Roles and Processes Exercised by the Krefeld Weaving Community
The following narrative describes the main roles and processes of the artisans working on the production of silk in the Krefeld weaving community.
Pattern Designer (Musterzeichner)
The pattern designer develops ideas for patterns which are to be incorporated in the woven textiles. To do this he requires considerable graphic and artistic talent. Depending on the technical options available in the weaving workshop, the specifications set out by the studio, the fashion trend and the designated use, he designs geometric or floral shapes, abstract or graphic representations. Sometimes he also provides various colour options.
Point Paper Designer (Patroneur)
The task of the point paper designer is to convert the artistic design of the pattern designer into a technical drawing according to the patterning options provided by the weaving machine.
To do this, the point paper designer transfers the design to special paper, the so-called point paper. Each rectangle on the point paper symbolises a crossing of warp and weft threads. Depending on the pattern, colour is used to indicate in the appropriate rectangle which warp threads should be on top at the crossing point (weave). There are many different weaves and the point paper designer has to choose the most appropriate one so that the design in question appears as accurately as possible in the fabric.
Card Puncher (Kartenschläger)
The card puncher transforms the technical drawing made by the point paper designer into a punched card.
With his fingers on the keyboard, the card puncher enters the data into the card punching machine and punches the card by activating the pedal with his foot. A hole in the card signals to the Jacquard machine that a warp thread has to be raised. If there is no hole in the card, then the warp thread remains where it is. The space between the lower warp threads and the raised warp threads is referred to as the shed into which the weft thread can be inserted. One card is needed for each weft thread. Once they have been punched, the cards for each pattern are numbered and threaded together and then suspended in the Jacquard machine as an endless card set.
Preparing the Warp (Warper)
A specific number of warp threads are reeled from spools parallel to one another on the warp beam.
Depending on the number of spools available, the process is repeated until the required number of warp threads has been reached. Then all the warp threads are transferred from the warping beam to the warp beam at the same time. Sometimes the warp threads are coated with sizing to prevent abrasion.
The fitter is responsible for setting up the loom. The looms are not set up just for one pattern but for as long a time as possible because the setting up process can be extremely complicated and time-consuming. It is only necessary to reset the loom when one warp has been completely woven and a different quality warp is required. This is seldom the case because every standstill means an economic loss.
There are two different methods to install a new warp. If the warp has the same number of threads, then the individual threads can be directly knotted to or pieced to the ends of the warp threads of the completely woven warp. If the new warp has a different number of threads (= different quality) then the harness has to be changed. When a new harness is used, each individual warp thread is drawn through the appropriate heald which is attached to the harness string.
Then the warp threads are drawn through the slits in the reed and this enables the number of warp threads per centimetre and the weaving width to be determined.
The weaver is the person who produces the final product. It was important that the loom did not stand still, therefore the weaver often had to work from daybreak to dusk. The weaver needed good eyesight to find any flaws and dexterity to piece the torn threads together. From the weft brief, the weaver obtained information about the weft material and the weft density.
The weaver often kept his entire family busy, preparing the threads for weaving. For example, the children had to prepare the spools for the loom shuttles using a reeling wheel.
Manual weaving is extremely time-consuming. The amount of fabric produced depends on the fineness of the fabric and the warp and weft material used. In Krefeld, silk and gold threads were often used and these are both fine and delicate. The final product was therefore very expensive, not only because of the materials used, but also the necessary production time.
The amount of material produced is depending on the thickness and fragility of the weft and warp threads. Historically, materials used in Krefeld were often silk and goldthread, which are thin and fragile respectively. Additional to being expensive materials, the time to weave a fabric with these materials makes the end product even more expensive.