Now that I've finally got round to uploading everything onto YouTube I'm able to share some lovely new footage and images from my most recent trip to Denizli. Please also check out the Facebook page as I'll post an album of a visit we made to a tiny museum which contains two wonderful old manual looms (pedal powered!) as well as a semi-automatic handloom in excellent condition. All of which makes you think it's tragically sad when you hear of these looms falling into disrepair or being turned into scrap metal. 

On this visit I was able to see some red Crushed Pestemals being woven, which gave fantastic insight into how this extra-special hamam towel is made.

The first bit of "atolye" or "workshop" footage shows the loom operating. Here's an interesting fact - it takes 55 minutes to weave a single Crushed Pestemal, versus around 25 minutes for a more standard hamam towel. The shuttle movement in the clip is really clear, and watch out for the weaver placing a quill with red yarn on the loom so he can change over and create the next red stripe in the pattern. The shuttle makes 115 picks (journeys) for every 10cm of the woven product, so there are several changes required for the multiple narrow (2-3mm) stripes in sections of this product. It's very meticulous work. 

     

Note also how this hamam towel doesn't yet have the signature crush / crinkle effect, as this only comes into play after washing. But it was fascinating to see first hand exactly what makes the "special yarn" special (as we describe it on the product page itself). If the yarn is gently pulled through the hole in the nose of the shuttle, held by the end and then released it tries to curl / twist upwards since it's deliberately over-wound. Also note that this pestemal is woven larger than usual and with less loom tension. As a result the shrinkage at first wash combines with the high twist to create a permanent crush effect. This gives rise to the more "scarf-like" appearance of this wonderfully unusual version of a hamam towel.

Now take a look at these photographs of the heddle frames I saw hanging on the wall on a previous visit. You can clearly see how the remnants are all tightly coiled up and twisted like ringlets. 

                   

You can also see some of the eye-holes through which all the warp yarns must pass so they can be moved up and down during weaving. This setup is typically a 2-day process, and can involve threading as many as 1900 yarns through these eyes. The photo on the right gives a good idea of the amount of work involved. The next short clip shows how these heddle frames work together to raise and lower the warp yarns of the Crushed Pestemal we saw on the loom, making the "shed" for the shuttle to pass through and creating the actual weave:

     

 The last clip is really the icing on the cake in terms of learning what goes into the making a Crushed Pestemal. Every hamam towel or tasselled terry towel we sell is knotted by hand - there is no machine that can do this. I'd been wanting to see how this is done for ages! So here is some nice footage of one of the village ladies hand-knotting the fringe of a blue Pestemal towel. This is the more intricate process - watch how the yarns are split into two and rolled first one way then the other to ensure they are tightly twisted together before being knotted at the end:

Meanwhile at the other end of the table another worker is hand-knotting a different pestemal product, using the more basic form of knot:

 

Both of these ladies and the weaver you can see in the earlier clips are members of the same family, from the same village. The weaver is the son of an original "master weaver" and although still a young man he has already been weaving for some 14 years. It's this potent combination of being able to help keep these old looms working, support the maintenance of traditional skills and work with fascinating variants of such a timeless product (the pestemal) which I find so rewarding. We've stated elsewhere how we want our products to tell a story and I hope this article has been informative in giving some insight into how a specific product we stock is created.