We took the opportunity, back in the day, to visit the handloom weaving villages in India. We immediately fell in love with these ikkat textiles as they are some of the best craftsmanship we have seen in ikkat weaving in the remote villages of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. These textiles are woven to be displayed and are gorgeous as they are woven with passion.
What’s incredible to realize is that over 2500 knots are hand-tied to create the pattern and multiple dye baths are used. Just the tying and dyeing of the silk yarn takes about three long days! And then the actual weaving takes about another three to four days, so the whole process takes about one week to produce ikkat textiles of this quality.
Ikkat is the technique of resist-tying and dyeing a pattern in the warp or weft yarns prior to weaving. Multiple colors can be achieved by dyeing different sections in sequence, from the lightest to the darkest tones. Most of the time, it is weft ikkat, with the pattern resist-dyed in the weft threads and woven on a plain color warp. In this technique, the preparation of the yarn is more arduous than the actual weaving, requiring precise calculations before actually dyeing the yarns. A skilled ikkat weaver has the ability to anticipate the final position and registration of the pattern in the cloth as she ties the threads in advance of weaving. The more numerous the knots, the smaller and tighter the bindings, the finer and more defined the resulting pattern.