Like Gautama Buddha’s silent meditation under the Bo Tree, gulung benang or “Wolot Kapa” (as addressed by Watublapi weaver) is one of the methods to get my silent retreat. Wolot kapa is one of the process of ikat making, that is usually underestimated as it is the beginning of the complicated steps involved. This process does not require much effort, but for a beginner like me, it quickly made me very tired and bored. Both my hands, make a circular motion on a Kleo or my thigh, as I wrap the yarn by continuously changing its direction, in order to make a perfect ball of yarn.
Watublapi weaver use Kleo to spin the hanks into balls. The first step is to wrap the hanks around the reel, find the end of the yarn and then start spinning. They use about 5 small hanks to make one ball of yarn. To make a big sarong, usually they use about 5 balls of yarn to make the weft yarn. The weft yarn, is a continuous yarn that is shot back and forth through an opening in the warp yarns. It’s wound around a bobbing, in such a way, that it unwinds easily when thrown through the shed.
There is another method that I really enjoy, where the Watublapi weaver use this technique without using Kleo. The kids in Watublapi have even mastered it. They use their own thigh. Yes!.. thigh!. But, be prepared for the extra back pain when you use this method. When I learned this technique for the first time, it caused me a back ache and cramped most of my fingers. But, once you master this method, you can nail this task easily, and be a pro like a real weaver.
How does the Watublapi weaver get the yarn? There are two methods. The first method, from a cotton tree, where they pick the cotton themselves from their garden. The second method, often the preferred one, using commercial yarn that is available at the market. The hanks of commercial yarn are not in a ball shape thus, Wolot Kapa is the solution for it. Whereby, the weaver begins to order and divide each hank into manageable lengths, and at the same time, they make it free of tangles and broken ends.
Taking a closer look at Wolot Kapa, it’s like our body is synchronizing: your back, your thigh and your hand. Your body has it’s own tempo, I name it Wolot Kapa Tempo. At this stage, your mind wanders around, except when you find your yarn tangled. It will stress you out a bit, but don’t worry, it just needs some extra patience to get it untangled. Watublapi weaver prepares a small knife to cut of some of the tangled yarn, and mostly they put it on their hair. Yep, a knife on the back of their head. I also learned that Watublapi weaver usually chew Sirih Pinang (betel nut) while doing Wolot Kapa.
From my experience, after I can do Wolot Kapa smoothly and swiftly, my mind gains complete clarity. I could think about all my problems, my ideas and my goals. I recommend you to try it! On an early morning with cup of coffee on your side. I did this in front of Orinila homestay, in the middle of the weavers garden, while staring at the banana trees and listening to the sound of the grasshopper saying good morning. Below is a short video of Wolot Kapa, taken from our last Pano-pano Workshop in Orinila.