Backstrap Weaving Wool

 

Wool was first used for weaving in Mexico in 1540 after the Spanish invaded and brought over sheep. Previous to this indigenous people had cultivated and used fibres native to the land. Cotton, yucca, and maguey to name a few. In towns such as Chamula in the Chiapas highlands, wool was a welcome introduction as it is a lot warmer than cotton. Many artisans used the wool fibre with their traditional weaving technique and a portable backstrap loom.

 

Artisan Backstrap Weaving Wool Textiles Chiapas Mexico

 

After the sheep, which are looked after by the men, are sheared. The tufts of wool are cleaned, combed and carded using vintage wire-carding brushes.

 

Artisan Carding Wool Textiles Chamula Chiapas Mexico

 

 

Artisan Backstrap Weaving Wool Textiles Chiapas Mexico

 

The wool is then spun into single-ply yarn using a traditional wooden, drop spindle. The long length fibres work perfectly for this technique.

 

Artisan Spinning Wool Textiles Drop Spindle Chiapas Mexico

 

Once spun it can be woven on a backstrap loom. It is threaded through the warp threads using an extra long needle and pushed down using a wooden machete and comb.

 

Artisan Backstrap Weaving Wool Textiles Chamula Chiapas Mexico

 

Micaela uses this technique to make our Dominga rugs. It can take up to a month to make one depending on the design and the climate. In the rainy season it may take a long time for wool to become fully dry so that they can weave with it.

 

Artisan Backstrap Weaving Wool Textiles Chiapas Mexico

 

Micaela had learned to weave by the age of 10. Her daughter, Dominga, learned to weave aged 12. Dominga, who has just given birth to a daughter, will no doubt pass on her skills to the next generation.

 

Artisan Backstrap Weaving Wool Textiles Chiapas Mexico