Songket machine

The production of songket is time consuming. Working about 6-8 hours a day, it takes a weaver about a month to complete a 100 cm by 180 cm sarong with a warp count of 1,680 warp threads. There is an optimal time in the life of a weaver for producing the best cloths. She needs to have acquired skill and experience, so she needs to have become competent during her teens. She needs to be without many children to look after, so she needs to be in her twenties. By the time she is fifty her fingers are less nimble and her eyesight may be less acute to produce fine works.

Malay Loom

The weaver creates the patterning by inserting the supplementary threads into the same shed as the ordinary wefts but lets them float over selected warp threads, thus producing distinctive patterns of contrasting colour. The supplementary weft pattern floats over the surface of the cloth and the thread is hidden on the under-side of the cloth when it is not needed as part of the visual design. There is always a danger that the under-side threads will get snagged, especially if they extend a fair way across the cloth. If a design is fairly scattered, the weaver may prefer to work the supplementary thread back and forth across a small portion of the cloth in small patterns only, so that this danger is reduced.

Where a pattern in complicated, the weaver inserts extra rods behind the two main heddles that are used to make the ground weave. As many as 200 pattern sticks may have to be used to create a single design.