Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 22, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – The In-box

As the time draws near to travel, I thought I had best clear out the In-box of all the images of wonderful woven projects from students, online friends and acquaintances that I have been accumulating to show here on my blog. Some of them are emailed to me, some of them I photographed myself during workshops and others have come to me as I prowl about in the online groups.

My friend Diane recently went on a long campervan trip to Alaska and entertained herself during those long hours of daylight in the northern evenings by weaving a new band for her fisherman husband’s hat…

She combined various fish and geometric patterns from my Complementary-warp Pattern Book and used a backstrap loom.

Victoria Kusch Erker was also attracted to the cute fish motifs and you can see one that she is weaving into band on her inkle loom. There are four of these cuties in my pattern book. I adapted them to pebble weave from a band of tablet-woven fish.

Victoria then went on to weave a band with the cheeky viscachas that also appear in my pattern book. It’s hard to believe that this pattern came from a fragment of pre-Columbian cloth. It looks so contemporary.The owner of the fragment shared pictures with me so that I could study and chart the pattern. It’s adorable. The band includes a cat figure that is also seen on pre-Columbian pieces as well as some geometric patterns which are all charted in my book.

Kathy King took a double weave class from me and then gathered motifs from Bedouin textiles to create this beautiful band. The Bedouin weavers pick patterns for only one face of their cloth which leaves very long warp floats on the back. However, one simple additional step allows the weaver to avoid those floats and create two bonded layers of cloth. This is what we do when we weave warp-faced double weave.

Kathy also quickly moved on to creating patterns of her own. Her backstrap loom goes with her when she travels to escape low winter temperatures.

Jane Milner showed me what she has been doing in Andean Pebble Weave…

Motifs that are woven in certain structures in tablet-weaving can be very easily adapted to Andean Pebble Weave and this is what Jane has done. I adapted, with permission, some tablet-woven motifs by Louise Ström for publication in my second book and I believe that Jane used some of Louise’s patterns as well.

Terry and Jennifer made jewelry from the eye-pattern tubular band aka ñawi awapa:

I teach this in one of my latest books, The Eye-pattern Tubular Band and Other Decorative Finishing Techniques in which I show how the band can be woven without any loom at all (that is, with the warp stretched between your waist and a fixed object), or if you prefer, on an inkle loom. The ebook includes the support of video clips.

Lynn wove the tubular band while sewing it to the edge of a pouch. This is actually the traditional use of these kinds of bands…as an edging. She used a piece of fabric which was woven by my Bolivian weaving teachers in the co-op that they run in Cochabamba. My friend Dorinda, who lived with and supported the weavers in their establishment of the co-op over many years, has lengths of these beautiful pieces of cloth for sale if you are interested. You can contact me via this blog or you can contact Dorinda via the PAZA Bolivia blog if you would like to buy them and help support the weavers. The yarn is hand spun and dyed with natural substances.

Lynn has a very interesting life style…she caretakes lighthouses around the world! and always takes some weaving and sewing projects along with her when she is doing a stint of lighthouse watching.

Here’s a picture of my new weaving friend Jan who was bitten by the backstrap bug during my visit. She has a nice comfy set-up in her living room…

On the foot-rest you can see one of the lined zippered pouches that the ladies in the Bolivian weaving co-op also make to sell. The natural dye colors are so beautiful!

Hand spun wool yarn, natural dye substances and weavers skilled in producing beautiful cloth on simple looms.

Jennifer, who wove the tubular band necklace with the star pendant I showed above, has also been making gorgeous wrist cuffs. using patterns from my Complementary-warp Pick-up e-book. This book teaches the technique and includes 42 pattern charts.

Jennifer is using the wooden ends from Purl and Loop which come with metal clasps ready to ”install”. I have bought a few sets of these for myself but have yet to use them.

And, here’s a picture of the efforts of several of my friends when we got together at the farm to weave recently. We focused on weaving patterns with supplementary weft…

I love how this technique allows color changes when ever you feel like it. It can be as colorful or as subdued as you like.  The set-up is very simple as it only requires two basic sheds. You are weaving patterns into a base of plain weave. This means that this technique can be easily woven using an inkle loom.

This technique is the topic of one of the three books that I currently have underway. Until then, if you are curious, I wrote a very basic tutorial on it many years ago.

Ann wove my leaf pattern at left in beautiful autumn tones.

Since I last visited Mary in Alabama and wove double weave with her, I invented a little song to help people remember the moves. It can be quite an ear worm but Mary believes that it really helps and she really took off with her double weave when I saw her on my most recent visit.

She put together a cool stand for her inkle loom which can be dismantled and easily carried around.

I got to see Deanna’s double weave Iching hexagrams in person on my last visit. They are so striking! Deanna uses a backstrap loom for her double weave.

Patricia Stern Mulcahy who wove with me on my last trip, wove some bands for key fobs. The hardware she used for these allows you to clamp them directly onto raw edges. There is no need to bother with turning a hem. The bands are folded with both raw edges clamped. There are those adorable viscachas again. She wove some of the individual geometric patterns from my book as continuous ones and I really like the effect.

Nancy uses her inkle loom for her pebble weave and tells me that she has become accustomed to the spotted charts that I use in my second book. They do require time and little patience to get used to but I can tell you that they are a great aid to moving on to designing your own patterns. About a quarter of the patterns in my Complementary-warp Pattern book were created by my students or readers who use the spotted charts to sketch out their ideas. These knot-work patterns, woven by Nancy, come from the second book…More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns.

Martina in Germany wove some pebble weave paw prints and river-themed patterns into key fobs too. The heart-shaped hardware is unique. I had never seen them before.

Theresa Cariello uses the  popular Mini Wave loom for her complementary-warp work. I love the way she used the horizontal bars on the border of her pick-up pattern…such a striking effect! Her band is so crisp.

And, to finish, I’ll show you what became of my latest ikat project. The idea was to see how the finer, slicker silk thread behaved. I abandoned all my fancy ideas about adding panels to the sides and weaving supplementary-weft patterns in them. That will come later. I decided to concentrate on doing everything in exactly the same way so that I could see the effect of using the finer thread. It did shift more in this project than in the first one.

Here it is out of the dye bath and almost dry. And now, on the loom with a pile of cut and unwrapped ikat tape nearby. I unwrap gradually as I weave.

There is just enough shift in the warp threads to make it immediately recognizable as ikat but not so much that the pattern is spoiled. I know that many people like the blurring. I don’t want too much of it. Below you can see it off the loom before I wet and then pressed it. I really like the way the colors darkened when it was wet.

Here it is pressed and finished with a bit of sheen that would be expected from silk.

I don’t have any real plans for this. It is part of the experiments as I work my way to finer and finer silk and longer and wider pieces. I have one more multi-color base-warp experiment that I would like to do with all the shades of blues and green that I have left from my little skeins of naturally dyed silk yarn but that will have to wait until I return from my next trip away.

I hope I can find time for a post or two while I am on the road.





Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 12, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Tying and Stitching

I launched myself into some major workshop prep these last weeks as the departure for my trip to New Zealand and Australia approaches.  My reward for all the warping, heddle-making and weaving prep is stretches of quiet time in which I have been sewing and tying tape onto a new ikat warp.

The sewing part of my reward time was about converting the long strip of cloth that I recently wove on the Karen backstrap loom into a table square. I cut the strip into five pieces so that they could be joined side-by-side into an almost-square piece of cloth, roughly 24″ x 24″. I think that it is something I can use on tables to display my workshop samples.

I wanted to lay the strips side by side and join them edge to edge using one of the decorative stitches that Bolivian weavers use when they join their woven panels. There are many varieties of these joining stitches and I chose one of the simplest one. The needle and thread follow a basic figure-eight path. The needle emerges from bottom to top a certain distance away from the edge of panel A. Then it dives down in the gap between the two edges of the panels and emerges from bottom to top the same distance away from the edge of panel B. Then it once again dives down in the gap between the edges of the two panels and starts again from the beginning.

I used this joining stitch a couple of times before when I connected wool panels to make lap blankets. Here’s one of the two panels of the purple blanket on the loom…

And, here it is connected to its partner with the decorative stitching…

I took care of raw edges by eventually covering the perimeter of the blanket with the woven band you can see below…

The red and brown blanket got the same treatment. Above you can see the two panels sitting side by side before I sewed them together.I used a contrast color for the join which made the stitching practical as well as decorative. This blanket also had its perimeter covered and raw edges protected with a woven band.

I guess the hardest part is making sure that the needle always pierces the cloth the same distance away from the edge. Cotton seems to demand a higher level of accuracy and I wasn’t confident enough to go with a contrast color for the stitching.  I matched the color of the sewing thread to the cloth and the little inaccuracies give my stitching a fairly ”rustic” look.

Stitching in progress. There were four joins to cover.

A close-up of the joins.

I covered the two raw edges with cross-knit-loop stitches and left the two selvedges uncovered….

I kept the cross-knit-loop stitches as close together as possible. This gave good coverage and meant that I could just turn the raw edge over once and feel confident that the stitching would cover and protect it.

My other reward for time spent doing workshop prep was time off spent tying a new pattern into my next ikat project. It’s another short warp as I am still at the stage where all I am hoping to do is learn and improve my skills before I launch into a ”real” project.

The base colors show against black in the last silk ikat project.

I again used the naturally dyed silk sample skeins that I had been given.

This warp is made of a different kind of silk to that which I used in my last ikat project. It is different in that it is finer, more slick and has a higher twist. I guess it more closely resembles the silk that I eventually hope to use in the real project, whatever that might be.

A major difference is that this kind of silk absorbed the natural dyes in a very different way too. The colors in my last warp were more muted and “sad” I suppose you could say. These colors are brighter and clearer….almost too bright for my liking and I might over dye the project later to sadden the colors if the contrast against the black dye is too high.

It’s the differences in this thread that are of interest to me. Will the fact that it is finer and slicker make it more difficult for me to achieve good firm ties when I apply the ikat tape? Will the black dye bleed under the ikat ties? Will the threads shift more freely out of alignment when I weave because they are more slick than those I have tried in other experiments?


To make it all a bit different to the last ikat experiment, I plan to add two panels to either side of this piece when the time comes to weave it. I hope to be able to weave motifs with supplementary weft in those two panels that resemble the ones I have created with the ikat tape.

When I posted pictures of my last experiment in online forums, questions arose about the tape I am using. It was given to me years ago by my weaving friend Betty. You can see a roll of it at left.

I don’t know where she got it from but the only place that I have seen selling anything that seems to be specifically designed for ikat is Maiwa in Canada.

I used cassette tape with some success before I was given the ikat tape. It worked very well when I was using cold water dyes on cotton. It failed in hot water, though. It held knots well but you had to be careful when pulling knots tight as it could snap. The ikat tape has never snapped.

Others in the forums have mentioned using flagging tape and cut strips of plastic grocery store bags when they have taken ikat workshops. One of the features I like a lot about the ikat tape is that it can be split and torn vertically into strips as fine as you like. I am not sure if that is a good thing if you are trying to use the entire width of the tape to wrap a very large area. I think it in that case that it may have a tendency to split when you don’t want it to.

This is probably one of the last ikat experiments that I did using cassette tape….

I know that you probably can’t make out anything here but this is the pattern that I am currently tying. I  mark the pattern with a charcoal pencil and I use a paint brush with stiff bristles to “erase” mistakes in my marking.

I am finding straight horizontal lines the hardest thing. I tie each bundle separately and just hope that the plastic wraps line up well enough to give a smooth horizontal. I have been tempted to put several bundles together and bind them all at once but I know that if I were to grab my bangs in a bunch and cut straight across, I wouldn’t end up with a straight line.

The other thing I did in my reward time was to cover the journal with the last ikat piece and add it to the collection of little books with hand woven covers.

I was pleased that the three motifs in the middle ended up nicely seated on the spine of the book.

I have actually finished all the tying part of the latest ikat project. Now I just need to carefully inspect it and make sure that I didn’t forget any parts. You can see in an old experiment in the picture below that the top left motif is missing one wrap on its extreme left. It went into the dye bath like that. So, I will be looking very closely over my current pattern to make sure it is complete!

It will go into the dye bath tomorrow. Fingers crossed that all goes well!







Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 27, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Something from Scraps

I was motivated by the announcement that the summer 2019 weave-along (WAL) in one of the weaving groups on Ravelry would be “Weaving with Hand-dyed or Painted Yarns”. The WAL for the last couple of summers has been about band weaving and although I happily participated in those, this newest topic is much more interesting and challenging for me.

I decided that it was a good time to try ikat using silk for warp and started scratching around in my silk stash which includes cones and skeins of 30/2, 60/2 and 140/2 thread. I figured I would be wise to start with the heaviest 30/2 thread even though that still seemed very intimidating. I have mostly used cotton for my ikat experiments in the past, the finest being this one with 20/2s.

I was able to turn this experiment into something useful…a nice draw-string bag for my Kindle…

I had been using cold water dyes for these cotton experiments. Now was the time to take out the lovely Landscape and Jacquard brand dyes that I had bought a few years ago in the hope of dyeing wool and silk for some of my projects. I had all I needed: the ikat tape, the right dyes and a selection of silk from which to choose, but I still hesitated.

Ikat projects are such a big undertaking. There’s all the time spent designing and then tying a pattern, not to mention all the measuring and care to make sure that the pattern gets tied on straight. My eyes always seem to to tell me something completely different to what the ruler is indicating. Then you can never really be sure if you have wrapped the yarn well or tightly enough. There’s always a chance the dye will seep into the wrapped yarn and spoil the motif. And, finally, even if the initial tying and dyeing stages have been successful, you can never know just how much the threads will shift on the loom to possibly blur the pattern out of recognition.

The fineness of my silk in my stash was intimidating. So, I was quite relieved to discover in my scratching around that I still had scraps of naturally dyed silk left over from other projects. This silk is much heavier and seemed like it would be much more manageable for my very first ikat experiments with silk. I had been offered all these tiny dyed skeins of silk by a guild when the guild member who had created them had passed away. No one else had seen a use for them, but I knew that I could use them for small projects on my backstrap loom. This was what I was able to bring back home with me to Bolivia….

You may remember that some time ago I used them to weave four pieces which became covers for journals…

These are the remaining scraps I found in my closet…

Ikat Cat by Budi Satria Kwan

There are two quite different kinds of silk rolled up in these tiny balls. I opted for the heavier of the two for my ikat project and decided to wind a crazy multi-colored warp. I wanted to weave a piece that would cover a journal that I had left over from the other project. The warp only needed to be nineteen inches long to give me enough fabric for the cover as well as a comfortable amount of working space on my backstrap loom.

I was inspired by a picture of some fabric I had seen on the internet many years ago of the silhouette of a multi-color cat sitting on a dark background. I had saved it and kept it in the back of my mind. I wasn’t feeling brave enough to go for such an ambitious shape right now and decided to stick with some basic straight lines for this experiment. I had done some experiments with creating curved shapes in ikat some years ago too. They were quite successful but would have been even better if I had remembered to account for take-up when I tied the shapes. My circles had come out a little flattened!

I really liked the simple idea of having the multi-colored shape appearing on the black background.

Here’s the warp I created.

Next, I extended the warp on a frame so that I could start tying in the design. A friend lent me a small table that made a perfect frame for this.

Those light pieces of thread you can see in the picture are enclosing the sections of threads that will be tied. Most bundles were made up of twelve ends with a few evenly distributed ones that held fourteen ends so that I could cover the total of 270 ends across the width of the warp.

I wrapped the thread in ikat tape in several short sessions over three days. The frequent breaks are necessary as I tend to get sloppy with my measurements when I get tired.

Here you can see the warp off the frame and ready to be soaked before going into the dye pot.

Here it is after being rinsed and left to dry overnight…

And now on the backstrap loom, heddles in place, first section unwrapped and with weaving underway…

Rather than remove all the ikat wraps at once, I like to slowly unwrap as the weaving progresses.  I feel that leaving some of the wraps in place helps reduce the amount of shift in the threads which gives a crisper design. I know that the shifting and blurring can be attractive but I have found that it is less so when the motifs have blunt horizontal edges as mine do. Shifting in motifs like these can sometimes create spots and/or lines of color that are totally disconnected from the main motif. The practice of not removing all the ties at once gives me a relatively small space in which to weave and operate the loom. I use fine swords and wrap my weft around a stick rather than the regular shaped shuttle that I prefer. I can slide the stick with the weft into a very small shed. I keep weaving until I absolutely can’t continue due to the lack of space and then I remove the next ikat ties to free up some space to continue.

Almost there…

I am hoping that I have planned this well enough so that the black squares in the middle of the center row of three motifs sit right in the middle of the spine of the journal.


I am very pleased (and relieved!).

Ikat projects are always a big unknown for me. They can end up being a mess or a success. I’ll call this one a success.

It does seems a bit weird over-dyeing naturally dyed silk with chemical dye, but there really wasn’t a whole lot more I could do with the scraps of silk that were left in my closet except perhaps make some wrist cuffs.  I already made the cuff you can see at left when I was sampling for the first set of book covers.

I am glad that this project still shows off the beauty of the natural dye colors.

There is probably enough of the other kind of silk that I was given to do some further ikat experiments. It is finer and slicker. Maybe I will make an ikat cuff or two. The more experience the better if I am ever to move on to my finer 30/2s and 60/2s silk thread!

I could have produced a very similar effect in warp-faced double weave without all the mess and risk. I was thinking about that. Double weave would have given me a thicker fabric for a start, which I didn’t want. Plus the two layers of cloth would not have connected in the areas of solid black. That can sometimes create a sort of ballooning effect between the areas where the layers are in fact connected. In any case, the more ikat I do the more confident I will feel about eventually reaching my goal of creating complex curved shapes…the kinds I wouldn’t be able to achieve in double weave or the other patterning structures that I use.

Now all that remains to be done is to look for some pretty paper to use on the inside of the front and back covers of the journal.

Between bouts of ikat wrapping, I started sewing together strips of the green cloth from my Karen backstrap loom project to make a table square that will be approximately twenty-five inches square. It will be another piece on which I can display my samples at my workshops. I’ll show you my progress on that in the next post.

And, this will be my last chance to remind you to make sure you have downloaded all your purchases from Patternfish. You have until the end of the month to do so.







Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 15, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Order and Disorder

It all started a few years ago when my weaving friend Bhakti gave me a loom with a circular warp that she had been using to study with a group of Karen backstrap weavers. Her teachers had created the warp and set it up for her. It seems that they used the sticks that they would normally use for their much wider projects. The coil rod, heddle sticks and shed rod were clumsily long for this narrow warp. Because I was traveling, the first thing I did was leave behind the large piece of long pvc pipe that they had been using as the shed rod. It was way too bulky to pack. I saved the space it had been occupying with a sturdy piece of cord.

I loved the simple backstrap made from a piece of plastic Thai rice sack. A halved stick of bamboo fills the seam at the two sides so that the strap doesn’t fold in on itself. The sword was also wonderful as was the forked dowel rod that had been neatly split in two. The unwoven warp, and later the cloth itself, get clamped between the two pieces of that split rod and then rolled with the help of another rod to hold the circular warp in place. This stops the warp from slipping around the two end beams as the weaver beats. It was too precious a piece to leave behind even though it was heavy and bulky. The simple temple, which consisted of a flat stick with pins taped to ends, was also a treasure.

In case you are not familiar with what I mean by a circular warp, compare the two warps in this next picture….

The warp with the blue and yellow pattern is circular. You start weaving at one point and continue around the circle until you arrive back at the place where you started. The entire warp slides and rotates around its two end beams every time you advance the warp. This means that the weaver always stays more or less seated at the same distance from the end of the warp throughout the project.

The other warp is the one that I more typically use…a single-plane warp. You start weaving at one end and finish at the other end. The cloth is rolled up as the weaving advances. The weaver, therefore, moves closer and closer to the end beam as the weaving advances.

I learned about the use of circular warps on backstrap looms with the Montagnard (Vietnamese hilltribe) backstrap weavers with whom I studied some years ago and have used this kind of warp a few times in my own work. It is particularly handy when I want to weave a piece that is too long to fit in my weaving space on a single-plane set-up, like the purple scarf project below….

Here’s another long warp that I set up in circular fashion as a demonstration piece…

Above, you can clearly see the circular nature of the warp my Montagnard teacher, Ju Nie, is using.

One thing I have struggled with a little when using a circular warp is getting the warp well clamped and fixed in position in order to start the weaving. My aim has always been to clamp the warp so that I can start weaving as close to all the knots (where I changed colors in the warp) as possible. This creates the smallest amount of  loom waste. This has always involved a lot of fiddling and messing about, for me in my inexperience, with the threads slipping and sliding in their circle around the two end beams so that the knots eventually got very much misaligned. My warp that had come off the warping stakes in such good order would end up in complete disorder! Eventually I would get it clamped but there would be much more waste than I had anticipated because the knots had slipped so much out of alignment. Part of the problem is that I didn’t insert the coil rod while winding the warp. A coil rod in a circular warp has a very useful stabilizing effect even before you can actually start weaving.

I noticed that the Karen weavers set up their warp in a slightly different way which keeps the color changes in the warp perfectly aligned and in good order no matter how much messing about you do. They use two coil rods….one in the typical position beyond the shed rod and the other is positioned at the point in the warp where one would start weaving. This second one creates even more stability and locks everything at the color changes into position.

This is the way I would go about winding a warp if I wanted to replicate the set-up of the Karen warp I was given…

Of course, I can’t say that this is the way they did it themselves.

The two blackened circles are the two fixed stakes that hold the warp tension. Ca = the coil rod at the ”start” of the warp. Cb = the coil rod in its typical position beyond the shed rod. The stakes marked X hold the cross. I know that the Karen weavers use a hollow rod of large girth (H) to measure the length of the heddles that they create while they wind the warp. Later, a stick of much smaller girth is inserted in the tube. The tube is slid out from beneath the heddles and the thinner stick remains behind as the heddle rod.

I could see from examining the Ca coil rod in my Karen warp that the first and last ends of warp were tied directly to the rod. At a color change, the tail of the old color would be left on standby until it was later called into use again. The new color would be tied to the rod. It all looks a bit disorderly there in the picture below but, wow, what a difference it makes to getting the warp nicely clamped and positioned so that the start of the weaving can be as orderly as possible!

I placed a stiff cardboard strip in one of the sheds at the coil rod which gave me a nice straight and even base against which to beat and started weaving from there.

In the very first picture I showed of the warp you may have noticed that there were two shuttles. The warp had been set up for some continuous patterning with supplementary-weft. The green weft was used for the ground weave and the white weft was the supplemental patterning thread. The warp included two patterning rods that raised certain warp threads in order to form the simple repeating pattern. These were placed in the same way that my Guatemalan weaving teachers had shown me.

I wasn’t really in love with the pattern and I also didn’t care for the fact that the ground weave was more warp-dominant than warp-faced so, once I had decided that I was going to actually sit and weave this piece (about three years after having received it!), I removed the patterning sticks and un-wove the six inches or so of cloth that had been started.

I used a thick piece of dowel to replace the pvc shed rod that I had removed. And then I put sticks in the original cross to get an idea of how wide this warp would be if I wove it as warp-faced rather than warp-dominant.

I am in the habit of first weaving a sample with new-to-me yarn before taking on a major project like this so that I know exactly what width to expect. That wasn’t an option this time. By putting in cross sticks and gently sliding them back and forth along the warp until everything settles, I can then push the threads around and get a pretty good idea of the where these threads will want to sit in my hands when I am in the driver’s seat. It’s worth noting that ten different weavers could work on this warp and all create different widths of good warp-faced cloth. The threads will behave in different ways with different weavers at the loom according to how how much tension each places on the wrap, how they beat and how they handle the weft. Something that was a little unusual for me was the fact that the warp was made up of doubled threads.

The first thing I had to come to terms with was the lack of order in the green strips. I am a bit nutty when it comes to symmetry. The green strips were all different widths. Well, the fact is that I didn’t come to terms with it and I cut and pulled out ends so that the two outer strips matched. I then made the two inner ones match too. They were slightly wider than the two outer ones. One white stripe was missing a couple of ends but I decided I would live with that!

ABOVE: In “jammies” on a wintry day trying to decide what to do about those uneven green bits!

From order to disorder….I then decided that the little supplementary-weft patterns that I planned to use, needed to be scattered randomly along the length of the piece. I don’t do random very well and every time I try, I find myself unconsciously slipping back into a pattern. I pushed ahead trying to be as little controlled by a need for symmetry and orderly patterning as I could.

There was plenty of warp to work with and so I decided the first part would just be about seeing if I had set the width correctly. Then I would decide on the motifs I would use, the material for the supplementary weft and the colors. The warp didn’t come with enough weft material to weave the complete project and so I used some white thread I have in my stash. You can see the turns of the white weft along the edges. A bit later I discovered that I did in fact have some green in my stash that almost perfectly matched the warp color.

Below you can see the fun moment when the ”starting coil rod” rounds the far beam and starts heading towards you rather than away from you. You finally get to catch just a glimpse of what you have woven so far….

The warp is in good order which is more than can be said about the contents of my cupboard!

And getting closer….and then closer….

In the picture above left you can see that I am using a shed rod attached with rubber bands to a second stick. These two form the system that I call the ”twisty sticks” and twisting them is what helps me to open a nice clean heddle shed without having the scrape the heddles along the warp. This way of operating the loom is one I learned from a backstrap weaver in Peru and is just one of many methods that I have seen backstrap weavers use.

In the picture on the right, you can see the flat stick (it’s actually a shuttle that I am re-purposing) that I kept permanently positioned in the ”back” shed at the shed rod. I would pull it down towards the heddle and then tilt it on its side to raise and clear that shed through the heddles. Then I would leave it lying flat once again within the shed when it wasn’t in use.

Getting veeeeery close….The two coil rods and the shed rod (I am using a two-stick shed rod aka ”twisty sticks”) are now so close together that if I wish to continue, I’ll need to change the large shed rod to a much slimmer one, which is what I did. With that, I was able to squeeze in another couple of inches.

And, this is where I called it quits….

All sticks have been removed and you can see the unwoven warp that connects the start of the woven cloth to the end. What a mess that is!

And here is the cloth straight off the loom….

One idea I have is to lay pieces of the cloth side by side, joining them with decorative stitching, and make a bag of some sort. I will let the cloth lie around for a while and see what other ideas come along.

Here are the simple sticks that went into this project from top to bottom…

far beam,

forked split rod (these are the ones that came with the warp but I ended up using the pair below them which I had bought from another backstrap weaver from Burma. They are much lighter in weight.),

shuttle (I didn’t use the stick shuttle that came with the warp as I am not fond of that kind of shuttle),

sword/beater (this is an old favorite of mine from back in 1995. It was originally a very long shuttle for my Navajo loom which was cut down and beveled to become a simple sword…love it!),

shed rod,

heddle rod and second heddle -”protection” rod,

starter coil rod (Ca)….interesting how it ended up a bit bowed!,

coil rod (Cb),

second shed stick which together with the shed rod formed the ”twisty sticks”.

Oh, and there was a second rod (not pictured) that was used together with the split rod to roll and secure the near end of the warp. I didn’t feel any need for a temple.

One other thing worth mentioning is that I have a new appreciation for the way my Guatemalan weaving teachers taught me to enclose the warp threads in heddles. This is the same method that the Karen weavers use and is also used by Yan, who brought her Li-style backstrap loom to show me, and Ju Nie my Montagnard teacher. I’ll expand on this in another post after I have done some experiments.

In the meantime, I must write to Bhakti and show her what became of her wonderful gift!








Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 3, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – A new home for my ebooks: Taproot Video. has been the home for my e-publications since 2010 when Syne Mitchell first introduced me to its dynamic owner, Julia Grunau.

Sadly, after eleven successful years in business, the site closed its doors for sales on May 31, 2019. I would like to thank, Julia, Phil, Dale and all the team for the support they gave me over those nine years and particularly in the weeks and days leading up to the final closure. And, I would like to thank all of you who bought my e-books and gave me your vote of confidence right from the start when my first ebook, Andean Pebble Weave, was made available on back in 2009.

Now it’s time to move forward and I have found the perfect new home for new purchasers of my ebooks on the website of Taproot Video, which is also the home of my video class, Operating a Backstrap Loom. I couldn’t have asked for a smoother transition thanks to the hard work of the good folk at Taproot Video as well as those at Patternfish who were there to help out right to the very end.

As you can imagine, it will take me a while to update all the links to that I have placed in my blog posts over these nine years! The main links on the side-bar of my blog have been updated to Taproot Video and I have also included the links in the book titles below the next photo. Old links that continue to take you to will show you my old product page with a direct link to the new page at Taproot Video….at least until June 30, 2019, when the site may disappear all together. In that case, I hope that the message I have placed on the header of this blog will guide people to the right place.

Andean Pebble Weave

More Adventures in Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns

Complementary-warp Pick-up

Complementary-warp Pattern Book

The Eye-pattern Tubular Band and Other Decorative Finishing Techniques

Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms

Foreign language editions:

Andean pebble Weave in GERMAN, FRENCH, ITALIAN and SPANISH

Complementary-warp Pick-up in GERMAN

Remember: if you have purchased one of my e-books from any time in the past but not yet downloaded it, please do so before June 30! Sales have ceased but the site will remain open for downloading purchased files until then. Please ask for help if you don’t know how to do that.

I hope you will visit Taproot Video after you read this blog post. While you are there, why not take a good look around at the other products that are offered, for example, video classes on tablet weaving by both John Mullarky and Kris Leet…cotton spinning by Joan Ruane….weaving on an inkle loom for beginners by Marilyn Romatka…sprang by Carol James…ply-split braiding with Linda Hendrickson… and  more.

As for me, I have more ebooks in the works which I will be offering at Taproot Video in the future.

In the meantime, I am pleased to say that I finished the straps for my big pocket bag and have sewn them on! This bag will go away with me on my next trip and we will see how my hand-sewing stands up to it! I am very happy with it and especially like the plain-weave tubular bands that edge the pocket and sides of the bag. The pocket is the perfect size for my iPod.

Right now I find myself sitting at an enormously long warp that was given to me by a weaver in the USA who had taken some classes from a Karen backstrap weaver. This was her student warp. It’s a circular warp and so it is actually twice the length of what you see here! It had about six inches of cloth woven and I have taken it back to the beginning to start afresh. I can only wonder what the weaver had planned for this long, long warp….perhaps a couple of scarves?

This warp has been sitting in my closet for a couple of years and now seems to be the perfect time to take it out and get it going again because I have received several questions from people about circular warps since I showed the picture of Yan Zhang’s loom in my last post. Following along with this project will help answer those questions better than words alone.

I have placed sticks in the original cross so that I can try to get a read on how wide this piece wants to be. It came with a simple temple ( a flat length of wood with pins taped to the ends) which would normally tell me the width but it was being woven as warp-dominant cloth rather then truly warp faced.

You can see the simple temple in the picture below. It’s the small stick at the bottom of the picture.

In the meantime, I need to get over the lack of symmetry in the stripes which is making my hair curl! This is me, below, pondering how difficult it might be to cut and pull out some of the green threads so that I can even up the stripes. And then there’s also the need to add a couple of white threads niggling at me. Pulling threads out is relatively easy but adding threads to such a long warp is not something I am willing to tackle!

There’ll be a full progress report next time….!





Posted by: lavernewaddington | May 27, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – The View from the Driver’s Seat

Twice during my recent trip away I got to sit in the ”driver’s seat” to experience what a weaver from another culture sees as they sit at their backstrap loom gazing down the length of their warp.

First, I got to spend the day with Yan Zhang, a woman from mainland China who went to study with backstrap weavers of the Li minority group who live on Hainan Island, China. She kindly brought her loom and warping frame and we, along with my good friend Deanna, talked about all things backstrappy for a good part of the day. You may remember Yan from a previous post of mine in which I embedded a beautiful video that she made of herself warping and  weaving with her teacher on Hainan Island. I had also written about a loom and patterning process from Hainan Island when I crossed paths with Megan in this post. some time ago.

Unrolling the warp and feeling excited as the beautiful cloth and tools are revealed.

Soaking up everything Yan has to tell me about the process…and hoping that I might have a chance to try!

Here’s my view as I sit at Yan’s foot-tensioned loom with its circular warp. While I have woven many a time using my big toe to tension my warp, this was the first time I had had the opportunity to sit at one of these awesome foot-tensioned backstrap looms. Yan’s legs are shorter than mine which meant that we needed to unroll the woven cloth from the beam and adjust length. We didn’t take the time to get it quite right and, as a result, I didn’t have the full range of movement in my feet that was necessary to be able to operate the loom comfortably. Nevertheless I got to use the loom and throw some shots of weft and it was thrilling!

The pattern structure is what I call ”simple warp-floats”. Floats form the patterns on one face of the cloth but not on the other. The loom was set up to create all the pattern sheds with heddle rods and other sticks in place and so no pick-up was required. I loved having my feet be part of the loom. I loved the feeling of curling my toes around the beams. Of course it requires lots of practice to make just the right amount of tension adjustments with movements of the feet. Quite often, I moved my feet too much and had the far beam slide down off the balls of my feet.

Look at Yan’s feet flexed toward her so that she can relax tension enough on the warp to enable her to raise a heddled shed.  She is adding the threads that are held on her pattern stick to the main heddled shed.

The tools that Yan used were all beautiful in their simplicity. She told us that some weavers on Hainan Island have introduced materials such as pvc pipe and I often see these also being used in the highlands here in Bolivia and Peru. Yan’s tools are all natural traditional materials.

Like backstrap weavers in many regions around the world, the shuttle is a simple stick. I  love the shape the yarn takes as it is wound onto the shuttle and Yan showed us how the Li weavers create that. Look at that gorgeous sword on the floor! The heddle rods are doubled pieces of bamboo and weavers look long and hard to find bamboo that grows in such a way. Once found, these pieces very much cherished. They are formed when a thin off-shoot of bamboo grows parallel to a piece of larger girth. The larger piece holds the heddles  while the thinner piece closes around them and secures them. Yan does not use a temple. When I asked her about that, she indicated that the coil rod is what is used to help maintain consistent width.

When we asked Yan about the thread she was using we all had a chuckle when she said it came from the craft chain store Joann! My Vietnamese weaving friends in the USA were never quite comfortable with the thread that they bought locally. Whenever a family member traveled back to Vietnam they were asked to bring back thread.

Yan showed us her handwoven skirt fabric and the way it is wrapped and pleated to fit the user.

Yan also learned how to spin cotton with her Li teachers and showed us a beautiful piece that she has woven using her own hand spun cotton. Here it is removed from the loom still in its uncut circle…

One of the other many fascinating things for me was the frame that Li weavers use to measure their warps. The loom can be set up anywhere and held between the body and the feet. In the same way, the warp can be measured anywhere on a simple hand-held device!

The particular warping path shown in my photo is what Yan calls ”four point” and creates the shortest possible warp. She showed me how to wind this shortest warp for what she says might be used to make a scarf. We separated the colors at the cross sticks in much the same way I was taught to do using my four warping stakes. The heddles are only made once the warp is off the frame and on the beams. However, the threads are turned in such a way as the warp is wound on the frame to allow the immediate insertion of the coil rod when the warp is removed. You can see the way the warp threads wrap around the upper right corner of the frame.

I shared some of my weaving with Yan and we compared warp-float techniques as well as the techniques used to create patterns using supplementary weft. She liked my wrist band with my leaf pattern in supplementary weft and I was happy that she accepted it as a gift. Here she is wearing it while warping.

She showed us some fabric that was woven by her teacher which is considered particularly precious because it is embedded with slivers of mica. You can see one sliver glinting in the light in the next picture. Follow that column down and you will clearly see the pieces of mica sitting under the red warp threads.

It was an absolute delight meeting and weaving with Yan. It was just a few months ago that I first saw her beautiful video on Youtube. I am grateful to my friend Deanna for opening up her home for this visit. Deanna is my backstrap weaving buddy and she of course was just as interested to meet Yan and spend the day with her.

A week or so later, I got to sit in the driver’s seat at another backstrap loom, this time from Guatemala. Susan had been to Guatemala and bought a loom with a couple of yards of cotton cloth already woven and wound onto its beam. She asked me to give her some tips on how to operate the loom so that she could finish off the weaving.

Single-layer warps are used in Guatemala rather than the circular ones that the Li weavers use. This one is made up of lively cotton stripes. Two colors have been used to create horizontal bars on one half of the warp. There is even some variegated thread in use on one edge.  Variegated thread was also used to make the colorful heddles. Susan did not know for what this piece of cloth was intended but I think the sturdy cotton fabric could be made into tote bags.

Unlike the Li weavers, Guatemalan weavers use a simple temple which is made up of a length of bamboo with open ends that spans the width of the cloth and two small nails. The piece of bamboo sits below the fabric. The nails are pushed through the edges of the fabric from top to bottom and then turned into the open ends of the bamboo.

The loom came with a good ol’ hefty sword…not as smooth and polished with use as the sword Yan was using but it certainly does its job in propping open the sheds and beating the weft firmly into place. I used the two cross sticks that are typical in Guatemalan backstrap looms as ”twisty sticks” to help raise the heddle shed.

One thing I found particularly interesting was the way the weaver had settled the far end of her warp. This is the second time I have seen this. My Guatemalan teachers taught me to start out by weaving an inch or so at the far end of the loom before turning it around and starting from the other end. The inch of weaving at the far end locks the two layers of threads together around the far beam and also sets the width at the far end of the loom. I noticed that the weaver who was using the loom that Susan bought had simply placed a metal rod in the second cross, lodged it up against the far beam and firmly lashed it into place. This is a quicker and far less fiddly way of achieving the same result, although perhaps not quite as pretty!

Yes, I had a very nice time sitting in the driver’s seat of these two looms and am so grateful for these opportunities. I think both Yan and I show it in our faces…the joy of weaving on a backstrap loom! The wonder of “being the loom”!

This is just a small part of my travel tales from this last trip away. I will have more to share in future post from all the backstrap weaving friends with whom I wove on this latest trip away.

Right now, I am happily weaving on a 180-inch-long narrow warp, creating the straps for my blue pocket bag. I bought the wool yarn I needed to finish the project while I was away. It’s just a plain blue strap in the sturdy intermesh structure and it is a nice way to get back into the loom with an easy task which gives me head space to plan out my next project while I weave. I will get to use my shoulder bag with its quirky pocket on my next trip away in late July.

Oh, and if you happen to subscribe to Spin Off magazine, the summer issue has an article by Devin Helman to which I was excited to be invited to contribute.

You will also see Sara Lamb’s contribution to Devin’s article, Honest Cloth, as well as words of spinning wisdom from Kristin Merritt whose work I often show here on my blog.

And…here’s the ten-month grey hair update in spring sunshine in Pennsylvania.

DON’T FORGET: While Patternfish sales will cease on May 31st, you still have until June 30 to download and save your purchases to a safe place. I’ll be announcing the new home for my ebooks in my next post.









Patternfish .com, the home to the seven e-books plus five foreign language versions that I have published over the years, is closing for sales on MAY 31ST, 2019.

Purchased files will continue to be available for download until JUNE 30, 2019.


I have bought only a handful of e-products myself over the years and I downloaded them right away. However, I know that many people have not done this and have been using the convenient Patternfish ‘Pattern Stash’ feature to store their purchases. If you are one of these people, you need to download your stash and store it somewhere safe now. I have been told that using your computer hard drive as the only storage place is not advisable and that you should consider places like Dropbox and other cloud-type services as back-up.

Please pass the word on to anyone you know in your fiber guilds and/ or in your social media circles so that everyone has a chance to save the knitting patterns they have bought as well as my e-books by JUNE 30, 2019.

Don’t forget that the last three books I published:

The Eye-pattern Tubular Band and other Decorative Finishing Techniques,

The Eye-pattern Tubular Band of the Peruvian and Bolivian Highlands, and

Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms

also have video files. Make sure you download those too.


I will be re-housing my e-books on another site for new purchases after the May 31st close of business of Patternfish and making what I expect will be a very smooth transition. I will also be attempting to update all the links I have posted to them in this blog over the last 9 years! Phew! Expect an announcement with details soon!


Announcements about the Patternfish closure in the various languages in which I have published follow. I so appreciate that my weaving friends Caroline, Lidia and Michèle who also act as my translators are always more than willing to help out. 

Thank you for all your support during the Patternfish years! And I would like to add a special thanks to Syne Mitchell who published my very first book on WeaveZine and who was responsible for getting me set up on Patternfish in the first place. It has been an awesome site!

A blast from the past….my very first WeaveZine edition of Andean Pebble Weave back in 2010 at Convergence Albuquerque NM.


IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Some of you may have heard about the fact that that hosts my ebooks is planning on closing at the end of May. Patterns, e-books etc that you have bought along with any accompanying videos will be available for downloading and saving until the end of June and I urge you to do so. I will be making a separate blog post about this in the near future once I have investigated my options. In the meantime, if you have concerns about your ability to save your purchases, please contact me via a comment on this blog post or via private message on Facebook or Ravelry. I have an awesome team of customers who have been willing to provide technical help to those who may be having trouble downloading or finding places to store their purchases. Let’s work through this together. We have two months to get your purchases safely tucked away. It’s sad news. Patternfish has been a wonderful home for my ebooks but it’s time to move on and new things are coming!


Certains d’entre vous sont peut-être déjà au courant que la fermeture de, le site qui héberge mes livres électroniques, a été planifiée pour la fin du mois de mai. Les patrons et livres électroniques que vous avez achetés ainsi que les vidéos d’accompagnements sont disponibles pour télécharger et sauvegarder jusqu’à la fin de juin, et je vous encourage à le faire le plus tôt possible. Je vais écrire un article à ce sujet sur mon blogue bientôt, quand j’aurai fini d’explorer mes options. Entretemps, si vous avez des doutes quand à votre habilité à sauvegarder vos achats, S.V.P. contactez-moi en laissant un commentaire sur l’article dans mon blogue ou en m’envoyant un message privé sur Facebook ou Ravelry. J’ai une équipe formidable de clients qui sont prêts à fournir de l’aide technique à ceux qui pensent avoir de la difficulté à télécharger ou à trouver un endroit sécure pour sauvegarder leurs achats. Travaillons donc ensemble pour passer à travers ! Nous avons deux mois pour sauvegarder de manière sécure vos achats. C’est une triste nouvelle. Patternfish a été un site formidable pour mes livres électroniques, mais il est maintenant temps pour un changement, d’autres choses s’en viennent !


WICHTIGE ANKÜNDIGUNG: Einige von Euch haben vielleicht schon gehört, dass, die Webseite, die meine E-Books im Internet vertreibt, Ende Mai schließen wird. Muster, E-Books usw., die Ihr, evtl. zusammen mit den dazugehörigen Videos, gekauft habt, werden nur noch bis Ende Juni zum Herunterladen und Speichern zur Verfügung stehen und ich möchte sichergehen, dass Ihr diese rechtzeitig speichert. Ich werde in Kürze einen gesonderten Blog-Post schreiben, sobald ich Genaueres weiß. Falls Ihr Probleme mit dem Speichern Eurer Waren habt, sagt mir Bescheid in einer Antwort auf dieses Posting oder kontaktiert mich bitte mit einer privaten Nachricht auf Facebook oder Ravelry. Ich habe ein fantastisches Team von Kunden, die gerne technische Hilfe leisten, wenn jemand Probleme beim Herunterladen oder beim Finden von Speicherplätzen hat, um bereits gekauften Waren zu sichern. Wir können diese Probleme gemeinsam lösen! Wir haben zwei Monate Zeit, um Eure E-Books zu speichern. Ich bedaure, daß Patternfish schließt. Es war ein wunderbares Zuhause für meine E-Books, aber das Leben geht weiter und es gibt bald Neues zu berichten!


Annuncio importante: Avrete forse sentito che, il sito che ospita i miei libri, ha deciso di chiudere a fine maggio. I libri, gli schemi e relativi video che avete acquistato potranno essere scaricati entro fine giugno e vi invito a farlo.Vi aggiornerò con un post apposito non appena avrò capito quali sono le mie opzioni.  Nel frattempo se avete dei dubbi per il salvataggio dei vostri acquisti non esitate a contattarmi tramite un commento su questo blog o con un messaggio privato su Facebook o Ravelry. Ho una formidabile squadra di clienti che volentieri offrono aiuto tecnico a chi possa avere problemi nello scaricare o nell’archiviare i propri acquisti.  Lavoriamo insieme per superare questo momento. Abbiamo due mesi di tempo per archiviare i vostri acquisti in modo sicuro.  E’ una triste notizia,  Patternfish é stato un magnifico ospite per i miei libri, ma ora é tempo di andare oltre, nuove mete     all’orizzonte!


ANUNCIO IMPORTANTE: Algunos de ustedes deben haber recibido las noticias de que que hospeda mis libros electrónicos, está planeando cerrar a fines de mayo. Los patrones, libros electrónicos, etc., que usted haya comprado junto con los videos que los acompañan, estarán disponibles para descargarlos y guardarlos hasta fines de junio y les recomiendo que lo hagan. Yo haré una publicación separada al respecto en mi blog más adelante una vez que haya investigado mis opciones. Mientras tanto, si usted tiene alguna inquietud acerca de cómo guardar sus compras, por favor, contácteme por comentario en esta publicación de blog, o por mensaje privado en Facebook o Ravelry. Tengo un equipo fabuloso de clientes que están dispuestos a proveer ayuda técnica a los que puedan tener problemas al bajar o encontrar lugar donde almacenar sus compras. Trabajemos juntos en esto. Tenemos dos meses para guardar sus compras en un lugar seguro. Son noticias tristes. Patternfish ha sido un maravilloso hogar para mis libros electrónicos pero es hora de continuar y ¡nuevas cosas vendrán!


Posted by: lavernewaddington | May 4, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Woo hoo! Going Wide!

It’s been a particularly busy time away on the road this spring! Hence no blog posts. Some people have noticed and commented with concern. Others know to expect a period of silence once I mention that I am about to travel. Some may even be relieved to perhaps have a chance to catch up on some older posts. If you also follow me on Instagram and Facebook you will have had a few hints here and there of what I have been weaving with my backstrap weaving buddies this last month.

I took my new weird two-tone hair look out of the hat and boldly faced the public! I’ve had some twenty-something-year-olds tell me that it is a cool look. I would actually like to keep the two-tone look. It has taken nine months to get to this point and I quite like it! I have also had some weaving friends tell me that they have decided to join me in this cold turkey trip from dyed hair to natural grey.

There’s plenty to tell abut the weaving but I will limit this post to sharing with you what some of my particularly hard-core backstrapper friends did when we got to spend a weekend together.

The theme was Going Wide.

Everyone had been instructed to weave samples in preparation. Realistic expectations also needed to be set. This weekend was not going to be about weaving the super-wide project of our dreams. It would be about learning how to warp, set up and begin a project that was significantly wider than the bands that we had previously been weaving together, yet not so wide as to take all weekend just to set up! The new skills could later be transferred to even wider pieces.

Some of the samples that were created before the gathering.

The samples were essential. From those we would take measurements and make calculations for the ”real” project. Each weaver provided a sample in the pick-up structure that they wanted to weave. All except Tracy went with complementary-warp pick-up. Tracy chose a structure that creates warp floats on only one face of the band so that she could replicate some beautiful patterns that are woven into yurt bands in Central Asia. Aunt Lydia’s size 10 and size 3 crochet cotton were the yarns of choice with a beautiful range of colors (there are a lot more colors in size 10 than in the thicker size 3). Tracy again was the exception in that she chose to weave with her hand spun wool. The other required sample was a piece in plain weave.

Tracy’s hand spun wool alongside one of Allen Berry’s gorgeous swords.

Nancy’s ”samples” were awesome in their own right! and enabled us to calculate the number of ends she would need for her project and plan layout.

Nancy was planning a woven cover for her daughter’s journal and it needed to be a precise width. We took measurements from her pebble weave and plain weave samples to calculate the number of ends she needed as well as the layout of the pick-up patterns and areas of plain weave.

Number-crunching with Tara for her wide project calculating warp requirements based on her samples. She planned a length of patterned fabric that could be folded into a box shape.

The wide warps were wound in sections as they were too wide for our warping stakes. I often choose to wind in sections as I don’t like having my warps climb too far up my warping stakes. I have found that even the sturdiest of stakes can lean when they are holding many bouts of yarn. Good, even tension on the warping stakes is critical. These warps will not be cut and threaded through heddles and then re-tensioned as they would be for floor and other kinds of looms. We are basically dressing the loom as we warp and the tension we create while doing so is what we must live with for the life of the project.

Ann removes one of sections from the stakes . She placed each section on loom beams and cross sticks that waited on the floor in another room…out of the way of feet and curious kitties!

Off comes one of Tracy’s sections. Each person decided how large they would make their sections depending on how far they trusted the sturdiness of the warping pegs under their particular warp tension. Some people wind tight warps, others not so much.

Nancy stops to check her count. Her notebook lies nearby with warping plan. There was much chatter and laughter which made me nervous. No one can come anywhere near me when I am warping and I need silence!

I stayed out of the way once the numbers had been crunched and warping was underway while amusing myself with the cats and taking pictures of the projects that the ladies had brought to share.

Above you can see the spindle bag that Tracy made using some of the beautiful pieces of fabric from the Bolivian co-op that we all support. Tracy covered the seams with cross-knit looping stitches and added a round base. On the table you can see a collection of spindles also made by the talented wood-working friend Allen Berry. Let me know if you are interested in the Bolivian co-op fabric. Dorinda has just returned to the USA from Bolivia bearing armloads of bands and zippered pouches.

This is the band that Ann continued weaving after we spent some days creating patterns with supplementary weft the week before our Going Wide session. She used my favorite leaf motif in spring-to-fall colors.

And here are some lanyards for name tags woven by Tara and Nancy. They combined patterns that had been woven into bands that they had purchased from the Bolivian co-op.

Lanyards in cotton and tencel made by Nancy and Tara.

Here are more amazing swords by Allen Berry. The ladies knew that they would need longer swords for their wide projects and Allen Berry created these. Each has its own unique pattern. Please contact me via a comment on this post if you would like to be put in contact with this talented craftsman. You can also view his products via his allenrberry Instagram account and make direct contact with him there.

Tracy was using this shoulder bag. I had last seen this as fabric on the loom made from Tracy’s own handspun wool a year ago. It was great to see the finished product with its eye-pattern tubular edging and strap. It feels gorgeous!

And, as I photographed all these beautiful projects and played with the cats, completed warps started appearing!

Phew! The warps are on the looms and they look great! Now to make heddles.

Tracy’s hand spun wool is even more stunning all stretched out like this!

Aunt Lydia’s size 10 crochet cotton has some bold and beautiful colors and Ann has combined them so nicely.

Stacy starts her heddles on a beautiful red, black and white piece for which she planned a knot-work pattern in pebble weave….

Some moments of hush while heddles are made. It’s funny because that is the part of the process when I can actually talk to people. These ladies, on the other hand, got very quiet during this part.

Tara’s warp with heddles in place. She included some sparkles in the warp which unfortunately don’t show up in the picture. This piece will be for her daughter. It is beautifully tensioned…so exciting to see a fresh warp on the loom!

Are we done yet? Getting there slowly with the heddles!

Woo hoo…time to start weaving!

Stuff happens when big projects like these are warped and set up. I won’t say that every warp came off the stakes ready to roll. Some threads had to be removed when the count was wrong. Some threads needed a little adjustment for uneven tension. That’s all to be expected. I remember sitting with my teacher in Ecuador and learning how to wind a dove-tailed warp for a hammock while her family watched. She made three errors in the warping and how she laughed and laughed when she discovered them. Everyone joined in! Maybe it’s not so funny when you are on your own but we were all there to help each other. With my Bolivian teacher we chatted as we rolled the balls of yarn back and forth to each other as we warped. Only when we finished we discovered that the stripes we had warped were totally asymmetric. Hilda laughed it off but I was determined to fix it!

Consulting with Nancy above as she throws her first passes of weft.

Tracy is counting out her first row of pick-up. The first row is critical as all other rows will be picked relative to that foundation. It’s always a relief to get that first row and in and confirm with subsequent rows that all is well.

Getting each and every warp end settled in its place at the very base of the warp is something I like to do.  Tara shares my feelings about this and is using a pointed stick to separate the ends and create as neat a start as possible. In some projects this selvedge will end up hidden in a seam and this much attention to neatness may not be necessary.

Tracy’s yurt band pattern takes shape.

Classic Andean hooks start to appear in Ann’s turquoise beauty … with another Allen Berry sword.

Nancy’s journal cover will include bee and hive motifs among others. She wove in her daughter’s initials in supplementary weft using lettering of her own design while I was there. You can just make out part of the lettering in progress below her right hand.

Margarite was not part of this group but she did bring in this wide warp to show me when Ii was weaving with a different group. She had started it back in the 1970’s when she was learning Guatemalan-style patterning. It had the two patterning sticks in place that I know well and we were able to set it up to finish off the motif she had started working on all those years ago. I was able to show her how to continue and put the pattern sticks to good use for creating other motifs. This is one of my favorite things to do…reviving a long forgotten warp that has been languishing in some dark corner unfinished. This one is between forty and fifty years old!

So, this post was all about Going Wide. Next time I will show the beauties that my weaving friends have been creating on narrow warps. Hopefully, there will be another day on this trip where I can find some time to put a post together.

Let me leave you with an important announcement about Patternfish, home of my e-books….

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Some of you may have heard about the fact that that hosts my ebooks is planning on closing at the end of May. Patterns, e-books etc that you have bought along with any accompanying videos will be available for downloading and saving until the END OF JUNE and I urge you to do so. I will be making a separate blog post about this in the near future once I have investigated my options. In the meantime, if you have concerns about your ability to save your purchases, please contact me via a comment on this blog post or via private message on Facebook or Ravelry. I have an awesome team of customers who have been willing to provide technical help to those who may be having trouble downloading or finding places to store their purchases. Let’s work through this together. We have two months to get your purchases safely tucked away. It’s sad news. Patternfish has been a wonderful home for my ebooks but it’s time to move on and new things are coming!


Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 15, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Tiny Tapes

The time to pack up and hit the road is approaching and so I decided to pack away the five months of creative chaos that has accumulated on my bedroom floor…pattern charts, sticks of various sizes and lengths, swords, shuttles, cable ties, metal rods, pick-up tools, heddle string, sewing thread, yarn, cardboard strips, needles, string. Everything went back in its proper place and I could see the rug again and I didn’t need to play hop-scotch on the way from my bed to the door.

But then I decided that there was still time to weave some tiny projects and I started planning a lanyard that a friend has been asking me to weave for her for some time. I also want to weave a strap for a pouch that I have been thinking about for years as well as a bookmark that I promised another friend. And, with just that, wouldn’t you know it, I am back to Square One and can’t see my rug any more! The books, and charts and yarn and worksheets are all over the place along with the shoulder-bag project that I continue to sew.

This is where I was with the bag project when I last posted. The zipper is in place and sides have been installed. On my weekly visit to the supermarket I was happy to find a long table runner that I could use as the lining material. It looked like it was just the right width and I loved the color and subdued pattern. This seemed to be a safe bet for me who knows nothing about fabric and I was happy to pay a bit more than it would have cost me to just buy fabric in the street market. I doubt that I would have found anything that I liked as much in the market stalls.

That un-ripping tool got a workout as I sewed and re-positioned over and over. Now it’s done. This is the opening for the quirky pocket…the one that sits on the outside but is accessed from the inside. I got to use a beautiful button that one of my students made by hand as a closure for the pocket. The loop around the button is an eye-pattern tubular band that I wove.

I edged the pocket and the sides with plain-weave tubular bands in blue. Tubular bands are such wonderful finishes. The pocket and sides are so sturdy with those nice firm bands in place. And that is where this project sits until I can get more blue yarn for the straps. I was hoping to use this bag on this trip but that won’t be happening. I’ll come back home with the yarn and weave some nice sturdy straps in the intermesh structure.. The bag is the perfect size for my books!

As for the tiny tape projects, a friend asked me to weave a lanyard for her name tag using the cat motifs that I designed for my book of 100 Patterns. My online weaving friend Andrea had designed cats with intertwined tails which she allowed me to adapt to more closely match my own three cat motifs. All four motifs are charted in the book. The lanyard needs to be 3/4”- 1” wide.

Here’s the first little guy on my width-sample warp which confirmed that I had enough ends to get 3/4”. I am going to continue weaving this sample and make it into a wrist band for myself while I plan the layout of the lanyard. I’ll probably mix the cat motifs with some paw prints, the charts for which are also in the book of 100 patterns.

At the same time, I am getting a start on another band that has been on my mind for several years. I have been collecting the word “weave” in various languages which I would like to weave into a strap for a pouch. Many years ago I wove and constructed a carry bag for my backstrap bits and pieces and I used weft twining to decorate the strap with just a few words in different fonts.

I am using the intermesh structure this time and using just the one font to weave my words.

I have about twenty-four words collected now from online friends ranging from Cherokee to the Yoruba language of Nigeria.

Here are the cats in guitar-strap size woven by Julie Beers for her husband’s guitar…

Kathy King combined patterns from the book of 100 patterns (Complementary-warp Pattern Book) and my very first book, Andean Pebble Weave. She calls her band The Birds and the Bees. I love the blue and brown together.

Margo wove this wrist-cuff combining various patterns that are charted in my books, as well as designing some of her own and giving it all an original twist to create a cycling-inspired theme for a friend. I love this!Colleen Turner added a strap that she wove on an inkle loom to a shoulder-bag. The pattern is charted in the Complementary-warp Pick-up book which also gives step-by-step instructions for those who use any kind of loom to weave warp-faced bands.

Marsha’s band in 20/2 silk is spectacular. The red and blue are her own hand-spun threads. She has combined patterns from two of my books and the result is gorgeous!

And here is Kristin’s latest piece of awesome-ness in her own hand-spun wool. She has named this “Celestial”. The star pattern is one that was created by Kurt Laitenburger for tablet weaving and which he allowed me to adapt to the Andean Pebble Weave structure for my More Adventures book. I like to call the smaller pattern that Kristin used on the sides “Sunrise, Sunset” and this piece makes me think of a sunset with the evening star rising. The red, orange, blue and yellow all come from natural dyes. Kristin is going to sew this into a long zippered bag for for her backstrap loom.

One of my weaving teachers, Maxima, took a liking to this same star pattern when I was up in the highlands. Of all the samples that I took to show her, this was the one that she wanted to learn. We wound a warp and Maxima took over after she watched me weave a few rows. I was able to show Mr Laitenburger how his pattern was being enjoyed on the traditional leaning loom in the central Bolivian highlands. He was very pleased.

Kurt Laitenberger does beautiful work with tablets and I really appreciate his allowing me to adapt some of his patterns to the Andean Pebble Weave structure for my books.

Speaking of tablet weaving, I was looking through some of my old folders on my desktop about which I had almost completely forgotten and I re-discovered some awesome pictures that Taylor had sent me of tablet weavers in Bhutan. Taylor and I had been corresponding by email while she was living in Bhutan and we were able to meet up once in the USA when I was on a visit. She gave me an incredibly fine and stiff tablet-woven band and told me about how some of the tablet weavers use x-ray film to make the tablets for the extremely fine thread that they use. After our get-together, she sent me these photos that she had taken f a family of tablet-weavers.

It’s fascinating to see a classic backstrap loom set-up being used with the tablets. I am guessing that the structure that is used for the bands that are woven using this set-up is one in which the weaver does not have to deal with built-up twist in the warp threads.

Taylor had been working on a project teaching women to construct tote bags from strips of plastic cut from soda bottles. I think that you can just make out the green handle of one of the bags in the foreground of this photo in which the weaver is preparing her warp with the thin film tablets.

I love the rocks and the weights that she is using to hold her stakes in place. I managed to scavenge an old paint can filled with cement that I sometimes need to use when I warp using certain set-ups.

Until next time, let me leave you with this message: A limited number of hard copies of all my books in English will be available while I am traveling. Please leave a comment on this post, if you are interested, and I will get back to you. 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 1, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Sewing and Warping

A bag in Intermesh structure with a shaped and edged flap. It includes some patterning in weft substitution.

I always get a bit nervous when weavers at my workshops start picking up my samples, many of which have been sewn into bags and small  pouches. The samples are there to be touched and handled. That part is fine. It’s when they start un-zipping, looking inside and inspecting seams that I get all wriggly. I am not great at sewing. My things hold together and look nice on the outside. However, I always fear that the inside might look a little unconventional to those who know something about sewing!

I sew by hand and I have to admit that I find sewing really relaxing. I love to put on a good movie and just sit and sew. Learning to make clothes is kind of a bucket-list thing. I always joke about one day being the best-dressed 79-year old you have ever seen.

Several of my weaving friends have kindly offered to help me make my first item of clothing. One of these days I will factor enough time into my trips away to take advantage of those offers.

I dream of being able to find a pattern that works just right for me and then go to store knowing something about all that gorgeous fabric. I’ll be able to choose the right kind for the project I have in mind and a print that takes my fancy.

A yurt-shaped bag in reeled silk.

In the meantime, I’ll weave the fabric and sew my bags and pouches.

The fabric that was most recently on my loom was meant to be made into a bag. The black one you see above, which I named Tales from the Sub-continent and Beyond, has been traveling with me for a few years now and really isn’t quite big enough for the stuff I’d like to carry about when I am on the road.

To be honest, the final product is never of great importance to me. My main objective for this project was to weave something that included one of the little pockets that my Bolivian teachers weave into their coca-leaf bags. They are usually tiny pockets just big enough to to insert two or maybe three fingers. I wanted to have a large-ish bag with a pocket big enough to perhaps hold a folded boarding pass, baggage receipts and other bits and pieces that I need to have on hand when I travel.

Weaving that large pocket into this large project was really what this project was all about.

A bag I made for my sister-in-law in 8/2 cotton with Andean Pebble Weave patterns.

Once I had completed the pocket section of the bag, there was nothing new or challenging about the project and it was just a matter of weaving, weaving , weaving….until I decided right at the end that I needed to place the two weaving ladies under a tree.

Out came the charting paper and just I dove in and wove the tree without first sampling as I usually do. I am thinking that if I had wound a warp to first sample the pattern I would still be adjusting the charting and fiddling around with it today! I am quite happy with my tree. If I use it again in another project, I would make some small adjustments. In any case, designing and adding the tree to the project gave it just that extra bit of challenge that I enjoy.

I was determined to make it work because un-weaving wool is not fun. The hairy weft makes itself very much at home next to its hairy warp companions and does not want to be removed! I had already had enough experience un-weaving this wool at the start of this project when I decided that the green stripes  I had included in the warp had to go.

Almost at the end with the ladies waiting for their tree.

I had seen this tree picture shared on Facebook and tried to follow it back to its source. Unfortunately, it seems that the photographer’s name was never mentioned. I was quite taken with this grand tree shading all those people and wanted to include something like it in my project.

So, here are the ladies sitting and weaving and chatting under their tree. The bones for the weaver pattern were created by Maja, my online weaving friend in Germany. She allowed me to include her pattern in my Complementary-warp Pattern Book . She was also fine with my making adjustments to it so that I could have two versions in my book. This is my tweaked version. I doubled it and added the tree.

I was so happy with the tree pattern, that the pocket kind of took a back seat for a while.

Then I edged the pocket with the eye-pattern tubular band that I teach in one of my more recent books.

I doubled the thread so that the tubular band would stand out a bit more and added an extra edge thread to each side of the warp so there would be more solid blue in the tube right next to the pebbles. It looks nice enough in this picture but I have since unpicked it all! It just seemed too busy next to the pebbles. I realized that I usually sew these patterned tubular bands onto a solid-color edge. I’ll probably end up attaching a solid-color tubular band instead or some other variation that has more solid color than pattern. The addition of tube was lovely all around the edge. It really strengthened the pocket.

I wove a couple of bands to make the sides of the bag. This comes even after having asked for bag construction ideas in one of the online groups and being given the very wise advice to hand this off to someone who knows what they are doing! However, being someone who is always more interested in the process than the product, I decided that I would push ahead and see what I could come up with on my own. I think that in the end, I would rather have something, even though it may be quite clunky, that I have made myself. It’s a shame that I don’t have enough of the blue yarn left to make the straps.

Zipper and sides are in place.

The sides will be edged with a patterned tubular band which should look nice against all that solid blue. The`straps, once I get the yarn to weave them, will flank the central pattern and go all the way around the bottom of the bag.

In between periods of sewing, I have been in a warp-winding frenzy preparing for up-coming travels. My living room is a yarn jungle. And, with warping very much on my mind and with memories of my online encounter with Megan and Li backstrap weaving which I wrote about in a recent post, a wonderful video came to my attention. Created by Yan Zhang, this is the most beautiful film of backstrap weaving I have seen. It shows the backstrap weaving style used by the weavers of the Li minority group in China. Yan Zhang is the younger lady that you will see in this video winding a warp and then later sitting at the loom and weaving.

This is the first time that I have seen a warp for the backstrap loom wound this way. I contacted Yan Zhang so that I could be sure that I understood what she was doing. I will show a screen shot here of the warping frame to further entice you  to click on the video and watch it. In her reply Yan Zhang told me that “this frame is one of the most traditional tools of Li Brocade with 3000 years of history“. I have certainly never seen a warp wound this way before.

I like watching this video last thing at night so that I can close my eyes with the music still playing in my head.

I haven’t been so excited about seeing a warp being prepared since I found this picture of two ladies preparing a backstrap loom from the website of Woven Souls. Jaina Mishra allowed me to share her image of the two ladies warping directly onto the loom.

Weavers in Arunachal Pradesh using the traditional back strap loom to weave skirts, shawls and loin cloths.

And then there was the thrill of winding a warp with Montagnard weaver Ju Nie. With Ju Nie I learned how to create the heddles as the warp is wound (as well as use the wonderful coil rod).

Ju was kind enough to let me try warping. I would never let anyone touch my warp!! She however, took control of the heddle string at each pass but I was slowly coming to understand what was going on.

Oh my gosh, there are so many exciting things still to learn and experience on this continent where I live. I am so grateful that while I am here I am still am able to enjoy these small amounts of contact with weavers from the other side of the world.

I hope that if nothing else grabs your attention in this post, that you will at least pause and watch Yan Zhang’s beautiful film. It is just over 5 minutes long.

I’ll leave you with a reminder, if I may, of my two latest publications….

The Eye-pattern Tubular Band.

Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms.


Older Posts »