Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 25, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Simply Red (and Black and White)!

These are the best light conditions I could find for photographing the red-on-red pattern on the two side panels of my wall hanging.

The late, low, winter sun was wafting in through my bedroom window and I looked up from my weft twining to discover how well the light and shadow brought out the relief pattern. I have posed these pieces all over the place…on the floor, on the table, in this room and that…used natural light and flash, held the camera in my hand, and used a tripod, and was not happy with any of the results. All I got was a flat red mass.

And then, there I was, happily seated with my backstrap in place and the warp stretched out before me. The light came to me through the window and gave me the shot at last.

sunlight on red panels backstrap weavingIt was great after all this time to be able to see how the red panels looked beside the center one. The tricky part was lining the three panels up precisely and have them suspended under the same amount of tension so that I could twine across the top of all three at the same time.

I still can’t decide which face of the double weave looks better…

back of double weave panelI used the solid stepped lines and the arrow motif as part of the weft-twined pattern in much the same way as I had in the red panels…

finished weft twining on backstrap loomI need to do a bit more solid black twining to finish. That will be the part that gets clamped within the wooden hanger. Once off the loom, I will decide how to finish the ends of the twined wefts and how I will cut the fringe around those long woven tabs at the other end (see below).I need to contemplate that for a while. Once cut, that will be that, and I want to get it right!

finishing the shipibo backstrap pieceSo, it is time to move on to the next project….a clean slate and a bunch of sticks…exciting!

I bought a large cone of UKI 20/2 cotton for the next project with which I have never woven before. That means it is time to sample the yarn while I play with ideas for the ikat  in the next wall hanging. I’ve been at the sketch book creating hooky designs. Whether I am creating a design that is way beyond my limited wrapping skills, remains to be seen.

First, I need to get an idea of what kind of width I can get with X number of ends in the 20/2 cotton and so I wound a short-ish warp as a sample.

To make it more interesting, I decided that I could play a bit with the silk that I recently bought at CNCH and try a new-to-me supplementary-weft technique that is used for decorating hair sashes from Jacaltenango in Guatemala. Dr Carol Ventura has written a book about the Jacaltenango hair sashes. I have owned this book for years and once dabbled with the technique many, many years ago. As is always the case when using supplemental weft, the success of the project is very much dependent on finding the right kind of material for the supplemental weft for the weight of the ground cloth. While I understood the technique, my sample was downright ugly because my supplemental weft was too “light” for the ground cloth and there were large gaps between the rows of pattern. Then, I got distracted and wandered off in another direction.

I don’t even know where that sample is now. It was obviously not worth keeping. However, seeing a Jacaltenango hair sash that one of my students brought to class in Seattle last spring re-ignited my desire to try this technique….

jacaltenango hair sashI have made mistakes in my new sample and my count is off. I will un-weave this and start again now that I have a better feel for handling and counting these fine warp threads.  Hopefully the next attempt will be better. In the meantime,  this 20/2 white sample will give me a good idea of how many ends I will need to wind for my next wall hanging panel. I like two-fers.

backstrap sample with new cottonAnd, do I feel confident about this next ikat project? No, not at all! My experience with ikat has been quite limited but I figure that I may as well just jump in there. I do know from my own experience that the wrapping and dyeing part, although painfully slow, is relatively easy. For me, the hardest part has been keeping the warps well enough aligned while weaving so that my motif remains recognizable. Yet, I don’t want them to be so rigidly aligned that I lose the feathery outlines that make ikat so charming. This is one of my tiny attempts…

three ikat motifsHere are some narrow strips of ikat that I placed in a piece that includes supplementary-weft patterns…

strips of ikat backstrap weavingAnd finally, this experiment involved dyeing and then removing some of the wraps to dye again for a second color.

ikat book coverWay back in 1998, my weaving teacher in Candelaria, Bolivia showed me the first piece of ikat I had ever been able to handle. It was a  bedspread on which she had been working on and off for several years. This was something she was weaving for herself rather than the usual pieces that she weaves for the store in the museum in Sucre.  She was weaving with rather coarse handspun wool and her name and her husband’s had been worked in amongst the flower motifs..

stitched-ikatI’ve examined the wrapped warps, the finished cloth, and watched the weavers at work in many different places in my travels in South and Central America, trying to capture the secret of limiting the amount of  movement of the warp threads and the resulting image distortion. Below are examples from Chile, Ecuador and Peru.


ikat weaver Bulcay Ecuador

The simple backstrap loom of Tacabamba, Peru on which the indigo ikat-patterned "panones" are woven. They are up to one-meter wide, covered with tiny motifs and have patterns knotted into their fringes.

The simple backstrap loom of Tacabamba, Peru on which the indigo ikat-patterned “panones” are woven. They are up to one-meter wide, covered with tiny motifs and have patterns knotted into their fringes.

So, that is what I have been up to this last week….

Meanwhile, there has been a fair bit of red, black and white appearing online in the various places where band weavers hang out.

Cheryl Taylor took an Andean Pebble Weave class with me this last spring at Lake Tahoe and now she is already designing her own motifs and weaving more than just samples.

cheryl (3)She designed the gecko figure and I love the arrow motifs at the bottom which remind me of little boomerangs. This will be a strap for her camera. I showed you some weeks ago the sample bands that she wove in preparation for this project. Here is the completed weaving…

cheryl finished camera strap pebble weave backsrapThe center motif is charted in my second book and is a pattern that I adapted from tablet-woven band by Louise Ström.

Ann Mester created this enticing warp for backstrap weaving which could be used for complementary-warp pick-up techniques like Andean Pebble Weave, or simple warp floats, or just to create attractive horizontal bars of black and white…

ann mester fb (2)Rufio, the kitten (who would look very stylish with a red collar) was rescued from Pet Rescue of Mercer.

Susan AndersonAnd, if you are wondering about what I call “simple warp floats, the technique that I used on the red-on-red panels, Susan Anderson’s example. above, very clearly shows the single-faced nature of this pick-up technique. Susan has floated the warp threads singly. For me, this gives a more delicate yet solid look to the motifs than that which is achieved by floating pairs. The pattern is from Anne Dixon’s The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory. Susan wove this on an inkle loom and has done a beautiful job.

So, it will most likely be all about winding the warp and then finding a comfortable position and set-up for wrapping many many threads for ikat this coming week…

cropped-ikatThis was my first ever attempt, around eight years ago, I would guess. It’s wool warp…Navajo warp…wrapped with cassette tape. The wrapping and dyeing were successful…the weaving was not! This is another sample that has disappeared!…nothing to show for those hours of work except this picture and “experience”.  And I am sure that there will be much more experience to be gained and  many more lessons to be learned in this coming week.

See you next week…














Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 18, 2014

Backstrap Weaving -The Bag of Tricks

I had to dig deep into the bag of tricks this week to come up with a new idea for finshing off my latest three-panel wall hanging. Two days of experimenting with the structure that I had hoped to use for the two outer red panels finally led me to the conclusion that it just was not going to be as I had envisioned. It was time to plan again and take a look at all that I have at my disposal in my “bag of tricks”.  And there is a lot of stuff in that bag of tricks after having spent almost 18 years now studying weaving techniques and simple looms used in South America.

main panel of Shipibo inspired wall hanging backstrap loomThe main panel for the wall hanging is now finished. I can’t cut it off the loom yet to better show you the stepped effect of the woven fringe as I will need to place the two red panels, when I am done weaving them,  on this same loom and then twine across the top of all three to join them together.

It is always fun turning a finished piece over to look at the other side. I have been looking at white squiggles on black for so long now as I inched my way through this weaving. Yes, literally inched. I took note of my progress on the woven fringe part and it was pretty much an inch a day.

light sde of shipibo inspired hanging off loomThis side actually looks more like the painted Shipibo cloth that inspired this project. It is much more common to see light cloth with dark lines. But I don’t have to make any decisions here about which side to show. It needs to be the dark side in order to match the other pieces in this wall hanging series.

I want this second wall hanging to represent the weavers of the tropical lowland regions of Peru. For that reason I had chosen to use the structure that is used by people of the upper Amazon Basin to make wristlets.

shipibo-wristletsI have never been to that part of Peru and so was relying on a sample that I had been given from the work of Nora Rogers and Ann Blinks as well as notes by Cheryl Samuel in order to reproduce the structure. I bought red hemp twine for this project while in the USA. The weave is based on having twined warp threads lying next to what Samuel calls a “half basket weave”.

wristletI did succeed in reproducing the structure but the hemp twine did not give the design the relief that I had been hoping for. It was just a flat red mass at which I had to peer in just the right light in order to make out the pattern.I tried all kinds of weft and beat but I simply could not get the desired effect.  Nevertheless, I found myself sitting alone stupidly squealing with happiness as the piece started to take shape. It was a joy just to able to reproduce it but a disppointment  not to be able to use it in my hanging.

Back to the drawing board. I wanted something that would be all red but with texture and, of course, something that would represent textile techniques of the lowlands.

But, of course….simple warp floats!

shipibo pattern in simple warp floatsSome time ago I had woven the placemat, above, using a two-color simple warp float technique. I copied the pattern from a cotton bag from tropical lowland Peru that Teyacapan shows on her Flickr page. The design is one that I have also seen painted and even embroidered on Shipibo cloth.

The set of placemats I wove became a study of the use of this structure in several regions across the globe…

backstrap weaving placemats simple warp floatsAt the Encuentro de Tejedores that I attended in Cusco in 2012, I was able to observe Matsigenka backstrap weavers from Bajo Urubamba creating striking black and white pieces with their handspun cotton. The pieces were decorated with patterns that were created from simple warp floats.


Photo by Jennifer Moore

Photo by Jennifer Moore

The picture above was taken at Tinkuy 2013 in Cusco and shows a weaver from Pacaya, in tropical lowland Peru, weaving a warp float pattern with handspun cotton on a backstrap loom.

It isn’t necessary to have two colors to create patterns in this structure. If I used an all-red warp, I could create patterns of raised red-on-red….textured patterns rather than colored ones.  I also had a Mexican sash that my friend Annie MacHale had given me way back in 2010. I then remembered that weaving a single- colored piece with warp float patterns had been on my to-do list for some time. It was all coming together nicely!

???????????????????????????????The weaver of this Mexican sash has alternated a heavy warp thread (doubled threads) with fine to create a high-relief pattern in white on white.

???????????????????????????????Above, you can see my red experiments…the hemp twine wristlet structure and the red-on-red simple warp floats.

red-on-red simplewarp floatsI experimented with floating pairs and floating single threads and decided that single was the way to go. I wanted the pattern to be fairly delicate and subtle so as not to interfere with all that is going on in the main black-and-white panel. I decided to weave the solid lines of the main panel with the arrow motif in the center.

I set up both panels on the one loom in the same way that I had done for the first wall hanging. This would ensure that both came out the same way.


red on red panels on backstrap loom

arrow motif red on red panelsYou’ll have to trust me when I tell you that these panels are deep red and not the weird pinkish-red that you see here.

Now it is time to start sketching ideas for the weft-twined pattern that will go across the top of the finished three panels. I remember I had a heck of a time with the twining on the first wall hanging trying to group the warps correctly so that the twined width matched the woven width. Hopefully it won’t take as many attempts this time to get it right!

And in my spare moments I doodle and think about wall hanging number three…the ikat one. Luckily I have a giant cone of thread and a a huge roll of ikat tape (thank you Betty!). I expect there to be a few do-overs for that one! I am also hoping to use supplementary-weft to create patterns on that piece. These ideas are just sloshing around in my mind for now but I hope to base the overall design on hook motifs in positive and negative space like the ones I played with recently in silk supplementary weft on cotton…hook motif mirrored and flippedThen there will be the third series of wall hangings in which I hope to put what I learned with my ticlla (discontinuous warp) experiments to use….using wool and the red-black-and-white combo, of course!

dovetail join ticlla waddington

ticlla with supplementary weft inlayI have spent a lot of time putting that big bag of tricks together. It is nice to be able to use these experiments to create bigger things. I look way, way ahead and I get excited about all these projects as I inch my way along!

See you next week.







Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 11, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Making Way for Things to Come

airport world cup 2014If you read my Boomerang Effect blog post a few weeks ago you will know that my first attempt to get back home to Bolivia after my Sydney visit was not successful. On the second attempt the boomerang sailed over the Pacific Ocean and all the way across the USA, showing no signs of returning to its place of origin, until… it hit a palm tree in Miami and got hung up there swinging around in circles.

I can think of worse place to get stuck for a few days but when you have been away for three months all you want to do is get home! The airport was lively and colorful with large tv screens showing Wimbeldon and the FIFA World Cup. Enthusiastic crowds of all nationalities gathered around. It passed the time. Of course, it would have been a whole lot jollier if the USA hadn’t lost its football match.

I tried to be productive, sat down with my laptop, and poured out the entire Table of Contents for my third book. That felt like an enormous hurdle. Then came a list of all the pictures that need to be taken for each chapter. That done, I was all the more eager to get home and get stuck into it.

???????????????????????????????In the end, I bought a ticket on the Bolivian airline BoA (Boliviana de Aviacion) who had recently added Miami to its system and was offering very good fares, free checked bags, and some of the best Economy Class airplane food I have had in ages.

The coolest thing about BoA was the flight attendant uniform.

They each had a handwoven warp-faced cotton pick-up patterned band made by weavers from the Bolivian lowlands sewn to their pants…very cool!

I had left my brother’s place in Sydney at 9am on Monday and got to my door at 9pm Thursday (Sydney time). It was quite a trip! The jet lag was huge. I have finally reached the point where I can eat lunch without falling asleep in my plate.

The BoA uniforms with their woven bands had stirred me into a longing to be home and back at my loom.

Killing time in the souvenir and Duty Free stores in Sydney airport had already given me guilty reminders of the abandoned project on my backstrap loom at home awaiting my return….here’s one item…

aboriginal art souvenirThis Aboriginal Art souvenir reminded me of the squiggly lines in my Shipibo-inspired project which was the last thing on which I had been working before leaving home in March…

Shipibo inspired wall hanging backstrap weavingI hadn’t packed it away and had simply covered it over wth a sheet. There it lay on the floor with the various shuttles, swords and pick-up sticks that I had been using to weave this double weave with its multiple heddles. It took a me a little while to get back into the rhythm to follow the sequence in which I had been putting all those tools to use…

finishing the shipibo backstrap pieceNow I have finished the main design and am weaving a “‘fringe” of sorts. I divided the fringe into seven sections and am weaving each separately in double weave. I need seven inches of  ”fringe” to complete the panel and have just reached halfway. Each section will be a different length with the center one being the longest and the two outer ones the shortest, creating a stepped effect. Years ago, my brother had sent me a picture of a Native American piece in a London museum that had been finished this way and I have been wanting to do that myself ever since.

twining on backstrap wall hangingThe picture above shows two balls of dark red hemp twine alongside the woven panel.

I hope to create two outer panels with this twine using a structure that includes warp-twining that is used by lowland weavers in Peru to make wristlets. The outer panels will be a quiet solid dark red so as not to clash with the crazy busy-ness of the center panel. The three panels will then be joined together across the top with weft twining. There is a long way to go before I get to that point. Much sampling with the hemp twine needs to be done first.

This will be the second piece of three in the second series of red-black-and-white hangings. That’s the first piece above left.

???????????????????????????????Things to come…exciting! There are a couple of varieties of hemp twine in tis picture along with an example of the wristlet structure. You can also see the super fine bamboo reed that I bought at CNCH, now removed from its heavy frame and ready to be used on my backstrap loom. I can’t wait to try it out with some silk. The cone of white thread is the 20/2 perle cotton that I want to use for the third wallhanging…an ikat piece…and there’s some of the black dye that I’ll use for that. I am not sure if I will have time to get that started before I have to leave again but I am happy to have more time in which to ponder that one. I seem to get some of my best ideas while sitting on planes!

???????????????????????????????Then there’s the gorgeous 60/2 silk that I got at CNCH waiting to be used as supplementary weft. The large skeins of silk were given to me by my friend Susan in Sydney. It’s a heavier weight silk than the Redfish Dyeworks skeins and I am thinking of using it as the warp for a brocade project.

The project ideas go piling up. You can probably tell that I am pretty excited about being home again.

My weaving friends in Sydney remain in mind. Emerald has been sending me updates on her progress as she weaves off all the projects that we started in our two days together…

emeralds pebble weave collageThat lovely green warp is now a piece of Andean Pebble Weave patterned fabric ready to be made into a cell phone pouch. That’s my second book that she has opened on the floor. I was showing her how to read the spotted charts. That particular motif also appears in the first book.

sewing and weaving tuular band emeraldHere she is weaving and sewing a tubular edging to the pouch.

emeralds cell phone pouch and intermeshThere’s the finished pouch along with her intermesh sample band.

One of the good things about having to stay longer in Sydney than expected was that I got to visit with the Springwood group of weavers again up in the Blue Mountains at Helen Halpin’s place. What a lively and enthusiastic group of weavers! They meet once a month and there is always a lot of show-and-tell.

Yvonne, who had taken my Andean Pebble Weave class a couple of weeks earlier, brought in a band that she had since warped and woven. She had played about and created some of her own patterns. I love that! What was also interesting was that she had used bamboo thread. I have never considered using it as I had always thought that it would be too soft. Yvonne’s band felt lovely.

???????????????????????????????In the Ravelry group, Kim has been progressing with the two-color simple warp-float technique while copying as well as adapting motifs from Central Asian textiles. This piece is beautifully woven and I love the combination of colors. I am surprised at how well that green stands out from that background color….inspiration to be more adventurous with color choices.

kimberley swfKeith has formed a South American band weaving study group at the Weavers’ Guild of Minnesota. One of the members took a class with me at the Mannings last spring and it is nice that they can now study some pick-up weaving techniques together and support each other. Keith posted this picture of some of the first bands with some thoughts of what could be improved. He won me over right from the start with his color choice!

keithScott, a Facebook buddy, posted this striking double weave piece that he started some time ago and just finished…

scottSo, here I am back at home. I unpack and put away the yarn and other goodies that I have brought back on this trip. As is my policy when new things come in, old things have to go out…out went the rocking chair this time which opened up a whole lot of space! Even so, the “stick corner” in my bedroom gets increasingly crowded. I brought back a whole bunch of dowels that were being discarded and a couple of shuttles. I need sticks of all kinds of lengths for all kinds of warp widths…cross sticks, heddle rods and coil rods…shuttles and swords. I don’t weave a limited variety of traditional items as many backstrap weavers do and so, I need sticks that are suitable for a vast range of woven widths.

???????????????????????????????It’s a lot of stuff and I wouldn’t part with any of it! And that doesn’t include the 17 large dowels that I cart around for teaching!  Would you believe that there are still times when I can’t find just the right length of stick with the right girth?!

But, the equipment you use can be as complex or simple, as rustic or sophisticated as you want it to be. And it’s always nice to know how to improvise a set-up when there simply isn’t any “equipment” to be found..

???????????????????????????????Or when you just couldn’t be bothered fishing all the gear out of a packed bag…

??????????????????????????????? ….in which case a pencil will do for a front beam and a piece of string for a backstrap. The elastic bands will stop the string from sliding off the pencil.

For narrow bands, no equipment is required if you have a good set of “magic fingers and toes”!

??????????????????????Maxima tensions the warp between her index finger and big toe. Her fingers are used as cross sticks to form the picking cross and fast flying fingers and thumbs select the colored threads to form her patterns. Her hand is her sword and beater.

When sticks specifically for backstrap weaving are simply not to be found, as is often the case in the very highest parts of the Bolivian highlands, all kinds of other things can be called into play…like the spindles that Hilda is using in place of cross sticks while setting up a warp for double weave. Hilda’s large sticks and rods are saved for her horizontal ground loom.

hilda preparing backstrap warpIf I am home and have access to my collection of sticks in their handy bins at the end of my bed, I like to use them. I feel more comfortable with a wide breast beam and a backstrap…a nice wide cushy backstrap….no matter how narrow the warp.

This Mexican weaver from Santo Tomas Jalieza, Oaxaca seems to feel the same way!

Picture from Teyacapan's Flickr page

Picture from Teyacapan’s Flickr page.

So, I will never able to resist grabbing a good stick that comes within reach while I am traveling and bringing it home with me. While there are still things that can be removed from my little home to make space, there will always be room for more sticks!

Finally, I would like to thank everyone so very much  who went over to Facebook and ”liked” my nephew Ryan’s triathlete page at my request last week. Someone even posted a “Weavers for Waddington” comment. That was so cool :-) Ryan was very pleased to see all the new “likes”.  It really made a difference and he got a new sponsor last week…

1176105_696156010456849_9156188001071593550_nYep, that was THE best thing about being held back in Sydney…I got to hang out with Ryan some more.

If you didn’t get over to Facebook last week to “like’ his page, please help him out by going over now. More “likes” mean more sponsorship appeal, I am sure. I was happy to see so many familiar names there as well as some names I didn’t recognize…people who read my blog but with whom I have not yet connected…many thanks to all of you.

And a reminder to the Aussies out there, I had a few copies of Andean Pebble Weave printed while I was in Australia. If you would like to buy a copy, leave a comment here and I will email you.














Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 27, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – The Boomerang Effect

I am supposed to be in Miami airport right now awaiting my flight back to Bolivia. I have had a wonderful month in Australia and it is time to go to my home (the real home in Bolivia).

Off I went to Sydney airport yesterday to get my flight to the US. I put on a brave face after sad goodbyes to family. But here I sit today back in my brother’s Sydney home…it’s a long story!!

Orange banksia give a warm glow to the bush in mid-winter.

Orange banksia give a warm glow to the bush in mid-winter.

The Boomerang Effect! It is common in Australia when lending someone something, to hand the item over while emphasising that it is “a boomerang”. That is to say, it is expected that the item will return to its owner in the same way that a properly thrown boomerang will.

Well, I am feeling rather boomerang-ish today having bounced from home to airport and back again.

Looking on the bright side, this unexpected turn of events means that I can spend more time with my nephew as well as write a blog post today.

It also means that I can go back to the Blue Mountains tomorrow for the gathering of weavers at Helen’s place in Springwood. Yay! All her floor loom weaving friends will be there in the morning for Show and Tell and perhaps people from the Andean Pebble Weave class I gave a few weeks ago will linger for a short study session after lunch. I wasn’t expecting to see them again on his trip, yet here I am boomerang-ing back there!

I love the Blue Mountains! I got to spend even more time up there this last week exploring 4wd back roads and doing a bit of hiking through the beautiful Australian bush.

The banksias that we saw that day make me think of the little ridged baubles that I learned to make with a Guild friend the last time I was here in Sydney…


We walked to lookouts with lovely over Lake Burragorang.

blue mountains sydney

Perched on the end of that rock, I felt like I was sitting in the tree tops…

bush walking in the blue mountainsThe real winter suddenly set in and it was cold!

Last weekend it was still warm enough to take things outside for a bit of warping. I had a group over to my brother’s home for two days of Andean Pebble Weave. We enjoyed the chance to stretch our legs in the fresh air while winding some more warps for sampling and designing.

warping for backsrap weaving sydney


Kelcie gets a new band started with palin pebble weave.

Kelcie gets a new band started with plain pebble weave.

fr-kyriakos-pebble-weaveThe class comprised Kelcie and Jen, who had taken a class with me last November, Pam, whom I have known online for years and who had come over from southern New Zealand for the occasion (Sydney weather was relatively balmy for her!) and father Kyriakos who came up from the monastery in Bombala.

We covered a lot in two days as all the group members had dabbled in Andean Pebble Weave before.

Father Kyriakos, as you may know from having seen his work in previous blog posts, had more than just dabbled in Andean Pebble Weave and has been designing and weaving his own pebble weave patterns. What was he doing in this class?…you might ask. I am glad he came. We have been corresponding for some time and I really wanted to meet him as well as see his projects “in person”. He said that…While your videos have always been a big help and enabled me to do as much as I have so far, having personal demonstrations and answers to my own questions has already helped me to be more efficient and have more understanding of what this weaving is about.

Above,you can see his partly woven backstrap from a photo that he sent me some time ago. The design is one that Julia had created and father Kyriakos added his own elements to it at start and finish. He brought the finished piece along to Sydney to show along with narrower and samples and examples of his own “sotis” work of East Timor that he had studied on floor looms with Australian weaver Kay Faulkner.

???????????????????????????????Kelcie had brought examples of East Timorese weaving when we had woven together last year…

???????????????????????????????Father Kyriakos also brought a Latvian belt, woven using a supplemental-warp technique, that a friend had bought in Latvia and brought back for him. I have seen plenty of pictures of these but never one “in person”…

latvian beltJen brought in pieces that she had bought on a trip to Peru where she had studied tapestry techniques with Maximo Laura. This is a striking embroidered belt that had been made for the tourist market in Arequipa…

embroidered belt from arequipa peruI love the color ideas that these pieces give…I would never think to combine those colors!

Father Kyriakos has been working on and refining a kangaroo motif using the Andean Pebble Weave structure for some time. He also brought along his progress with that to share and I thought that it would make a nice project as a souvenir of my Australian vsit.
One of the tasks that I had set myself for this trip was to investigate the kind of cotton that is available in Sydney stores that would be suitable for warp-faced weaving on backstrap looms. I bought what is labeled as “4-ply” thread at Lincraft. I was told that the name 4-ply in Australia actually refers to the size of the thread rather than to the number of plied strands. In the USA any weight of yarn could comprise four plied strands. It’s a little confusing! I also bought 8-ply versions of this cotton thread at Spotlight and I will give report on this and other available thread in future blog posts.
So, here is the “Kyriakos Kangaroo” woven by me using the Lincraft 4-ply…


barefoot warping for backstrap weavingFather Kyriakos says that he still has some refinements in mind. I played around a bit with the mountains under the kangaroo. They made me think of the southern highlands…the “Australian Alps”…where I had lived and worked for many years.Kangaroos could be spotted now and then on the drive up to the ski fields.

The Lincraft thread is not mercerized but is fairly tightly twisted. It will pill if the heddles are wrenched about and needs to be handled with care. I really like the way it feels. Lincraft has a pretty good range of colors on its shelves.

I set this band up in a very “barefoot” manner.I had already packed all my backstrap weaving gear away and did not feel like fishing out my warping stakes and loom bars.

I warped around my index finger and big toe as my Bolivan weaving teacher, Maxima, does. This is probably the widest thing I have warped this way and, as the threads piled up around my finger, I figured that I was bound to have some tension issues. As it turns out, I didn’t!

When it came time to weave,  you can see, I only got out my sword and used pencils for cross sticks and loom bars. A piece of string is my backstrap. The front beam is a pen onto which I attached rubber bands so that the “backstrap” would not slip off. It was pretty comfortable!

Normally, I would use heddles spread along a stick for a piece of this width but I chose to just tie them in a bunch rather than to search for more pencils.

barefoot backstrap weavingSomeone else who is getting into barefoot weaving is my student, Emerald. You may remember that I stayed with Emerald in her home in Ultimo a couple of weeks ago and gave her some lessons. One of the things I taught her was the intermesh technique and, although she has a nice set up for backstrap weaving in her living room, she decided to try to include her entire body in the loom…

emerald backstrap weavingThere are chopsticks and a pencil in her set-up. She also finished off a short and narrow pebble weave band barefoot. This was an exercise in weaving without a chart.

emerald (2)In the meantime, in other parts of the world, Diane, one of the ladies who wove with me after my demonstration at Yale university, was inspired enought to apply for a grant to go and weave in Guatemala during her summer break. My friend Barbara, who is in contact with her, sent me this picture of something Diane wove with her Guatemalan teachers…

diane yale guatemalan weavingCheryl, who took a Basics and Andean Pebble Weave class with me last spring in the USA, is sampling for a camera strap project…
cheryl pebble weave backstrap

I had a lot of people asking about my books here in Australia and could only carry six copies of each with me from the US. After selling out of the first book in the first workshop here, I decided to take the plunge and have some copies printed in Australia. So, if anyone one in Oz has been wanting a printed copy but has been put off by the cost of shipping from the US, please conact me by leaving a comment here and I can arrange to have one sent to you.

Andean Pebble Weave Australia

And now… a wee favor to ask of all of you. You may have noticed that I have sometimes mentioned my nephew here in past blog posts and the fact that he is a triathlete. I am staying with him now in Sydney and get to watch his rigorous training schedule. He is up and out and swimming laps or biking and then getting home before I can even get out of bed.

During the Ravellenic Games that ran alongside the Winter Olympics this year, I wove one of his favorite inspirational sports quotes into a silk bookmark for him..

??????????????????????I guess that I haven’t had much of a chance to be a big part of his life. After seeing him a few times in his very early months and years, I headed off to live in South America. I returned for a visit when he was 3 during which I watched Jurassic Park with him and he offered to sit by me in case I got scared. I didn’t see him again until he was 12. He wrote to me when he was 8 to ask me if I lived in a hut in the jungle. Fortunately, I visited Australia more often when he was in his teens and the internet kept us in good touch. He taught me to juggle and we did a great trip,  just the two of us, to Ayers Rock in 2006.

1531560_610507969021654_2085106992_nNow he is a traithlete studying to be a teacher (like me!) and will be representing Australia in the ITU World Championships in Weihai, China in September. He took part in ITU World Championships in the USA and Spain winning the silver medal in his age group in both. It was quite a blow when he was injured for the championships in France last year. So…he is going for gold this time…his last amateur event before turning pro.

His trip to China, as with all the other trips to the World Championships, must be self- funded and he is looking for sponsors. What I would ask you to do for me, as a big favor, please…. is simply to go over to Facebook and “like” his page. More “likes” will show potential sponsors  that he has the loyalty of a good-sized audience and could make all the difference.

I haven’t told him I am doing this and would love to surprise him with a small boost to his fan page tomorrow. I hope that you can take a moment to help out.


And now to see if I can make it on a flight out soon….wish me luck!

Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 17, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Vivid!

VIVID is the name of an annual festival of lights, music and entertainment that took place in Sydney at the end of May just in time for my visit. Colorful images are projected onto buildings and landmarks around Sydney harbour and the city center. My brother captured some of them with his camera when we went together to the festival one night….

The white sails of the famous Sydney Opera House were transformed to an amazing  piece of crystal glowing in the dark…

vivid w waddington 3

And then adorned with butterflies…

vivid w waddington

I don’t know how to describe this next one!

vivid w waddington 1Other buildings along the waterfront were also used as giant screens onto which fantastic slithering images were projected…

vivid w waddington 2I have been enjoying a variety of landscapes and weather here in Sydney from the city tothe country. I had a day out in the pretty rolling hills just west of Sydney…

???????????????????????????????And a hike in the bush. It was tshirt weather in the middle of winter…

???????????????????????????????I got rugged up on a cooler day for a trip to the city, the waterfront and Chinatown with my weaving friend, Emerald…

chinatown crop

???????????????????????????????Emerald and her family are from Burma and they invited me to come and stay with them in Sydney’s inner city for a couple of days of weaving. I had forgotten how exciting it is being there right in the heart of all that inner city action. Emerald has distant memories of having taken some weaving lessons in her younger days in Burma. Now she wants to learn more about the backstrap loom and the weaving culture of her homeland.

She showed me her beautiful collection of longyi, the long pieces of fabric that are worn by both men and women in Myanmar. They are wrapped about the lower half of the body. Some of these pieces were woven on floor looms but there are still backstrap weavers to be found in certain parts of the country.

The Wikipedia page on the longyi includes this saying…

Men who cannot read are like the blind; women who cannot weave are like the cripple

—an old Burmese saying at a time when every household had a handloom and the womenfolk wove all the longyis for the family.



VIVID colors against black….

emerald longyiWe warped and set up her backstrap loom for an Andean Pebble Weave project. Emerald has placed hooks into the wall of her home and has created a very nice backstrap weaving space.


???????????????????????????????I feel as happy as she looks here when I am seated in front of a fresh warp! Now it is time to get down to work and pick up the pebble sheds and create the string heddles….

???????????????????????????????A lovely green warp for a lady named Emerald. I showed her how to operate the two sets of heddles on this wide warp and now she is all set up to weave a cell phone pouch and whatever else she may be able to squeeze out of this warp. Emerald first contacted me via this blog. You may have read her enthusiastic comments here. Then we became friends on Facebook. I wasn’t able to meet with her when I visited Australia last year but it worked out this time and we had two fun days together.

??????????????????????Emerald showed me the book that she recently bought on Sazigyo ,by Ralph Isaacs. Sazigyo are very fine tablet-woven bands from Burma which were used to wrap palm leaf manuscripts. The book comes with its own silk tablet-woven book mark.

Images and lines of text are woven into the tapes themselves. This Facebook page contains many images of these woven tapes.

Emerald is very excited about learning about these and now wants to study tablet weaving so that she can also create bands of woven text in her native language.

It was a very educational experience being with Emerald! She also told me about Inle Lake in Burma where yarn is spun from lotus stems and woven into cloth.

Julie Hall has written a very interesting  and image-packed blog post about her visit to Inle Lake and I appreciate her having given me permission to use some of her images here…

Textile weavings made from lotus and silk, a specialty of Inle Lake, by Koh Than Laing

Lotus flower on Inle Lake…image by Julie Hall used with her permission.


Pulling apart a group of cut lotus stems to extract fiber for spinning…image by Juile Hall used with her permission.

The following video from this page shows a small part of the process…

My weaving friend, Wendy Garrity, has also written about a visit to Inle Lake and includes images and video on her blog.

Meanwhile, back at my brother’s place, vivid colors are all around with evening visits by flocks of lorikeets to the backyard accompanied by the screeches of the sulphur crested cockatoos and laughter of the kookaburras at dusk…

??????????????????????I met with weavers up in Springwood in the Blue Mountains in a lovely bushland setting for a weekend of backstrap weaving in the home of Helen Halpin, editor of the Weavers Forum newsletter. Last weekend I taught Andean Pebble Weave at Virginia Farm Woolworksa pretty homestead on the suburban outskirts in front of fields of grazing sheep.

Part of theVirginia Farm group getting serious about pebble weave!

Part of theVirginia Farm group getting very serious about pebble weave!

The second day was cold, blustery and very wintry. We could hear owners Jenny and Phil’s flock of sheep bleating outside but little did we know that two little black lambs were being born as we wove away warm and cosy indoors..

???????????????????????????????The ladies who wove with me at Virginia Farm are part of a group whose name forms the fun acronym “EWES”. It stands for Epping Weavers Embroiderers and Spinners. It really seems like an extremely dynamic group. Sydney folk who read my blog might want to join. Here’s Brenda wearing a handknit sweater and her inkle woven EWES lanyard…

???????????????????????????????Images of warmth and vivid colors have been arriving in my inbox from the other side of the world. Snuggled up under a blanket with a miniature poodle snoozing on my lap, I look at  my friend Janet’s sister’s grandkids learning backstrap weaving in bikinis in summery USA. One of Janet’s own backstrap woven guitar straps, made from her own handspun, lies on the ground between the girls providing plenty of inspiration.

janets sister grandkids

larisa (1)Larisa, who is Russian but now lives in the UK, sent me a picture of a fabulous stole that she wove on a backstrap loom…such vivid colors and wonderful pick-up work!…

The image she sent me is of a  low resolution and I hope she sends me a larger one soon so that we can all better appreciate the detailed pick-up in this beautiful piece of work.

Students who wove with me on my recent US visit have been busy weaving in their summer months.

They are happy to be able to enjoy the portability of the backstrap loom which enables them to easily weave outdoors or even in the front seat of the car!





10366148_10203782422742111_554034780892193392_nCheryl has a ”loom with a view” at her lake house. She is weaving pebble weave “hugs and kisses”.

I don’t know where Elizabeth from the Lake Tahoe group was going but she took her loom on the road anchoring the warp in the glove compartment of the car…

elizabethAnne, from my Santa Cruz group of weavers…

santa cruz backstrap weavers…has been working on her Andean Pebble Weave. She had taken on the “fine thread” challenge at our recent workshop and is making great progress…

10350538_10201018377261098_4865296949662558862_nCharlotte, from the Austin Texas group, launched herself into a new band challenging herself to some mental gymnastics handling the color changes in the three columns of motifs. This is the same motif that appears on yurt bands of Central Asia. In Central Asia it is woven using a single-faced structure. Charlotte is using a complementary-warp structure which was the topic of our workshop. This means that her band is double-faced.

charlotteJulia found a good use for a pebble weave band that she had created over a year ago. She made a bag for her sister’s flute. As is always the way with Julia’s work, it has been woven and put together beautifully.

julia flute bagJanet, who took my class in Sacramento in spring 2013, has become an active member of the Ravelry group and has been sharing her latest experiments with supplemetary-weft patterning. I do remember that the Sacramento group had really taken to this technique and had even gone home and done homework on the first night!

janet supplementary weftSheila is a new member of the group and bought a Gilmore Wave loom for her studies of Andean Pebble Weave. She is working on adding extra string heddles to this two-shaft loom so that she can weave the structure as a semi loom-controlled one as I was taught to in Peru. It is much easier to operate the two sets of string heddles using a backstrap loom which enables you to freely and easily adjust tension on the warp with spontaneous body movements. Sheila is working with a ”fixed tension” loom which means that she needs to apply other strategies to achieve consistently clean sheds with her string heddles. It looks like she is succeeding!

gilmore wave loom set up for andean pebble weaveAbove, you can see the two sets of string heddles which Sheila is using along with the loom’s own two shafts. She has unrolled her weaving for the picture. When she is weaving, the two sets of string heddles are positioned further away from the shafts than they are in this picture.

sheilaSheila is weaving one of the knotwork designs that I have charted in my second book. The Andean Pebble Weave  structure can be used for motifs not found in the Andes. Basically, any pattern that comprises diagonal lines can be adapted to this technique. A part of my second book is devoted to this idea and I show how motifs from various non-Andean cultures can be adapted to the Andean Pebble Weave structure.

I will leave you for now with some more VIVID colors…images of some very exotic neck pieces that I recently saw on Facebook. These have been created via a collaboration of three Peruvian textile artists, one of whom is tapestry weaver Maximo Laura. VIVID! You will probably recognize  his contribution if you are at all familiar with his work. My backstrap weaving student and friend, Dorothy, is going to study tapestry weaving with him in Peru soon! According to the Facebook post, these artworks will be sold via the Puchka Peru website.


1798714_774635892548571_4144007971210964607_nMy visit to Australia continues….I have a group coming over to my brother’s place this week to weave and then I will head back to Bolivia shortly thereafter as my brother and wife will be taking off to Ayers Rock on their motorbike. Maybe I will squeeze in one more blog post before I leave….











Posted by: lavernewaddington | May 26, 2014

Backstrap Weaving- The Flying Kangaroo

I took pictures of both sides of a lovely little square of weaving that my friend Virginia purchased when she was at Tinkuy 2010 in Cusco, Peru. It was to be part of a piece submitted for the annual weaving competition between teams of weavers from the various communities that form the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco.

The competition challenge had been for weavers in each community to weave a series of thirty-six thirty-centimeter squares that would be sewn together to form one large piece. Many squares were woven but only the best selected. Each weaver had to create a perfect four-selvedge square that could be sewn to the others to form a seemingly seamless piece of  fabric. Attempts to include a square that was even ever so slightly off would result in an imperfect overall piece of fabric.

Here are some of the winning pieces from that competitionin 2010….

competition winner bThis entry has squares that were created using the ticlla, or discontinuous warp technique for which the community of Pitumarca has become renowned. Each colored square has a rectangle of pick-up patterning embedded in plain weave, something that only be achieved by using discontinuous warps.

competition winner aThe weavers of Sallac included squares of ikat amongst squares of complex pick-up patterning.

??????????????????????The takers of first place from Chahuaytire presented a deceptively simple piece entitled “matrimonio”. You have to look very closely before you realize that the piece comprises thirty-six masterfully color-matched and pieced-together squares.

Here are some of the pieces from last year’s competition…

cttc competition 2013But, as I mentioned above, not every square submited by the weavers can be accepted for the final piece. I imagine that there is much frustration and disappointment as hard work and dedication is rejected.

The sweet piece that Virginia had bought back in 2010 was actually one such rejected square. At least it managed to find an appreciative owner and a good home and the weaver was compensated for her hard work. I love the figure on this piece. To me, it looks like she is hitch hiking. She looks strong, bold, and independent yet, friendly and good humored.


??????????????????????It is such clever and creative use of the supplementary-warp technique. I am amazed at how each and very finger on both hands is clearly defined and at how nicely the legs have been shaped.

I am guessing that this figure was supposed to be just one small part of a story told in the finished piece with its thirty-six squares. I am intrigued by this and wonder what role this humorous lady played. What is she doing….what is she saying? What is that “hitchhiker’s” thumb indicating?

Maybe someone who was at Tinkuy 2010 took a picture of the entire piece. I would love to hear from you if you did. These pieces were hung in the co-op store in Chinchero and I somehow missed this one. Quite likely if I had seen the entire piece I would not have even noticed this one female figure and would have been captured by the  piece as a whole rather than by its individual parts.

Other pieces that Virginia shared with me during my stay with her at South Lake Tahoe included this very colorful ticlla piece with three-color complementary-warp pick-up patterns. The four selvedges in each half of the cloth were created without having to abruptly interrupt the pick-up pattern.

??????????????????????There were also pretty tubular bands woven independently and as edgings…..

??????????????????????And sprang bags from the tropical lowlands of Peru…

??????????????????????And a reminder that not all highland weaving in Peru has gone the way of the textiles that are being produced by the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco with their fine handspun naturally dyed yarn and intricate pick-up patterns. Cheerful pieces with relatively simple patterns made with heavy yarn and bright synthetic colors are still very much in use in many places…..

???????????????????????????????Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Lake Tahoe and the group with whom I wove there. From beautiful mountains…


….to  Donner Pass and tales of the ill-fated expedition after which it was named…(Suzanne hosted me and showed me around the Truckee area)


….to the glorious lake itself…

??????????????????????Virginia took me out on a boat crossing and it was spectacular!

??????????????????????And what about the weaving?….three days of Andean Pebble Weave in a resort on the lake shore…what fun!

??????????????????????I had students who liked to get down on the floor for a session of “team charting’, broken leg and all! Several members of this group had been playing with pebble weave on their four-shaft looms using the instructions in my Andean Pebble Weave book. They were now keen to learn how to set it up on a backstrap loom and found that the backstrap loom has a few advantages over the floor loom especially when it comes to saving sheds and creating pick-up shortcuts.

Here is a gorgeous bag that Jen put together from fabric she wove with pebble weave patterns on her floor loom…

jens pebble weave bagAfter the class I stayed with Jen and her sister Elizabeth in Reno with this gorgeously distracting view from the kitchen window…

??????????????????????While all that was happening outside and I tried to stuff all my gear back into the massive bags that I lug about with me on these trips, Jen and Eizabeth calmly wove on their backstrap looms and worked on the Andean Pebble Weave pieces we had started in class.

??????????????????????I am thinking that those looms in the background might be left to gather dust for a while!

This is what Jen was weaving…her own adaptation of a Tarahumara pattern…

??????????????????????Elizaebth wove as far as she possibly could so that she could squeeze in the last parts of her design and have a matching start and finish…

??????????????????????I will be seeing these ladies back at the Lake for another class in the fall…yay!

From there I headed northwest stopping in Portland and going just over the border to Washington state to stay with my freind Betty. We had two gatherings there…one for beginners and another for learning all kinds of pretty finishing techniques. We used handwoven pieces of fabric which had been made by my Bolivian weaving teacher Maxima and other ladies in her co-op. One piece was used for sampling the new techniques while the other was to become a wee pouch. The pouch could be dressed up with the embellishments that we had studied in class.

linda's nawi awapa bandsLinda really took to the tubular band weaving that we did on Day One and came to the class on the second day with  two finished “eye” bands.

finishing touches class backstrap weavingSharon’s sample cloth has a sewn tubular band and cross knit looped edging. She also applied coil stitches to one end which is the embellishment that Bolivian weavers sometimes use to decorate the bottom edge of their chuspas.

???????????????????????????????Here are some of the ladies weaving and sewing accompanied by snoozing  Trouble, the cat.

Weaving in Betty’s studio is the closest thing you can get to being outdoors with its floor-to-ceiling windows and skylight.

betty's studio for backstrap classDuring my stay a group of us went to the meeting of the Portland Handweavers Guild where Rosalie Nielson presented A Cacophony of Kumihimo….a talk on the history of these braids in Japan and her own personal explorations with the techniques.

???????????????????????????????Dozens of Rosalie’s gorgeous braids were displayed amidst her stunning rep weave work.

Next stop… Seattle…. to re-connect with people I had met at ANWG in 2013 and Braids 2012 as well as to meet new weavers. Marilyn had taken my Andean Pebble Weave class at ANWG and hosted me for a two-day Basics class. I had a talented group of tablet weavers who slid very easily into the basics of backstrap loom operation and basic patterning techniques. John, a skilled braider and ply-splitter, decided to try his hands at weaving. His wife Stacey quickly settled into it and both she and Lynn found themselves very much at home on the floor while the others were happy to stay in chairs.

Lynn at home on floor backstrap weavingSeattle was glorious in pre-summer warmth…gardens in full bloom and vistas of the Cascades at every bend. It is little wonder that my planned weekend stay in Seattle back in 1992 turned into three weeks!

Annie brought in an old exquisite hair sash from Jaceltenango, Guatemala which had been sold to her by a weaver from Laos many years ago in  midwest USA…how these wonderful weavings get around! John brought some of his ply-split work to show as well. I haven’t been able to find John’s website but he has some Youtube videos on his Takadai work….it’s a lovely process to watch.

I can just imagine Braids 2016 in this corner of the US. It’s going to be HUGE!!

hair sash and ply split braidsHere is the next stop…

??????????????????????Did you guess Austin, Texas? And that was not the only display at the airport. The Weavers and Spinners Society of Austin had an exhibit there too aptly entitled ”Flying Shuttles”. I had met seven of the weavers who had things on display ranging from felted sculptures to basketry to wall hangings to wearable fabrics to ply-split braided jewelry. Three of these talented ladies took my class.

I taught a two-day class on Complementary-Warp Pick-Up with some new faces as well as returning students. It s my third visit to Austin and third stay with Eileen and Guy. I had eight weavers aged from 18 to 79 producing sweet bands decorated with pick-up patterns. Eileen and Guy’s park-like back yard perched above a pretty creek along with a Saturday evening symphony concert made this a perfect venue in which to wind down at the end of my US spring tour.


And then it was…..Hello Sydney!!

??????????????????????The Flying Kangaroo comes to rest at Sydney airport…


A couple of weeks to recharge and then I shall be doing some teaching here. It is strange to have the days getting shorter, see the fallen leaves and feel the slide into winter after the lengthening days and blooming gardens in the US. Still, the garden is full of color and sound with visits from flocks of raucous lorikeets every evening!

See you next week….















Posted by: lavernewaddington | May 8, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – The View from the Other Side

CNCH 2010 001The Conference of Northern California Handweavers (CNCH) will always have a special place in my heart. At the suggestion of my friend Janet Finch, I came to it as a registered participant and student in 2010 in Santa Clara, California. It was my first ever weaving conference and I had a ball!

I took classes with Robyn Spady and Syne Mitchell. Syne had agreed to sell my first book, Andean Pebble Weave, and gave me so much support on her website WeaveZine. It was our first chance to meet after much online contact. I met online weaving buddy Franco in Syne’s class and hope to see him again this fall when I teach in Sacramento. Franco has been an online friend for almost five years now! and I look forward to his Facebook posts with his special sense of humor everyday.

In 2010 I thought it would be fun to enter three sashes in the wall hanging section of the gallery. They won a blue ribbon!

Kathe Todd Hooker and Pat Sparks shared with me their experiences with weavers in communities of Russian Old Believers in Oregon and Kathe showed me her collection of Old Believer sashes. Those Old Believer sashes have taken me places. They appear in my second book and have led me to other online friendships. I am now a part of a nice online Ukranian weaving group as a result.

Friendships started at CNCH 2010 that have lasted all these years.

Friendships started and made as a result of CNCH 2010 that have lasted all these years.

I met and hung out in the Vendor Hall with a group of people on the Santa Cruz guild’s Education Booth. I was backstrap weaving there while they were inkle weaving and loop braiding and these folks would become my very good friends…Yonat, Annie and Ingrid. I shared my room with Janet, Sandra and Linda, all from Humboldt County and met Becky and Connie. Many friendships started and  many great things were born at that conference.

So, it was quite a thrill to be back at CNCH in 2014, as an instructor this time.

I would get to enjoy the view from “the other side” It was fun to have my name on this list at the Marriott in Oakland California amongst the other very familiar instructor names in the last half of the alphabet…

???????????????????????????????Below, you can see organizers Elaine Gray and Connie Anderholm (at the computer keyboard).Connie has woven with me many a time on my visits up to Humboldt County. They are checking-in instructor Tracy Shapiro (with whom I have also woven up in Humboldt!). Tracy taught a basket-making workshop. It was so much fun running into my students and familiar faces all over the place. I had a whole new group of backstrap weaving friends with whom to mingle from the Foothill Guild in Nevada City. I had concluded a workshop with them the previous day.

teacher check in cnch 2014Linda Hartshorn, with whom I had shared that room back in 2010, was there instructing too, as was Ingrid Crickmore who had been loop braiding at the Education booth just for fun in 2010. Ingrid and I have backstrap woven together in Santa Cruz , California many times and we taught together at Braids 2012 in Manchester UK.

I shared my room with Jennifer Moore. We had met in Santa Fe prior to Jennifer’s trip to Tinkuy 2013 in Cusco, Peru and it was fun to catch up with her post-trip and hear about her experience there. So much catching up to do in such a short space of time…a mere two and a half days.

The theme of the conference was Branch Out with Fibers. The center pieces on the tables at the Friday night banquet reflected that. Keynote speaker Robyn Spady had us in stitches with her highly entertaining and clever presentation on her Top Ten Reasons for Branching out with Fiber.

??????????????????????I am sure that I arrived on time for the banquet but it seemed that everyone else had arrived there early. The Humboldt table was full and so I swung around and begged a seat at the very next table. There were friendly faces everywhere.  I got to meet a group of Raverly fiber folk there. It is always nice to put faces to those Ravelry names and discover mutual friends and acquaintances.

I spent Friday afternoon and Saturday morning teaching a class on Andean Tubular Bands. Some of the people had been my students before in Backstrap Basics classes and it was nice to see them again. We worked hard and learned how to weave the ñawi awapa as well as weave and sew a tubular band as an edging.

I walked into my set-up classroom and found this on the table…

balanced double weave bag mexico…a balanced double weave bag from Mexico. My students always bring the coolest things along to show me. I have been studying this pick-up techique as practiced by the Cora, Huichol and Otomi people of Mexico and have woven my own pieces. I hadn’t run across this particular motif.

chinchero textile

??????????????????????Many of my students had already discovered the stand in the Vendor Hall that was selling products of the CTTC (Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco). Many of the pieces were edged with the same tubular band that we were about to study in the class. That’s a placemat you can see above.

Abigail Killey is selling these pieces at her Organic Cotton Fabric Shop in Bodega, California and she had her stand right at the entrance of the Vendor Hall. It was difficult not to stop there for a LONG time examining all the beautiful Peuvian weavings. My students bought pieces and brought them to class and we were able to examine the way in which the weavers had cleverly disguised the ends of their tubular bands.

I hung out with Abigail in my free time and showed her some basic backstrap weaving techniques using the little jakima beginner kits she was selling.

Here are some of the large pieces that Abigail had amongst the smaller purses, placemats and table runners….

bodega cttc textiles

I love the colors and the large and jolly joining stitches on this large piece from Chahuaytire…

??????????????????????I run into CTTC pieces all over the place. My students bring them to class, I saw them in Santa Fe NM at the Folk Art Festival, they were at Convergence, in Cusco of course, on my many visits there and at CNCH. I never tire of seeing them, fondling and photographing them and yes, I finally bought my first piece for a teaching aid at CNCH.

I did some other shopping…

fine reed from laosI got this wonderful super fine reed from the stand that was selling textiles and implements from Laos and other SE Asian countries. This is even finer than the reed I got from the Chinese minorities stand at Convergence. When I get to Australia I will see if my brother can remove the rather heavy frame that it is in so I can use it on my backstrap loom…maybe with silk! Excited!

fine reed laos

And, speaking of silk….

redfish silk

supplementary weft patterned scarf backstrap loomI got these small, very affordable skeins of 60/2 silk from Redfish Dyeworks.

I had bought tiny spools of 60/2 silk from a bargain basket in a yarn store when I was in the UK in 2012. I got olive green, shades of terracotta, purple, brown, deep reds…mainly darkish tones.

I found how lovely it was to use as supplementary weft on a ground weave of fine Guatemalan cotton (see the scarf at left) and lamented not having bought some paler colors.

Well, now I have them and know where to get more when I need and so do you now!

A box of luscious Redfish Dueworks silk.

A box of luscious Redfish Dyeworks silk.

So, that  is what I bought. There were many cool things to look at. See, below, the wooden rigid heddles and clasp for band weaving from Glimakra and plastic rigid heddle segments from Village Spinning and Weaving…perfect for getting kids into a bit of band weaving on a simple backstrap loom.

rigid heddles and segmentsI took a quick run through the galleries. I loved Ingrid Crickmore’s display of loop braids in the Instructors’ Gallery. She managed to combine two of her loves,…braiding and fiddle tunes. The words on the braids are lines and titles of fiddle tunes.


Cookie and blending boardThere was a Spinning Corral where I ran into my friend, Cookie. Cookie has woven with me up in Humboldt as well as down in Pala Alto. She is one very creative lady. Here she is showing the blending board she made and decorated with Zentangles.

My friend, Autumn, was asked to wear a dress made from plastic newspaper wrappers and shopping bags at the Fashion Show on Saturday night. She had been hesitant about accepting and named me as a possible candidate for the role…I wanted to slap her when she told me that! Phew…she went ahead and did it with everyone’s encouragement! I so wish I had been able to photograph her modeling it…she looked stunning. Here is the dress on display in the Vendor Hall. It was surprisingly soft, was made by Sandy Drobny, and is entitled “Evening News”.

??????????????????????Sheila O’Hara was in the Vendor Hall working for Vllage Spinning and Weaving and had a display of some of her famous jacquard-woven tapestries. Sheila and I had chatted at CNCH 2010 and she remembered every word of thst conversation as did I. She is such an energetic person! She took my arm when I entered the Vendor Hall. It was the warmest welcome ever.

I love her four season “flockettes” ….

sheila ohara flockettesShe makes the most beautiful tapestry versions of Edward S Curtis photographs of Native Americans. This is a piece that she recently finished that depicts South America at top as a condor and North America as an eagle…

sheila ohara jacquardSunday was all about accepting invitations that I had been receiving to visit various instructors’ classrooms. This is the nice part about not teaching every day :-) but it was impossible to visit all! I also wanted to meet up with my Santa Cruz friends who were driving up for the day to visit the Vendor Hall and hang out. And, it was also the time for saying goodbyes as some friends hit the road early for long drives home. Plus I needed to meet with my new host from Truckee who would take me on to my next workshop leaving at noon…so little time!

Stenciling on Fabric with April Sproule. This class looked like a lot of fun. There seemed to be alot of "bug" stecils and each studnet used in them in so many differnet ways. Some studets brought in a piece of fabric on which to practce while others brougt in bags, item sof clothing or hand dyed fabric on which to stencil motifs. I loved the green spinning wheel bag that had been spruced up with stenciled patterns.  Tien  had brought a red shirt. She said that she had not been pleased with the results of her dyeing of this artucular shirt but that the dragonfly stenciling had now converted this shirt into a favorite.

Stenciling on Fabric with April Sproule. This class looked like a lot of fun. There seemed to be a lot of “bug” stencils and each students used in them in so many different ways. Some students brought in a piece of fabric on which to practice while others brought in bags, items of clothing or hand dyed fabric on which to stencil motifs. I loved the green spinning wheel bag that had been spruced up with stenciled patterns. Tien had brought a red shirt. She said that she had not been pleased with the results of her dyeing of this particular shirt but that the dragonfly stenciling had now converted it into a favorite.

Advanced nuno felting workshop with Carin Engen. I walked in on a lot of students hard at work rolling and thumping as wool was made to felt and adhere to silk. It was very hard to picture the finished project looking at the pieces of wool placed on the cloth before the feting process. The fun part was seeing the pattern revealed as the  pieces were unrolled. Carin inspected each piece for sufficient adhesion and advised each student on the next steo for their particular piece.

Advanced nuno felting workshop with Carin Engen. I walked in on a lot of students hard at work rolling and thumping as wool was made to felt and adhere to silk. It was very hard to picture the finished project looking at the pieces of wool placed on the cloth before the felting process. The fun part was seeing the pattern revealed as the pieces were unrolled. Carin inspected each piece for sufficient adhesion and advised each student on the next step for their particular piece.

My host in Grass Valley, Diane, took this class. This was her first ever CNCH and I know that she must have felt as excited as I had felt back in 2010. Here she is inspecting her piece after her first session of rolling….


I was lucky as Diane sent me a picture of her finished piece after she got home from the conference. She had taken my backstrap weaving class just before CNCH and now I know that she will have problems deciding where to go next after all the exciting things she has learned lately. Last I heard she was back at her backstrap weaving finishing off the bands we started in class….yay.

Diane's finished nuno scarf.

Diane’s finished nuno scarf.

Tapestry Expressions with Tricia Goldberg. Students were invited to bring in a picture of a face and capure the expression in tapestry. The weaving was done looking at the "wrong" side of the fabric and a small mirror was positioned so that the weavers could see what they were producing. The little faces that were emerging were fascinating!

Tapestry: Expressions with Tricia Goldberg. Students were invited to bring in a picture of a face and capture the expression in tapestry. The weaving was done looking at the “wrong” side of the fabric and a small mirror was positioned so that the weavers could see what they were producing on the “right” side. The little faces that were emerging were fascinating!

Robyn Spady's classroom wher she taught Exploring Weave Structures on a Single Warp was electric...a lot of looms, weavers and action! My friend Gina caught me pering in at the door and ttok y hand and brought me in to excitedly show me what she had been weaving.

Robyn Spady’s classroom, where she taught Exploring Weave Structures on a Single Warp, was electric…a lot of looms, weavers and action! My friend Gina, above, caught me peering in at the door and took my hand and brought me in to excitedly show me what she had been weaving.

I saw my friend Ruth in Linda Hartshorn’s class on Shadow Weave and got to see her weaving as part of the ”round robin” style of sampling…

I love shadow weave! I have done a four-shaft version on my backstrap loom amd would ove to try an eight-shaft version one of these days. This is one of the many shadow weave samples that the weavers created. Each one will take home an example of all the sahdwo weave patterns studied in the class.

Secrets of Shadow Weave…Linda Hartshorn. I love shadow weave! I have done a four-shaft version on my backstrap loom and would love to try an eight-shaft version one of these days. This is one of the many shadow weave samples that the weavers created. Each one will take home an example of all the shadow weave patterns studied in the class.

Sara Lamb's Contemporary Cut Pile Rug. Familiar faces from banquet night welcomed me into Sara Lamb's class where partcipants worked on copper pipe and rigid heddle looms to create a sampler of colored squares before starting on a project. Peggy, from my Santa Cruz backstrap weaving group, was there. She said that it was nice to be able to chat and practice this technique. Pick-up weaving on backstrap looms ofetn requires a high level of concentration and SILENCE!  It was surprising to see how much the color of the cut pile ends differed from the color of the yarn. The cut ends were darker, richer and more luscious and the sampler then helped weavers make good choices about the colors they would use in their project and the amount of contrast they would achieve. Sara had brought a dazzling range of pieces as samples. No two bags were alike in construction or finishing techiques. She showed how she recorded and planned her projects in a notebook of charted patterns and yarn samples.

Sara Lamb’s Contemporary Cut Pile Rug. Familiar faces from my banquet night table welcomed me into Sara Lamb’s class where partcipants worked on copper pipe and rigid heddle looms to create a sampler of colored squares before starting on a project. Peggy, from my Santa Cruz backstrap weaving group, was there. She said that it was nice to be able to chat and practice this technique. Pick-up weaving on backstrap looms often requires a high level of concentration and SILENCE! It was surprising to see how much the color of the cut pile ends differed from the color of the yarn. The cut ends were darker, richer and more luscious and the sampler then helped weavers make good decisions about the colors they would use in their project knowing better the amount of contrast they would achieve. Sara had brought a dazzling range of pieces as samples. No two bags were alike in construction or finishing techiques. She showed how she recorded and planned her projects in a notebook of charted patterns and yarn samples.

As I said, it was impossible to stop in at every workshop. When I got to Sara’s I was already a half hour late for my Santa Cruz meet-up. And then at noon, I was whisked off to Truckee by my new host, Suzanne. There were quick goodbyes, hugs and expressions of congratulations and gratitude to the organizers.

So, I have seen CNCH from both sides now…as a student and as an instructor. Both sides were equally exciting and fun. This experience in 2014, I guess, was different because I knew a lot more people. 2010 was great because it was my first ever conference and EVERYTHING was fresh and interesting.

I had planned to write about the Lake Tahoe workshop here but I think this is enough for this week. Lake Tahoe was heavenly! I stayed at Truckee near Donner Lake, then South Lake Tahoe and finished just outside Reno. Now I am in Washington state just over the border from Portland. Classes start tomorrow! I am excited beacuse I get to go to the Portland guild’s meeting tomorrow night where Rosalie Nielson will be presenting. I have not had the chance to hear another weaver speak at one of these meetings. And there is bound to be Show and Tell….my favorite part.

I will leave you with two very different faces of Tahoe and Reno…

Virginia took me on a boat trip on Lake Tahoe to Emerald Bay.

Virginia took me on a boat trip on Lake Tahoe to Emerald Bay….a perfect day! I think I got  a bit sunburned!

Slot machines at the airport…not something you see every day…no, I wasn’t tempted.

??????????????????????See you next week from….might be Seattle…might be Austin, Texas!




















Posted by: lavernewaddington | April 29, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – Venturing Outside the Comfort Zone

Venturing Outside the Comfort Zone

???????????????????????????????It’s always nice on my teaching tours to return to known venues. There is something very comforting in the midst of all the “what-ifs” and unknowns of travel to meet once again familiar faces and places.

However, there are always new people and venues to add and I have enjoyed visiting new guilds and new US states on this trip. This was my first time teaching in New Jersey, for example, and now I am about to venture into Nevada for my first ever teaching gig there. There are new experiences, like trying to navigate the New York Port Authority with loads of luggage for the first time, going flying in a Cessna over Cape Cod on a perfect spring day, and being made very much aware of the rather “shaky” nature of the California coastline! (see picture above).

The mysteries and trepidation of going to new places are always short-lived. The new landscapes are exciting and the new weaving groups without exception are warm and welcoming.

The western part of this weaving trip has take me through a variety of landscapes….from the beaches of lovely Santa Cruz to the big cityscape of Oakland and the forested high passes and lakes of the Sierra Nevada range.

Walking the paths of West Cliff Santa Cruz was a wonderful way to unwind after a day of teaching. We watched surfers, pelicans and sea otters at play in the light of the setting sun.

Walking the paths of West Cliff Santa Cruz was a wonderful way to unwind after a day of teaching. We watched surfers, pelicans and sea otters at play in the light of the setting sun.

The view from the 19th floor room that I shared with Jennifer Moore at CNCH 2014.

This is the view from my 19th floor bedroom at CNCH 2014 last weekend. It was fun sharing with Jennifer Moore whom I had met and spent time with backstrap weaving and at the opera in Santa Fe last year.

One of the beautiful peaks on the way to Truckee California.

One of the beautiful peaks of the Sierra Nevada on the way to Truckee California.

Yonat weaving amongst the Redwoods in my Santa Cruz class.

Yonat weaving amongst the Redwoods in my Santa Cruz class.

A new venue and new faces in Grass Valley California...backstraps in position and ready for action!

A new venue and new faces in Grass Valley California…backstraps in position and ready for action!

I like to call my Santa Cruz group my “firsties and besties”. As it was my fifth time visiting and weaving with them, I decided that it was time to push ourselves outside our comfort zones. The challenge was to take one of the structures that we had studied on the last four visits and use it in something wide and/or fine. Some group members warped up something much wider than anything they had attempted before while others used much finer thread than they had ever used on a backstrap loom. The results were wonderful!

First we learned about different ways to set up warps for wider projects, for example, using multiple swords for creating picking crosses instead of fingers.

Jane uses a mulitple sword technique to pick up a pattern for her backstrap project.

Jane uses a mulitple sword technique to pick up a pattern for her backstrap project.

Jane is not actually one of the original “firstie-bestie” group but she has put in so much time and effort since her very first Basics class last October, that she was able to fit in perfectly with the skill level of this group. She has woven an impressive array of Andean Pebble Weave bands since that class only six months ago.

Jane makes exquisite baskets and brought along one of her creatios filled wih her Andean Pebble Weave bands. Ripples the cat had to get in on the act.

Jane makes exquisite baskets and brought along one of her creations filled wih her Andean Pebble Weave bands. Ripples the cat had to get in on the act.

Here’s a closer look at the pretty bands and Jane’s basket without the giant cat-head distraction!….

Jane Milner's basket and pebble weave bands.

Jane Milner’s basket and pebble weave bands.

Jane has tried patterns from both my first and second books…

Andean Pebble Weave bands woven by Jane using Omega Sinfonia yarn.

Andean Pebble Weave bands woven by Jane using Omega Sinfonia yarn.

The upper band is an adaptation of a pattern that was woven by Louise Ström using tablets. Many tablet weaving motifs can be easily adapted to the Andean Pebble Weave structure and I have charted some of these in my second book. The lower motif is a doodle I made in the second book where I am showing how people can go about creating their own pebble weave patterns. The hook motifs placed in various diagonal arrangements are, of course, classic Andean patterning.

On the first day at Yonat’s place, I found myself just “hanging out” as my students wove and planned their projects with increasing independence.

weaving at yonats place

In the afternoon, we did a little “round robin” activity on my prepared warps to brush up on structures and techniques that we had studied in other classes and help in the decison making and planning process for the next days’ project…

round robin backstrap weaving

Dorothy's wode project included three columns of Anean Pebble Weave motifs. As she was only able to take two of the three-day workshop, she had to leave with her heddles installed and just a handful of picks in place. As she is heading to Peru to study with tapestry master Maximo Laura this summer, I am wondering when she will find time to sit and finish her project.

Dorothy’s wide project included three columns of Andean Pebble Weave motifs using Tahki Cotton Classic yarn. As she was only able to take two days of the three-day workshop, she had to leave with her heddles installed and just a handful of picks in place. As she is heading to Peru to study with tapestry master Maximo Laura this summer which will lead to a whole new world of weaving, I am hoping that she will find time to sit and finish her project soon.

Peggy used Reynold's Saucy yarn (now discontinued) to create a warp for a backstrap . She liked my "Rolls Royce" backstrap...the thick and cushy one and so, chpse a pebble weave motif along with the intermesh structure to produce thick fabric.

Peggy used Reynold’s Saucy yarn (now discontinued) to create a warp for a backstrap. She liked my “Rolls Royce” backstrap…the thick and cushy one…. and so, chose a pebble weave motif along with the intermesh structure to produce thick fabric. Anne went the other way and used fine thread to make a cell phone pouch. She will use two sets of string heddles to make the process partly loom-controlled and decorate the pouch with an Andean Pebble Weave motif.

Here is Yonat's backstrap warp rolled up at the end of the day with just a couple of inches left to go. Yonat found taht weaving outdoors seated on the ground with her warp angled steeply was much more comfortable for her.

Here is Yonat’s backstrap warp rolled up at the end of the day with just a couple of inches left to go. Yonat found that weaving outdoors seated on the ground with her warp angled steeply was much more comfortable for her.

Barbara's challenge involved weaving her favorite "viscacha" motif in fine thread (Aunt Lydia's #10) and swapping the colors for the motif and background while creating beautifully straight edges.

Barbara’s challenge involved weaving her favorite “viscacha” motif in fine thread (Aunt Lydia’s #10) and swapping the colors for the motif and background while creating beautifully straight edges.

The following day, after having looked at images and watched online videos of the cute Andean viscacha, Barbara brought in a tapestry piece  which had been woven on a backstrap loom in Pitumarca, Peru. She had just realised that the critter at the bottom of the piece was the same as the one which she was weaving into her fine backstrap band.


Outside workshop hours, there was also lots of fun to be had. Yonat and I looked at experiments that the late Nora Rogers, former member of the Santa Cruz guild,  had been performing on backstrap looms. Here is another kindred spirit and it was amazing and almost eerie to see how closely my backstrap weaving experiments have been following the path of her own carried out years before I came to be involved in this.

Here is Nora's experiment in the white-on-white patterning technique using supplementary weft on a light, open cotton ground cloth. I bought a piece like this at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market last year in the hope of studying and trying to replicate it myself.

Here is Nora’s experiment in the white-on-white Guatemalan patterning technique using supplementary weft on a light, open cotton ground cloth. I bought a piece like this at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market last year in the hope of studying and trying to replicate it myself.

And then there were various beauties to be examined created by Yonat’s own hands…from tapestries to handmade beads to Ravenstail twining. I saw one of this set of Ravenstail leggings finished on my last visit. This time I got to see the completed pair….

???????????????????????????????Yonat and I also went to a local store that buys and sells ethnic textiles from around the world. We had a super time digging through loads of pieces to find some special treasures. Some pieces were long and large and required no digging at all….

It seems so long agao now since my friend Lisa sent me a picture of a yurt band she had bought and I becane fascintaed with the simple warp-float technique thathad been used to create it. Here in the store was a gorgeous example in those lovely sun bleached reds and blues that I adore!

It seems so long ago now that my friend Lisa sent me a picture of a yurt band she had bought and I became fascinated with the simple warp-float technique that had been used to create it. Here in the store was a gorgeous example in those lovely sun bleached reds and blues that I adore! This technique produces a pattern of warp-floats on one face and areas of exposed weft on the other.

The warp-substitution technique is another one on which I have spent some time experimenting. We had to resist completely unrolling this band to see how the motifs changed along its enormous length. The designs are crisp on the upper face in warp-faced plain weave. Colors are warped doubled and the weaver simply substitutes one for the other to create the patterns. The unused colored warps float on the reverse side of the textile until they are once again called into use.


Here are three bands from across the globe….from Bhutan patterned with supplementary weft….a three-color double weave belt from Bolivia and a supplemental-warp patterned band from Mexico.


But the jaw-dropper as far as I was concerned was this poncho from Bolivia (see below) patterned with strips of warp-faced double weave. Yonat uncovered this one at the bottom of a pile of mixed textiles on a shelf.

I call this technique “embedded” double weave as the strips of double weave with pick-up patterning are flanked by warp faced plain weave. The yarn is very fine synthetic thread and the weaving was superb! It is a beautifully finished four-selvedged poncho. I know from experience how maddeningly difficult it is to finish a double weave piece with four selvedges and the thread used in this piece does not have the advantage of the springiness of wool which can make the task somewhat less difficult. How I would love to sit by the weaver who created this!!!




???????????????????????????????The visit to Santa Cruz also included a few get togethers with my dear friend Annie.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know Annie as ASpinnerWeaver, creator of guitar straps and custom bands and sashes on inkle looms. She gave me the lovely strap, at left, to use on my camera bag.  It is as much fun seeing what wonderful combination of colors she has come up with for her one-of-a-kind pieces as hearing the personal and inspiring stories behind her custom projects.

One of her latest challenges is to create a sash similar to one used by Johnny Depp in the Lone Ranger movie!

I shall leave you here for now. I am in Truckee now and grateful to my hosts Suzanne and David for their patience while I bury my head in photo editing and blog writing. I’ll be teachng by the shores of Lake Tahoe in a couple of days and can’t wait to see it!

I shall probably write from Portland, Oregon next with further tales of  the Grass Valley group, the CNCH conference in Oakland and weaving at Lake Tahoe. Bye for now!



















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.
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.
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.
lots aknots
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.
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.
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.
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)….
I had a fun weekend with a backstrap weaving group at the Mannings…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
This last piece ,with its colored vertical lines on black, reminds me of the reverse applique molas of Panama and Colombia…
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.









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