In Kente weaving, before the weaving process is carried out, the materials and tools/equipment needed must be known and assembled as well as the production processes. The tools and materials needed for the production of kente fabric include:
– Loom and its accessories
– Yarns (assorted colours)
– Drag stone (for beaming)
– Shed sticks (for tensioning of the warp)
– Winder etc.
The production processes for Kente weaving have been discussed below.
(i) Planning and designing: This involves the planning and designing of the kente patterns to be woven on a square paper with vertical and horizontal sections or preferably by the use of a graph sheet. In the design on the graph sheet, the vertical column indicates the warp yarns while the horizontal column stands for the weft yarns.
(ii) Warping: This is the process of obtaining and determining the length of warp yarns and the total number of ends as well as the colour patterns of the warp yarns to be used for the kente weaving. It also assists greatly in securing the crosses in the warp for easy identification. Warping is carried out on a warping mill or warping board.
(iii) Beaming: This is the winding of the warp yarns onto the roller after the raddle is used to spread and stretch the warp yarns.
(iv) Heddling: This is the passing of the individual warp ends through the eye of the healds with the aid of a heddle hook. The heddling order depends on the weave plan and this has to be designed to know how to draw each of the ends through the eyes of the heddle. A loom with two heddle frames to be used for the production of a plain weave has the heddling order as 1,2, 1,2 while a four heddle frames loom has the heddling order as 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4.
(v) Reeding:- This is the process of passing the individual warp ends through the dents of the reed with a reed hook. It must be noted that two or more ends can be passed through one dent if fabric compactness is required and also if the selvedge is to be strengthened.
(vi) Tying-up: It is the process of connecting the heddle frames to the treadles for the purpose of shedding. Like the heddling order, the tying up order is also dependent on weave pattern. The warp yarns are tied to the drag stone and cloth roller.
(vii) Tensioning: Placing of heald shafts on pulleys and the appropriate scallop and tensioning.
(viii) Weft preparation/ Pirn winding: Preparing weft yarns on the bobbins or pirns for continuous weaving process. The tool used for the winding of the weft yarns is the bobbin winder.
(ix) Shedding: It is the raising and lowering of the warp yarns by alternating the pedals or treadles using the feet in order to create an opening for the shuttle to pass through.
(x) Picking: It the single crossing of the shuttle loaded with bobbin from one side of the loom to the other in order to lay a weft yarn.
(xi) Beating up: This is the use of the reed to beat the newly inserted weft to the fell of the cloth.
It must be noted that the primary or basic motions on the loom are the main actions that take place during the actual weaving, therefore becomes part of the weaving process.