Posted by: lavernewaddington | April 3, 2020

Backstrap Weaving – A Post with No Name

It’s been a while since I last posted. Usually these disappearances are due to the fact that I am away from home, busily traveling and weaving with my friends. Not so this time. I am here in Bolivia and, like so many of you, am in lock-down. Every time I came to my blog thinking about writing a post, I would look back in wonder at my last post where my biggest “dilemma” was the fact that I couldn’t get alum….imagine! How could things have changed so much in that relatively short time?… and that would leave me with nothing to say and I would have to go away and think. 

Physical distancing is not a hardship for me. I have always called my home in Bolivia my “Fortress of Solitude”.

So, I decided to take some time to let ideas for my next ikat project percolate even deeper and further. I picked up my inkle loom and started weaving the pattern samples for my next book on DOUBLE WEAVE ON INKLE LOOMS. And once I got started on that, I was on a roll and I have been working away at writing, weaving, photographing and shooting videos.

Shooting videos is usually a bit of a frustrating business. I live in a five-block multi-story condo which is usually bursting with life and sounds.., salsa and cumbia music blasting, children playing and rattling their wheeled toys over the cobbles in the courtyard, car alarms going off, planes flying into the nearby military airport, the honking horns of traffic around the nearby street market, shrieking pet parrots and barking dogs, high energy, high-volume conversations between neighbors (sometimes you would swear that they are arguing, but no, that’s just a normal conversation)! The last time I shot videos for my books was on a Christmas Day and a New Year’s Day a year ago…the only two days with guaranteed quiet as folks slept off the revelry of the previous evenings.

My makeshift photo/video studio at my living room window.

Now, it’s quiet…eerily quiet, every day. It’s so un-Bolivian. I am used to everything being done here at twice the volume that one would experience in other parts of the world. So, apart from interruptions from the parrot shrieking “Bonito!” every now and then, shooting videos in these last days has been a breeze! Even the dogs are quiet. They would erupt into a frenzy when their owners came home but I guess the owners are not going out any more. At midday the sirens sound to announce that curfew has begun but I’ve been able to work around that.

A double-weave key fob with an original pattern designed by one of my students.

Finally, I can see far enough ahead to the end of this writing project. I am hoping that my DOUBLE WEAVE ON INKLE LOOMS book will be available in the next few weeks.

It has dozens of step-by-step photos, detailed instructions and video clips to guide you through this versatile structure.

I liken weaving patterns in this structure to doodling in plain weave. There is a detailed section in the book on designing your own patterns. You could color the cells in any old fashion on the blank pattern charts that are provided without putting any thought into it at all and still be able to weave your “pattern” in warp-faced double weave. It’s that simple. This structure does not use warp-floats. Therefore, you do not have to consider the limitations of float length and alignment when you are designing.

For those who don’t wish to design their own patterns, the book includes at least 45 charts with patterns suitable for bands (I can’t help adding more and more so that number will, most likely, increase!).

The book is aimed at those who use the standard inkle loom. It does need to be a sturdy loom, though. I use the Ashford Inklette and it does the job very well. Some of those teeny tiny tinkle-type looms would probably not stand up to it.

Various finishing techniques are covered too! My bedroom floor is snake pit of woven sample bands!

I hope at a later date to follow up this book with one on wider patterns and some more advanced variations of the method.

Here’s a double-weave band of Joy and Hope for all of us that I wove some time ago in 60/2 silk using the more advanced method for fine threads and for projects that are far too wide for most inkle looms.

Click on this 12-second video if you would like to hear the melody….

In my next posts I will show you pictures of more of the smaller patterns that appear in the new book 🙂

When taking breaks from working at my laptop, I have been re-visiting some of my smaller projects and planning things so I can keep weaving even though I am so involved with writing right now. I made these lanyards for a conference several years ago. The widest one is 1/2”. Bands like these would make great ribbons on which to hang pendants.

The other small items that I love making are wrist cuffs….

I can’t have enough cuffs!

But, the moment that I am well and truly done with the book, I’ll be back tying strips of plastic for another ikat project . I am happy to be spending all this time thinking about it as my silk supply has become even more precious now and I don’t want to waste it on anything hastily put together. Who knows when we will be able to travel again? I had become used to going to the States and bringing back silk and other fancy stuff for my weaving. Mail? Forget it! I sent an envelope of documents by Certified Mail to Australia last October. It still hasn’t arrived!

It’s been heart-warming seeing my online friends finding the time before and during periods of isolation to weave projects using my books. Susan Bratt made another beautiful guitar strap using a pattern from More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns.

Sally Backes is using one of the sweet Windhaven looms to weave a band with a pattern from Complementary-warp Pattern Book.

Linda confesses to being hooked on Andean Pebble Weave and the use of 5/2 perle cotton. I can understand that. The 5/2 size is one of my favorites too. These patterns are from More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns.

Leslie Clark’s band is destined to be a guitar strap. She has combined the S hook pattern from my Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms book is different ways along the edges and central panel of her band.

Marsha Kimball has woven some of the figures from the Rivers and Oceans-themed set into one of her latest bands. This set of patterns appears in my Complementary-warp Pattern Book. along with Christmas, Garden, Animal, Geometric, South American and Spinners and Weavers sets.

Let me leave you all with an image from the shoulder-bag fabric that I wove some time ago….Maja in Germany designed a weaver at her loom in Andean Pebble Weave and allowed me to adapt the pattern in a few ways so that I could chart her version and my adapted one for my pattern book.

I placed two of the ladies weaving together and designed a nice shady tree for them…an idyllic scene…two backstrap weavers sitting peacefully beneath a tree practicing physical distancing.  Take care everyone and stay well.

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 28, 2020

Backstrap Weaving – Percolating

Ikat! I have been giving myself time to allow the abundance of images and information that I keep finding on ikat to slowly filter so that I can focus on the next project. Without this filtering, there is the tendency to want to try everything in the one project. Another thing that is driving that tendency is the fact that my supply of natural-color 60/2 silk is coming to an end. I had used much more than originally planned in the last ikat project. This project was supposed to be a “sample” which for me is typically pretty small. The project turned into something else all together and will end up hanging on a wall.

Here it is after having been pressed good and hard. That always brings out the sheen of the silk but it has been hard to capture it in a photo.

In a way I am being forced to stop and ponder and allow the ideas to percolate because I was surprised to find that the suppliers of alum that I have always used here in Santa Cruz suddenly don’t carry it any more. I had been planning to dye my next ikat project with cochineal and was depending on being able to find alum. I have yet to find a substitute for alum as the mordant. That brought the plans for the next project to a halt.

Getting cochineal here in the lowlands is usually the tricky bit, not the alum. Cochineal is not used for dyeing here but is sold instead by the ladies in the street markets who carry home remedies. They tell me that it is to be taken as a remedy for susto which I can only understand to mean “fright” or perhaps that could be stretched to mean “anxiety”? Finding cochineal was even trickier this time. The massive street market that lies just two blocks from my home was recently “cleaned up”. All the vendors who normally wander the streets or sit on the sidewalk were ordered to move on. This must have included some of the home remedy vendors.

Asking the wrong vendor brought on a cranky almost offended response. It seems to me that this attitude is somehow part of the Highland-versus-Lowland vibe that is quite strong here in lowland Santa Cruz where certain things associated with the highlands, such as the chewing of coca leaves, are rejected as inferior and “indio”. It appeared that only the vendors from the highlands would have cochineal in their home remedy stalls. In any case, you can see that I was successful in finding someone from whom to buy the little dried beetles.

One down, one to go – alum. I was told that the Mennonites use alum when canning their produce so I will be off to the Mennonite market to see if I can find it there. I have not been to that market before and look forward to it. I am told that it is a market of farming implements and supplies for raising livestock etc.

With those two items in hand, I can start to make some experiments. I wonder what kind of red I will get? I will be happy with pretty much anything except  pink. Here’s the color I got with cochineal on my hand spun llama fiber many years ago using an alum pre-mordant. I used it in small double weave, tubular band and complementary-warp pick-up projects.

My challenges for this next ikat project include using a natural dye and tying a much finer pattern. I was lucky to be shown a detailed image of a small section of an ikat textile from Indonesia in which I could actually count the warp threads. I could see that the weaver had tied around groups of six ends to create such a fine and detailed pattern. I could clearly see the three white  warp threads in the woven cloth against the morinda-dyed background. WOW.

I know that the hand spun cotton that weaver was using is most likely thicker than the 60/2 silk I have been using. That makes it hard to make a comparison. In my last piece I tied around sections of fourteen ends in the pattern area and around twenty eight ends where I had created broad bands of resist. I would love to know generally how fine the hand spun cotton used in the Indonesian ikat pieces is in terms of wpi.

The other challenge is creating a new pattern to use with the finer tying. That hasn’t been easy….I have been looking around a lot for ideas and there’s just way too much input!

I have sketched out something very loosely based on leaves. Leaves have become one of my signature patterns and so I figured it would be appropriate to do something with stylized leaves. What I have drawn has ended up being so stylized that it may not be recognizable as leaves, but that’s okay. Whether I can transfer my sketch to the warp remains to be seen.

So far, I have worked with steps of fixed height and width to form the diagonal lines in the patterns, all carefully plotted and measured out. All the angles have been the same. The pattern I have sketched will involve a lot more free-form tying. Oh my goodness, what have I done?! I can often get very carried away creating these challenges right up until the moment I see the warp stretched out before me. Then some hasty adjustments are made. I remind myself every time I think I have become ridiculously over ambitious with this new pattern I have sketched that I did, after all, manage to tie a a couple of fairly nice circles some years ago. Let’s wait and see what happens.

The other benefit of taking time-out is that I have had much more time to spend on the book. I still can’t quite see the end in sight but I have made really good progress. 

Now, I have something wonderful to show from a weaving friend, Emily Robison. I can’t remember exactly how Emily and I connected but she contacted me online and we were able to meet up on one of my trips away and weave double weave bands together. You can see her already weaving a pattern of her own creation at left.

I asked Emily if she would like to write a couple of paragraphs to share with you about her woven work and her experience learning to weave on a backstrap loom in Micronesia  and I will leave the rest of the story for you in her own words….

To my knowledge, the type of weaving that I do is found only in the outer islands of Yap state, in the Federated States of Micronesia — migratory origins unknown. They are a collection of about 16 tiny inhabited low-lying coral islands (possibly all less than one square mile). The culture practiced in the outer islands is very distinct from the main island of Yap — the two cultures have languages of unrelated origins — but they are very intertwined. The islands practice a caste system, and the main island considers outer island people and culture to be either very low caste or other caste, meaning that a main islander wouldn’t go to the homes or eat the food of an outer islander, and main islanders do not weave lava lava.

Photo supplied by Emily Robison of her own non-traditional use of some of the patterning elements she learned with the weavers of the outer islands.

The backstrap woven fabric called lava lava is used in certain patterns as the only form of outer island female dress — a type of wraparound skirt — and in other patterns it is used as part of the traditional male main island dress. It is also used in main islander funeral ceremonies. Therefore it’s an important trade item from the outer islands to the main islands, but main islanders consider it taboo to participate in any part of the manufacture.

Photo supplied by Emily Robison of her current work which she says is a reproduction of one of her teacher’s pieces except for the supplementary-weft pattern.

Traditionally, lava lavas were woven of banana and hibiscus bark fibers and naturally dyed in reds and blacks (maybe other colors, but I haven’t seen them), but this practice has shifted in favor of commercially available thread from China. This transition is less than 50 years old. The traditional fabrics weren’t warp-faced, I don’t think — at least the few I’ve seen weren’t — but today’s lava lavas are.

Silk is too expensive, wool too hot, and cotton doesn’t hold up to the production, so they exclusively used polyester (but I’ve heard rumors of people incorporating more cotton in the past 10 years). Their patterns are pretty distinct and uniform. People can use many colors (reds are off limits unless used as an accent color or on the edges), but the two types of patterns are the lava lavas with large fields of solid color and accents on the edges and in the middle. These are the ones that have a supplemental weft, and an example is the one that I am currently weaving. (Emily tells me that the supplementary-weft patterning technique shows pattern on both faces of the cloth. Here is a view of the back of the cloth of her current piece showing the black supplementary-weft pattern.)

Another example is the style with 6 or 7 contrasting stripes (I don’t know when one would be chosen over the other — 6 is more common) on a colorful background. The stripes are made of two complementary colors and some patterning. 

The ones for men are just black and white, 6 or 7 striped. 

Image of a Yapese man’s lava lava taken by Laverne from the website of worthpoint.com

Single-thread floats in the green section on the upper face of the cloth.

Much to the chagrin of my Yapese host family, I studied with outer islanders and wove in secret for about 18 months. It was a real taboo thing to do and it didn’t make me any friends… so I don’t know as much as I could have learned if I’d been living with an outer island family.

The patterns are made with two sticks that control the floats — one for the right face, and one for the reverse face. The warp is always continuous, and the tension rod loop, string heddles, and pattern floats are all created in the warping process.

(Note from Laverne: I just love that extra heddle peg sitting there so neatly like that. If you are curious about how heddles are made during the warping process, I can show you how my Montagnard (Vietnames hilltribe) backstrap weaving teachers do it. It’s probably not exactly the same way as the Yapese weavers do it but it will give you an idea for now. There’s a video showing how Ju Nie does it embedded in this blog post  followed by a video I made slowing the process down so that you can more easily see how it works.)

Lava lavas must be long enough to cover a woman from upper hips to knees (it is taboo to show off any thigh). and so they are usually about 26 inches wide and 60 inches long. Once cut, the strings of the fringe are kept long to create a kind of modesty curtain between the legs. They’re worn by wrapping them in half around the body, and then pinching the two sides together at the right hip and folding the fringe inward to sit between the legs. They’re usually tied on with a belt, but some ladies just tuck them in.

Emily wearing a lava lava.

You can follow Emily’s work via her Instagram account: @thewovenworld. She is hoping to create a website soon too.

To finish, I have a few things to show you from my online weaving friends….

Kathleen Frtiz recently received a Guatemalan backstrap loom and has taken off on her backstrap weaving adventure as if she had been born for it. This is only her third piece as far as I can tell. It is woven in fine cotton and she is pleased with how surprisingly pliant it is even before it has been wet finished. She used this piece to experiment with patterning with supplementary weft using the patterning sticks and techniques that I describe in this tutorial.

Nancy Ayton made sweet hanging ornaments from her Andean Pebble Weave bands. The deer head motif is her own creation. I love it when people start designing their own patterns. The owl and bird motif is from my Complementary-warp Pattern Book and the knot-work pattern is from More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns.

Nora Dereli is using her inkle loom to weave one of several knot-work patterns that are charted in More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns. This is a motif that  Louise Ström weaves in one of the structures that are woven using tablets. I translated the motif to the Andean Pebble Weave structure.

Susan Bratt finished weaving a guitar strap on her backstrap loom using the Andean Pebble Weave structure. The pattern is from the Complementary-warp Pattern Book.

Wendy Garrity completed what she tells me is her first silk-on-silk wrist band using the supplementary-weft patterning technique known as sampa in Bhutan. The multi-color spots of color that appear between the floats of supplementary weft are so pretty. Wendy studied weaving on a backstrap loom and various traditional patterning techniques while living and working in Bhutan and leads textile tours there every year. Her website is Textile Trails.

Gregory W and I wove double weave bands together and she came up with this lovely band with her own original design shortly after. Her guild had challenged members to use these colors in a project and this was Gregory’s contribution.

 

Marilyn Albright and I have never met but I feel that we are bound to one of these days in her movements between Alaska and Mexico. She has been experimenting with Bedouin al’ouerjan patterns using my tutorials here on this blog and adding her own twist to the traditional pattern .

And here’s one more from Priscilla Bradburn who wove this band after learning Andean Pebble Weave from my book Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms. She has taken flat-top S hooks, hearts, diamonds and other basic shapes and combined them in her own unique way to create a new pattern of her own. This and her creative use of color has produced a beautiful band! 

Let’s hope my hunt for alum is successful otherwise it will be back to the synthetic dyes for me. I wonder what other interesting things I will see at the Mennonite farmers’ market.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 6, 2020

Backstrap Weaving – Color Challenges

I have finished another ikat project/experiment. This one will be a wall hanging for, most likely, some future home as there isn’t a good space to hang it here. As with most of my weaving projects, I didn’t start out wanting to weave a wall hanging. I simply wanted to continue my experiments in ikat. The experiment was largely successful and so I now get to give the product a name….in this case, a wall hanging.

My goals for this one were to…

…try tying patterns into 60/2 silk. I hadn’t used 60/2 silk for ikat before.

…place one layer of warp threads on top of the other, so that the warp was half its original intended width, and tie the pattern onto both layers at once.

…dye with multiple colors.

…include patterns woven with supplementary weft.

…weave a band along the end of the piece using the fringe of the finished piece as the weft.

The dyeing itself was successful in that there weren’t any leaks or other mishaps. However, none of colors turned out the way I had expected! The first green was way brighter than expected. I thought that it would turn out a lot “dirtier” because I wasn’t dyeing over white. I had hoped that it would look like the typical “swampy” greens that one gets from using plants. Later, I remembered having received some good advice about these particular dyes when I was buying them. I was told that the colors were bright and that it was a good idea to add a tiny bit of slate-color dye to dull them a bit. I even bought a pot of the slate dye so I could do just that and then completely forgot to follow the advice. But, there were some things about the dyeing process that pleased me: as I was dyeing one color on top of another, then on top of yet another, I managed to create an unexpected reddish-brown that I loved. The thing is, I know I will never be able to replicate it!

I thought that I would end up with a black or almost-black background color after all the layering of colors. But, as you can see, it’s a very dark green with interesting shimmers of reddish-brown and teal that appear when light hits it a certain way.

This is a view looking down from my bed first thing in the morning. The warp in this picture has been set up for weaving on a backstrap loom with heddles in place and some weaving started. My bed base is the anchor point for the far end of my loom. I have to be careful if I get up in the darkness not to stumble and get myself entangled in warp!

As weaving progressed and the warp threads jiggled about with the movement of opening and closing sheds, they began to loosen their grip on each other and fan out. The ikat patterns slowly took on a more solid appearance. At this point, I paused to choose a color in my stash of 120/2 silk so that I could weave some motifs into the broad band of reddish-brown. I had a kind of wheat color that I thought would be a good match. Out came the charting paper and I drew a pattern with hooks and arrow-head shapes that would go well with the main ikat pattern. You can also see a thin horizontal stripe of teal lying on top of the one of the wooden rods which I had decided that I hated! So, I designed another fairly solid pattern for continuous supplementary weft to weave over and hopefully conceal it.

Discontinuous and continuous supplementary weft patterns.

This discontinuous pattern was fun to weave. I love this technique where two strands of patterning weft are passed at once. My little cardboard bobbins kept everything orderly. In the lower left part of  the picture with the bobbins, you can just make out the one and only warp thread that broke. I had nicked and weakened it with the tip of my scissors when I was cutting out the ikat tape. It didn’t take long for it to break once I started weaving. Replacing a section of broken thread that has been dyed multiple colors along its length can be a problem. I had some green 60/2 silk that wasn’t a bad match for the dark green but some of it had to creep into the brown section where the warp thread had torn.

The second continuous supplementary-weft pattern that I had designed to cover the teal stripe wasn’t so much fun to weave…at least not to get started. There were 882 warp ends to count in the shed to lay in the first shot of supplementary weft and I had to count it six times before I got it right! I kept ending up with one extra thread. Was I miscounting or had I actually wound 1766 ends of 60/2 silk instead of 1764? It was maddening! Conclusion…I was miscounting. Once the first row was in, it was pretty smooth sailing. I think the pattern does a pretty good job of hiding the stripe.

The threads in the main ikat section behaved pretty well. There wasn’t a great deal of shift except for the very center. I think that had something to do with the way I had lashed the warp to the frame for tying the ikat tape. It has the typical out-of-focus look of ikat.

After that, I had to go through laying in the pattern again for the strip of supplementary weft over the second teal stripe. It was slightly less painful the second time around. And how is this for crazy? I got about 20 rows in on the set of supplementary-weft motifs on the second brown section before I realized I was weaving the wrong pattern! I had designed two patterns. The first had been too fine for this weight of silk but worth keeping for perhaps another project in heavier thread. That was the chart I had grabbed. Grrr! Un-weaving this silk is no fun at all. There is a surprising amount of fluff build-up that binds the threads and means that the sheds don’t want to pop open cleanly to release the weft that you need to remove.. I literally had to tear the threads apart.And here it is finished and still on the loom. I tried to squeeze as much dark green out of it as I could at the end but warp tension was starting to get a bit wonky at that point and it was time to stop.

Once off the loom and after the usual finishing process, I wove a band along the bottom edge of the fabric using groups of warp threads from the fringe as the weft. I designed a double-faced pebble weave pattern that would suit the motifs on the cloth….hooks, diamonds, arrow heads. The piece certainly did not need any more added pattern but weaving a band like this is something I have been wanting to try and this was a good opportunity.

I suppose I shouldn’t have used this piece for my first attempt at this technique but I am quite pleased with the result nevertheless. It takes a while to figure out the number of threads to include in each warp bundle and how hard to beat. If either one of those two factors is not quite right, the fabric will pucker. And mine did a little. My first motif is more elongated than the other two. This is the result of having to adjust my beat as I went along.

I had been admiring ikat fabric from Sumba and had noticed that the weavers there join two panels of ikat cloth together side by side and then weave a band along the two ends of the joined panels using the threads in the fringe as the weft. The vast majority of examples that I have seen so far have been warp-faced plain-weave bands with some warp stripes. It makes me wonder if the weavers recognize that there is already enough pattern in the cloth itself and that the bands, therefore, should be quite plain. This is where I got the idea to weave such a band…but I wanted pattern in mine!

One of the many gifts that Kay Faulkner left to the weaving world was a set of video clips that she had taken while traveling in Indonesia. This will show you the process of weaving one of these bands in Sumba if you are curious….

My Montagnard (Vietnamese hilltribe) weaving teachers taught me to create a twined finish on unwoven warp ends. Like the Sumba weavers, they also join panels together to make their clothing.  A pattern is then twined around the unwoven warp threads on the edge of the combined panels. You can see this at the two ends of a piece I made after studying with these teachers. The Montagnard kteh edging is twined and highly patterned while the Sumba edging is woven and is normally quite plain, as far as I have seen so far. Sometimes a Montagnard weaver will hand over her cloth to a kteh expert who will finish off her woven work with the twined patterns.  Here is a video (unfortunately shot by me in quite low light conditions) of one of my Montagnard teachers twining part of a row with two colors. You can appreciate that it is quite a slow process compared to weaving a band along the edge. I find the movements very calming and graceful. I like the smooth, solid colors this technique produces. The twined band has only one “good” face.

Some day, my latest ikat experiment will find its place on a wall.  This experiment is over, notes have been taken, and it’s time to start thinking about the next project.  I am thinking about using cochineal to dye my next ikat attempt. I have only ever used it to dye llama fiber so far. It will be interesting to see how it goes on silk. Perhaps I’ll make some dye samples this time before I go and dive into the deep end. In the meantime, the unexpected colors that I created in this latest piece have grown on me…good and earthy….as the colors I had expected to get fade from my memory.

And, I continue the challenge of removing all color from my hair.  Let me sneak in an update here of my color-free challenge…18 months in and probably only two more trims to go to be rid of all the old dyed hair!

Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 17, 2020

Backstrap Weaving – Into the Deep End

When I sit here deciding on the title of my blog post, it’s amazing the number of times that the title “Lessons Learned” immediately comes to mind. But then I think…Nope, I’ve used that one before. It’s lovely to weave structures and follow methods that I have used dozens and dozens of times over. The lessons have been learned from multiple mishaps. There’s no risk. It’s all fun. The results are guaranteed.

My current project doesn’t fall into that category. I broke my rules about sampling which left me with a large-ish project with a number of firsts and, therefore, many risks. And, I am still not done, so who knows whether this will a mess or success? Many lessons are being learned along the way while I splash around in the deep end.

I am still in ikat mode. You might be thoroughly bored with this topic by now. I certainly am not! There has been plenty to keep me on my toes. 

It was time to move on from 30/2 silk to the finer 60/2 silk. If I had been sensible, I would have woven a small sample to see how well I could handle keeping the pattern aligned in 60/2 silk, test the new methods that I have been hoping to use, as well as sample the dye colors.

Problem number 1: I decided that I should re-use the pattern that I had created some years ago in an ikat project in black-and-white in 20/2 cotton. I felt that I could double the pattern and still not end up with anything too wide in the finer silk. Well, it turns out that 60/2 silk is not all that much finer than 20/2 cotton. I drew out my pattern and calculated the number of threads I would need without fully realizing just how wide the project would end up being. Once I realized how wide it would be, there was the opportunity to scrap it and start over with something smaller but I was too carried away by the pattern at that point! I couldn’t wait to see how it would turn out.

 

Problem number 2: I didn’t check my calculations and, therefore, didn’t dye enough thread in the base “rye” color that I like. I prefer the more subdued rye color over white. Once I had measured out the rye-color dye, there was only a tiny bit left in the jar. I thought ….What the heck…and threw it all in. Then I discovered the mistake in my calculations. So, I was short on yarn, with no dye left. I was in a position where I could have changed my pattern to a smaller one in order to suit the amount of thread that I had dyed. But no, I had my heart set on that pattern and wasn’t giving up. I dyed more thread in a color called “wheat” and figured out a way to work it in so that it looked like it had been planned.

Problem number 3: While I had placed the wheat-colored thread in the warp in what seemed like a nicely balanced way, I forgot to take into account the distribution of the threads into the bundles that would be tied with ikat tape and the placement of the wheat color in the pattern itself. It turns out the the wheat color wasn’t so well positioned after all. But…..I was beyond caring at that point!

Problem number 4: This wasn’t so much of a problem as a challenge. I wanted to divide the warp in two so that I could tie my pattern onto two layers of thread at once and create an instant mirror reflection. I divided it so that it was half its width, placing one half on top of the other, and checked countless times that I had the two layers aligned correctly so that I could start tying the pattern. This was my first time doing this and I dithered over it for a long time! I did something similar in another ikat project. That time I halved the warp so that it was half its length and, for some reason, it was easier.

Problem number 5: After all that dithering, I measured incorrectly and started tying the pattern in the wrong position. Never mind, I had only just started, I cut out the ties and happily started again, very pleased with myself for having done so. Then, when I was well into it, I discovered that I had made another mistake and was off in the pattern by one bundle. Urgh. I wasn’t going to start over. I adjusted the pattern and I think I can get away with it!

Here’s most of the main pattern tied…

I am usually very particular about sampling before I launch into a large project. It never occurred to me to sample the dye colors. In terms of color, this project has not turned out ANYTHING like I what I had originally envisioned! Fortunately, I still love it! Of course the colors in the paper chart that I have are based on dyeing over white. I had to expect that dyeing over rye and wheat would produce tones that did not match the chart. In fact, I was hoping that they would be duller colors. I dyed several layers of color in this project and now I know that I really can’t expect any color, no matter how strong it is, to completely cover and cancel out the underlying color. I was just lucky that I didn’t end up with a muddy mess! 

A discussion online had me thinking about weavers that work with natural dyes from plants that they grow themselves.. I am sure that they often get unexpected variations in the colors as rainfall and other conditions vary from year to year and must affect the quality, strength and tone of the colors that the plants produce.

This is the first color I dyed. It wasn’t what I had been expecting. I then tied some more sections on the green, adding some small motifs like the three you see here, to preserve this first color.

Below, you can see the result of the second layer of color. If I had been wanting teal, this would have been perfect. However, I had been expecting something VERY different. I tied off a few sections to preserve this color and unwrapped others ready for the third dyeing. Goodness knows what the third color will look like! At this point I was already contemplating Plan B:  if this project was a disaster, I would take off all the ikat tape and dye the whole thing black. Then I would be able to save it by weaving some colorful patterns into it in supplementary weft. It would still be a nice “something”…just not an ikat “something”.

Deep breath….here comes color number three…again, not what I was expecting!

Above, you can see it with all the ikat tape removed from the two combined layers. The two remaining strips of tape are preserving the teal color and are tied to the two layers separately. This means that I can now open the warp to its full width and leave those strips of tape in place while I start the weaving. I always feel more comfortable weaving with some ties still in place as I believe that they help minimize the amount that the threads shift. I am not crazy about having the teal there and I will probably weave some motifs in supplementary weft on those strips to almost completely cover them.

Now to get the cross sticks in and make heddles…882 of them! It was fun peeling the two layers apart to see the completed pattern.

The threads are still sitting together in their little bundles, somewhat stuck together after having been tightly wrapped for so long. I try to leave them that way as much as I can as I think that this also helps stop them from shifting too much out of alignment (although it is really tempting to strum and fan the whole thing out to get the full effect of the pattern).

In other news, I am moving along with my latest book project even though this ikat project has been occupying a lot of time. Sitting at the frame and tying patterns is very relaxing after typing away on the book project but it also opens my mind up to thinking about the current instability here in Bolivia and also the dreadful bush fires in my other home, Australia. Many people have written to me with their concerns about the situation in Bolivia as well as for my family, friends and property in Australia. I am always grateful to receive those messages and I reply to them in as much detail as possible. I hope you will understand if I don’t feel like talking about any of that here.

I’ll leave you with a picture taken by my brother, Wayne, of little bit of re-growth in the blackened bush at the back of his home on the mid north coast of NSW.

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 20, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Moody Blues and Greens

I have had a frustrating time trying to photograph my most recent ikat piece in a way that captures its true colors. I haven’t succeeded. The piece either looks a pale and washed-out green or takes on a blue resembling turquoise. So, you will see that the colors of my latest finished silk ikat project in the following pictures are ridiculously different. This piece has its moods!

This is the ikat warp that I dyed with a color called Teal by the manufacturer only to find that much of the blue component of the dye mixture simply would not take. The dye bath water turned a turquoise-ish blue at the end of the process and I had to rinse the yarn very well to stop it from continuing to release blue. What was left behind was a green that I ended up loving. I suppose this color could in fact be called teal. I have completely lost track now of the color my mind’s eye had been expecting.

Below, you can see the first band of patterning with supplementary weft and the ikat pattern stretching away in the distance. You can see the “holes”, or spaces,  that I left in the ikat pattern which I planned to fill with motifs using supplementary weft.

I scattered some more motifs using silk supplementary weft before reaching the start of the ikat section…

I used the same motif and designed an elongated version to fill the spaces I had left between the lines of ikat…

Here it is in a blue mood. It is off the loom before being washed and pressed and feeling rather stiff…not like silk at all. I know not to be disappointed by this. The wet-finishing process produces magical results!

I washed it and gave it the typical hard press so that the silk relaxed and shone…Now it’s in a green mood on the black background.

A different background, a different mood…(I love this version!: the colors are pretty true for the motifs but that’s not the real color of the warp).

One of the things I like about this particular technique of patterning using supplementary weft is that the motif does not show on the back of the cloth. Instead, you see a sort of “reverse embossing” (my made-up name for it!). If you look closely you can make out the diamond shapes and even the pattern that sits within the diamonds.

You can read more, if you like, about this single-face technique in a basic tutorial that I wrote some time ago. It includes some pattern charts.

As for the true color, I guess the closest shot would be the one with the black background. The real color is a richer version of that. I did the wet-finishing before dealing with the fringe as I wasn’t sure to what use this piece would be put. One end is a selvedge so there was nothing to bother with there. I wanted to avoid having the unwoven warp ends collapse into a tangled mess in the wash and so, while at the loom, I stopped weaving and then inserted a piece of cardboard in a shed that was the width of the warp and about three inches long. Then I wove another inch and cut the piece off the loom and removed the cardboard. That was enough to keep the unwoven warp ends in good shape until I decided what to do with them.

I had been planning to move onward from this project to a balanced weave in which the ikat pattern is in the weft or perhaps in both warp and weft. However, I can see from the samples that I have woven with the 30/2 silk in balanced plain-weave that I need more experience with getting a consistent beat and achieving the desired number of picks per inch.

I haven’t quite settled into that yet and I think I need to have developed a good rhythm before I attempt tying and dyeing and trying to get dyed threads to align. I did weave another balanced-weave sample in 30/2 silk using a finer bamboo reed that I have….28epi this time instead of 24epi and am much happier with this sample.

So, next up is an ikat project with 60/2 silk. I have been scratching around all week trying to come up with a pattern in which I can combine several of the elements I have been working with so far….creating shapes with a bit more curve (with limited success), dyeing with multiple colors (two, so far) and folding the warp to create an instant repeat when I wrap it with tape. This time I am going to fold the warp to halve its width rather than its length and tie the pattern on those two layers of threads at once.

I’ve decided to try having four colors in the pattern after looking at gorgeous pieces from Indonesia that have been dyed with morinda and indigo. The patterns include a very dark blue-black, a paler blue from the first dipping in indigo, morinda-red and the raw white original color of the cotton warp. Hopefully, I am not pushing this too far in my limited experience!

I’ll leave you here with my best wishes for a joyful Christmas and all the best for whichever holidays you celebrate at this time of year. I added a few more Andean Pebble Weave Christmas tree ornaments to my collection because I was itching to do some pick-up. All these colors are true! 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 6, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Free Time

How did you all do surviving Black Friday and Cyber Monday? I didn’t buy anything but I have been doing my share of advertising for the fact that I published a new book of patterns last month and also the fact that all my publications in English are now available as spiral-bound books rather than just as PDFs. …a girl’s gotta make a living after all.

But, in this blog post today, I think it might be nice to take a step back, have some “free” time and also think about some free resources that I have made available on this blog over the years. They have been around for a long time but perhaps we all need to be reminded of them now and then.

The first free thing I would like to tell you about is my tutorial on a weft-twining technique that I used to finish the following project…

I recently made some Christmas tree ornaments using the metal ribbon crimps that I normally use to turn my woven bands into wrist cuffs. I found that they also make cute little hangers for bands to swing from the Christmas tree. These are’t for me. I don’t do Christmas with a tree and all that stuff. These will be gifts.

The ribbon crimps I used, (or ribbon clamps as they are sometimes called), are one-and-a-half inches long. They come in various sizes and metal colors. I used weft twining at the ends of the little band pieces to stop them from unraveling. The weft twining is a pretty and practical finishing technique. I have used weft twining on other projects in the past when I have wanted to prevent unraveling. Using it means that I don’t need to twist or braid fringe or sew a hem. Below, you can see the multiple rows of twining just before the fringe starts on the place mats that I wove.

In one of the weave-alongs that we ran on Ravelry, Julia used the technique to finish the bands that she made into key fobs. The technique that I used to finish my tree ornaments uses four strands of thread to twine two rows simultaneously. It is quick and easy and fun. I do it while the piece is still on the loom as I find it much easier to apply while the warp is under tension.

So, this is one of the free things on my blog about which I can remind you…my tutorial on basic weft twining. The tutorial has video clips which show simple twining with two strands and then the four-strand twining that I used for my ornaments. It also shows photos of other projects where I have twined little patterns and even words. The videos show how you can use strands of two colors to twine motifs.

I have been weaving three ornaments per twenty-inch warp. My backstrap loom allows me to work on short warps. Twenty inches gave me three pieces for ornaments while also giving me plenty of room in which to work comfortably. I designed a set of Christmas-themed patterns for the Complementary-warp Pattern Book that I published back in 2018. I used a few of those for my ornaments but then I decided that any pretty motif would look nice hanging from a tree. So, I used a hummingbird and a flower pattern that I also designed. I will be weaving more and will probably give a set of four in different colors to friends. Maybe I can add a couple of new ones each year.

Here’s a tip I can give you if you are planning on making some of these: I prefer to make the band slightly narrower than the ribbon crimp. That way, when I enclose the raw edge in the crimp, I don’t have to be concerned about the warp ends flaring and peeking out from the sides of the crimp. They can, however, be tamed and made to behave with a little glue before you apply the crimp, if you prefer.

As you can see, the complementary-warp structure (in this case Andean Pebble Weave) that I used produces bands with two structurally identical faces with colors reversed.

Olyweaver has been playing with simple warp floats, a technique she learned via the free tutorials on my blog. Her Schacht inkle loom is allowing her to weave a surprisingly wide band. I love the calm, cool colors she is using.

What I call the simple-warp-float structure, gives you pattern on one face of the band and a lot of texture. You can see how the green floats stand out above the flat background of green and purple plain-weave horizontal stripes. My free tutorial on this structure is here.

It’s a nice technique for those who feel they would like to go beyond the basics of plain weave and take some first steps in pick-up weaving.

From there, you can advance to a technique in which both colors are used to form floats and pattern at the same time. Olyweaver is only using the green threads in her warp to form the pattern. In my examples above I am only using one of the two available colors to create floats.

My free video shows you how to create a warp for a backstrap loom so that you can weave these kinds of pick-up patterns.

In the following beautiful piece woven by Tracy Hudson, in which she used her own hand spun yarn, both colors are used to form floats. In the center section, red floats form the motif while blue floats fill in the background. This was woven on a backstrap loom.

You may remember that I showed pictures of Tracy just starting this piece when I got together with her on a visit to the USA. It is exciting to see how it has progressed since then.

Tracy’s piece has patterns from Central Asian yurt bands as does the band that I showed in my last post made by Olyweaver…

The traditional yurt bands only show pattern on one of the two faces of the band. They use a technique that produces warp-floats in two colors on only one face and I have a few free tutorials on that technique on my blog. This is the same structure that I used to weave the place mats that I showed earlier on in this post. This structure is used in many regions around the world. My place mat pattern comes from textiles of the tropical lowlands of Peru.

Here is the free tutorial for the S pattern band that Esther wove below. This is a traditional yurt-band pattern.

In my Complementary-warp Pick-up book, I show how these same patterns can be woven with two identical faces.

You can browse all the topics of my free tutorials here. And, may I remind you that many of the items that I gathered on my RESOURCES page are also free downloads.

Let’s see what else has I have seen online and in my inbox…

I LOVE this cotton piece made by Nettina on her backstrap loom! It’s plain weave and gorgeous!

My favorite part is the way she finished the raw edges of the cloth. I showed you earlier in this post how you can use weft twining as a pretty finish alongside fringe. Nettina didn’t want fringe on her piece and carefully covered the raw edges with coil stitches. This looks fabulous.

She has carefully spaced her coils so that colors can match up perfectly with the arrangement of colors in her woven cloth…beautiful!

If you would like to learn the coil stitch and other decorative finishes, I teach them in my book The Eye-pattern Tubular Band and Other Decorative Finishing Techniques which you can buy as a spiral-bound book or PDF at Taproot Video. I use step-by-step photos, drawings and video clips in my instructions. Both the PDF and print book  allow you access to the instructional video clips.

Here you can see the little “pocket bag” I wove and later decorated with the decorative coil stitch. You can make the coils as a colorful contrast to the piece as I have done or have them blend in perfectly as Nettina has done.

Wendy made a hat band using a cute viscacha motif as well as one that she designed herself in Andean Pebble Weave…

And, while not weaving Christmas tree ornaments, I have been working on my latest ikat piece. Here it is on the frame while I was tying in the pattern with pink plastic ikat tape…

I dyed it using Jacquard brand acid dye in a color they call teal. The dye behaved strangely. When I have used this dye in the past, the color has been almost completely exhausted by the end of the process. The water is almost clear and I have to do very little rinsing. This time the water was very blue and I had to rinse a lot before the silk thread would stop releasing blue color. It seems to me that the blue part of this dye mixture simply did not take anywhere near as well as the other components. I ended up with a green that I am guessing is missing much of the blue tone that one would normally expect from teal.

I decided I liked it. It’s funny that I had very recently downloaded a photo that my friend in India had shared of herself with a friend.  I had fallen in love with the green sari her friend was wearing and the rich colors of its pattern. My warp ended up being a green color that reminded me of the sari and gave me the idea to use earthy colors for patterning.

The aim for this ikat project is to include patterning with supplementary weft, not only bordering the ikat section but also within it. I have to stop looking at that sari because my piece is not going to be anywhere near as pretty! 

I started with a row of supplementary weft motifs in various colors. The warp is 30/2 silk and I am using several strands of 60/2 and 120/2 silk as the supplementary weft. My friend Betty has textiles from Bhutan hanging on the wall of her weaving studio and I used a motif from one of them that I had photographed while visiting. When I get to the ikat section I will use that same motif s and add another to fit the blank spaces that I left between the lines of ikat pattern.

In these pictures the cloth is showing much more of a blue tone than it does in reality. After the first row of pattern, I scattered a few more motifs to fill the space before the start of the ikat section. Then I had to start cutting off some of the ikat tape in order to be able to advance the warp. I leave the tape on for as long as I can manage as I believe that it leaving it in place helps to stop the warp threads from shifting too much. 

So, I have this on my backstrap loom on which to continue. Every now and then I take a break and work on Christmas ornaments. 

December is the month in which I decided I need to go back to working on my next book. Let’s see if I can stick to the plan! A balanced-weave ikat project is calling to me….I need to work out a schedule where I can do both. I could happily weave all day every day, but as I said earlier, a living needs to be made too!

In my next post I hope to show you what I have learned from attempting to tie and dye weft for ikat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 15, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Inundated with Ikat Ideas

Now that I feel that I have a bit more of a grip on a technique for creating warp-ikat patterns, I find that this newly-acquired level of confidence leaves me awash with ideas for future experiments. I am just about to start ikat experiment #6 but have so many ideas for experiments beyond this that I am almost losing interest in #6. However, #6 definitely has its purpose as the things I learn from this experiment will hopefully be applied to future projects. It remains to be seen if the lessons I learn will be more about do’s or more about don’t’s.

So, what became of experiments #4 (the cowl) and #5?

My idea had been to connect the two ends of the result of my fourth ikat experiment to make a cowl. I wanted to use buttons along one edge of the fabric with braided loops on the other end. I did that and it didn’t work. It was clumsy and fiddly and the buttons were too heavy for the light silk fabric. I had to cut it all out and start over. You can see that I ended up with several snaps along the edge and I used fabric to reinforce the ends. The snaps are super easy to fasten and un-fasten and don’t add too much weight to the cloth. This works really well!

Above the black cowl you can see the result of the fifth ikat experiment as well as a small piece of balanced plain-weave fabric that I wove using my bamboo reed. The balanced-weave piece is an experiment so that I can plan a possible double ikat piece, in which both the warp and weft are tied and dyed, some time in the future.

Ikat experiment #5 was about testing how well I could manage 30/2 silk in this technique. I also wanted to experiment with folding the warp in half so that I could tie the ikat tape around two layers of warp at once and create a repeat. The third thing on which I wanted to focus was dyeing with two colors.

I placed the ikat tape, then dyed the warp red. Then I removed some of the tape and dyed the warp orange. Actually, the orange color was not what I was expecting from a dye color that was called “dingo”but the orange color grew on me.

Here’s the warp after the first red dye bath and with some of the tape removed ready for the second color. The warp is folded in half around the metal bar you can just see between the warp threads at the bottom of the picture. 

What I learned: The warp threads got super compressed inside the tape and were stuck together when the tape was removed. I separated the threads here and there but realized later that I needed to be more thorough about that. If I wanted to dye with a second color, I needed to separate the threads in each and every bundle and make especially sure that I pulled them well apart at the point where they re-entered the wraps of ikat tape. I had figured that the 18-hour pre-dye soak that I give the warp would be enough to enable the threads to bloom and separate and recover from the compression. Apparently they didn’t do that entirely. This meant that I didn’t get  even penetration with the second dye color.

Here’s the warp stretched out on the loom after its second dye bath.. I needed to add string heddles and then I would be ready to weave. You can see how the second dye bath with the orange-y so-called dingo color brightened and “gladdened” the red. I wasn’t expecting that and it was a pleasant surprise.

It’s exciting seeing the pattern emerge. There’s always a sigh of relief when I see that the threads are not going to shift so much as to ruin the pattern.

Here it is off the loom before being washed and pressed…

I was really pleased with it! It could be another cowl, if I really wanted it to be more than just an experiment. I also thought it might be interesting to somehow join the two patterns together side by side to make a square. Maybe it could be one side of a cover for a small pillow.

Here’s a close-up after wet-finishing.

I felt pretty comfortable working with the 30/2 silk and would call this experiment a success (ah, but was it just a fluke?!) and I’ll use the same 30/2 silk for experiment #6. The next experiment will be about combining ikat with motifs in supplementary weft. I have done this before in ikat projects using cotton. 

There’s always time to do lots of thinking while I sit here tying the warp with strips of tape. I will use that time to think about what would be a good pattern for a first attempt at double ikat. Perhaps I should just start out with a weft ikat piece and slowly work my way up to double ikat. But that idea has to wait in line. I still have ideas for moving on to using 60/2 silk for ikat projects. I have been reading that some ikat artists fold the warp both horizontally and vertically to create a side-by-side mirror image of a pattern as well as a mirror-image repeat along the length of the warp. I don’t feel ready for that yet!

From my inbox:

Olyweaver wove a band with a pattern that is found on yurt bands in Central Asia. In this structure, floats in the two warp colors form the pattern on one face of the band. Irina spent a lot of time studying a picture of this pattern on my blog so that she could chart the figures herself. She said that this exercise gave her a much better understanding of the structure before she could start weaving. She also said…. the design was small enough with internal mirror repeats that by the end I could anticipate the next step without counting chart squares, but I did need the chart for guidance. I looked at how the design evolved in each colored area as opposed to what the chart said line by line. 

Llunallama wove a beautiful band of running horses in complementary-warp pick-up (Andean Pebble Weave structure). She calls the piece “Flight” and says that it might be used as a hatband. My friend Deanna created the four horse motifs and contributed them to my Complementary-warp Pattern Book.

That book and all my publications in English are now available as either PDFs or as spiral-bound printed books from Taproot Video.

Here are four of the seven titles that are now available as spiral-bound printed books…

The seventh title, More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns, is one that was published just last week. It is a book of 132 Andean Pebble Weave patterns that can be used by all those who have learned the pick-up methods from my books on complementary-warp pick-up and/or Andean Pebble Weave. Read the full product description and look at sample pages here.

If you don’t own any of my books and would like to get started in weaving bands with pick-up patterns, I recommend starting with Complementary-warp Pick-up.  (which includes some Andean Pebble Weave patterns). Note that none of my books are aimed at those who have never woven anything before. You should already be able to set up your loom of choice and weave a warp-faced band in plain weave before approaching these patterning techniques.

And, if you like Irina’s band with the pattern from the yurt band, I have a tutorial on this structure here on this blog. The pattern I use is a sweet S-hook motif that I saw on a yurt band in a friend’s collection. Depending on your level of experience, the tutorial page will tell you where to find instructions to get started.

I send many thanks to everyone who has bought my latest book so far. Your support is very much appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 8, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – A New Book of Patterns and more!

I have three bits of exciting news to share with you in this post 🙂

I have been promising a new book of patterns for the last few weeks and am pleased to announce that it is now available at taprootvideo.com.

The second part of this exciting announcement is that this is the first time that I am releasing a new publication as a PDF as well as a printed book! Both are available at Taproot Video.

It’s called More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns. It contains the pebble patterns from my 2012 publication More Adventures with warp-faced Pick-up Patterns, plus six brand new ones. The Pebble weave patterns in the 2012 publication were drawn on charts that are made up of spots and lines. In my new book the same patterns have been drawn on the more classic block-style of charts that I use in all my other books.

The new book is aimed at two groups of weavers:

  1. All those who are fans of creating patterns using complementary-warp pick-up and/or Andean Pebble Weave and who don’t already own my 2012 publication, More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns. If you fit this group, you will have 132 new patterns to use in your bands and other projects.  
  2. All those who do own my 2012 publication, More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns, but who are not really in love with the spotted charting system that I introduced in that book. I have found that many people have overlooked those patterns in favor of those that are charted on the more classic block style of chart that I use in my other publications. I fear that they may never get to enjoy those patterns. So, in this new book, I present all 126 of those patterns again using the block-style charting system. Plus, there are 6 new patterns.

The new patterns….The new set of patterns that are included in this book came about because I became interested in the sweet dragon pattern, that you can see above, when ladies on Ravelry were talking about it in a tablet-weaving discussion. You can see an awesome hat created by Penelope Hemingway with nalbinding using Oslo stitch. She felted it down to size and edged it with a band she wove on her inkle loom using a chart I drew for her.  The motif is based on one from a tablet-woven band from a 10th century Viking find in Dublin. The pattern is often called “Little Dragons”. I have seen it online in pictures where it has been woven in several tablet-woven structures. I was able to easily adapt it so a version of it could be woven in Andean Pebble Weave, a complementary-warp structure.

Online searches showed me several sweet patterns woven with tablets that use the head of the little dragons and I adapted them for my latest book. Five of the six new patterns in the book use the little dragon heads. 

The other patterns include snake and star motifs that appear in various forms on textiles from the Bolivian lowlands, knot-work and historical patterns adapted from tablet-woven bands, motifs from belts of Russian origin, adaptations of motifs used in Komi knitwear, Kuba cloth of Central Africa, storage bags from Baluchistan and textiles of Central Asia as well as contemporary figures found in Andean textiles.

Snake pattern.

Star pattern with various filler designs.

Pattern adapted from a Central Asian textile.

Motif from a belt of Russian origin.

The printed book is spiral-bound and has 85 pages. You can read more about this latest publication, in both PDF and print form, as well as take a look at sample pages at taprootvideo.com.

The third piece of exciting news involves all my other English-language e-books that can be found in PDF form at Taproot Video.

They are all now available as printed books at Taproot Video! (Note: The complete version of the tubular band book is available in print form but not the abridged version).

You can see the full list of titles here. If you are unsure about which book best suits your level of experience, learning style and preferred loom, information on a page that I wrote here on my blog, may help you decide…or just drop me a line via a comment. I’ll be happy to advise.

A lot has been going on with my ikat experiments too. Experiment #5 is well underway in the finer 30/2 silk and I am really pleased with it. There’ll be more about that in my next post or, in the meantime, you just might catch a glimpse of it showing up on my Facebook or Instagram pages.

Happy weaving and a million thanks to all those who bought my new book following my announcement on Facebook a few days ago. THANK YOU!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 25, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – From Experiment to Project

Just when I am at the point when I feel that I have learned enough about the behavior of the naturally-dyed silk that I was given to be able to move on to real projects rather than experiments and samples, I find that I don’t really have enough of this yarn left to be able to make anything decent!

These are the skeins of silk that had been used in natural dye experiments and given to me. I have used them to weave journal covers using a variety of warp-faced pick-up structures and, more recently, to experiment with ikat. If you have been following my most recent posts you will have seen and read a lot about my experiments in which I use multi-colored base warps for ikat. I wrap the warp in ikat tape to create a pattern. The taped areas resist the color in a dye bath and, when the tape is removed, a multi-colored pattern is revealed ready to weave.

Sadly, I am almost at the end of my supply of this naturally-dyed silk. There is just about enough to make one more small warp but I think that it is time to move on and try out the 30/2 silk that I got from my weaving friend Deanna in a swap.

The fourth in my recent ikat experiments with the multi-colored silk has happily changed its role from  experiment to project. I warped up a wider and slightly longer piece and decided not to create stripes of random color and width this time. All the stripes were twelve ends wide and I used symmetry in the arrangement of the colors.

I divided the groups of warp threads to be wrapped in tape into twelve-end sections. This was going to be a very orderly warp. I didn’t challenge myself to creating the impression of curves or to create nice even horizontal lines. I went with bold diagonals instead.

Here it is out of the black dye bath and almost dry enough to place on my backstrap loom beams.

As soon as the first few inches I had been woven, I knew that this one was going to be my favorite so far.

A little further along and feeling really pleased with it :-).

And, finally, off the loom…a close-up.

One more picture (can you tell I am loving this one?!)

How would it behave once wet finished? I had high hopes that this would work as a cowl. I had used 60/2 silk as weft. Would it have enough drape? I love the wet-finishing part of working with silk. The fabric relaxes and almost oozes under the iron as I give it a good hard press.

I am trying to show the sheen after wet finishing in this next picture. It was really hard to capture.

And, yes! It works as a cowl. I am so happy that I can wear this piece! (This is what fifteen months of cold turkey grey-hair grow-out looks like, by the way).

 

It is just draped around my neck in this picture. I have yet to finish it. I have three selvedges and need only deal with one raw edge. I’ll cover that edge with fabric and use three buttons and loops to close the cowl. I need to make the closure decorative as I am pretty sure that the cowl will swivel at will around my neck as I wear it. The buttons could end up in any position and they need to be pretty. Once again, I’ll have to put my meager sewing skills to the test.

Another project that got almost finished is the silk ribbon that I made for my Koru pendant:

I have washed some of the 30/2 silk so that it can be dyed. The first ikat project with this new material will be a narrow one while I get acquainted with the way it behaves. I want to focus on a much longer warp which will be folded in two on the ikat frame. In that way I can tie the ikat tape in multiple layers at the same time and achieve a repeat.

My weaving friend Pam shared pictures with me of her visit to Uzbekistan many years ago in which you can see a warp of many meters length folded and placed on the ikat frame where the young ladies sit ready to tie the pattern. The  beams that hold the warp under tension are tied to bolts in the floor.

I am absolutely in love with this piece below from Timor. Kinga Lauren who collected the piece, kindly allowed me to show it here in my blog post.

I love those curvy irregular patterns. You can see how the irregularities in the pattern in the lower half of the fabric are perfectly replicated in the upper half. The warp was obviously folded with ikat tape wrapped around both layers at once. 

A close-up of part of the ikat section and the fringe shows the number of beautiful subtle colors that were used in the stripes. This is naturally-dyed cotton.

Wrapping multiple layers will be one new challenge for me. The other will be attempting to dye with more than one color. I tried a very simple version of this many years ago on a rather carelessly tied pattern. I really liked the effect and was able to use the piece as a book cover. I had some mishaps with this cotton warp. This was back in the days when I was using cassette tape for wrapping cotton warp. I made one of the dye solutions too hot and the cassette tape simply did not deal well with the heat.

So, on the heels of my happy cowl project/ikat experiment, let’s see what kind of mess (or success) I can make with 30/2 silk!

To finish, I have some nice work to show you from my inbox from new and old online weaving friends…

Shilpa Nagarkar Rao is weaving Andean Pebble Weave patterns using my Complementary-warp Pattern Book (after having learned the technique in my Complementary-warp Pick-up book). She uses an inkle loom to weave bands and then combines them to make beautiful bags. (See her Facebook page).

Bag made from several bands woven on an inkle loom by Shilpa Nagarkar Rao

Cynthia has been working with supplementary weft creating motifs in several colors along the length of the band. This ability to change color at will is one of the many nice things about this technique and is why Guatemalan clothing can be so colorful.

I love how Vanessa De Columna made what I believe to be her very first Andean Pebble Weave band into a headband.

In book news, my latest pattern book, which ended up with 132 charted patterns, is in the hands of Taproot Video and I am just waiting for it to go live on the website. The Taproot folk are currently busy shooting a new spinning class with Joan Ruane…exciting news!

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 11, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Mess or Success

I feel like I am back at square one with my ikat experiments in terms of not being able to predict what the end result will be…..Mess or Success??… 

But then, I suppose it depends on how you define success. My experiments have been about trying to create images using the ikat technique with little or no shift in the warps threads to blur the image. I know that many people consider blurring the very characteristic that makes ikat so attractive. Quite often you can’t even notice the blurring unless you are examining the images closely. It is the overall effect that is important…the bird’s eye view rather than the ant’s view. Other times the blurring is very noticeable as if that was the very thing at which the weaver was aiming. One example of this is the fabric that you can see below from Uzbekistan. Soft blurred edges are what make these patterns so attractive.

Ikat fabric from Uzbekistan at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

My most recent experiments have been with silk. The first one, which you can see and read about in past posts, gave me images with barely any shift at all. I was so pleased! The silk I used was given to me and I have no idea of its origin. It was something like 5/2 cotton in size and somewhat “hairy”. That kind of smooth well-defined motif was what I had been after. I wanted something sharp and crisp like the the bold geometric patterns seen on ponchos woven by the Mapuche people of central Argentina and Chile. You can see an example of a Mapuche poncho below.

For my second experiment I followed exactly the same procedures, the only difference being that I used a finer and more slick kind of silk…I am guessing that it was something like 8/2 cotton in size. I got slightly more shift but have no real idea about how to account for that. I can only guess that the finer slicker silk made the difference.

Now to experiment number 3….same silk, same procedure, different kind of dye. I started with a multi-color warp in tones, of green, blue, grey and gold.

Here’s the warp stretched on the makeshift frame that I use when I wrap the warp threads with ikat tape. I have a small table with shelves that is made up of open bars. There are no solid surfaces and it turns out that it makes a very nice frame on which to hold my warp under tension while I do the wrapping.

My tools are a charcoal pencil with which I draw the pattern onto the warp threads, a paint brush with stiff bristles that I use to erase mistakes in my drawing, scissors to cut the tape and to remove incorrectly placed wrapping, a sharpener and of course the ikat tape itself.

My pattern has a kind of yin-yang thing going on in the center although the colors will not reflect the yin-yang concept. I was hoping for an illusion of slight “curviness” but I don’t think I managed to pull that off.

After a the blue dye bath, this is what I had. I looked carefully at the pink wrappings searching for dark spots which tell me that the dye leaked under the tape. I didn’t find any….not  that anything can be done at this point if the dye had in fact managed to get in.  I think my wrapping technique is getting pretty good!

Here is the warp back under tension on my backstrap loom. The scissors sit nearby ready to be used to cut off some of the wrappings. What I notice is that I need to work on getting my lines straight. You can see that the vertical line that is made up of ten separate wraps at the far right of the pattern is quite straight. The matching one on the far left certainly is not! How did I not see that? Those were the last wraps that went on and possibly I was tired and careless at that point. I have found that I need to take lots of breaks when I am doing this kind of work because it is indeed easy to get a bit careless when you are not feeling fresh any more. Oh well, nothing can be done about that at this stage.

Here is the woven motif. You can see that the warp threads shifted more than I would have liked them to. For me, calling this a success would mean being able to account for the fact that the threads shifted more in this experiment than they had in my second experiment.The only thing different about this project was the brand of dye and I hardly think that that could have had any effect. Standing back and looking at it with the eye of a bird in the sky, I  have to admit that I am very pleased with it. The ant’s eye view is less pleasing to me 🙂

I decided that there was enough fabric to be able to fold the piece in half and make a pouch. So I decided to play with the amount of unwoven warp that was left and add some figures using supplementary weft. I changed to a finer ground weft so that I could add a second supplemental weft without thickening the fabric.  I added a couple of the little paisley motifs that I had designed to use on a silk scarf some time ago. That scarf had been woven in 60/2 silk and the paisley motifs had been fine and delicate. How different the motifs look on this heavier silk! I wanted them to sort of match the shapes in the center of the ikat image. And then I designed a swirl for the small amount of space that remained.

My paisley patterns in supplementary weft on a silk scarf I wove in 60/2 silk.

I did end up folding the fabric and sewing it into a pouch. I even remembered to put in a lining before sewing the pouch. Lining always seems to come to me as an afterthought. I have yet to decide on whether I should edge it with a plain blue tubular band. That would hide the turns of pale blue supplementary weft that can be seen on the selvedges. And, I need to add a zipper.

I am heading towards using finer silk for my next ikat experiments. I have a cone of 30/2 silk that a friend gave me. It is not ready-to-dye and needs to go through a process of preparation. Thank goodness for my online weaving friends who are always willing to help when I need information and tips for such things. I have ready-to-dye 60/2 silk but I don’t feel ready to leap into that kind of fineness for ikat yet!

So, the 30/2 silk needs to be skeined and prepared.

While thinking about all that, I decided to slip in a small project…a silk ribbon on which to hang the awesome macrame seahorse that a talented young macrame artist in Australia made.

She is on Instagram as one_mile_smile_creations if you would like to check out her work. I think my little seahorse is actually her profile picture. I thought that the seahorse was a nice piece to buy from her as I was at that time visiting a part of Australia where she lives that is known as the Sapphire Coast. 

The silk ribbon has various fish and ocean motifs with seaweed, currents, ripples and bubbles. These patterns are charted in my Complementary-warp Pattern Book and several of them were contributed by my online weaving friends.

Perhaps I am just trying to put off winding those skeins of 30/2 silk and fiddling around with the preparation process…I don’t know…but I saw that still had enough of the multi-color naturally dyed silk that I have been using in these recent ikat projects to squeeze out one more project. This time I decided to create a slightly longer warp and weave it using very fine silk as the weft in the hope that the resulting fabric might have just enough drape to allow me to use it as a cowl. I won’t know until it is done and wet finished. It might stand up like a piece of cardboard!

So, here is the warp I wound with the scraps of silk that remain….

Instead of winding stripes of random widths, I wove twelve-end sections in each color. I have been wrapping sections of twelve ends in ikat tape so far and so it will be interesting to see how this warp will look with each ikat section being a solid color rather than a mix of various tones.

Here it is out of ts black dye bath. I didn’t challenge myself with curves or horizontal lines this time but I did create a pattern that is quite a bit bigger than the other three experiments. I think it will make a really nice cowl if it works out. If it doesn’t, oh well, I get another pouch! If the fabric does turn out to have enough drape, I will need to come up with a way to secure it at the back once it is around my neck. I have plenty of time to figure that out. I don’t see any dark spots under the tape on first examination. I think my wrapping was successful.

The big unwrapping ceremony is on standby while I finish another tiny tape on my backstrap loom. This time I am making a silk ribbon on which to hang the Koru pendant that I got in New Zealand. I chose a a pattern of curls to match the Koru curls that represent the unfurling leaves of the New Zealand silver fern. The pendant is one-and-a-half inches across at its widest point. The silk ribbon is tiny! 

I will leave you here with a picture from Gonit Porat in Israel. Gonit learned to do Andean Pebble Weave using the instructional and pattern e-books (PDFs) that I sell on Taproot Video.  I love being able to make connections like this with weavers on the other side of the world via my books. Gonit does amazing and inspiring work using eco dyeing and tablet weaving techniques as well as pick-up by hand. She teaches in her studio in Israel and this is the work of one of her students, Tal. This Andean Pebble Weave warp is tensioned on the frame of a rigid heddle loom. 

For me, this picture represents a little piece of heaven. Thank you, Gonit, for allowing me to show it here and for providing me with a beautiful image with which to finish my blog post. (If you are interested in buying one of my instructional ebooks but unsure about where to start, please read this page which gives you information on each book in terms of the audience, kind of loom and skill level at which it is aimed.)

 

 

 

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