One of the perks of living in a climate where the sun shines most of the time is that so much more happens outdoors. In the small towns and villages, old people and children can pass the time in the open air, socialising instead of being cooped up behind walls and gates. Washing clothes, drying beans, selling fruit and weaving are activities best done outside where there is space, light and community.
Explore Burkina Faso’s backstreets, whether in the small towns or the capital, Ouagadougou, and you will stumble upon a weaver sooner or later. It is unlikely to be a traditional weaver making petit bands like Ussman who makes Fulani blankets from hand spun cotton, but probably a woman weaving machine spun yarn on a metal loom.
Between 25- 40 cm wide, the cloth produced is used for making clothes but as it is thicker, hotter and more expensive than the commonly used wax print cotton fabric, it is more of a special occasion cloth. Like wax prints, it is sold in measures of bands and pagnes. A band is 180cm long, and 3 bands make a pagne (540cm), which is the usual quantity here for buying or selling fabric. One pagne is about right for making an outfit for man or a woman.
This machine woven cotton fabric is what we use for most of our bag linings, in plain colours or mudcloth dyed with motifs. It is also how the striped fabric in our eco-friendly hobo range was woven. As you can see from the photos, it takes up a lot of space to prepare the yarns and line them up for weaving. So if you’ve got a small yard and a sociable spirit, the street is the place to be.