the stiffness necessary for even weaving and a proper look of the sari once the weaving is complete. This is important since no further ironing/polishing of the sari is done in the cluster.
Sizing is done only for cotton yarn and is generally done
by using thin paste of rice (‘maandi’).
Some weavers also use the juice of a special variety of onions.
Sizing is done by the laborers available for this purpose
in the village. The process involves painstakingly brushing
of the yarns stretched along a stand, using the sizing paste
and special brushes for this activity. These brushes are made
up of a particular type of coniferous leaves brought to Kaithun
by the brush-makers from Kashmir, coming to the village every
year for preparing/ repairing the brushes.