Thursday, 16 May 2013

Fergana Valley

We have had a good time here. I think it is because they have a pool here with a restaurant and bar alongside and the evenings have been spent by the pool chatting and drinking the local wine which is not at all bad and costs eight US dollars a bottle!!!!! This is the first time the group has spent a few hours relaxing together.

Yesterday we visited a palace at Margilan full of the usual beautiful walls, doors and ceilings. It is 18th century and is only a fraction of what it was when built at 19 rooms left out of 130.

We also visited a silk factory where we saw everything from silkworms munching their way to a silk scarf to the final atlas fabric in colourful ikat. Atlas is part silk, part cotton. The cotton warp is tie dyed several times to get the pattern.

Four men were tying this warp up for the second time. It has been dyed a brilliant blue with acid dyes already. The warp is 250 metres long and we saw the warping wheel they used!

The dyeing vats are set into concrete and they have a fire of wood under one end. And then to the weaving shed. Oh my! Some of the looms had two shafts and wove tabby. They overset the warp at 50 epi whereas looking at it, I would set it at 30 epi for a balanced weave. The weft is fine silk in white or black. The result is a warp faced fabric. However a lot of the looms, at least half were on more shafts and were weaving a 2 and1 twill which, of course, gives a fabric which is brilliant on one side where it is warp faced and muted on the other which is weft faced. It is also thicker than the tabby fabric. Interestingly enough, every loom had a flying shuttle and the weavers (female) got up a good speed. Rather more than one throw over second.

A warp on the loom.

Method of keeping tension on a warp of 250 metres, stuff most of it in a pillow case!! Note the hefty weight for tension on the used portion.

And here is a loom. They had four or five metal looms but most were wooden.

We were there for a long time and I bought two pieces of fabric, both atlas, which is the twill cotton and silk. One piece is in Central Asian colours and is to bind books in. I could not resist the other piece which is very large red tulips. I do not see how I could ever cut it up. But at 14 USD per metre, how could I leave it there?

Then on to the market which was the finest fruit and veg market I have ever send anywhere. The stalls are grouped together. So there is a corner devoted to potatoes with every stall selling several varieties. And another section selling nothing but onions. And then the general veg stalls with not a nibbled leaf in sight And the fruit!! Fergana Valley is the fruit bowl of Azerbajian. Fresh strawberries, black cherries, delicious apricots which are very cheap. Noticeably oranges and bananas which are imported we very expensive. No bargaining in this market.

Did I mention the spices?

Later we visited some tombs and a ceramics place which was very good and then back to the hotel. By this time it was very hot.

In the countryside, all the village streets are lined with vines for eating grapes. It is a great export market. A great place. But now the next stage. We are on our way to China and need to cross the high mountains to get there. Tonight we sleep in a yurt. Not for fun but because there is nothing else!!!!!



  1. It has been a long time since your last post. I hope all is well with your travels. So far, you have seen and done so many amazing things. I have enjoyed making this travel with you; though you have had the hardships and frustrations.



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About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.