Monday, August 30, 2010

Banana Fiber

The trunk of the Banana tree when treated properly gives this fine natural fiber. This craft of Banana fiber is slowly gaining in popularity and is predominantly found in the southern distric of Kanyakumari. Natural fibers like sisal, aloe, pineapple and screw pine and also weaved along with this banana fiber. Nowadays wall hangings and mats of different shapes and sizes are also made out of this fiber apart from the traditional table mats and bags.

Fiber extraction:
Banana Fiber is extracted from Banana tree bark. The trunk is peeled. Brown-green skin is thrown away retaining the cleaner or white portion which will be processed into knotted fibers.
The fibers are extracted through hand extraction machine composed of either serrated or non serrated knives. The peel is clamped between the wood plank and knife and hand-pulled through, removing the resinous material. The extracted fibers are sun-dried which whitens the fiber.
Once dried, the fibers are ready for knotting. A bunch of fibers are mounted or clamped on a stick to facilitate segregation. Each fiber is separated according to fiber sizes and grouped accordingly. To knot the fiber, each fiber is separated and knotted to the end of another fiber manually. The separation and knotting is repeated until bunches of unknotted fibers are finished to form a long continuous strand. This fiber can now be used for making various products.

Weave exploration with cane and banana fibre

Classification of Weaves

The manner in which groups of warp yarns are raised to permit the insertion of the filling yarn determines the pattern of the weave. Weave patterns can create varying degrees of durability, adding to their usefulness and also to their appearance.

Plain weave
The plain weave is sometimes referred to as the tabby, homespun or taffeta weave. It is the simplest type of construction and is consequently inexpensive to produce. Each filling yarn goes alternately under and over the warp yarns across the width. On its return, the yarn alternates the pattern of interlacing.

Basket weave
The variation of the plain weave known as the basket weave uses double yarns to produce the design that resembles the familiar patterns of a basket. Two or more filling yarns are interlaced with a corresponding number of warp yarns. They are woven in a pattern of 2X2, 3X3, 4X4, instead of 1X1, which is plain weave. Many variation of the yarn construction of the basket weave are possible. For example, there may be a 3X2 or a 5X3 and so on. The size or thickness of the combined warp yarns will, however, always equal the size or thickness of the corresponding filling yarns. This provides certain degree of balance and pattern.

Ribbed effects
Ribbed, or corded, effects are further variations of the plain weave. The rips may be produced in the warp by alternating single yarns with double yarns. Warp-ribbed surface is usually referred to as waled or corded.

Twill weave
A distinct design in the form of diagonals is characteristic of the second basic weave, called twill. Changes in the direction of the diagonal lines produce variations, such as the herringbone, corkscrew, entwining, and fancy twill. Increased ornamentation may be obtained by varying the slant of the diagonal and yarn colors. The values of the twill weave include its strength and durability. Also, twill is frequently more tightly woven and will not get dirty as quickly as the plain weave.
In the twill weave, the filling yarn interlaces more than one wrap yarn but never more than four, as strength would be sacrificed by doing so. On each successive line, or pick, the filling yarn moves the design one step to the right or to the left, thus forming the diagonal. Whichever the direction of the diagonal on the face of the surface, the design runs in the opposite direction on the reverse side.
When the direction of the diagonal starts from the upper left-hand side of the fabric and moves down toward the lower right, it is called a left-hand twill. When the direction of the diagonal starts from the upper right-hand side of the fabric and moves down toward the lower left. It is called a right-hand twill.
The steepness of the diagonal can indicate strength and durability, the steeper the twill the stronger the surface is likely to be. Twill weaves are also classified as even or uneven according to the number of faces of the fabric. The even twill, for example, shows an equal number of warp and filling yarns in the recurring design, such as two over and two under.
Most twill weaves are uneven. An uneven twill may show more warp than filling yarn in the recurring design, this is called a warp-face twill.

Satin weave

In basic construction satin weave is similar to twill weave. It differs in appearance from the twill weave because of the diagonal of the satin weave is not visible. It is purposely interrupted in order to contribute to the flat, smooth surface. There is no visible design on the face of the fabric because yarn that are to be thrown to the surface are greater in number.

Craft and Weave

A major method of fabric or surface construction is weaving. Primitive people may have observed the interlaced grasses and twigs in the nests of birds, and thus discovered how they could make clothing for themselves, baskets and nets and thatchlike huts and fences.
Preparation for weaving
In the weaving operation, the lengthwise yarns, which run from the back to the front, form the basic structure and are called the WARP. The crosswise yarns are the filling, also referred to as the WEFT or the WOOF. The filling yarns undergoes less strain in the weaving process.
Essential weaving operation
In any type of weaving, four operations are fundamental. They are performed in sequence and are constantly repeated.
Shedding: raising specific warp yarns by means of the harness or heddle frame.
Picking: inserting filling yarns through the shed
Beating up: pushing filling yarns firmly in place.

Craft of Weaving in India

In northeastern region of India, large areas are covered by dense forests. Where land has been cleared for cultivation, especially in the plains, the field form a patchwork of green and yellow stretching to the horizon. Cultivated plots are punctuated by islands of bamboo and palm which surrounded the dwellings in the plains. Hilly areas support dense tropical rain forest, these forest represent an immense natural resource providing a wide range of palms including canes, numerous species of grasses, reeds and bamboo.


Canes or rattans are long, slender stems of certain trailing or climbing palms. In wet, tropical, evergreen forests, canes form impenetrable thickets generally with a few trees standing over them. They require a constant and abundant water supply for optimum development. Canes are usually cylindrical and of uniform thickness, solid , straw-yellow to brown in color.

Processing of cane.
In order to obtain good quality canes, its is essential to process them properly after harvesting. The imported Malaysian canes are often superior to Indian canes on account of their good color, smoothness, flexibility and durability. This superiority is mainly due to correct method of harvesting and processing. The methods adopted for processing canes are as fellows:

: canes are considered to be ripe for harvesting when the leaf-sheath starts loosening and the lowest part of the stem is exposed. The top 2 meters of the shoot is discarded as it is soft, tender and unfit for use.the remaining portion is cut and dried.
Desilication: the silica layer is removed by rubbing the freshly-felled cane over a knife or a sharp piece of bamboo. Alternately, the cane may be steeped in water, straightened out, rubbed with sand and dried.
Bleaching: after desilication the cane is bleached in order to obtain a fine creamy color. It is generally done in forest by fumigation with burning sulfur. It also provide protection against insect attack.
Polishing: after desilication and bleaching, the cane needs to be polished to restore the luster which is lost during the former processes. The stem are polished with soap-stone or with a woolen rag which has some siliceous hairs from the leaf-sheaths of bamboo placed on it.
Smoking treatment: some of the Malacca cane are treated by smoking over a fire and then polishing them with coconut oil. This process gives them a fine reddish-brown color.
Grading: after processing, the canes are graded and sorted according to color and thickness. They are tired together in bundles of 100, and stored for marketing.