The learning experience of making my first whariki can be found here.
First prep lots and lots and lots of Harakeke... Seriously LOTS! The
longer the better. Ok, it's not as bad as it sounds, but the longer you
want your whariki, the more whenu you will need.
Instructions for prep are here
For my whariki I dyed some whenu red (because its my best friends favourite colour and lots of my first pieces will be hers in the end) and left the rest natural, hopefully to dry a nice cream colour. And then I worked it together in a graduating increase to the middle and then back again. The count went 20 white, 16 red, 20 white, 16 red, 20 white, 16 red, 20 white, 16 red, 20 white, 32 red, then back down, 20 white 16 red, etc. This produced a pleasing check pattern.
To start! The whiri, the plait that joins all the whenu together to
start weaving. Most of our work this year begins with the whiri in one
form or another so its important to get this right!
The whiri is a 3 strand plait, where the muka ends of the whenu are added in in differing ways as you plait down. You start this with either some scrap dog combed harakeke or with some spare muka, that you knot and plait for a short distance before you start adding in. For a whariki whenu are added on one side only, as shown in these pictures taken courtesy of Pauui.
Now you are ready to begin weaving... FINALLY!!! If it seems like there is a lot of work to get you to this point, then you are right. But I learned really quickly, rush any of the earlier steps, the harvest, the prep, the whiri, and the end result is going to disappoint. After all, you don't bake cakes and leave egg shells in the mix.
Whariki Step by Step
1: You have your whiri, lay it out straight, and give it a really good stretch. Make sure your whenu is all in order. Look at it. Admire it. It's pretty at this stage. And once you start weaving, you are going to forget to step back and look at the big picture for a long while.
2: Bring a workable section of whenu towards you, take the first whenu to the left, the second when to the right, then take the second one to the left over top of the first one, bringing that one to the right underneath as in pictures.
3: Following the pictures as a guide, take the next right and then the
next to the left so that it goes over then under the whenu going right.
Continue doing this,adding in more whenu from the whiri, building up your ara until there is between 6-8 whenu going each direction.
Once you have a comfortable ara, stop working the whenu on your left into it, one at a time as you add one. This will make sense when you do it! continue working straight along to the end, making sure you pull the whiri straight as you go. The straighter your whiri, the straighter your whariki. This isn't AS important with kete, as the whiri is a lot shorter, but is still a good habit.
4: Continue working up, incorporating any patterns you have chosen into your work. This whariki had a pattern of taki tahi and taki rua (one strand over one strand, and two strands over two strands).
You will notice at each end that you have a diagonal point forming. At the end of each ara work those sides up even, folding the outer most whenu back in to the other direction. Again, sounds confusing unless you are sitting in front of it, then it will make sense. In kete it is this bit that joins around to the other side so there is no need to fold whenu back around to the other direction.
5: Now finish off in your chosen style. Wall hanging wharikis can have a double lockdown that leaves the ends of the whenu facing down, which can then be dog combed, as with the first whariki I learned to do with Gary; a very decorative finish. Alternatively as with this whariki the work can be turned over and a 7step lockdown can be used. Whariki can also be joined together to make bigger mats or in other ways as shown in lockdowns and finishing.