Kanjivaram silk is well known among saree lovers; their fine texture, sheen and durability makes it a great fabric to weave sarees. In this short blog, we delve into the process of crafting a Kanjivaram silk saree starting from the yarn.
Silk extraction and yarn dyeing :
The story begins with the the extraction of silk threads from cocoons which are then twisted into yarns. A Kanjivaram silk saree is made by the interlocking of yarns known as the wrap (longitudinal) and weft (transverse) silk threads. Unlike fabric dyeing where the entire fabric is dyed in one process, the warp and weft can be independently dyed with different color tones.
Weft yarns dyed in different colors
Once the warp yarn is dyed, they are intricately set in the looms. This process, referred to as warping, might take as long as a day to complete. The weaver also has to process the weft yarn into a form that he can then weave via shuttle throws. Once these are done, the weaving process can commence. The weaver 'throws' the weft shuttle across the longitudinal warp threads and then interlocks them using a mechanism. The jacquard hooks control the design and the binding of the warp and weft threads.
A single loom can have as many as 5500 individual warp threads
Once the process of weaving is complete, the saree is carefully cut and folded in a specific way that Kanjivaram silk sarees are known for. This final process may seem trivial but is quite important since the folding lines created during this time remain on the saree.
Design & pattern :
The design and the pattern are controlled by the punch cards which are placed onto the jacquard machine. Its possible to weave any design on a saree which is why creativity and innovation are critical in coming up with new conceptions.
Kanjivaram silk sarees are usually embellished with silk threads that are twisted with silver and coated in gold. These are referred to as 'zari' threads. Zari can be gold coated or silver in color and can be used for weaving motifs and borders .
The process of crafting a Kanjivaram silk saree is quite intricate and requires the coordination of skill and effort. Each saree might take as long as a month to craft; some high-end Kanjivarams crafted in our looms are listed below