Sunday, May 8, 2011

String

I've been visiting Souq Waqif here in Doha regularly, particularly the small arcade where Qatari women sell rugs and other woven textiles.  There is so much to see that I'm overwhelmed each time.
I've been focused on the women's spinning and weaving, obvious uses of string that are most interesting to me, and I've been gratified to see both in action.
However, I keep noticing how often they are making different types of string for different uses, and how easily a strong bit of rope is simply accomplished from the bits at hand.
This is second nature for a nomadic people who have lived in tents and herded animals in the desert for centuries.  Camel leads and hobbles, reins, straps and saddle belts have been handcrafted as part of daily existence, along with the walls of the tent, the ropes for securing them, and all kinds of bags and rugs.
As a result, there is a huge variety of techniques, with string that is braided, wrapped, woven, wound, twisted, and very often tasselled, depending on its intended use.
Here, she is about to put her palms together against that double strand of two-ply yarn, and twist it smoothly into a cabled length to use as a tie.  Each tie takes only a few seconds of fluid motion.
I had been pleased to find evidence of handspun yarn in the souq, but it's clear that this is only one among many ways these women have of creating the things they have traditionally needed.
This arcade is filled with countless other examples of useful string, colorful and elegant, widening my appreciation for Bedouin craftswomen and their timeless knowledge.
Meanwhile, my own experiments with string continue.

9 comments:

CCK said...

Fun! What type of fibre, in the red skein and the basket of greys, was used in the handspun? I'm assuming those were found in the souq...

ritarenata said...

wonderful photos. interesting posting. i love it.

Tracy said...

Thanks, Rita :)

The fiber in the white and red skeins, C, is sheep's wool from Saudi. I assume the black is also sheep's wool, and I'm thinking the grey might have some goat in it, but I'm not sure. Need to pry a bit more, with Arabic-speaking friends.

The red dye is from a box of Indian dye powder. The skein is loosely plied before dyeing, then more twist is added afterward.

clairz said...

You have no idea how exotic and wonderful this post is to me. I especially love the photos with the hands. Wonderful!

Laverne said...

What lovely colors! Now I know why my friend in Jordan sent me hot pink and orange thread to play with. It is nice to see those colors placed together here...couldn't quite see it myself when I opened the package of thread.

Elizabeth said...

It's so interesting to see all those photos! Thank you for sharing with fellow fiber enthusiasts! What a treat it must be to see all that in person.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to your blog...loving it! I want to walk the markets with you!

IndigoNightOwl said...

I love your writing about this and the photos are beautiful. I seem to fall into a trance and feel such a strong magnetic pull, wishing I could walk right through the photos and be there. The photo with the red yarn against the light wall just made me gasp. Such beauty, freely hanging there accessible to anyone walking by. Seeing all those spindles cause literal tingles in the spine. I always feel so thoughtful and happy after reading your blogs.

Laura said...

Thank you for sharing these impressions with your readers. Such amazing talent. Why are these designs, colors and structures so appealing to us? Is it because they convey a sense of being genuine?