Posts Tagged ‘Ikat’

Backstrap Weaving Essentials

April 28, 2014

Education And More carries a variety of backstrap weaving items in our online store and also in our Etsy store.   If you are a beginning weaver or wanting to learn the backstrap loom we have everything you need — 3 sizes of looms, several colors of backstrap belts, naturally dyed yarn, Mayan ikat yarns,  loom bags and typical Guatemalan handcarved drop spindles.

The yarn we sell is the typical yarn used by our Mayan artisans to produce the beautiful Fair Trade weavings in our webstore.  It has been naturally dyed by them using plants, barks, vegetables, fruits, etc.  The yarn is a very fine cotton yarn similar to 18/2 here in the States and produces extremely durable, long lasting  and exquisite textiles.


If you would like to have an example of a warped up backstrap loom to look at when you are learning to weave, then look at our decorative looms that are a perfect wall decoration as well as being a perfect sample of warping.


Ikat yarns are used frequently by our Mayan friends in their weavings to add a unique design element.  We have several colors of the ikat in our webstore also.  Be sure to look closely at the weavings in our store to see all the different ikat designed textiles we carry.t22c

One of our popular items is our loom bags.  The fabric for these duffel style bags is handwoven on a backstrap loom then sewn by the artisans and is a perfect bag for carrying your ‘work in progress’  or storing your loom!


We carry 3 sizes of backstrap looms — 8 inch, 12 inch, and the large is 18 inch.  They have been hand carved by a Mayan artisan who supports his family with sales of his handcarved looms.  He lives near the top of a volcanic mountain in the western highlands of Guatemala in a small village and carves the rustic looms for local sales as well as his sales to Education And More.  He receives a fair trade income  from E&M  for all the looms we purchase and it helps his family in so many ways.

Stop by and see  all our hand weaving accessories!






Weaving Looms in Guatemala

March 30, 2014

Weaving on large floor looms, known by our artisans in the rural areas  of Guatemala as foot pedal looms, has typically been done by men.   Mayan women didn’t usually do either, weaving on foot pedal looms or sewing on sewing machines. The women however have used the backstrap loom  to weave all the cloth needs of their families.   This has been changing in recent years and now women are accomplished seamstresses on sewing machines and master weavers on the large looms.  Education And More works with three artisan groups of women that weave on various size foot pedal looms and electric sewing machines.

misson 098


Some of our groups use the extremely large looms — nearly 6 feet long and 4-5 feet wide.  They usually weave fabric not wider than about 36 inches.  Another of our groups uses a smaller floor loom that is about 4-5 feet long and  about 4 feet wide and then another group has several small looms that are about 3 feet long and 2 feet wide that they can use to weave belts and other narrow items.


Of course all our artisan groups still use the backstrap loom and teach it to their daughters when the girls are about 7 years old.

It is interesting to see the looms in action and even more interesting to see them warp up or get the yarn ready to put on the loom.  Part 2 of this post will show how they get the yarn ready. If you would like to purchase any  of the handwoven items from our artisans please check out our Etsy shop or our webstore at Education And More







Be sure to stop by and the all the beautiful woven items by the master weavers — the women of our artisan groups!  Fair Trade table runners, napkins, placemats, towels, purses, bags, totes, scarves, wraps and so much more.  Plus, see our selection of weaving supplies and tools such as backstrap looms, battens, weaving swords, hand dyed yarn, loom totes and bags and spindles.


Education And More store on Etsy


Our website online store at Education And More


Indigo And Ikat

February 22, 2013

Ikat has become really popular in the last few years for home furnishings even though it has been used for centuries in woven textiles. Various styles of Ikat are produced around the world including the Ikat of the Mayans in Guatemala. Especially popular in home decor is the deep marine blue of indigo with the ikat.


The artisans we work with in Guatemala use a lot of ikat in their weavings and have designed some of new weavings and products with ikat.

Check out our online store for more Ikat and Indigo handcrafts!  Education And More Store



Blue Placemats with lots of ikat

Blue Placemats with lots of ikat

Pillow covers for your home!

Pillow covers for your home!


Typically Kakchiquel Mayan Textiles

June 11, 2012

Stunning! Such beautiful craftsmanship! So unique!  These are a few of the comments we hear about the textiles from the group, Artesana’s Ixkoq’a.  We have 2 new table runners from this group that you are going to love!

This weaving has some very intricate Ikat designed and dyed threads of an indigo blue color along with black and white stripes.  What a conversation piece because it is so unique!

The artisans designed these table runners for us and we think you will love them!  These weavings have been woven on a backstrap loom  which is another unique aspect. Check them out in our webstore.

Preparing Yarn to Make Ikat Threads

April 24, 2012

One of our artisan groups makes a lot of ikat because it is so prevalent in all of their weaving designs and they really don’t have the money to buy ikat at the local market.

They showed me their set up in getting the yarns ready to tie.  It is a simple little set up — they simply pound two iron stakes in the ground about 4-5 feet apart then take two pieces of rebar that are about 15-20 inches long and attach them to the iron bar.  They have them attached with nylon rope and tied similar to the way you attach a backstrap loom to a post to be able to weave.

They are just starting to tie the threads.

The thread that they use to tie with is waxed with paraffin wax so that it doesn’t absorb the dye.  Next they will tie the long ikat warp to make the design they want before it is put into the dye bath.

Little Juan decided to sit down and play with the big chunk of parrafin to see if he could wax the thread.

Today the group was making simple ikat similar to that shown in the picture above — just the long dashes of color in a weaving.

If you would like to see some of their weavings that feature ikat be sure to go to our webstore.

Education And More webstore —

Wonderfully Unique Ikat

March 13, 2012

All of our artisan groups incorporate different patterns and designs of ikat threads into their textiles.  Ikat is a method of dyeing yarn in a resist pattern similar to tie dyeing.  It is labor intensive to make the tie dyed yarns (hence the localized name of ‘jaspiado’ or ‘jaspe’)  but several of our groups still make their own and others buy it in the market all ready dyed.

Ikat is not unique to Guatemala but is used in weaving around the world in differing methods.  In Guatemala you can buy ikat designed threads which form many different patterns such as: dolls, birds, trees, the quetzal bird, hearts, diamonds etc.

One of our artisan groups always uses atole on all weavings that have ikat designed threads in them.  Atole is a masa based (corn masa)  liquid that gives more strength to the yarns in the form of a corn starch.  It also makes the yarn easier to work with because of the stiffer texture.

After the entire project has been warped it is put into the masa / atole liquid and then stretched onto the backstrap loom; the string heddles are made while it is wet but then left to dry before beginning to weave.

Ikat threads designed to resemble dolls and trees.

Be sure to check out all the textiles in our webstore that have Ikat designs in them.