Cambodian hol fabric is patterned before it is woven, by tieing and dyeing the pattern into the weft threads. These are later carefully re-aligned as they are woven, to recreate the pattern in the finished cloth.
Once the silk weft thread has been wound around a frame in a very particular order, ties are teased from an old rice sack and wound around groups of threads at intervals corresponding to the design planned for the finished fabric.
The resist ties must be bound and tied tightly, so that when the weft yarn is put into the dye bath, the colour cannot penetrate beneath them and the original yarn colour will be preserved.
An already-bound set of threads can be mounted on the frame together with the new threads and the placement of ties copied onto the new set of weft threads:
Once all the ties are in place, the threads are removed from the frame and dyed. When the ties are removed, the original colour of the thread is visible.
The dyed yarn is carefully placed on a swift to be reeled onto bobbins for weaving.
It is vital that each section of the pattern is kept in order and that the thread is wound onto the bobbins in order, otherwise the pattern cannot be recreated during the weaving process.
The bobbins are tied, in order, to the side of the loom, within easy reach of the weaver.
My next post will show the weaving of the hol cloth and the creation of the twill structure that adds a shimmering magic to the cloth.