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The Art of Handweaving

- Giles Smith 13 Apr 2017
The Art of Handweaving

You’ve probably observed that hand-woven goods are currently very much in style. Since we live and breathe all things interior design and home décor, it was nearly impossible to miss the hand-woven touches being incorporated into virtually every facet of design. 

We saw the technique take a functional approach by being applied to every day pieces, such as woven baskets, coasters, pillowcases, and throws. We also appreciated seeing how hand-woven products were being used to add depth to different spaces; whether it was a woven area rug that instantly made a room feel more welcoming, or a one-of-a-kind, hanging piece of art that made a bland wall pop with character. Needless to say, this is one versatile trend that we can’t get enough of (which is why they made their way onto our list of 2017 spring trends).

However, what tends to be a bit more mysterious is the actual art of handweaving – but trust us, it’s a fascinating. And although it may simply seem like a new fad, the craft has actually been in existence for a long time – like 27,000 years long! Read on to learn more about the art’s storied past and to see some of our favorite hand-woven pieces.

What Exactly Is Handweaving?

Long story short, weaving is just technique of fabric production created by intertwining two separate threads at right angles to form a cohesive cloth. Technically speaking, those two threads are called “warp” and the “weft”. These fabrics are typically woven on a loom, which is a device that holds the warp threads in place while weft is woven through them.

But that’s just one method, and there are countless of other techniques, but the basic types of weave are plain weave, satin weave and twill which give different patterns and textures of fabrics for different uses.

 The Origins of Handweaving

Handweaving is acknowledged as one of the oldest surviving crafts in the world. There are some indications that weaving was already known in the Paleolithic era, as early as 27,000 years ago. However it’s a bit unclear how it all actually began. 

Some years back, a textile impression was discovered at the Dolní Věstonice archaeological site, located within the Czech Republic. The artifacts that survived included imprints in clay and burned remnants of cloth, which indicated that the weavers of this specific region manufactured a variety of cordage types, produced plaited basketry, and created sophisticated twined and plain woven cloth.

Some more of the oldest known textiles found in the Americas include remnants of six finely-woven textiles and cordage found in Guitarrero Cave, Peru. The textiles date back to 10100 BCE, meaning that the craft was independently developed by multiple cultures around the globe within a similar timeframe.

By the time that the world’s earliest people began recording history, it was apparent that weaving was known and practiced in all the great civilizations. But each culture also had their own unique techniques and used various materials, depending on their respective resources, adding to the intrigue and various kinds of hand-woven goods that can still be found today.

Weaving Around the World

The Indigenous people of the Americas were known for woven textiles made of cotton throughout tropical and subtropical America. Meanwhile, in the South American Andes, woven goods were comprised of wool, which primarily came from the llamas and alpacas in the region (and still remains true to this day).  

In China, weaving was created from silkworm cocoons has been known in China since about 3500 BCE, leading to the world’s first silk goods. Silk was intricately woven and dyed, showing a well-developed mastery of the craft. The earliest example historians have uncovered was found in a Chinese tomb dating back to 2700 BCE.

Meanwhile in Europe, the predominant fiber of choice was wool amongst the upper class, followed by linen and nettlecloth amongst the lower classes. Cotton was also introduced to Italy and Spain around the 9th century after the Normans captured Sicily, and the technology was shared throughout the rest of Europe. Silk production was also introduced towards the end of this period and the more sophisticated silk weaving techniques of China were applied to the European civilizations. 

Handweaving Making a Comeback

In recent years, there has been a gradual shift marked by people straying from mass-produced, manufactured products, and opting for high-quality, handmade goods. Consumers have once again begun rediscovering the magic of artisan commodities, and creators are taking pride in their craftsmanship and reviving these ancient procedures.

The trend transcends industries and speaks to a larger movement of people once again placing value on crafted goods, and can be observed in everything from clothing to home décor and more. It’s a welcome change that the DUFMOD team has eagerly embraced, and we hope you are as excited about it as we are.

Take a look at some of our favorite handwoven products available now, and let us know what you think!

HANSA Limited Edition Throws

The name HANSA means "supreme happiness" in Thailand.  For the free-spirited home space. Handwoven by a family in Thailand that and characterized by high-quality natural cotton fibers, brilliant color palettes, and a comforting, raw, vintage feel. All throws are one-of-a-kind and do vary slightly in size due to their handmade nature. See more here.

KAMALA Handwoven Covers

The name KAMALA means "good heart" in Thailand. These handwoven pillow covers are made with a whole lot of heart from a local Thai village using traditional weaving techniques from the region. Add rich texture and a bold pop of color to your space with our new KAMALA line. All covers are individually handwoven and do vary slightly in size. See more here.

SUMALEE Handmade Cotton Area Rugs

The name SUMALEE in Thai means "beautiful flower" in Thailand. This soft but durable area rug is handwoven by local Thai artisans. Made with one of the many variations of traditional weaving techniques, the SUMALEE area rugs feature flower-like cotton threads that are raised and looped to give it a unique design and texture. See more here.