The weaver has his own tools, made of hard, fine grained wood and polished smooth, so they will not catch on the threads. The first is the batten, a slender, swordlike piece of wood which varies in length and width according to the work. It may be merely a flattened rod, like a or b in photograph 111-3. It may have a wider surface and sharpened edge, like c, a type which is often called the weaving sword. It may be carved to a shape like a butcher's cleaver, with handle and blade.

The batten is an all-purpose tool. When the weaver has opened a shed, in any of the ways already described, he runs the batten in as he would a knife, holding it flat against the warps. Then he turns it crosswise, as the man has done in photograph 111-31 and the woman in 111-10. This holds the shed open so that the weft can pass through easily. In pueblo and Navaho weaving no tool is used for inserting the weft. The weaver pokes it through with his fingers, holding it in a ball or wound on a slender stick. When it is in place, he turns the batten flat against the warps again and pushes its edge down against the thread. Here is the reason for the slightly sharpened edge. It lays the thread flat and straight, tight against the one below it. This done, the weaver opens another shed and inserts the batten again.

He has one other tool, the fork, seen in the left hand of the weaver in photograph 111-12. It is a trowel-shaped piece of wood, with teeth cut in its lower edge. After two or three rows of weft have been put in and pushed down with the batten, the weaver inserts the teeth of the fork between the warps and presses again, more thoroughly-or in some cases, beats the threads down.

Weaving Methods

Most garments had an oblong shape and, except for blankets, they were woven so that the warp ran the short way of the goods, the weft the long way. This was because, so often, the longer side had a border which must be specially woven.

The weaver started at the lower edge of the fabric which was the one within easy reach as he sat on the floor or some low support. He wove straight across, which meant that if he was making a wide blanket he must move his seat once or twice, with each weft. Navajo women do not do this but sit still and put in the wefts part way across and as far up as they can reach. Their finished blankets show faint diagonal lines where the joints have been made, and the Hopi call these "lazy lines." They are a good means of telling a Navaho blanket from one made in pueblos, but are not infallible. A few pueblo weavers admit that they, too, leave "lazy lines" now and then.

There were other differences from the Navajo, too, which may be interesting to notice. As a weaver puts in his wefts one above the other, he is very likely to draw the warp strands in a little, so that the blanket looks tied in at the waist. Navajo weavers have spoken of this trouble but they do not use a mechanical device to prevent it. Pueblos often tie a bar to the back of the warp to hold it out exactly as wide as it should be.

Navaho weavers when they get about to the middle of a blanket lower the bar D so that the section where they are working is brought down closer. This leaves a loop of finished material which they double under the lower bar, A and sew there. Then they weave straight on to the top. The last threads of weft, just under the loom string, are hard to put in and the weaver uses a narrower batten. Finally she gives up battens entirely and picks the warps apart with her fingers. The very last threads must be put through with a darning needle. Even so, they are looser and more irregular than other wefts. This would not matter in a Navaho blanket for the top stripe would simply seem wider, as it often does.

With pueblo fabrics this would not do. The fabric often had a border at top and bottom made in different weave than the main part, and the borders must be identical. Sometimes the borders were to be embroidered, which meant counting threads. That would lead to tragedy if there were not always the same number to the inch. Not that pueblo people counted in inches but they knew how to make the number of threads come out right. Their arrangement for getting equal tension at both borders was to weave to the middle of a fabric, then detach bars A and B and turn the warp upside down, with A at the top and B at the bottom. The weaver in photograph III-12 has done this and you can see a finished border at the top of his fabric, while he is working on another at the bottom. The result is that the loose, difficult stitches come in the middle of the fabric instead of at one end. This "soft part" can generally be seen if you hold a pueblo kilt or manta up to the light.