History records that cotton-loom woven textiles called inabel were rooted traditions at the time the Spanish colonized Ilocos Norte in 1572. China, Japan and Southeast Asia were already trading their gold, ceramics, jars, iron and beads with inabel in the natural harbors along the coasts. The Spaniards began to take interest in the inabel known for its strength and durability and endorsed it as excellent sails for galleons in the same way it was utilized locally in boats, barangays and other sea-going vessels. For centuries inabel has also been used to make blankets.
The quality pure cotton fabrics of Ilocos Norte became known far and wide and the demand for the raw and spun cotton as well as textile products of Ilocos by European, Chinese, Japanese and Indian traders, intensified. Because of its astonishing beauty the inabel has caught the attention of international couturiers who started working with Ilocano weavers in developing new designs. Its versatility is limited only to the imagination as local weavers continue developing new designs and techniques.
Traditional Steps of Weaving
1. Pinagbukag ti kapas – picking of cotton balls.
2. Panagladdit ti kapas – removing the seeds with the use of a cotton gin.
3. Panangbatbat ti kapas – pounding or beating with the use of the lagundi sticks.
4. Panangsunay / Panangtibbi ti kapas (Twisting) – twisting the cotton using the spindle.
5. Panagilabay ti sagot (Skeining) – winding the cotton yarn into the skeiner.
6. Panagtagud iti nailabay nga sagot (Combing) – brushing the skeined yarn to make it durable and glossy.
7. Panagpulipol ti sagot (Spooling) –winding the skeined yarn to the bamboo spool.
8. Panaggan-ay ti sagot (Warping) – winding the spool yarn into the warping reel or tool for warping.
9. Pananglukot ti sagot (Beaming) – winding the warp yarn into the warp beam rod.
10. Pinagisubo iti Gur-on (Heddling) – inserting the warp yarn through the heddle eye with the use of the weaver’s hook.
11. Pinagisubo iti Sugod (Sleying) – inserting the warp yarn through the dents or spaces of the reed with the use of the weaver’s hook.
12. Pinagipakat diay Pagablan (Tie-up / tying- in) – dressing the loom to tie the heddles behind the beater.
13. Agabel (Weaving) – the interlocking of vertical yarn (warp) known as gan-ay and the horizontal yarns (weft) as pakan.