|Q: HOW DO I WASH A WOOL BLANKET? Firstly, preserve the lanolin in a pure yarn weaving by not using industrial detergents or soaps.
The Maya make Jabon de Coche, “pig soap”, from boiling hooves causing an extraction of gelatin, which, combined with ash in a complicated procedure of several steps, results in the formation of a dark soap ball. It is the mildest soap for your hair or skin, gently lifting dusts and grease away without penetrating skin (or our wool) chemically. This soap can be ordered from Mayawool.
If you don’t have Jabon de Coche, resort to specific commercial soaps made for fine wool fabrics such as Woolite. Using the soap at half strength in tepid or cool water, put the blanket into a bathtub. Gently knead or walk on the wool piece with your feet just as the weavers do in a river. Rinse the blanket out in more cool water. Knead again to wring out gently without lifting wet by one corner or point of the blanket border. Port in a carrier outside, gently unfold and dry the woven piece flat in the sun. Never allow a wet blanket or wool weaving to dangle under its own wet weight. Wool does not have tensile strength, and can lose its shape though stretching or hanging. Carry the wet blanket to a place on a lawn, etc, spread out flat to dry
WHICH ARE NATURAL COLORS?
Red Cochineal and blue Indigo were driven out of commercial production in the mid 1800’s. They are making a comeback in certain blanket weaving towns in Mexico and El Salvador. The plant sources are now being developed in Guatemala. All other colors are available from native plants and mushrooms in Guatemala. If a color is very intense, it is probably from an anoline dye.
SCRATCHY vs. SOFT
Lana Rustica is pure unwashed wool with all of its lanolin intact. Thread is spun directly from the wool with rudimentary cleaning. It is warm, practical, and an acquired taste. But not always comfortable to the skin at first. Foreign elements in the fabric such as burr remains and other things that can get into wool as it is spun to thread in the barnyard are an aquired taste for aficionados. One blanket Mayawool offers for sale is in this category…the Basco,,, woven in the 16’yh century Basque peasant tradition.. It is described in detail in www.Mayawool.com. Our other blankets are cleaned and combed to a greater extent. Highly combed blankets are more likely to lose their fibers faster. A weaver will usually stop at a moderate degree of combing for comfort, and will recomb their own blankets every few years, usually after the blanket has been washed many times and begins to flatten or thin out. The flattening is actually an improvement through the age of a good wool blanket. One blanket more likely to be sold overcombed for ceremonial reasons is a pure white wedding blanket. Moderation in the re-combing of a blanket is advised.is possible.
|Q: HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A WOOL BLANKET FROM SCRATCH BY A MAYA WEAVER?A: Approximately 50-60 man-hours.
Step one: Locate pure unwashed wool: Step outside, select two sheep with ready coats and shear them. One mature well-fed sheep can yield two kilos of wool, four times each year. A Queen-sized blanket will usually require four kilos of finished wool thread. A single bed size would have one and a half to two Kilos depending on the desired thickness of the blanket.
Step two: Prepare thread….. Cardar: Card, to untanlgle fibers and prepare them for spinning. A card is a brush with teeth, a handheld fan, made at home, composed of the dried flower pods of Cardo Santo which resemble thistle. Carding will even out the density of short fibers by laying them on the teeth of the brush.
Sacar todos espinas …remove spines and foreign materia from the thread, depending on the quality of yarn desired. In ‘lana rustica’ weaving, as in European peasant blankets, small pieces of remain in the yarn which is highly prized by some aficionados and purist collectors. Foreign materia vanishes over time as it deteriorates. Wool fibers are stable, and remain. Lanolin is a stabilizer and protects the fibers of wool weavings by the Maya. The wool in Mayawool blankets has 100% of its original lanolin precisely because it is not washed with detergents.
Madejar, colgar a la machine ‘talon…untangle and attach to the ‘machine”, stretching handfuls to thread lengths, and twisting with use of a talon on a slowly turning wheel
Encanonar, poner detras de canon…wind in circular way to hold a batch of yarn in place….
Step three: Dying thread
-in a hot bath, cool, anoline and dyes from natural sources are used.
Step four: Attach warp lengths (pied, length of the piece) to loom: a -at this point, select a cotton warp for lightness and strength, or wool warp for weight and warmth
-The weaving: add weft threads in the (width or horizontal lengths) to the warp
-Wash in cold river water, again to set dyes and threads. Blanket is rolled into a bundle and carryied to a place where it can dry flat in sun. A wet blanket will distort its shape through stretching if allowed to hang in its own wet weight. Never let this happen.
-Comb with a fan-shaped handmade panel of dried thistle flowers from the plant Cardo Santo. Combing continues until a desired degree of softness is reached. The more you comb, the faster the surficial fibers would drift away from the blanket over time. Weavers stop at a point before the strength of the weaving would be compromised.