FROM COTTON SEEDS INTO BEAUTIFULLY WOVEN FABRICS
The traditional way of cotton weaving is a lengthy process, in which details are vital. Cotton is planted and harvested only two times a year. The farming of cotton is chemical-free from soil preparation, seedlings, preventing pests, and regular tending.
After it is harvested, it undergoes the manual process of seeds separation (อิ้วฝ้าย) and ginning or fluffing the cotton flowers (ดีดฝ้าย) and rolled into cotton rolls. These cotton rolls are then manually yarned by using a wooden machine (หลา). Each of the process may take from a few days to a week, depending on the amount of cotton harvested.
To give accent to the natural cotton (which usually comes in cream and khaki colors) artisans dye them with natural dyes such as indigo to give a navy blue color and ‘maak-gea’ a plant harvested from the forest only once a year to give a dark brown color, among various types of dyes that can be locally found.
Before the yarns can be woven, they are soaked in rice water overnight to harden the cotton, making the cotton threads stronger and easier to weave. They are then sundried, spun and threaded into the loom for weaving.
Weaving of organic cotton threads is more difficult than regular threads as the hand-yarned threads can be uneven. Skillfulness is very important to make the woven fabric even in pattern and color as well as smoothened. Therefore, one full day of weaving may result in only two meters in length of the fabric, depending on the weaving technique and the purpose of the cloth.