A TOUR OF OUR WEAVING MILL
Tighten a few warp threads and pull some weft threads through from the side – it’s simple really… Right? When observed close up, some things end up being more complicated than they first seem. Let’s begin with the threads.
For our baby wraps, we use two different types of yarn.
Twisted yarn for the warp threads and smooth yarn for the weft threads.
The wraps are yarn-dyed as we weave in around 80 colours. That means that our weaving mill has to have at least 120 colours in stock at all times (not all the colours appear in the warp and weft threads).
Winding and Warping
Before we can start to weave, we have to make a warp beam. Reels of twisted yarn are placed on the warping creel in the correct colour order. If a narrow, blue horizontal stripe is to appear on the finished wrap, 15 reels of blue yarn are placed in the warping creel, and then the next colour and so on until the creel is full.
The warping creel can hold around 1000 reels. If we want to weave say, 100 metres of the wrap pattern, 100 metres of the 1000 yarns are wound on to the winding beam.
However, as a wrap has up to 1700 warp threads and two or three wraps are woven at the same time, the process is repeated until all the warp threads are on the winding beam.
During the subsequent warping process, the threads from the winding beam are wound onto the warp beam.
It is important that no threads are muddled up at this stage; otherwise, you’ll have to start all over again.
Now the warp threads are brought to the loom and threaded on. This is a very simple way of describing an extremely tedious job – in actual fact thousands of warp threads have to be threaded through three heddles each by hand.
The Jacquard Loom
Where should one start when talking about such a giant?
I’ll begin at the top with the control head.
On the ‘first floor’ of the machine, up the stairs in the picture, is the control head.
This can pull at any single thread from thousands and thus, on the floor below in the weaving mechanism, raise and lower the corresponding warp threads.
The control head pulls at individual ‘harness threads’ in order to raise or lower the corresponding warp threads in the weaving mechanism of the machine.
All the harness threads run through an opening in the floor as a thick bundle.
One floor lower, the harness threads are divided across the width of the woven material.
Every thread must be able to run freely. The main problem here is dust, which is kept under control by permanently sprinkling the surrounding area with water. If this happens to fail and a thread gets caught, the best case scenario is a wrap that will later be sold in our ‘Special Offers’ section as having minor irregularities.
Finally, we get to the actual weaving process.
Two shuttles send the weft threads from one side of the machine to the other. This happens quite quickly.
After each cycle, a comb knocks the new threads into place. The comb is mounted on the light-coloured bar; in the picture, it is waiting for the shuttle to finish.
In order for the shuttle to weave one thread, mechanics weighing a total of around 2 tonnes are set in motion. And that happens up to 240 times per minute. This process involves a lot of noise and vibrations equivalent to a medium-sized earthquake, making it all the more important to do it in a country that takes working conditions seriously.