Posted by: lavernewaddington | April 15, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Scattered Drops in the Ocean

Sometimes I am fooled into thinking that just because I am in several online weaving groups, whose forums I read, contribute to, or simply lurk in on a fairly regular basis, I am seeing a good representation of what is going on in weaving in the USA , Europe and other regions of the developed world. Of course, what I am seeing online are mere drops in the ocean. Consider this blog post a peek at a scattering of drops in the ocean as I try to gather the bits and pieces that have come my way, both online and off, whilst on the road.

Let me first show you some pictures of beautiful textures of ocean currents and sand alongside quilt-like patches of color in the Massachusetts landscape. I went flying with my friend Pam’s husband in his Cessna to Cape Cod, over Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard on a perfect spring day. We had hoped to do such a flight on my visits in previous years but the weather had always been against us.

massachusetts sea and landDrops in the ocean….a corridor of  islands stretch along a bed of blue and green ocean. Those patches of deep red are the cranberry bogs amongst the various tones of green in forests, lakes and fields.

river and ocean and sandSquiggly lines on the ocean floor and across the land make me think of my “Shipibo songs” woven piece at home on my backstrap loom which is awaiting  my return.

???????????????????????????????I have managed to visit three fiber guilds so far on this trip. Some are devoted to all kinds of fiber arts while others are exclusively about weaving. I see the items in the Show and Tell sessions and am astounded by the variety and beauty of the cloth and the humility of their creators.
Many of the weavers simply do not use the internet as a way to connect with other weavers. Their guilds provide a wealth of kindred spirits with whom they can share their projects, ask questions and supply answers. …more drops in the vast sea of weaving.
I like to hear the personal stories behind the woven items from people who are more at ease with sharing within a small group of people with whom they have become well acquainted over many years rather than posting things online for all the world of friends and complete strangers to see. And, of course, the added bonus at  the guild meetings is that we all get to touch and examine the pieces.
We heard the story of Pam’s wool/silk  tallit, or should I say, tallits. You can see two being passed around in the picture. It was only after having twisted the fringe and completed the piece that she realized, on folding it, that the stripes didn’t match on the two halves. One colored band had been woven slightly differently and had, therefore, thrown all the others off. I can imagine that sinking feeling in her gut as she discovered the error. It was back to the warping board to start all over again. She told us of the kindness of the person for whom she had woven the piece and why it was so important to her to have the piece come out just right. He received it in its handwoven bag in tears and says that it wll now be a family heirloom.
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At the same Show and Tell session I was pleased to see a piece of warp and weft ikat from Thailand that a  member had brought along just after I had mentioned this technique in a blog post.
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Again, I wonder how many lifetimes I will need to try out these techniques. I may perhaps try weft ikat one day when I am done with experimenting with the warp version and then, if I have a decade to spare, I might get to try warp and weft ikat!
It was nice to see another kindred spirit of mine, Ute, at the Springfield meeting. Ute is part of a group with whom I have woven in Northampton and her sharing of  her collection of Bhutanese textiles and her encounter with Bhutanese backstrap weaver Leki Wangmo were great sources of inspiration to me.
Meanwhile, back in the internet world, with its blogs and weaving forums, my friends Claudia and Janet of Lotsaknots Studio showed off their latest custom designed handwoven baby wrap, the colors of which were based on a photograph of a Hawaiian sunrise supplied by the mom. Unlike most internet encounters with beautiful cloth, I have been able to touch this piece ansd heard the story about its creation from concept to fulfillment when I visited with Claudia a couple of weeks ago. Janet took the picture. I think that yardage is difficult to photograph and Janet has found a very effective way to show off the cloth.
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Ravelry friends have been at their backstrap looms. Kim is currrently exploring the world of the Bedouin weavers using their striking red, black and white al’ouerjan patterns for a set of mini rugs. These designs are traditionally woven using a warp-substitution technique which means that the back of the cloth will have very long warp floats. One of our group members, Tracy Hudson, showed us Bedouin examples where the weavers had cleverly used an extra weft to tie down the excessively long floats and create a much neater, more attractive and practical “wrong” side. I have tutorials on the technique and these kinds of patterns here and here on this blog.
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And, while on the subject of red black and white, from which I never seem to stray too far, I got to see once again the stunning looped bag made by the Ayoreo people of lowland Bolivia that I had given to Pam some years ago. I often visit the co-operative store which sells the work of the various indigenous artisans in the region of Santa Cruz where I live and I have yet to find another example of the looped bags where the work is quite as fine as this one. Perhaps the best pieces are being taken to the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe (although, I have to say that I don’t remember seeing pieces this fine there either). I am hoping that the quality of the work is not deteriorating as older more skilled artisans die and younger ones sacrifice a little quality as they strive to produce pieces quickly for international markets.
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More from the Ravelry group…Julia is celebrating the arrival of spring (although rumor has it that it will snow here tomorrow as I make my way to California) with a double weave piece inspired by her blossoming garden.
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She has framed the flower with vertical stripes and weft twining and I can’t wait to see where she goes from here. I am wondering if she will create a series of flowers, each within a little frame.
Here at the Mannings the daffodils are in full bloom. It got warmer and warmer as I traveled from Brimfield MA to Boston to Pennsylvania, staying with Susan, then Beth along the way and now with Ron and Carol at the Mannings. It was interesting to attend the guild meeting in Boston….more like a mini conference than a guild meeting with four well attended workshops running side by side in the morning followed by a guest speaker after lunch. I taught a workshop and spoke after lunch.
Founded in 1922, it is the oldest guild in the USA and the book that they published to celebrate their 90th anniversary is a treasure. The meeting was the largest I have attended with a surprising amount of familiar faces…past students and people I have met at other guilds. It was nice to see Laurie Autio again and meet Deb Watson.
On the way to the Mannings I spent an evening in Beth’s home accompanied by the work of Jason Collingwood….well, what do you know….red and black! (with some white wall space between to complete the favorite color combo)….
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I had a fun weekend with a backstrap weaving group at the Mannings…
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Laura was a natural and quickly found that “sweet spot” where the sword would sit up nicely in the shed without constantly clattering to the floor. You can see how she is practicing controlling the edge warps to make nice even edges. Laura had missed out on a place in the class and I told her in my reply to her comment here on the blog to waitlist and cross her fingers. She did and got in.
Julia was back for a second class. Jeanne, whom I had met at the Spinning Seminar last year, was there too as was Karthika who had been visiting the Mannings last time I gave a class. She had peeked in to see what we were up to and decided that she too must become a backstrap weaver. It was nice to have already met many of the group members either in person or online.
Julia has a lovely collecion of old Guatemalan textiles that she collected in the 1970s. As we were studying supplementary- weft inlay in the class, it was very helpful and inspiring to have these textiles on hand to look at. They show examples of both single and double-faced techniques.
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This panel from a huipil of San Antonio Aguas Calientes is well used and very faded. The bird motifs were executed in the double-faced technique and the colors on the reverse are bold and bright.
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This piece, which is covered in double-faced motifs, would have been a baby’ cap. A string along the top would have been drawn to close the top. What is most likely the baby’s name has been worked in. It is so incredibly fine!
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This hair sash is a lovely example of single-faced techniques. The back of the sash is solid red with a  few very fine stripes. We don’t know the exact origin of this sash.
I had two days “off-duty” to wander the store, see what’s new and catch up with staff including resident weaving instructors Tom Knisely and Sara Bixler. The ladies from Just Our Yarns came in to give a two-day class on weaving with their fabulous hand painted tencel.
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I have been using one of their handpainted varieties as supplementary weft for years…a little goes a long, long way… and now I have several more of their color combinations to add to my stash. The first was given to me by my friend Lisa before I even knew what tencel was. Using it for weft inlay creates motifs that look as if they were made from mother of pearl.
There was also work to be seen by other past instructors and I discovered that rug hooking is not the same as latch hooking…
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Debra Smith, editor of Rug Hooker’s magazine teaches at the Mannings and has created a small gallery of her work amongst the tools and other supplies for this craft that the Mannings sells.
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This last piece ,with its colored vertical lines on black, reminds me of the reverse applique molas of Panama and Colombia…
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nawi awapa tubular bandsSo, I am off to California tomorrow. It has been a wonderful visit meeting new people and old on this east side of the US. It is always sad to leave the Mannings. This visit was too short and so I have organized for two consecutive weekends next spring which means a whole week between to weave out by the creek and browse the store for yarn and books….yay.
I will be teaching Backstrap Basics as well as a class on tubular bands and basic pick-up. Keep an eye out for those.
I got to play around with some of my tubular bands in my down time trying to devise ways to finish the ends. I found that I could make a neat blunt finish on the blue band and I could also finish the end with a sizeable knob, as on the gold band,which could be used along with a loop to close the band into a bracelet. I am still working on making that as neat and compact as possible. I need to keep practicing.
I will leave you here with a beautiful video that showed up in my Facebook newsfeed. I mentioned this to Karthika, who was born in India like me, and she knew straight away about the famed Jamdani weaving of Bangladesh. The incredibly fine and almost transparent fabric is woven on traditional looms with two weavers seated side by side. It is decorated with supplementary wefts. Watch as they prepare the yarn, warp, thread the fine yarn through the reed and then watch the speed with which they create string heddles!

I will be continuing my travels in the US if you would still like to buy a copy of my second book. Leave a comment here and I will email you. See you next time from California.

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | April 5, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Kindred Spirits

I meet and get to weave with all kinds of wonderful people on my trips through the US. Everyone has a tale to tell about their connection to backstrap weaving. Perhaps they took a trip to Guatemala or South America some years ago or know someone who has been there and who brought back beautiful textiles. Maybe they happened upon and bought a backstrap loom in a thrift store or at a garage sale. Some people owned and used a backstrap loom back in the 1970s. I met a 92-year old woman at one of the guild meetings I just attended who was taught to weave on a backstrap loom by a Japanese woman who had studied in Guatemala. She is still using her loom at the age of 92 and weaves woollen warp-faced fabric for pillow covers.

And every now and then I meet what I like to call a “kindred spirit”…someone who has been swept away with their fascination for ethnic textiles and has taken off to far and exotic places to pursue their interest. Even more exciting for me is knowing about people, especially young ones, like the ladies below, who are about to embark on such adventures for the first time.

Backstrap weaving with students at Yale University.... They have a wonderful weaving room full of floor, table and rigid heddle looms which meant standing room only for this impromptu lesson in basic backstrap loom management which followed my talk.

Backstrap weaving with students at Yale University…. They have a wonderful weaving room full of floor, table and rigid heddle looms which they can use in their free timewhich meant ‘standing room only’ for the impromptu lesson in basic backstrap loom management which followed my talk.

Last fall, my friend Barbara arranged for me to give a weaving demonstration to a group of young ladies at Yale University. Barbara teaches weaving on floor, table and rigid heddle looms to this group as a leisure activity on Sundays. They were so enthusiastic after my talk that I ended up staying longer  with them and giving them a short lesson in some backstrap weaving basics.

I am so happy to now hear that one of the ladies who has lately been corresponding with me on Facebook  has submitted a fellowship application to study backstrap weaving this summer in Indonesia. Barbara tells me that another is doing the same and hoping to study in Guatemala!

Sometimes I connect with these kindred spirits online and it is a “meant-to-be” connection which has us then getting together all over the place. Wendy has studied and collected textiles from all over South-east Asia and the Indian subcontinent and we met online when I was looking into Bhutanese weaving techniques. When she came to South America, she visited me in Bolivia. We met up again in Santa Fe New Mexico where we spent time at the International Folk Art Market and I hope to go visit her at home in Perth when I go to Australia in June.

Kindred spirit Wendy follows her textile passion around the world from South-east Asia to South America. Here she is making a stop in Bolivia to hang out with me and talk textiles and travel.

Kindred spirit Wendy Garrity follows her textile passion around the world from South-east Asia, the subcontinent and on to the Americas. Here she is making a stop in Bolivia to hang out with me and talk textiles and travel.

And then there’s Taylor who is over in Bhutan right now. She initially wrote to me very happy about learning to make string heddles from my blog to use in her projects in Bhutan. I gathered that she is working in an area where the weavers use tablets hence the lack of information on string heddles.

In her own words...I work for a local NGO on waste awareness issues, which I primarily do through creative reuse.  I tend to work waste materials into local craft techniques, and have attached  a couple of shots of my first plastic wrapper weaving experiments (plastic wrapper as the weft, and cotton thread as the warp).  Pretty basic stuff.  The local ladies are teaching me some belt and brocade techniques, mostly using tablets right now.  I am excited to make some abstract forms with the brocade technique, will keep you posted!

reused plastic bags for weaving in BhutanYou can see a bit more about the loom set-up that Taylor is using here.

My most recent kindred spirit encounter was at the Guild of Handweavers of Bucks County where I met Laura who had just returned from 3 months of weaving study in Thailand. It was a pretty intense day as I presented my show of images and video on Weaving on Simple Looms in South America in the morning which was preceded by Show and Tell by guild members. This was all followed by a half hour to set up for the afternoon workshop and have lunch.

HWBCLogo72ppi7502backLuckily, I had many helpers who moved tables around and placed chairs and clamps which left me free to chat with people but I never found the time to photograph all that lovely Show and Tell material. I love Show and Tell!

One guild member had brought in the backstrap loom with popsicle stick rigid heddle that she had constructed for her 4H group. Another brought in all kinds of scarves that she had bought from backstrap weavers in Guatemala. The 92-year old backstrap weaver had brought an interesting double weave blanket from Nepal as well as one of her own backstrap woven pillow covers….weft-faced, black and white and gorgeous!  And Laura showed the amazing piece of weft ikat patterned indigo-dyed cotton yardage that she had woven on a  simple two-shaft loom in Thailand. It was stunning but I didn’t photograph it!

I used small strips of warp ikat in this piece to learn about the technique.

I used small strips of warp ikat in this piece to learn about the technique.

You may know from previous posts that I have dabbled in warp ikat and have found that challenging enough.

Weft ikat boggles the mind. The weft threads are placed on a frame and tied and dyed. Some ties are unwrapped and others added as the yarn is placed into a second dye bath to add a second color to the overall pattern. I have watched in videos as the yarn is then carefully wound onto a shuttle ready for the weaving process. Each and every weft thread has to be carefully placed within the shed so that the pattern is properly aligned.

There was a nice display at the Textile Museum in Washington DC that had examples of warp ikat, weft ikat and warp and weft ikat. Below, you can see in the upper oval-shaped motif how the tied and dyed weft threads are exposed in the balanced-weave cloth to create the pattern. The lower square motifs are examples of warp and weft ikat which give the motifs a more solid look.

???????????????????????????????I found this image from Marla Mallett’s website which shows part of the tying process for weft ikat in Thailand…

Thailand-IkatTies-smI have just bought yarn here in the US for my sixth red-black-and-white wall hanging which I hope to weave as a warp ikat piece. Maybe one of these years I will give weft ikat a try.

south jersey group backstrap weaving

I met yet another kindred spirit from years gone by through a folder that Ellen brought on one of the days of our backstrap weaving workshop in South Jersey. That’s the group that you can see above. Trisha and April had come to watch my demo at the Mannings last summer and arranged for me to come and weave with the guild this year. Vaughn hosted me, Ellen and Joan came down from Bucks County and we were joined by Camille, Donna and Jackie from South Jersey. Camille had already made her loom and backstrap using my Backstrap Basics article. It came out beautifuly in Tahki Cotton Classic. 

Camille_s_1st_Woven_Backstrap_medium2She bought the yarn as well as a copy of my Andean Pebble Weave book from Woolbearers in Mt Holly, New Jersey. It was nice to meet owner Myra who had ordered books from  me some time ago. She also carries an extensive range of colors in another favorite backstrap cotton yarn of mine…Cascade Ultra Pima.

???????????????????????????????Now, back to the folder that Ellen brought for me with its connection to another kindred spirit….. It had belonged to a lady who was living in Florida and contained all her carefully handwritten and typed notes, samples, charts and sketches on her studies of Peruvian brocades. What a treasure. I tried to find dates and found one page marked by hand with “May 64″ and other type-written pages dated in the early 70s. I suspect that the folder was donated to a guild on this lady’s passing and it has traveled, being passed from hand to hand, weaver to weaver, until it found me. Well, I can tell you that with me it shall stay and it will be loved.

peruvian brocade study folderHere is the folder with various pages removed so you can see some of the woven samples and sketches. It was nice to meet this kindred spirit from the past. I have to say that I wonder, being childless, what will eventually  happen to this and  my own handwritten journals.

Another little goody that Ellen brought was a ñawi awapa tubular band with its little knob and loop endings. The knob can be pushed through the loop and this makes a neat way to use the woven piece as a necklace or bracelet.I think I can do some experimenting and come up with a way to make a knob like that.

finishes for tubular bands

pam-and-freddy I am going to work on that with my friend Pam with whom I am currently staying in Brimfield, Massachusetts.

Pam owns and runs Firewatch Weavers and has hosted many of my workshops. This visit is about presenting at her local guild and I am enjoying a nice long stretch of days hanging out with her.

Pam is “Number One” kindred spirit on my list! She has been interested in and has studied ethnic weaving techniques for years. She has made several visits to Uzbekistan and has studied other weaving technologies from books, in workshops and online.

On top of that, she is the local loom doctor and teaches floor loom and pretty much any kind of simple loom weaving at her studio.

I see that she is about to set up to experiment with Chilkat twining using Cheryl Samuel’s book for guidance….

Pams weavingYou can see Pam’s “Navajo corner” in her teaching studio and then her C Cactus Flower Navajo loom which she will use for the Chilkat twining.

Here is her latest finished work…

pams woven wool silk tallit
the Jewish CatalogIt’s a wool/silk tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl. Above, you can see it drying after having been wet finished. Pam is making this as a gift for a friend. 

Yes, we had the most spectacular sunny spring day here yesterday, as you can see.

Amelia, the cat, found the warmth after months of snowy winter a bit too much to handle all at once and enjoyed the piece of shade that the drying tallit cast.

I am a little bit more knowledgeable about this item and its use after Pam read to me from the book at left. Right now, as I write this post, she is tying the special “braid” that adorns the four corners of the piece.  There is something significant about the number of wraps, or coils, and knots that are incorporated in each of “braids” which is all explained in Pam’s book.

The books says that tallits were originally made from linen or wool but that now silk is also acceptable. Pam’s is a wool and silk blend and it feels gorgeous….light as air. She used a summer/winter structure to create the patterning in blue and gold and the wool/silk is Zephyr Yarn by Jaggerspun.  She also wove the atarah, or crown, with its gold thread. This is placed on the edge of one side with “the purpose of providing some spatial orientation for the tallit (or tallit-wearer)”. The woven pouch Pam made in which the tallit is stored is yet to be sewn  together.

So, I will be meeeting the fiber people of Springfield this weekend and then heading on to Boston. The next post should be coming from the Mannings in Pennsylvania.

See you then! And I should mention again that I am selling printed copies of my second book only while I am in the US. If you would like to buy a copy, leave me a comment here on the blog and I will email you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 28, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Yards of Deserts and Dreamlands

Great width and great length are two things that I cannot hope to comfortably achieve on my backstrap loom and so it was nice to be able to spend time with my friend Claudia, in Maryland, and be there just in time to see her pull yards and yards of  soft Hawaiian sunrise fabric off her floor loom. Claudia and Janet, who together form Lotsaknots Studio, have been weaving baby wraps….yards and yards of custom baby wraps. It seems that many new moms out there in the Western world like to “wear” their babies these days and put a lot of thought into the color of their custom-made baby-carrying fabric. Claudia cut the fabric off the loom and then pulled and pulled out over 8 yards of fabric for two wraps. It tumbled onto the floor in a pile of  luscious soft sunrise tones.

Of course, mothers in Asia, Africa, Central and South America  and many other regions around the world have always carried their babies either in front or back wrapped in fabric so that baby can accompany them in every aspect of their daily lives…on a trip to market, working bent over in the fields or at the stove, carting water from the well…

One of my weaving teachers in Guatemala shows me her nephew which she carries in a woven sling. His little cap is a woven piece which has been decorated with a double faced supplementary-weft technique. Therectabgle of fabric has a draw string through the top which is pulled to the form the cap.

One of my weaving teachers in Guatemala shows me her nephew which she carries in a woven sling. His little hat is a woven piece which has been decorated with a double faced supplementary-weft technique. The rectangle of fabric has a draw string along the top which is pulled to close the top of the hat

A lady in Bolivia carries her randchild on her back leaving her hands free to spin yarn on a drop spindle. The carrrying cloth is traditionally hand woven although this lady is using a synthetic factory-made piece. These cloths are used tocarry any kind of load...goods being taken to and from market or "luggage" on a trip.

A lady in Bolivia carries her grandchild on her back leaving her hands free to spin yarn on a drop spindle. The carrying cloth is traditionally hand woven although this lady is using a synthetic factory-made piece. These cloths are used to carry any kind of load…goods being taken to and from market or “luggage” on a trip.

When I went to the Tinkuy in Cusco in 2010, I accompanied a group of weavers from Cochabamaba. We had quite a trek to make from the bus stop to our lodgings and I was very envious of the ladies as they wrapped their duffel bags in their carrying cloths, tossed them on their back and headed off down the dusty road. I lugged mine, handles over my forearm and with bag clumsily bumping along against my hip. Guess who made better progress.

My Vietnamese weaving tecaher Ju Nie showed us how she wraps a baby sling. The Montagnard baby slings are woven on backstrap looms and often decorated with motifs in supplementary weft. made

My Vietnamese weaving teacher Ju Nie showed us how she wraps a baby sling. The Montagnard baby slings are woven on backstrap looms and often decorated with motifs in supplementary weft. Using a circular warp on a backstrap loom make these kinds of lengths more manageable. They are usually woven as two separate panels which are then sewn together.

I enjoyed learning about the whole process involved in the creation of one of the Lotsaknots custom wraps. First, the mother will describe her needs and  usually provides a picture which contains the kinds of colors that she would like to have in her wrap.

dreamland inspirationThis is the picture that was used for the latest wrap on Claudia’s loom which has been entitled Dreamland. The yarn is ordered and Janet wraps colors around card to help determine the final layout. She has amazing talent for this and I think that she has captured the tones and mood of the picture beautifully. As I stick to red, black and white for my entire series of wall hangings, this talent for combining colors is one that I envy.

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Then comes the job of winding all those yards of warp. One half will be the custom wrap made to the mother’s specified length. The second wrap will have a different weft color which will give it quite a dfferent look and this “sister wrap” can be sold online.

I loved seeing these chained sections of warp sitting on the floor ready to go on the loom. They reminded me of snakes of berry-flavored soft serve icecream oozing out of a machine.

??????????????????????I am often mystified by the way people gasp at all that is involved in setting up for backtrap weaving. People roll their eyes when they look at all the string heddles I have to make. I don’t get it.  I have to say that that is nothing compared to the process of getting this kind of warp onto a floor loom! Now I know what rough sleying is and understand the need for a trapeze when warping. Then there are all those heddles to thread and then the reed. Some of it seems realy hard for one person to do all alone.

??????????????????????Here are all the threads on the apron rod after having been rough-sleyed. Doesn’t that look gorgeous! I learned a lot watching Claudia do all this and I was even able to lend a hand now and then. I was sorry not to have been around long enough to witness the entire process.

We could have finished it but Clauda wanted to take advantage of my being there to get in a little backstrap weaving so we spent some time on that. She has been wanting to do rep weave and, as she has never done it before, I was happy to be able to get a sample project set up and started on her loom.

???????????????????????????????Here’s the start of a pink and lavender rep weave. I love the kind of ikat effect that apeears in the warp threads as you are in the process of changing sheds. Rep weave is a piece of cake for me as I am used to doing warp-faced weaves and rep weave simply involves alternating a thick and thin weft.  The effect is lovely and it weaves up so very fast with that thick weft. Claudia would like to make a set of four placemats in repweave on her backstrap loom and will use a circular warp to get the desired length for all four pieces. The width is one that is easily manageable on a backstrap loom.

rep runner on tray tableHere’s the rep weave piece that I made some time ago for my tray table. It is decorated with complementary-warp pick up pattern.

??????????????????????Here’s Claudia’s piece underway. I was having fun with it and had to try not to go too far before letting Claudia take over. She was busy hemming her just completed pair of wraps while I worked on this. Above you can see where I have just started making a change of dominant color by swapping the sheds into which I place the thick and thin wefts.

??????????????????????Claudia does some backstrap weaving every time I visit and goes back to her floor loom when she finishes her project. Therefore, it takes her a little time to get back into the swing of things after having had a long break. Above, you can see that she is well underway. We used a pick-up stick to make that small block of color change and now she is back into the original sequence.  It is just a short warp for sampling. Now she has a nice width sample which will help her calculate how much warp she needs to wind for her placemat project. She is using 3/2 perle cotton.

This was a nice break for Claudia between baby wraps. The baby wrap business is never ending with 47 people on the custom order waitlist!

Here’s one of the earlier wraps which was called Sedona. I love this one!

The color arrangement was inpired by this painting…

sedona inspiration

And here is the fabric….it is a wonderful representation of the painting, don’t you think?

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This next one was entered in a Facebook wrap challenge which had a theme of Wizard of Oz…

wizard of oz swirlThe metallic red threads, which I think are such a nice touch, represent Dorothy’s ruby red slippers.

Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph the Hawaiian sunrise beauties when they came off the loom but, no doubt, they will be on the Lotsaknots blog page soon. Doing custom-made pieces is quite a challenge, I think. With only phone calls, email correspondece and maybe a photo, a major piece like this has to be designed and constructed to match what the mom envisions as being perfect for her baby.  I really believe that Janet and Claudia are a good team for this. Janet doesn’t weave but is so good at putting the colors together while Claudia has years of experience at the loom and sewing machine. I can’t wait to see Dreamland when it comes off the loom.

snow2Last Saturday I gave a private backstrap weaving class at Terri’s place. Some of you may know Terri as Magical Moons on Etsy. Terri makes beautiful swords for backstrap weaving as well as spindles, pick-up sticks and other tools for fiber artists.

She takes a class with me whenever I am in the Maryland area. Laritza joined us for her second class with me and Stephanie, who has never woven fabric before, (she studies basket weaving with Terri) came to have her first-ever class.

It was a spring day…a REAL spring day… and we all felt guilty for being indoors in Terri’s workskop while the sun poured down and warmed the air outside. For everyone who had endured the long long winter it was a truly unique day.

It didn’t last long as you can see at left. That was the following Tuesday. I felt guilty about being so pleased with it when everyone just rolled their eyes and said “not AGAIN!”. Ididn’t want so much snow that my travel plans would be disrupted…just enough to make things pretty.

We didn’t have to be out in it. We were weaving away warm and snuggly in the studio looking out and watching it accumulating.

Stephanie backstrap weavingHere’s Stephanie making her first patterned band using what I like to call the “barefoot method”…no sticks… just string and fingers.

Laritza and Terri studied intermesh. This technique was taught to me  in Peru with two sets of string heddles. This gave the ladies some good heddle making practice as a warm-up before they could get into the weaving. This is one of the patterning techniques that I teach in my second book.

Laritza backstrap weavingLaritza’s warp goes well with her sweater. Inside it was sweater weather…outside, it was almost warm enough to shed them.

Terri backstrap weavingThat’s Terri working on her intermesh warp.You may remember from previous posts that Terri spends a good part of the year living on Nantucket Island where she has studied basket making with the master weavers there. Below you can see an example of one of her friendship baskets. The little dog figure was contributed by another artisan but the basket is Terri’s. Everything she does including her woodwork is impeccable. I love using her swords.

Sam on friendship basket N Chase T SackettHere is a gorgeous keyfob that she gave me after our class last Saturday. It has a piece of whale tooth which Terri shaped and polished. It is a “worry” piece, Terri tells me, as the piece of tooth is just the pefect shape for holding in your hand and rubbing with your thumb when you are feeling agitated. The smooth polished surface really does have a soothing feel.

whale tooth keyfob Terri Sacketttrisha and april at the mannings spinning seminarSo, now I am in South Jersey ready to weave with a group tomorrow from the local guild for the next three days.

I met Trisha and April from this guild at the annual Spinning Seminar at the Mannings last summer and the idea for this workshop was born. How time flies! Ihad known Trisha for a long time as part of the Backstrap Weaving Group on Weavolution from way back in 2009. Now we finally get to weave together.

I just received a box of my books from the printer to offer at this class. They look very handsome with their new red coil binding in place of the black combs that I have been using. I love the new look.

Many thanks to those who wrote and ordered my second book after last week’s blog post. Your books are on their way.

If you won’t be meeting me on this trip, and would like a printed copy of the second book, leave me a comment here and I will email you with details. I only sell these in print form when I am in the US. It is available all year round in its downloadable form from patternfish.com.

See you next week from Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 19, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Poncho Envy

I am posting a bit early this week as I will be on the road for the next couple of days making my way to the cold north-east of the US and hoping that the latest dump of snow that DC just had will be the last. It seems like the kind of weather where a poncho would be of good use. What wonderful things are ponchos. I could use one as a blanket, roll it up to make a nice pillow, lay it out and sit on it or just wear it as it was meant to be.

I don’t have any desire to own one here in steamy Santa Cruz but, if my dreams come true and I can one day live in the Blue Mountains just outside Sydney, I think that I could make good use of one there. It even snows there sometimes. The question is, should I weave my own or buy one here in South America?

ponchis1-214x275I am excited about a new book that has recently been published on ponchos of Bolivia. One day before I am due to leave I find out about this treasure. I will have to wait until my return to hunt it down.

This article tells how Oscar Barriga spent 40 years collecting and studying over 250 ponchos in Bolivia.

He sold his collection to a museum in La Paz and has written a book which includes information he has gathered on their symbols, messages and their religious, civil and military roles. Barriga says that the poncho does not have any one country of origin.

I have certainly seen varieties of this item of clothing in the highland, lowland and low valley areas in the South American countries in which I have traveled. My friend Kathie, who works with weavers in the tropical lowland coastal areas of Ecuador, took the most wonderful picture of one of the gentleman there on horseback wearing a handwoven cotton poncho.

ponchos 1I was lucky to have been able to attend a talk on ponchos and rebozos given by Anne Rowe at the Textile Museum in DC some years ago. I am looking at my scribbled notes from the lecture in which I have written that poncho-type clothing  existed in the pre-hispanic times but the poncho, as we know it, was popularized by the Mapuche of central Chile and Argentina. The earliest known image of one dates back to 1648. The Mapuche people wove ponchos for themselves but also to sell. During the Conquest they adopted Spanish customs including riding horses. Ponchos proved to be very useful for this activity.

An image from the 1730s that we were shown during the lecture shows a Spaniard wearing a poncho while watercolors from Peru in the 1780s depict both Spanish and indigenous horsemen and musicians wearing them. During the War of Independence in the early 1800s ponchos were worn by Generals to indicate that they were South American and not Spanish. Some of the designs were Spanish-like while others were more Mapuche-like.

mapuche-ikat-2The black and white ikat ponchos woven by the Mapuche people are worn by those who hold positions of great power and prestige. I imagine that they are quite a weight to carry around as I was able to feel the rather thick and coarsely spun wool in the example in progress above.

It was wonderful to see and touch the incredibly fine vicuña ponchos that were brought from Belen, Catamarca in Argentina to the Encuentro de Tejedores in Cusco in 2012.

poncho-of-catamarca-argentinaThe handspun vicuña fiber has to be carefully selected to find tones of equal value for each piece. The ponchos are woven on floor looms and the fabric measures 2 meters by 1.30 meters and weighs only 320gms.Two people swing the beater and they need to make sure that they beat with exactly the same amount of pressure on this fine, light fabric.

An image on Facebook from this page shows a stunning poncho being made in Londres, Catamarca on a floor loom. This Facebook page shows other beautiful examples of Graciela Salvatierra’s work.

1463897_479549392162132_910966833_nThe Salasaca family with whom I stayed in Ecuador had their son dress up in the typical poncho that he would use for special occasions for a photo. I like this simple black wool poncho. Juan would otherwise be dressed in jeans and tshirt. The Salasaca ladies, on the other hand, wear their traditional outfits every day although they have other “everyday” hats that they use rather than the rock hard ones that you see in the picture.

salasacan-ponchoI managed to sneak a snap of a Cañari gentleman in Ecuador out in his Sunday best ikat-patterned poncho in the town plaza.

canar-poncho-and-beltsMantas and chamantos are made by weavers in the town of Doñihue, Chile and worn by the Chilean horsemen known as huasos. They are silky smooth and tightly woven. It is easy to believe that they could be virtually water proof.

mantaI imagine that the striped mantas provide an more economical alternative to the pick-up patterned chamantos, like the one below, which I am told sell for up to $3000 each.

chamanto

I love simple striped ponchos….so elegant. You will see that many of the examples in the picture from Barriga’s book above are patterned with stripes in  wonderful arrangements of widths and colors. The weavers of Tarabuco in Bolivia create cloth covered with tiny intricate figures which the women use for overskirts and bags in which to carry their coca leaves. However, the cloth that they weave for the men’s ponchos is beautifully simple…(you can see the pick-up patterned cloth in the background.)

Trabuco ponchoAnd of course, there is nothing wrong with a poncho that has been covered with pick-up patterning. Men in the Peruvian community of Chahuaytire in the Cusco region of Peru weave their own cloth for ponchos decorating them with motifs using supplementary warps.

chahuaytire ponchisThe more I read about Oscar Barriga’s book the more I want it but at the same time, the more I am convinced that its price tag will be very high. In fact, it is not clear to me whether the book will even be made available to the public. A more affordable option, if you would like to know more about ponchos in South America, is this book which was published in Argentina  and is available in English…..

??????????????????????In the meantime, I will think about my poncho and how I would lke to weave it. Yes, while writing this post I have decided that I should weave my own…one of these days. I have many hours of airport waits and bus rides coming up in the next few months in which I can sketch some ideas. 

More adventures book cover dszAs usual, I will have printed copies of my second book to sell while on the road in the US. Leave a comment here if you are not taking one of the workshops and would like one and I will email you with details. As you know, my blog posts become a little sporadic while I am away but I hope to be able to see you here fairly regularly with maybe just a thing or two about what I am seeing on the road. Until then…. 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 14, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Songs from the Lowlands

While scrambling to get all my prep done for my up and coming teaching trip, I have a little time to show you the latest progress on my Shipibo-inspired piece. I have spent some time looking about online for more information about the Shipibo designs and my head is reeling with the variety of information that is out there on the meaning of the patterns.

I have heard several version from my weaving teachers about the name and meaning of this Bolivian motif. explaations of the

I have heard several versions from my weaving teachers about the meaning of this Bolivian motif.

It doesn’t surprise me. I have written here before that I can ask five weavers here in Bolivia the meaning of a certain motif and receive three different answers. I have heard different stories about designs from people even within the one small community. The real question is, do the weavers even want to share this special information with me?

My workshop preparation is fairly mindless. I wind warps, make heddles, and sometimes weave a few rows to get the piece started. I don’t need to concentrate except to count revolutions on my warping board and so, it is an activity that allows me to put on some music and sing. And, after having read one of the web pages that has information about Shipibo patterns, it is fun to imagine the woven designs in the cloth in my latest piece singing back at me. I will explain that a bit later…

Unfortunately, I can’t sing while I weave this piece. It involves a lot of concentration… jumping back and forth from chaotic curvy lines to orderly straight ones. One miscount, that may seem insignificant at first, can add up to a big blooper further down the track. I’ve learned that the hard way!

shipibo inspired wall hangingNow…about the songs and the singing. The Center for Shamanic Education is one of the sites from which I learned a little about the Shipibo patterns and their relationship to music. According to this site, the Shipibo people, who live in the Amazon Basin region of Peru, believe that everything is a song and that everything can be sung.

Image from the web site thestorybehindthefaces.com

Image from the web site thestorybehindthefaces.com

“In the Beginning a giant anaconda swam through the darkness. She sang the patterns on her back and the patterns fell from her mouth in her song. The patterns took form and created the universe and the people – The Shipibo.”

The patterns are called Icaro (another site calls them Kene) and they are woven into or embroidered on cloth and painted on ceramics, houses and skin.

At the Encuentro de Tejedores that I attended in Cusco in 2012 anthropologist Dr Luisa Elvira Belaúnde, who also called the designs Kene, talked about the patterns that are tatooed on the skin saying that the Shipibo-Konibo people believe that patterns already exist within the person and are simply made to emerge on the skin. A woman’s body is wrapped in design either in the form of tatoos or by wearing patterned cloth.

The Center for Shamanic Education also writes that the Icaro carry healing energy and are a form of musical notation.It says that the Shipibo do not differentiate between seeing and hearing which means that the Icaro patterns in the cloth are constantly singing. What a lovely concept! In rituals, Shamans can hear and sing the tunes of songs from the labyrinth of lines in the patterns.

The labyrinth of lines…what I have been calling a “curvy chaos” in my own piece…is musical notation to the Shipibo people.

One Youtube video which shows a number of pieces of patterned cloth created by the Shipibo people is accompanied by song and the wonderful sounds of the forest.

I have a couple of very small pieces of Shipibo cloth that I bought in a store in Ecuador. I have never been to the Amazon Basin region of Peru.

???????????????????????????????My friend, Yonat, has a gorgeous piece of Shipibo embroidery in her textile collection…

shipibo-embroidery 1

shipibo-embroidery 2The painting and embroidery are now done on  industrially-produced fabric. I wondered if there was anyone still weaving among the Shipibo people. Teyacapan posted a picture of a woven bag from the Peruvian Amazon Basin on her Filckr page. As I had done with my pieces of painted cloth, she had bought the bag in a gallery in Quito, Ecuador. The designs on this bag appear on some of the painted cloth pieces that I have seen.

Z (11)I am guessing that this is the single-faced warp-float technique only because all the lowland weavers that I have encountered so far in Peru and Ecuador who use this structure  weave the single rather than double-faced version.

I used this design on a placemat that I wove along time ago….

???????????????????????????????I wasn’t able to find other images of Shipbo woven pieces or weavers until I came across a video, made in 2011, which is the trailer for  a documentary on footage that was shot by anthropologist Harry Tschopilc Jr in 1953. The footage has been uncovered in the archives of the Field Museum of Chicago and the documentary covers a project which involved taking the footage and showing it to the Shipibo people. The documentary captures the reaction of the Shipibo people, both young and old, to seeing aspects of their culture and lifestyle that have been lost in the last 60 years. The 60-year old footage shows a Shipibo woman weaving using a backstrap loom as well as one weaving on a small frame that could have been made from a bent tree branch. There is also recent footage of a woman using a backstrap loom to weave a very long and colorful narrow band.

Here are a couple of screen shots from the old film…

video trailer 1

video trailer 2And here is the complete trailer…

I try to imagine the sounds of the forest that you can hear on the first Youtube video in this post as I sit at my loom. The weavers most likely have the songs of the Icaro in their heads as they work. Right now, I hear planes droning overhead, the sounds of car alarms and the rumble of the big plastic trash bins as they are wheeled out to the street…life in the city!

There are two quite long Youtube videos, parts 1 and 2, that show the process of creating the painted patterns on the cloth here and here. Again, there is song and forest sound in the background…lovely.

So, I will continue with my wall hanging panel. It will be flanked by panels of deep red and I will join the three panels at the top with weft twining. I hope to twine a pattern that has been inspired by the work of the Shipibo people.

Maybe now you can understand better what I was doing when I was on the floor a few weeks ago drawing squiggles. I had seen wavy lines amongst the hairy wool warp threads on which I had been working a few months ago and  from that was born the idea for this Shipibo-inspired work.

???????????????????????????????See you next week! 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 7, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – A Change of Seasons

The change of seasons is barely noticeable here in Santa Cruz. There is a drop of perhaps a few degrees of temperature between summer and fall but nothing else here tells me that fall is on the way. That isn’t happening today as we rapidly make our way up to 30 degrees centigrade. I remember when I was teaching English here, the text books would use the classic pictures to represent the four seasons….snow, sun and beach, falling leaves and spring flowers….somewhat like the motifs I used on my Four Seasons ticlla piece. They meant nothing to my students. They found it especially hard to grasp that fall would be the “opposite” season to spring in the northern hemisphere. I couldn’t blame them.

discontinuous warp ticlla closing the gapAs my departure date for my US trip draws nearer, I am wondering if anything in the northeast is telling people that spring is on the way. Please, say “yes”! My friend in Massachusetts told me to bring boots presumably for stomping about in snow. I don’t own a pair! So, I am just about ready to do some kind of dance in order to try and will that northern winter away and bring on the spring.

Maybe I should fill this post with lots of spring imagery and put a springy vibe out into the universe instead. A change of season and cooler temperatures would be apprecited down here. Okay, so here goes…

Leaves could represent the new growth of spring or the dying leaves of fall…either way, a change of season.

I suppose that blue leaves could be either!

circular warp backstrap

chamanto piece on progressThe leaves on my wall hanging, which were inspired by the chamantos woven in central Chile, are rather spring-like or even summery, I think. The motifs woven into the chamantos represent the agriculture and horse culture of that Chilean region. They are covered in patterns such as wheat stalks, flowers, horse hooves, grapes and vine leaves.

There is nothing cold or wintery about Guatemalan textiles with their flower and bird motifs in bright colors…                                                            double-faced

My Guatemalan teacher with whom I worked on the piece pictured below, taught me to just dip my hand into the basket of threads, pull out a color and go with it. You can see the rows of plants with their happy multi-colored leaves…

Guatemalan supplementary weft patterning

Those little plants and flowers are always fun to weave with supplementary weft even if my color choices once I was back home on my own were a lot more planned and conservative…

suppweft-tree-bookmarks

Crocheted hats and hat bands produced in the highlands, an area which can be quite colorless and bleak at times, provide a splash of colorful flowers and birds….

chullo-and-hatband

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe flowers on the hatband from Calcha, Bolivia inspired the design on the fourth of my red, black and white wall hangings…

???????????????????????????????

The Guaraní weavers who live in the eastern lowlands of Bolivia may not always use bright colors but their work certainly shows the rich plant and bird life of this region….nothing wintery about this…

Guarani Moisy technique

The above pieces were woven using what the Guaraní weaves call the moisy structure. They also use the kara pepo structure which we know as pebble weave.

Julia, from the Ravelry group has been weaving a piece for her guild’s color challenge. She is weaving Guaraní star motifs in pebble weave. It is always exciting or me to see people using the charts in my books. These star patterns are charted in my second book and the outline is a traditional Guarani pattern.. The basic star outline has its center filled with different shapes and it is an interesting exercise in designing to explore how many different kinds of “fillers” you can come up with for the space in the center of the stars. The Guaraní repertoire of star patterns is fairly small. While the patterns they weave using the moisy structure seem unlimited, the star is one of only very few motifs that they weave using the kara pepo structure. I came up with quite a few filler patterns for  the star for my book and Julia, of course, has been very creative in  inventing some of her own.

DSC04397_medium

Santa Cruz crochet cottonMy Guaraní teacher, Angela, buys the same Brazilian Clea brand thread as I do for her weaving. It was shocking seeing how suddenly and how quickly the price of this cotton went up as it did all over the world and sad knowing how it would effect the weavers and their ability to buy thread.

I am sure that they must be as happy as I am to find that cotton crochet thread is now being produced by TextiCruz here in Santa Cruz. While Santa Cruz used to be a major cotton producing region, cotton hasn’t been grown here for a long long time. I have no idea from where the raw material is coming. But, whatever the source, they are able to sell the finished product much more cheaply than the Brazilian thread!

“Camba” is the nickname for people from Santa Cruz and the label shows the sombrero de sao, straw hat, which is part of the typical festival costume for this area. I bought one ball to try out. You can see it here among a chaos of sample bands that I am gathering for my trip. I am  little suspicious about the color fastness. It sounds terrible but I have  to say that things produced here tend to be of inferior quality. They are well presented but you only have to scratch the surface and…..It is wise to be suspicious of something that seems too good to be true. That goes for everywhere, right? I notice that the label has the typical words of advice on buying from one dye lot to complete a project, yet there is no dye lot number to be seen anywhere.

Let me briefly slip back into the somber tones of winter as I would like to show you my progress on the squiggly Shipibo- inspired wall hanging panel. I would like to thank those who commented last week with words of encouragement. This week’s work on this included four hours of unweaving and re-weaving. I had forgotten to start one of the squiggles and I mistakenly thought that it wouldn’t matter so much. I was wrong. There was a large gaping hole of black space that I simply couldn’t live with. Four hours later I was back to where I had left off but much happier for it!

shipibo wall hanging panelWhen I was at the Encuentro de Tejedores in Cusco in 2012, a presentation was given on Shipibo art. We were told that parts of the patterns the Shipibo people paint and embroider represent their borders and rivers. One of the few times that I flew over Brazil in daylight on my way to Miami and could enjoy the view over the Amazon jungle from a cloudless sky, the 

jalq'a weavingrivers below looked very much like the squiggles I am weaving. I tried to guess which one of the squiggles might be the Amazon itself until I was completely blown away by the massive body of brown water that appeared and curved its way off to the horizon.

I have always been in complete awe of the weaving of the Jalq’a people of Potolo, Bolivia (at left). A complex mass of figures fills just about every space on the cloth. There is no break….no plain weave with which to relax between the concentration of pick-up patterning….a few rows to sit back and just open sheds, beat and pass weft…no, none of that.  While halfway through one motif, the weaver is finishing another nearby and starting the next.  Small motifs are even woven within larger ones. Plus there are warp floats to consider. The weaver must ensure that she ties down each and every one of the threads at just the right moment before the floats become too long. And  pattern charts, of course are not used. It’s mind boggling.

Although I am not weaving a warp-float structure and my patterning, therefore ,is much easier, my current weaving with its squiggles starting and stopping and turning this way and that has given me an even greater appreciation of the work of the Jalq’a people. I have to remember to start the next squiggle while in the midst of one and finishing another.

Let me return to something bright and spring-like to finish this post and blow away the winter blues…

PAZA bands Cochabamba BoliviaHere are some of the beautiful bands woven with naturally-dyed handspun yarn from PAZA in Cochabamba. Cochabamba city is one of many I have come across in my travels in South America that is named a city of “primavera eterna”…eternal spring.

See you next week!

Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 28, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Worth the Wait

I had wanted to call this post simply “Waiting” but then had a funny feeling that I had used this title before. It didn’t surprise me. We tend to do a lot of waiting here in Bolivia. It’s a part of life and, after 15 years here (plus 5 more in Chile), I can hardly be annoyed or too put out by it. I Googled to check my use of this title and, yep, there it was in August 2012. I went back to see what all the waiting had been about back then. It was nothing to do with Bolivia at all…I had been waiting for some technical help with my second book and impatiently awaiting some exciting weaving events…all good stuff, as you can see below, and worth waiting for.

Some events from 2012

This week has been about a different kind of waiting. It involved getting up every day at 4am and trekking out to the SEGIP office to stand in line and…..wait. SEGIP issues visas and ID cards for foreigners. My ID card had expired and I have been trying since the end of December to move the paper work along. The office opens at 7am. You have to be there in a queue at 4.30am to get one of the 80 daily appointments. You wait in the street in the pouring rain or sun…we had both… and there’s no shelter.  I only wish I could entertain you with some nice shots of the sunrise or my fellow “waiters”. The sunrise was happening behind buildings and it was too dark most of the time for people shots. Today I succeeded! I was #46. I got to speak to someone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the Monday morning failure to gain admission, it was kind of fun greeting and seeing my fellow “rejects” the following days.

….the Brazilian medical students…always in large groups, always jolly, fun loving, even in the rain, and very, very loud.

…the Argentinians…recognizable by the thermoses that they carried and the little pots of yerba mate which they passed around and sipped and, of course, their gorgeous accent.

…the Mennonite gentlemen with their denim overalls and baseball caps, the ladies with their head scarves, print aprons and straw hats.

…the Russian Old Believer gentlemen with their long beards, piercing blue eyes and long, loose belted shirts. You have no idea how much I wanted to look more closely at those belts! They leaned on a fence with the Mennonites and talked about the recent rains on their land. There were some Mormon missionaries from the US looking so terribly young to be so far away from home.

It was strange having so many foreigners gathered in one small place like that. Bolivian life is influenced in many ways by the cultures of its neighboring countries. Above, you can see the baked Brazilian snack called cuñape that is very much enjoyed here, and a pot of Argentinian yerba mate sitting on some of my backstrap woven pieces….a nice piece of Mennonite cheese or a pot of Mennonite honey would make it the perfect tea time picture.

The good thing is that, despite the wait and rejection on three days in a row, I managed to get home every day by 8.30am ready to face and enjoy a whole morning at the loom. That way, the pre-dawn expedition didn’t feel so much like wasted time.

circular warp backstrapThis is one of the things on which I have been working this week. It’s the circular demonstration warp that I took on my last US trip. I use it as a model to show the different parts of a backstrap loom including the coil rod. Most of the time it just sits on a table with its plain white cloth. I decided that this time it should have some pattern.

That is one of the things I love about patterning with supplementary weft . You can just add pattern to your plain white “canvas” at any time without a whole lot of planning. This warp had previously held a butterfly motif which I pulled out and replaced with this leafy design.

It’s interesting how different the same motif can look when woven with different materials. I created the leaf motif very recently for my discontinuous-warp experiment in heavy-ish wool. On that piece I had used wool as the supplementary weft.

My circular warp is fine cotton and I used tencel for the patterning weft. I also used a closer sett than I usually do so that the fine white cotton would cover the dark patterning weft well. The leaves that had looked so robust in wool  were thin and sickly looking in tencel on cotton so, I had to make adjustments to the original chart. The good thing about the finer warp thread is that you can use longer floats in the pattern and that allows more flexibility and options in the designing. I could use longer floats than the five-span maximum I used in the wool project. On the other hand, the single-span floats I used on the wool piece would  barely show up in the fine cotton. So, several adjustments had to be made to “fatten” the leaves and make the finer details more visible.

???????????????????????????????I don’t know exactly where this pattern is going from here,  but that is enough weaving for this demo warp for now. I placed the turns of the supplementary weft on the edge of the cloth rather than trying to conceal or camouflage the turns within the blue stripe as I usually do. I wanted to challenge myself to make consistently neat and attractive turns on the edge that would resemble little beads. I also turned the weft on the edge of the wool cloth. Those rather chunky turns are now hidden within the tubular edging.

circular warp backstrapAbove, you can get more of an idea of the circular nature of this warp and see the coil rod in position. The biggest difference I notice between weaving on a circular warp like this one and one in a single plane, is the ability to apply tension. There is a certain “springiness” to this circular warp which makes me feel like I can’t tension or beat as hard. This has me pushing with my feet (something I rarely do these days) in an attempt to apply more tension. Maybe that is why the majority of indigenous weavers I have seen using circular warps brace their feet against something as they weave. It is interesting to be able to compare the feel of the two kinds of warp set-ups this way.

Weavers in Ecuador using circular warps brace their feet against piece of wood to help apply tension to the warp.

Weavers in Ecuador using circular warps brace their feet against blocks of wood to help apply tension to the warp.

At first, I decided that it would be an interesting challenge to just chart and weave one leaf and then see if, by reading from the one motif woven into the cloth, I could flip the design both horizontally and vertically. The challenge wasn’t met as it gave me a big headache! and so I decided to chart the four versions and go from there. I wrote a page some time ago which I added to my list of FAQs on my thoughts about the use or non-use of charts.

shipibo inspired wall hagnging panelMy latest wall hanging project uses a design I created and charted myself which is, for the most part, not symmetrical. It is a row- by-row slog working with an enormous pattern chart and was inspired by designs painted on cloth  by the Shipibo people of tropical lowland Peru.

Fortunately, for me, warp-faced double weave is one of the easier structures for reading the pattern  on the cloth because there are no warp-float lengths to be considered. Once a base line of pattern has been woven, it is easy and straightforward placing subsequent rows by referring to the preceding one without having to do a great deal of counting.  However, there are no small design elements within the large one that get repeated and which can, therefore, be eventually memorized.

The pattern is not one with which I am all together comfortable yet. What I mean to say, is that I am not sure that I like it yet! My eyes long for symmetry! I keep telling myself that I just need to WAIT (I have had plenty of practice with that this week!), weave a bit more, walk away, stand back, weave some more and allow it to develop. It is a design that has a lot of wiggly chaos within a rigid symmetrical outline. That’s the best I can do to decribe it for now. I just need to put a bit more of that heavy symmetrical outline into place to help me deal with the chaos!

I will wait. I won’t unweave. I feel confident that it will be just what I wanted in the end.

I was Googling some images this past week and came across some of my own things such as this…

Bhutanese motf supplementary weftI thought….wow, I remember that. I wove it at the start of my studies of Bhutanese patterns. Now, what in the world did I do with that? A quick search in the closet turned up nothing. And then I remembered…oh yeah, I unwove it because I didn’t much care for it at the time…too colorful or something like that. Maybe I should have WAITED. At least I took a picture of it before unweaving.

striped-pouch-x-4This was a very hastily put together demo warp for one of my US trips. I disliked the color combination so much that I didn’t even want to put it out to be seen. Nevertheless, I wove it off and sewed it into a pouch. Time has passed and now I just love my happy colorful sewing bag.

I am still waiting for this one to grow on me…

??????????????????????It was another demo warp into which I hadn’t put much thought. After all my workshop preparation is done, the demo warp is the very last thing on my to-do list. My brain is usually quite fried at that point. I will definitely allow more time for better design and color planning for the demo warps on this next trip. I was pleased to at least be able to use the finished fabric from the above warp for a tutorial on edgings.

Let’s see what online weaving friends have been up to…

Scott is really getting into double weave and is now charting his own motifs. After working through my tutorial, he used the llama patterns to make keyfobs. I like those grippy keyfob ends…no sewing needed at that end. They are especially suitable for double weave which can be too bulky when folded and passed through a key ring.

scott (1) llamasNext he charted and wove the Norse Valknut motif…love it!

Scott's norse valknut motifI can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Jennifer finished her bag from our Ravelry Games weave-along…

Jennifer bag with chinchero patternsWhat a superb piece of work. She used denim which so perfectly matched the washed-out blue of her indigo-dyed hemp. Other pieces of colored fabric were used to frame the woven section. She finished it with a zip. 

lausanne pebble weave bandLausanne’s band is a lovely example of how simple 2 and 4-revolution Andean Pebble Weave motifs can be placed together to make new designs…something that I discuss and encourage in my second book. I love the way she has photographed it. It is so nice seeing lots and lots of band length like that.

Teresa in Chile sent me pictures of her first backstrap loom pieces using the tutorials on my blog for creating plain-weave bands with solid colors, comb patterns, and stripes. In this way she wisely develops and practices her skills in managing the backstrap loom with simple, fun, plain-weave projects. Now she is taking her first steps in creating patterns with warp floats.

teresa

I am glad that I didn’t have to keep you waiting for this blog post. Blog day is usually a strictly “at home” day for me consumed with taking photographs, editing and writing. I am just happy that I don’t have to get up at 4am again tomorrow!

See you next week.

Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 21, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Color fom the Cochabamba “campo”

The big rains have more or less stopped here in Santa Cruz. We get a shower about twice a day. Each one has has me holding my breath. The outer wall of my bedroom has been hacked out so that it can dry out  and then be filled and repaired and made watertight, we hope. The huge wooden wall unit in my bedroom had one side on the point of collapse when the water soaked through. Now it is being supported by my large weaving sticks. Whine , whine, whine… a picture like this from this blog soon makes you stop. Such is the situation in the province of Beni in Bolivia. No walls at all and  sticks support the roof.

AguaYaku

I heard from my friend Dorinda up in the highlands in the province of Cochabamba, another of the effected areas, but she did not mention the rains and I am guessing that they are okay. Dorinda had written to let me know that she had mailed the box of woven bands that I had ordered from the weaving cooperative that my teacher Maxima heads. Dorinda blogs about her work with Maxima and the weavers of Huancarani at PAZA Bolivia.

Exciting! As the post office box I use is in someone else’s name, I had to be patient and wait for my treasure to be picked up.

packagedbands from CochabambaMy home is a disaster of warps, yarn and sticks right now as I am well into prep for my spring teaching tour. I really had to resist opening the packages straight away, unfolding the luscious bands, and laying them out to view on every available space. Dorinda included a list of the weavers and each band is tagged with the weaver’s name. She also sent me a document with a short story on each of the ladies. It so nice to handle one of the bands, look at the picture of the weaver and read her story.

Cochabamba bands in boxOnce I had put things in order, two days later, I opened the packages and  released all those lovely aromas of wool, dyestuffs, and “campo”.

I like to feel the cloth. The yarn is the weavers’ own handspun, most often made with fleece from their own flocks. The colors are all natural and were created from cochineal and local plants.

Which weaver would be considered the best amongst her peers, I wonder. Whose cloth is the stiffest? This seems to be one of the things that the weavers themselves appreciate. I wonder which pattern they would consider the most complex. What different effects did they achieve in their use of warp and weft colors? Who matched the weft color to the edge color and who used a contrast color to create attractive little dots along the edge? Whose color combination was vastly different to everyone else’s?

Did they all get together and decide not to duplicate the patterns or was that just a happy coincidence? Were any made by the teenagers who are still in training?

Without unfolding them, I picked out two which I considered my favorites. I was happy to see that one of the two had been woven my Maxima. I wondered if I had simply recognized her style.

Fifteen different weavers had made the bands with no repetition of color arrangement and just two patterns duplicated. The width of the stripes of color ,and the narrow strips of threaded-in pattern that sometimes separate them, was in a form that was often repeated and could be characteristic of certain communities or even families.

???????????????????????????????Seventeen bands were patterned with complementary-warp designs and three used a supplementary-warp structure.

The weavers used a complementary-warp structure to create the patterns on these bands.

The weavers used a complementary-warp structure to create the patterns on these bands.

One of the bands with pattern created with supplementary warps is on the right.

The band on the right is one of those which was patterned with supplementary warps.

The second of the two bands that I had picked out as favorites was made by Narciza, Maxima’s older sister. I just love Narciza’s color combinations. Below you can see her adding a tubular border to one of her woven pieces. As is done in Peru, she uses a forked stick to hold the cross for this particular type of patterned tubular band. Strangely, younger sister Maxima never learned to weave this kind of tubular band with its distinctive eye pattern and only recently learned it at the Tinkuy in Cusco last year.

Narciza Cortez

DioniciaDionicia Crespo is the oldest weaver in Hauncarani still weaving to sell at 82 years old!

Of course, her fading eyesight plays a role in the straightness of her edges, Dorinda tells me.

She doesn’t have glasses. Somebody told me the women are embarrassed to try out reading glasses because glasses are associated with education and the Huancarani weavers are illiterate (Dorinda)

Her edges look good to me!

You can see her at left preparing her frame for warping.

???????????????????????????????

advianaBands that represent three stages of life….you can see 82-year old  Dionicia’s band above on the left. A piece by Vilma, Maxima’s eldest daughter, is in the middle and the band created by the youngest weaver of this collection of bands, 18-year old Adviana, is on the right.

Dorinda tells me that Adviana is one of the few of the younger generation who has learned how to weave. 

When she began weaving to sell through PAZA she relied on her grandmother´s assistance, but now weaves on her own. (Dorinda)

???????????????????????????????Family traits? The band on the left is Maxima’s, daughter Vilma’s is in the middle and older sister Narciza’s is on the right.

Mxima demonstrating at Tinkuy 2013 and daughter Vilma collecting flowers for the dyepot.

Maxima demonstrating at Tinkuy 2013 and daughter Vilma collecting flowers for the dyepot.

A couple more pictures to finish before I put the bands back in their box….

Cochabamba bands 1

Cochabamba bands 2Enough color? Let me calm things down a bit now with some black and white.

A question was asked in one of the forums this week about what kind of weaving software people use. There are still quite a lot of good old fashioned paper-and-pencil people around amongst those who were excitedly discussing all the ins and outs of the various available programs.

charting for backstrap weaving

black panel for all hanging backstrap weavingMe? I am a paper-and-pencil gal. That’s the new panel for the wall hanging over which I have been dithering. I love charting this way. It makes me feel like a kid again and it is very relaxing. While a young fellow dangled from a cage outside my window and hacked away at my wall, I calmy colored in cells on my graph paper. Prior to that, I had just as calmly sat and  made four sets of string heddles of 353 ends each on that black and white cotton warp.

If you are thinking that that is a weird-looking pattern, you are right! I really have no idea what this will end up looking like even after sampling! I just need to dive in and do it. I fussed over it more than usual….measuring, shifting things about, uncrossing warps, measuring again and finally got the first weft shot in. That always feels good. I am weaving this in double weave. It is embedded double weave as there is a very narrow plain-weave border on either side.

???????????????????????????????I finished the silk bookmark that was part of the Ravelry event but I am calling it a sample for now. There are several things about it with which I am not pleased and, as I have plenty of warp left, I will start it again with improvements.

The silk is lovely to work with! Using the four sets of string heddles and a pick-up stick I never have to actually touch the threads. I worked with this same silk as supplementary weft last summer and it was horrid to handle with sweaty hands.

The bookmark is light and supple…just the right thickness to slip between pages. I am pleased with all that. Now to fix that other stuff that I don’t like as much.

While on the subject of double weave, Scott has allowed me to show pictures that he posted of his double-weave sample band. He is studying the one-weft version from my tutorial here and has done a really good job.

scott double weaveRavelry projects have been coming in as we approach the end of the Sochi Games…

kim's bagKim finished her piece and sewed int a small bag for which she also wove a strap. Now she is on the lookout for a button to close it.

joyful and juliaJoyful has been converting her flowere doodles into patterns using embroidery floss as supplementary weft on her plain-weave band. Julia will use purple cloth with her finished piece along with her sewing talents to create something useful.

Another week comes to a close with dozens of warps prepared for my spring tour. I try and mix it up…a little prep, a little weaving for myself. I hope to make some good progress on the wall hanging this coming week.

Bye for now.

Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 14, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Let the Games Begin

I think that there will be many people around the world right now in need of a splash of color…for example, those in the US watching the snow pile up outside or the ice slowly encasing everything, those in Europe battling mud and flood waters. Here in Bolivia we have our own weather-related problems. In the highlands, floods and mudslides have caused deaths. Here in Santa Cruz it just rains and rains….hasn’t stopped for any significant period of time since January 19. It was welcome. It kept the temperature down. But now I have a small stream running down my bedroom wall…..

DSC04308_mediumSo, here is some color courtesy of Julia from the Ravelry Backstrap Weaving Group. The Games have begun, we are in the midst of our Ravellenic Games weave-along, and Julia chose her colors from her stash of 10/2 cotton. You can see the Guatemalan band which will inspire her project. And amidst all the white outside in her northeastern US home, she photographed her warp and the start of her weaving.

juliaThe large project that I warped this week isn’t exactly cheery. It will be the center panel of my next wall hanging which will have a design inspired by textiles of the tropical lowlands…

???????????????????????????????I have wound black and white strands together as one to create a warp for warp-faced double weave. There are just over 500 doubled ends. The woven piece won’t be as wide as the warp you see here as all the threads that are now lying in one plane will be used to create two layers…a double weave. I was taught this structure in a very simple way in Potosi, Bolivia using just two sheds…one held by a set of string heddles and the other by a shed rod. However, many Bolivian weavers use four sheds…three sets of string heddles and a shed rod… and that is what I shall do with this piece as the thread is fine and there are lots of them. Having the threads divided amongst four sets of heddles will make the pick-up a lot easier.

Weaving on the staked-out ground loom in Potosi

My lessons in weaving warp-faced double weave with two sheds on a staked-out ground loom in Potosi.

Belts made in one-weft double weave technique in Potosi

Double weave belts from Potosi

A double-weave chuspa made for the Carnival celebrations by Beatris Flores of Independecia, Bolivia

A double-weave chuspa (with some strips of complementary-warp pick-up) made for the Carnival celebrations by Beatris Flores of Independencia, Bolivia. Photo by Dorinda Dutcher.

four heddle double weaveI am doing the same with my double-weave Ravellenic Games piece. I opted for four sets of string heddles. I am using 60/2 silk and 200 ends and it is easier for me to do the pick-up with this set-up. The disadvantage is that the warp is cluttered with heddles and they take up a lot of space which means that I may not be able to weave as close to the end of this warp as I usually would. However, I always have the option of easily reverting to the two-shed method if I so choose.

I wanted to choose a project with a sports theme as the Ravellenic Games are being run in conjunction with the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. This Ravelry event is a nice way to do something together online and create some community spirit.

This project is a silk bookmark with an inspirational quote for my nephew who is a triathlete. He has many such quotes on his bedroom wall which I am sure help him through his rigorous training program. The one we chose says “The pain of discipline is nothing like the pain of failure”. I am sure that he must recite that when he has to get up pre-dawn on winter days to swim laps.

first lettering sample in clea cottonFirst, the sampling.

I had to figure out what kind of letters to use. I used Linda Hendrickson’s book Please Weave a Message for inspiration. The book has charts for many different beautiful fonts to be woven with tablets. I tried a letter “T” in the intermesh structure (at left)  and it took a few attempts to get it right. However, I decided that double weave would give the letters a smoother look.

Charts for tablet weaving differ to those used for the double weave I do in that the cells are stacked one on top of the other. I had to adapt them to the double weave charts which have staggered cells. I chose a font from Linda’s book and used it as a guide.  I completely changed some letters as I simply didn’t like their form in that particular font so, the letters I am using in the end are a bit of this and a bit of that.

??????????????????????

Then came more sampling on the purple warp, this time in double weave, to check proportions and then another sample in the silk. My project was shrinking fast!

I warped the silk to weave the quote in three lines rather than in one long line. Linda’s tablet-woven phrases are woven in one long ribbon and look beautiful that way as banners on the wall. I wanted my project to be a bookmark. It will be a rather wide one at just under two inches, but should be the right length for a book.

silk bookmark backstrap weavingI have to admit that weaving the word “pain” not once, but twice was not the jolliest thing. Then for a while I was left reading  “The pain is not the pain” which sounded like something over which I needed to go meditate! Thank goodness new words are now appearing. I have “discipline” and “failure” to look forward to!

Now I am thinking that fancy lettering like this might look better in one long strip. It wouldn’t make a very practical bookmark, though.

Here are some projects from other participants in the Ravelry event….

kim's warp for backstrap weavingWe all come up with different ways to wind our warps depending on the space in which we can work . This is Kim’s system.

joyful's warp for backstrap weavingJoyful warps on a vertical frame and weaves with a backstrap set-up. She is planning on decorating a plain weave band with patterns in supplementary weft.

kimyurt bandKim has been practicing the yurt band border that I have in a tutorial here. I showed you some of her samples last week which were woven in lighter colors. She is going for a stronger contrast in this project and it looks spectacular.

Jennifer is weaving the side panels for a bag for which she wove the fabric recently. Then she will weave a strap….

jennifers strap backstrap weavingShe wove from one end and created a third selvedge for one of the two panels and has now turned the loom around to weave from the other end.

Paul is weaving a plain-weave sample with wool. It is his first backstrap weaving experience ever and says that it is going along well.  His goal for the Games is to wind a warp, set up continuous string heddles, and weave cloth on a backstrap loom. He is well on his way. He was the one who suggested we form this group for the Games and we look forward to seeing what he has been creating.

A weaving of the Jalq'a people of Potolo, Bolivia.

A weaving of the Jalq’a people of Potolo, Bolivia.

I have been doing some fiddling about behind the scenes on the blog.

First, I created a new page called “Structures and Terminology” on which I hope, with pictures and videos, to explain some of the terms that I frequently use when describing the pieces that are woven by indigenous weavers here in South America.

The first part is on the Complementary-Warp structure, a very complex  example of which can be seen at left.

The second thing I did was create a whole new web page which I would like to use as a GALLERY. The new page is subtitled “Textiles with muli-cultural influences woven on a backstrap loom.”

It is mostly visual with very brief descriptions of some of the ethnic textiles and motifs that have influenced my projects. There are only two items on it so far. It has been sitting unpublished for over a year while I wait to take better pictures. Well, I never did re-do the pictures but I may replace some of them as time goes by. What better motivation to do so than to just go ahead and publish! Now it is out there and I need to get to work. I hope you will take a look.

I am expecting a box from Cochabamba any day now from Dorinda and Maxima from which will pour forth COLOR!…lots of bands made by the weavers of  Independencia. I hope that I can show them to you next week.

Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 7, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Lucky Finishes

Sometimes it is just all about luck.

closing gap discontinuous warp four selvedgeYou may remember from last week’s post that I was happy about having been able to weave my pick-up pattern uninterrupted all the way from one selvedge to the other on this discontinuous-warp four-selvedge piece. Whether I would be able to pull it off on the other half of the warp remained to be seen.

I measured and estimated. The were four weft shots in the sequence for this tiny motif and I wanted to see if I would be in just the right shed to be able to close the gap between the two woven ends without interrupting the pattern. My estimates told me that it wasn’t going to work. What to do? Well, just weave on and see what I can come up with at the very end. There was nothing at that point that I could have done about it and I might have been able to find some kind of creative solution.

discontinuous warp finishedAs it turns out, it worked! My estimates had told me that it wouldn’t, which only goes to show you how little control I really had over it and how much depended in the end on pure luck. The terracotta wool is rather streaky. The ties were too tight on the skein when it was dyed. I am okay with the resulting rustic look. It goes with other defects such as the change in tone when I ran out of white weft and had to use terracotta. It has been a fun experiment.

??????????????????????Bolivian and Peruvian weavers, as far as I have seen, never bother to try and match up their patterns in this way on four-selvedge pieces. My tiny motif is nothing compared to the complex patterns that they generally weave into their pieces. A typical finish on a complementary-warp piece looks like this….(this piece is from Calcha, Bolivia)

??????????????????????The weaver  abandons the pick-up pattern and uses the two basic sheds, in this case, one in each color, to close the gap. The last few weft passes create horizontal bars. That small piece of plain weave  comes out wider than the warp-float patterned areas.

Supplementary-warp patterning requires less space in which to maneuver as the weaver does not need to create a picking cross. He or she simply reaches down with fingers or stick to the lower layer of threads and picks up the warps that are needed for the pattern while dropping others from the top layer. As I showed you last week, some weavers who use this structure weave the design uninterrupted right to the very end of the piece and abandon it to the basic sheds only for the last three or four weft passes (the example below is from Pitumarca, Peru).

finishing-backstrap-weavings

terminal-areasThis piece from the Cusco region of Peru has both supplementary and complementary-warp patterns and the weaver has chosen to end all in the same way and place.

Double weave is something else again! My teacher in Potosi showed me when to abandon the pick-up and start using the two basic sheds, each with double the amount of threads for the two layers of cloth now being squeezed into a single layer. The needle-weaving part was horrendous! Here you can see my dear teacher Hilda, poor eyesight and all, showing me the final steps….

hilda finsihing a pieceSo, my terracotta piece was taken off the loom and I was ready to weave and attach the tubular band . I had created a warp for a tubular band for another piece that I had woven a few weeks ago and had decided not to use it. Although I think that a band with a dark brown base would have suited this piece a lot better, I simply didn’t have any suitable dark brown wool. This was the next best thing.

??????????????????????First, a wee sample…I had lots of this warp which had been originally planned for a much larger piece so I was able to weave an independent band and lay it along the edge to see if the colors really did suit. As you know, a tubular band is generally woven and sewn to the cloth at the same time using the weft as the sewing thread. I have a tutorial on that here.

tubular band on ticlla pieceIt’s done, and that heralds the end of the summer wool adventure. I learned a lot and have three study pieces to remind me of that.

woolstudy pieces four selvedge and ticllaNow it is time to get on with other things.

I have ideas swirling in my head about my next piece in the wall hanging series. When I finally have something to show you, you will see that the word “swirl” is very appropriate for describing the design on which I am working.

As is my custom, I am belly down on the floor with charting paper and pencil and a small mountain of accumulated eraser dust. They say that the third time is the charm. Not so. I go to bed thinking that I have everything in place but then wake up next day to see that something very obvious needs changing. I am weaving samples as I go which is a good thing as many of the needed changes that were not so obvious on paper scream at me from the woven fabric!

I plan to weave this fifth wall hanging in three panels and join them with weft twining just as I did for hanging number four. With this piece I hope to represent techniques and design influences from  tropical lowland regions of Peru.

Nora Rogers experimentThis study piece of a wristlet woven by the Mayoruna people of Amazonian Peru,  made by the late Nora Rogers, will help me design the red side panels.

shipibo wristletsI won’t be using the traditional type of loom, though! All those tiny sticks hold the pattern sheds. The weaver picks up the threads for a pattern shed, passes the weft, inserts a stick and stores it at the end of the warp. He/she continues doing this for every shed. I tried to count the sticks on the above piece and got at least sixty. When the weaver reaches the mid-way point of the pattern he/she can then satrt drawing the sticks forward to open the shed, pass the weft and then discard the stick. The next stick in sequence is then drawn forward and so on until all sticks have been removed. Then the process of inserting the sticks starts again. 

I can’t wait to get started but I want to finish charting the pattern for the center black and white panel first.

Here is my sampling warp in black and white….

???????????????????????????????I told you a few weeks ago that I was seeing swirly patterns in my wool warp as I stared down at the lines of warp threads. Those swirly lines are what have led me to this latest project idea and, funnily, also led a friend of mine to write and ask me if I was suffering from some kind of medical condition! Now I stare down at the warp lines in this new sample and, as I open the shed and clear it down to the weaving line, I see ikat-like patterns. I am wondering if this is trying to offer up clues to me as to why warps shift in different ways while weaving (despite your best efforts to stop them!) causing ikat patterns to develop their characteristic feathered effect.  

Team Backstrap is starting its weave-along in the Ravelry Group tomorrow as the Sochi Winter Games commence. I have something in mind to make with a sports theme but we will have to see if I can get out to buy the yarn tomorrow. So far, I know that Jennifer is planning to weave a strap for a bag and Julia has something planned with a colorful Guatemalan theme. She was given some 10/2 thread in many colors which she used in this wall hanging…

julia bhutan intermeshThe motif was inspired by designs from Bhutan which you can find in David K Barker’s free downloadable pattern books. Check my RESOURCES page for the links. I love everything about this….the gradation of colors which border the pattern which she also cleverly used in the weft twining. She used the intermesh structure for both the solid and patterned areas. Those of you who have my Andean Pebble Weave book will know the intermesh structure described there in the section on thick borders. I teach intermesh as a patterning technique in my second book. I like the neat braided ends of Julia’s weft twining. I usually leave mine in a state of wildness.

And to finish, as I have been talking about luck in this post, here are two people who have had extraordinary luck rummaging about at thrift stores and garage sales in California….

1157544_10203147433553344_313383261_nMy friend Yonat posted this to one of the finger-weaving groups on Facebook in order to be able to identify it for the friend who had picked it up at a garage sale in the seventies. It caused high excitment in that group, I can tell you! One of the experts thinks that it was probably made during the period of Standardization from 1830-1850 and, because of the pink thread that has been used, was most likely made in the region of Lanaudière. What a treasure!

I am so thaknful to Lausanne and Brian who took me to Quebec last fall to meet two sash weavers in L’Assomption.

And then, a Facebook acquaintance showed me a lucky find in a flea market in Pasadena in 2001….

huichol otomi bandIsn’t that gorgeous?! The Huichol, Cora and Otomi people of Mexico weave these kinds of pieces using a balanced double-weave pick-up structure. From internet sources alone, it is not yet clear to me which motifs in particular belong to which group or if the same motifs are woven by all. After only being able to look at examples online, I would love to touch and handle this belt! I used examples of Huichol and Otomi work that I had found online as well as a surprsingly similar motif from Scandinavia to weave the piece below. It is exciting to be able to see what looks like an old piece in such fine condition. 

huichol otomoi inspired backstrap weavingThat’s all for this week. Here’s wishing you all lashings of good luck in your projects this week! 

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