The process of the rug starts with preparing the material, that in this case is wool. We first need to wash the raw wool in the river to remove debris, and then we air dry the wool near the river, in the sun. When the wool is dried it is hand carded and then hand spun on a “walking wheel” which is a large spinning wheel. The carding and spinning process takes about a full day to finish one kilogram of wool. At this point I have skeins of un-dyed wool, and depending on the color of the sheep the skeins can be white, grey or brown.
I then dye the skeins of wool in large pots over a wood fire. I use the bark of pomegranate, walnut trees, marigold flowers, and other plants. I also use cochineal, a bug that infests the cactus we call “nopale“, but is known as the prickly pear cactus in the United States. This insect gives many colors of red depending on how it is used. I also dye with indigo and the process is very different from the way other colors are obtained. Dyeing with indigo takes several weeks. Now I have skeins of dyed wool ready for weaving.
To weave a rug I first “dress” the loom, which means I need to set up the “warp” – the cotton strings that will hold the wool (but will not be part of the design) and will later be tied to make the fringe of the rug. I use the dyed skeins and make my designs in the rug as I weave. The time it takes to complete the rug depends on its complexity.