Thursday, June 23, 2011


This is my favorite weaving pattern in Bedouin textiles, the one that always catches my attention and makes me smile in recognition.  Simple and subtle, it’s a prototypical Bedu pattern, and this may be why I like it so much.  I’m drawn to the basic, foundational marks that identify the origins of a piece.  
The graphic element is also compelling: scintillating patterns of dots, elusive in their simplicity.
In fact, this pattern is trickier than it looks, requiring a specific warp arrangement.
I know that now, because I’ve woven it!  I’ve been admiring it for a while, and feeling confused by it, thinking it mustn’t be that hard, but still failing to understand how it worked. Finally convinced myself to just try it, to confront it in person.  This is the only way for me to really learn anything about weaving – if I haven’t tried it, I have no hope of understanding.
I did not expect to warp correctly the first time.  Warping is my weak point, and I knew the first one might be an experiment in how to do it wrong.  But with the help of Joy Totah Hilden’s drafting chart in her Bedouin Weaving book, and the close examination of actual woven pieces, I made a warp, and it worked!  Even as I began to weave, I still didn’t understand how the pattern was going to form, but then it showed itself, and I recognized it.
I first learned the term for this pattern in Hilden's book, where it is written al'ouerjan (pronounced like "all wear jahn".) Then I went to the souq, and sure enough, the weaver there pointed out these sections of the weavings, saying "ouerjan, ouerjan."  She also showed me a two-color version, in a striking salmon and green combination, which she calls ouerjan med-khar.
Now that I've tried it, I feel even more affinity for this expressive pattern, and it jumps out at me from every corner of the rug souq.


clairz said...

I like your approach of learning by doing. Because of your good teaching here, the pattern is starting to jump out at me, too.

I am currently learning by knitting socks. Nothing fancy, no Bedouin patterns here. Just plain old socks, and I'm making all possible mistakes!

Laverne said...

It is wonderful to see all the variations in the al'ouerjan pattern. Thanks for posting these! Lots of inspiration here. I especially like the first one as the floats on the back aren't quite as long as in the some of the larger triangular designs although the floats are less of an issue when the yarn is fine.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing Tracy!

Laura said...

Such a sense of color and combination of patterns - one is inclined to say it is like an instinct it is so perfect!