Weaver's Hand

Weaving Words for the Web-Weary - Ply-Splitting from Peter Collingwood

Ply-Split News

The Techniques of Ply-Split Braiding. Hardback, 208 pages with 196 diagrams. 120 full-page plates of Indian examples plus my invented samples, all in black/white (but then the actual objects pictured are mostly made of black and white goathair). Jacket with colour photos over a red cloth binding. ISBN 1 85725 133 4

This book is the result of over ten years research and several trips to India. I was extremely lucky to hear of Ann and Ralph Norman when I myself was about to tidy up my rough diagrams. As the two illustrated examples show, they did more than tidy them up; they created what I think are the best hand-drawn and computor-generated diagrams ever to appear in book form. Ann is a professional rope-maker and through her work on these drawings has become an enthusiastic ply-splitter; recently she sent me a fine basket she had made by ply-splitting some of her primary-coloured ropes.

Be Warned! Ply-Splitting is going to facinate you! Once bitten there is no known cure.

What exactly is Ply-Splitting?

Read on;

Ply-spltting is used as a way of splicing ropes,it is also the technical basis of a whole range of fabrics chiefly made in Northwest India as accoutrements for camels, but now gaining great popuarity as a craft in its own right. Just as threads in weaving are held together by interlacing them, and in knitting by interlooping them, so in ply-splitting fabrics they are held together by one thread splitting and going right through another.

This leads to fabrics of great strength (necessary in a camel girth) but with the potential for designs of incredible beauty and endless complexity. As with types of tablet weaving you can write words, reproduce any motif, and all with no equipment except a latchet hook. No stretching of warp, no beating up of weft, so it is utterly portable...makers in Rajasthan do it as they walk about herding camels. All it needs at the start is well-made 4 ply cords; ingenious devices have been invented in England and are now being marketed to produce these quickly and simply; though they can be made with nothing more complicated than a power drill with a hook in the chuck. It is eminently suitable for making 3D fabric constructions which need no armature due to the solidity and firmness of the fabric.

Little has been written on this subject which is why I have made five research visits to India since 1987 to build up a large collection of these artifacts to base my writing on. My articles in recent numbers of Weaver's magazine deal with three of the distinct structures ply-splitting can produce and should tell you enough to get started. I am teaching this subject in next year's Convegence as I did in last year's. People I taught this year at MAFA all told me it was obviously the technique to hit USA next!

Updated July 5, 2000
©1997-2000 Peter Collingwood Back to Links to Explore