A refreshing summery fruit that’s great for the heat and keeps your digestion problems at bay, it’s yellow in colour, great for aesthetics and your best friend while vacationing on exotic beaches. You’ve guessed it right, we’re talking about pineapples!
But what I bet you didn’t know about these luscious fruits is that pineapple fibre is a great ingredient for the making of some beautiful clothes. Pineapple leaves are used to obtain Pina, a textile fibre that is used to make fabrics. Pineapple is mainly grown in sub-tropic countries including Philippines, Taiwan, Brazil, Hawaii, India, Indonesia and the West Indies.
Since the primary part used in the making of pineapple fibre is Pina, which is extracted from the leaves of pineapple, this particular technique is called Pina weaving.
- First, the fibre is pulled or split away from the leaf. Most leaf fibres are long and somewhat stiff, which results in the making of a crisp, rich material. Each strand of the Pina fibre is hand scraped and is knotted one by one, weaved together to form a continuous filament to be then made into a Pina cloth.
- Fibres of the leaf are scrapped by means of a broken plate or coconut shell and a fast scraper can extract fibre from over 500 leaves per day after which the fibres are washed and dried in the open air.
- Since these strands or strips of fibre are very fine, they can entangle easily and cause a mess. So the next step is to disentangle the fibres and bind them into yarn for weaving. Pineapple fibre products make for light but crisp clothes.
It is a painstaking process and involves up to 30 people from the beginning to the end of the process. A kilo of leaves may provide up to 15-18 pieces of white fibre as lustrous as silk, which would be about 60 cm long and would easily retains dyes.
There are two ways in which the fibre is separated from the pineapple leaves:
- Manual extraction using ceramic:
Fibres are extracted from the leaves using a ceramic plate or a coconut shell. The leaf is laid down in front of the extractor, held down by one foot and scraped using a ceramic plate in vertical upward motions. A fast and skilled scraper can extract fibre from up to 500 leaves per day. However, this process is extremely tiresome and laborious. During the knotting process, each fibre is extracted individually from the bunch and knotted end to end to form a long continuous strand. The fibre is then sent for warping and weaving.
- Mechanical extraction:
This process involves 3 machines known as the Feed roller, Leaf scratching roller and Serrated roller. The leaves are sent from one roller to the next, each doing its part in extracting the fibres until they are fine strands that can be used for weaving into yarn.
Pineapple fibre sarees have a beautiful elegant appearance similar to that of Linen. They are soft, shiny and efficiently blend with different types of fibres. They are easy to maintain because they can be washed and don’t require dry cleaning. The best thing about them is that the whole process is cruelty-free and the end result is 100% biodegradable. So the next time you think about summer vacations and Pina Colada, you know exactly what else to carry with you in your suitcase!
Lucky for you, we already have this figured out! The Phoenix Company brings to you handwoven Pineapple sarees in two traditional and rich colours- Red and green. The floral handiwork pattern combined with subtle gold zari work is exactly what you need to lighten your mood in this summer heat. Due to the stiff material, they give a dazzling, royal look at any occasion.
Purchase Pineapple fibre sarees from The Phoenix Company now: http://thephoenixcompany.in/index.php/product-brands/fraterniti/sarees/pineapple-fibre.html
By Naqiyah Hasan