Ikats are fabrics that are formed using yarns that are tied, resist-dyed and then woven to create patterns from the resulting multi-colored yarns. Ikat is a Malaysian word meaning “to bind”. The first step is to wrap or bind the yarns with pieces of plastic-modern-or fabric-traditional- in a planned pattern. This wrapping prevents sections of yarn fom coming into contact with the dye. Once dried, the yarns are then woven by hand to create the design. This process can be applied to warp yarns, the filling yarns or both with varying results. The weaver must be highly skilled to produce an end result that has both beauty and accuracy. The feathering effect that is often seen in an ikat fabric is the result of the dyed yarns twisting or rolling as they are woven. Here is a closeup of the fabric we currently have in stock.
Most people think of ikat weaving as associated with Indonesian culture. There are indeed many cultures that embrace this handcraft and the results aer varied and wonderful. For a view of a variety of archived ikat textiles check this blog from the Textile Arts Center.