We had to cross Krygzistan in order to get to China and we went over passes above 12000 ft. We slept in a yurt at 11000 ft!!!! It was bitterly cold and my fleece trousers which I have carried all the way here suddenly became useful.
Two of our three yurts. I slept in the right hand one. Note the wide braid over the roof top on the left hand yurt and a narrower one on the RHS yurt.
Priscilla and Glenys in our yurt. Note the wide braids behind the crossed wooden structure
Breakfast in the other yurt.
On the road to China
Also on the road to China. The surprising thing is that, despite there being miles of mountains and not much else, the road is really high class compared with Uzbekistan. The people are lovely and, when I asked if there was any chance of seeing the making of the braids, the guide had that organised at once.
The braid lady spinning her wool. Her spinning was very even and produced a fine thread as you can see. The spun wool is used in its natural colour if it is dark but dyed if it is white as the samples of braid below show.
The upper band is felted but has a braid sewn on along the edge. She uses a backstrap loom arrangement. The warp is prepared and then wrapped around two sticks stuck vertically into the ground. The free end of the warp is tied to her waistband and the warp is run over a metal Ushape so that the warp lies flat and in order under tension. There is no reed and the threads are picked up.
A shuttle loaded with yarn. You will have noted that the braids are very long. They are for strapping yurts together. The longest, broadest ones go over the roof of the yurt or round the cylinder base. And the shorter ones are tied to the inside of the structure so you can hang up things. The braid lady does everything herself, from spinning the wool, dyeing, weaving. She was a lovely person and so pleased to talk to people who were interested. The poor guide was trying to translate everyone's questions and her answers at the same time.