”Umu” and “Tsumugu” —— “Ply-joining” and “Spinning”

“Umu” & “Tsumugu” both mean making threads by hand.
Today, “Tsumugu” is used generally for thread making. The “Tsumugu” method is pulling fiber out from cotton-like wads and making thread by spinning using a spinning wheel. This method is used to make thread from short fiber such as cotton and silk floss.

When making thread from Asa which is a long fiber, first split the fiber into the desired thinness, then join each fiber for the length. This method is called “Umu”. When the fiber are joined it is done with ply-joint or Hatamusubi, similar to a square knot.
The ply-joint method has two major ways to join the fiber, double ply-joint or single ply-joint.
Especially the double ply-joint thread are used for warp, which needs strength and must be joined with care.
Because this work needs skill and perseverance, therefore today we are lacking people who can do the work of “Umu”. But this skill of making uneven material into evenly made threads is something that not even machines can come close to, and it should be valued the most among the many processes of weaving.

To summarize, “Umu” has many methods depending on the kinds of “Asa”, the location, the usage and much more. The common point is the accumulation of the wisdom of people who have devised ingenuity for a long time to make “sturdy and evenly made thread”. Therefore the word “Umu” already includes the meaning of “Asa” and “hands”, it may not really be necessary to say “hand ply-joined Asa thread.”

When one does the “Umu” work, one can really feel “it is easy to say, but doing is difficult” but also one can feel “the ‘Umu’ work is easier than fear of the work”.

Ramie with double ply-joint