Posted by: lavernewaddington | April 21, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Warm Smiles and Color in the Lingering Winter

While a majestic Mt Rainier in a grey landscape welcomes me to the chilly Pacific Northwest…

and snow continues to blot out color in the northeast, the time that I spent weaving with fellow backstrap loom enthusiasts has been all about color and warm smiles with lovely work by Ann Lynn, Tracy and  Mary Alice…

We have been weaving Andean Pebble weave, supplementary-weft, double weave and complementary-warp pick-up structures. The results have been wonderful and I have been particularly pleased with the designs that the double-weave band-weavers have been creating themselves, from Star Trek symbols to patterns inspired by Turkomen rug motifs. And, there is still some patterned tubular band weaving to be done along with sewn embellishments.

We made a new weaver. Bethany wove her very first piece ever…a plain-weave warp-faced band….

And now she is already into double weave pick-up following pattern charts. She has found a comfortable way to set up at home.

And, more experienced hands, like Stacy, below, dove right in and started winging it and designing their very own patterns in double weave pick-up…

Tracy also got very comfortable with the technique very quickly and was soon adding her own original patterns to the collection of pattern charts with which we were working. I love how people react when they see how effortlessly and automatically the lower layer of the double weave appears. It really is a little piece of magic!

I know that Tracy will come up with awesome patterns and color combinations in supplementary weft too. That’s what she is working on below and her pattern ideas come from the various places she has lived around the world and the various textile cultures in which she has moved. I will tell you more about that in my next blog post.  Now Tracy knows two techniques that I like to call ”doodling on plain weave”: double weave and supplementary-weft patterning. There are almost no rules and the pattern charts for one technique can also be used for the other.

Jennifer was weaving patterns in complementary-warp pick-up and is already making jewelry from her finished bands. Her 7-year old daughter, Tabitha, also keen to try this band-weaving stuff…

Kathryn finished off her woven woven backstrap using the instructions in my article on Backstrap Basics...

And, it is always very pleasing to see what people have created since the last time we all had a chance to weave together…

Kathryn moved on with her Andean Pebble Weave skills and wove this fine band in 10/2 cotton using motifs from my second book…

Tracy used the handwoven cloth I brought from Bolivia last year and her tubular edging skills to construct this great cylindrical bag with its drawstring lining. The top and bottom is edged with a ñawi awapa tubular band.

So, these have been the just some of the colorful results of the face-to-face interactions I have had with my backstrap weaving friends in my recent travels. There’s been lots of color to brighten up the lingering wintry days. I got dressed in a splash of color while looking over the awesome ikat robes that my friend Marilyn brought back from her trip to Uzbekistan last year. The one I picked to try on is in one of my favorite combinations of color, as you will know if you have been following my blog. She has prepared a presentation of images and video in which she has documented the entire ikat process and we had time to watch it together. If your guild is interested in seeing this as part of a program, I can put you in touch with her.

 Apart from all this face-to-face interaction and time spent sitting by and backstrap weaving with friends, there has been lost of online interaction and long-distance trouble-shooting and guidance as new weaving friends all over the world take an interest in the wonderful backstrap loom.

There is always a certain amount of frustration knowing that if I could only be by someone’s side I could set them along the right path in moments. This usually comes from not being able to communicate in writing how a certain part of the process should feel…how much tension should be applied to warp, how hard should the beat be, how does one ”be the loom”. I want to somehow be able to dive through the computer screen but it is amazing what can be achieved with the right amount of tenacity!

I made my video class on Operating the Backstrap Loom to help communicate those concepts to those with whom I don’t have the chance to weave side by side. I want to help people understand how it feels to be part of the loom itself. The video class is not quite like having me by your side but so many people have commented that it is pretty darn close and that pleases me no end!

I got to visit the home of my video class, Taproot Video, on this trip. It was fun seeing both my and John Mullarkey’s dvds going out to a customer in the one package. John Mullarkey is the latest instructor to join the Taproot Video co-op and his tablet-weaving class is on Egyptian Diagonals. These and all the Taproot Video classes are also available for lifetime streaming.

My interaction with my online weaving friends has involved more cuffs, among other things. Just as I was about to archive our Cuff and Bracelet Weave-along thread in the Ravelry group, I got to see this…

Tracy and I went along to see an exhibit of the private collection of Leslie Grace in Seattle. It included this fabulous example of the woven and twined cuffs made on simple looms by the Mayoruna people of tropical lowland Peru. Check out the two sweet dangling shuttles. Some months ago, I posted on this blog about the way the weavers close the cuffs by threading the braids through the header cord. Jan had brought this to our attention and used the technique to finish her cuffs. She is even using the dangling braids as a wrist distaff for her spinning.

The Mayoruna cuffs have subtle patterning in relief. If you look closely you will see a diamond pattern. Certain warp threads are twined while others are not. The twined threads stand out in relief against the others. I had tried this some years ago using twine for the warp threads as I had wanted to weave border panels to accompany my Shipibo-inspired wall hanging. I chose twine because I thought that it might resemble the kind of fiber used by the Mayoruna people. I thought that using a lowland technique would be very suitable. However, the pattern simply didn’t show up enough in the twine. I think that something even stiffer is needed to make it work and I didn’t want stiff panels for my hanging.

That’s my sample in red twine above closest to the black-and-white panel. You can see the red-on-red cotton warp-float technique I decided to go with instead on its right. You can see pattern in my twine sample but it wasn’t showing up as well as I had hoped. (Actually, now I am looking at this picture and wondering why I had rejected that band. The pattern seems to be very clear to me now!) In any case, it gave me the opportunity to explore the technique and understand better what was going on. Next to my cotton panel is a lovely white-on-white Mexican example of a simple warp-float pattern.

Here’s the finished cuff from Leslie Grace’s collection.

Of course, there are plenty more things to show you from that collection. My adventures with dear Tracy in Seattle at this exhibit and in her home in magical Port Townsend will be coming in another blog post as well as pictures of some of the amazing textiles and bands that Marilyn brought back from Uzbekistan.

And then, something else came into my hands to pour some more energy and interest into the Cuff weave-along (which officially finished at the end of February but which may never really end!)…

Here are some sweet wooden ends for woven bracelets that come in four different kinds of wood. I have already ordered some maple and walnut ones and look forward to using them with my bands. I do have, after all, a whole bunch of woven sample bands from my last two books that can be made into bracelets or cuffs.

Indigomargo made another cuff since I last wrote a blog post…I love seeing this pattern which is one of the ones I created myself for my first book way back in 2010.And speaking of those books, I have been receiving the sweetest feedback of all…pictures of things people are weaving using the patterns and techniques!

My friend Emerald in Australia wove this belt using a backstrap loom. There’s probably a pattern from each of the four books in this piece. The viscacha is in the latest book.

These ones come from Alexandra (top left), Maxine, Nancy and Maxine again who has just started on the various ”River and Ocean”-themed motifs. All three weavers are using inkle looms. The complementary-warp pick-up technique is well suited to inkle looms and any other kind of loom that can give you two sheds and allow you to weave warp-faced fabric. My third book teaches the technique and provides 42 patterns for band weavers. The fourth book has an additional 100 patterns using the technique for bands and beyond.

Marsha on Ravelry is weaving a hatband in 20/2 silk using the horse motifs, ”Eldy’s Mustangs”, designed by my friend Deanna. Now she is playing with lots of different patterns in the left-over warp from the various themed sets in the latest book of 100 patterns…

I will leave you here. I simply must. I’ll be weaving double weave tomorrow with friends old and new and I have been experimenting with a new way of arranging the edge threads and need to get my head straight on that. Of course, I have learned a couple of different ways of handling the edges from my indigenous teachers and I am using a bit of this and that to create something a little bit different.

But, I must show you something that just arrived in my inbox as I was writing this post. Dorinda sent me pictures of Maribel’s very first faja.

I have written about Maribel quite a few times. I met her last January when I went up to the highlands to meet with the weavers in Huancarani. She was 19 years old at the time and she was alone waiting for us in the football field with her toddler Daniel when we drove up…waiting patiently long before any of the other ladies arrived.

She was keen and determined to be a weaver, join the co-op and produce things to supplement her family’s income. She was the first in the group to ask to learn the new pattern I had brought to show and she fast became my favorite. Since then, she has produced some of the bands that get made into yoga mat straps using the pattern I taught her as well as the traditional patterns of her community. Her husband has been really supportive and sometimes helps her wind the warps.

Here’s the first yoga mat strap she made with the pattern I taught her. It has its little swing tag with her name on it. I imagine she was very proud of it. However, it is a slower pattern to weave because threads need to be picked up by hand in every single shed. The traditional patterns of the area are in a technique that can be partly loom controlled and, therefore, just that little bit faster to weave.

I adore this picture of her proudly showing her first faja with a variety of local patterns! What a way to end a post that began with the awesome yet somber and snowy Mt Rainier :-)… with color and a warm smile!






Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 30, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Feedback in Words and Cloth

I’m back at the loom again after all that pattern-drawing and book lay-out work!

I am way beyond the halfway hump now on my silk scarf project and am weaving the small paisley-like motifs between expanses of plain weave. There will be one more section of intensive patterning to match the beginning before I finish.

I love sailing along through the plain-weave sections and I finally managed to do something I have been meaning to do all along, that is, make a short video of myself weaving a plain-weave section.

I stopped myself just in time before I could finish one of the last plain-weave sections on this piece and took a short video.

In the fuzzy screen shot at left, you will see that my cross sticks have caught up with my coil rod. When that happens it’s a message to me to unroll more unwoven warp from the far beam, roll the coil rod away, shift the cross sticks and heddles further away from the weaving line and continue. I did all that after filming. So it is a slightly cramped scene you will be seeing. Mind you, this is exactly how I will be forced to weave when I finally get to the end of the warp. The amount of working space I have will be greatly reduced. There is a lot of extra wood clacking sound just because everything is so close together.

The black and white mess of string on the far beam are the loops I tied around all the individual warp sections as they came off the warping board. They serve no purpose there. I just haven’t bothered to cut them off.

It is kind of amusing and interesting to watch video of myself weaving. I do some things so automatically and unconsciously…like the one-handed shuttle twirl that I do a couple of times at the start to release some thread from the shuttle. I had no idea I did that! And I think it’s funny how my strumming stick seems to be glued to my hand. I never put it down! It’s like a handy, extra pointy finger.


I hope the video shows you a little about some of the possible movements I use to operate the loom and open those two basic sheds. Different sizes and textures of thread and yarn will behave in very different ways and I modify my moves accordingly. You can learn much more about these moves and set-ups and the way I use them to operate my loom in my video Operating a Backstrap Loom.  It’s on dvd or available for lifetime streaming on Taproot Video.

I have to give a million thanks to everyone who has bought my new pattern book so far and especially those who have sent me so much wonderful positive feedback. It’s heart-warming seeing it go out to so many places around the world like Taiwan, Slovenia and Israel. I feel that this new book completes a set. It is the natural companion to the instructional book, below left, that I published last September….

Here are some of the looms that I used to weave the samples and that other weavers have used to learn the technique and weave the patterns…

The wooden rigid heddle is a sweet little one that the folks at Vavstuga gave me when I first visited some years ago. That’s my tiny Ashford Inklette which surprised me by comfortably taking on 72 ends of #3 crochet cotton. I know you won’t be surprised to hear that I favor the backstrap set-up in the lower left picture. And that’s Julie’s Gilmore Mini Wave loom on the right, a loom that seems to be growing rapidly in popularity!

Speaking of the Mini Wave loom, here is Marsha’s project on one  in luscious tencel using a pattern from my instructional book, Complementary-warp Pick-up.

I have loads of 8/2 tencel and have only used it once as warp. Marsha’s project reminds me that I must do something with it. The colors are so deep and rich..

Bonnie used a band she wove using another pattern from the instructional book to decorate a bill fold for her husband..

Claire had this fun and original idea to use her bands to secure the comfy pads for her spinning wheel. She made these bands in one of my classes and, yes, those patterns are in ”the book” too!

Kathy packed up looms, sticks and tools to travel and escape the snow for a while and wove these gorgeous pieces.  (You know where to find the patterns if you like them :-)). I love this earthy combination of colors. She uses Knitpicks Curio cotton combining some of their colors with some that she dyes herself. I like the Curio cotton because it is 2-ply but I agree that it could do with the addition of some richer colors.

More from Kathy…

This is one of the Central Asian patterns that appears in the book alongside a nice border pattern that I like to call the ”cajitas” (little boxes).

This beauty uses a pattern from my second book, More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns.  I am not the only one who finds cable ties super handy!

Diane is weaving this band to match and hang alongside the Mola on her wall. Isn’t it a great match? There is something very tribal about this combination of colors. She is weaving it more like a warp-dominant than a warp-faced piece and I like the way the dark weft looks in the places where it is slightly exposed.It has taken on such a different appearance that I didn’t recognize it at first as one of the patterns in my book. The fact that her weft is somewhat finer than the warp gives it a more compressed look too. It’s wonderful.

A couple of posts ago I showed you Jan’s cuff with its exotic long twisted fringe. She has come up with a really cool use for that fringe!

Marilyn spends half the year in Alaska and the other half in Mexico. I love that her backstrap gear and my books travel so well with her across all those latitudes. Here’s her latest Andean Pebble Weave band.

Indigomargo has been piecing together various patterns to create her own original combinations and contribute to the Cuffs and Bracelets Weave-along on Ravelry which is still happily receiving new projects. She has her own neat ideas for adding button loops to her bands.

Here’s another gorgeous one…

  Brittany has just joined us in bracelet-making too.

Maja has been giving me exciting glimpses of this large wool project for some time. The patterns are from my second book. She has woven it with four selvedges and you can see her small terminal area toward the bottom where she had to close the gap between the two ends of weaving. She is currently experimenting with different structures to use to close the gap rather than using plain weave.

And, I am really excited to show you what my weaving friends up in the highlands have been doing with the copy of my second book that I left up there on my last visit. These pictures were sent to me by Dorinda. Antonia wove a band of various patterns. She copies them from the photos in my book. The ladies love these brighter colors and it leaves me wondering why I don’t weave orange and pink together with a green border. It looks spectacular!

Maxima has woven one too. You will all know Max well if you follow my blog. That’s her on the left.

The other lady is Beatris. I didn’t get to meet and weave with her on my last visit as she lives in another community much further away. Dorinda tells me that she particularly enjoyed learning new patterns and is the only one who can read the patterns from the charts rather than from the photos. We all love learning new patterns!

Thank you so much everyone for all your feedback in the form of words and clicks of ”like” and ”love” buttons on the various social media sites and especially for all the messages I get with pictures of your beautiful weaving!

I can’t wait to get the first messages with pictures of things made using my latest book.

And, the instructional companion book is now also available in German!






Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 17, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – My New E-book of Patterns!

My new e-book of pattern charts, Complementary-warp Pattern Book, is now available from!

This is what has kept me really busy and excited for many months. When I missed out on my trip to Bali last year, I had time on my hands to get down and weave and weave and weave and add to the big basketful of sample bands I had started for this book. Then came the long process of creating the charts and laying out the book…not quite as much fun. I hope you will enjoy  the result!

A slight technical hitch and a large case of jitters prevented me from having it online yesterday in time for my Thursday night blog post. Some sleep was lost. But, here it is, just one day late and I am so pleased! 🙂

It’s a book of patterns…one hundred of them!…for beautiful double-faced bands and other larger projects that can be woven using the complementary-warp pick-up technique that I teach in my earlier books. This collection of motifs consists of pebbly-type patterns, the ones that I like to call Andean Pebble Weave.

Weaving pebble patterns using two sets of heddles is just one option.

If you learned the “two-heddle method” in my first book, Andean Pebble Weave or the “picking cross method” in my second and third books, More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns and Complementary-warp Pick-up, you will be able to weave all the patterns in this new book of charts!

Using a temporary picking cross is another option for creating pick-up patterns.


I am proud to say that many of the motifs in this book have been created by my students and weaving friends around the world who have either taken my classes or used my books. I am constantly astounded by what their imaginations have produced and grateful that they have all been more than willing to allow me to include their designs in this book for your own personal use.

Inspired by all of you, I, too, have managed to climb out of my “Andean box’’ and have enjoyed creating some sweet patterns of my own… a collection of playful kitties (a row of which you can see at the bottom of the cover picture), leaves and flowers, sheep and snowflakes, to name a few. The patterns are arranged in themes such as Rivers and Oceans, Garden, and Andean Animals.

I am very grateful to my brother and sister-in-law who not only put up with me sitting on their floor and weaving all day every day for weeks and weeks last year, but also gave me valuable feedback on my new patterns.

Starting the collection of sample bands.

I have included a collection of patterns found on contemporary as well as pre-Columbian South American textiles and, in a few examples of these, I have given my own twist to some classic shapes used in Andean weaving. I give thanks to my weaving teachers in Bolivia who enjoy learning new patterns and using them in their projects just as much as you and I do.

Bands with border patterns.

The motifs are charted on the same block-style charts that I use in my other books. For those of you who have used my second book, More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns, in which you learn to use the spotted-style charts, I have included all the patterns on that style of chart in the Appendix. I know that each charting system has its own group of fans and so I have provided both.

Tutorials are included to show you how to plan the layout of your project. You will be able to adjust the charts to any width so that you can combine motifs of various sizes from different themed collections into one project. I am really looking forward to seeing how you combine the various motifs and border patterns in your weaving!

And, most of all, I hope that you feel inspired to create some patterns of your own.

You can find my e-book COMPLEMENTARY-WARP PATTERN BOOK at Patternfish, the home of all my pattern books and instructional manuals.

By the way, if you would like to weave these patterns but you haven’t learned the pick-up technique yet, I recommend buying my last book, Complementary-warp Pick-up, which has step-by-step instructions and forty-two pattern charts suitable for bands. You will learn all you need to know to be able to enjoy the patterns in my newest book.

The patterns in this new book range in size from eight to eighty threads. Some of the wider patterns may not be suitable for inkle looms. Weavers who use inkle looms and who learned the pick-up technique in my last book, Complementary-warp Pick-up, will know that the largest pattern in that book has only twenty threads in each of the open and heddled sheds.

About two-thirds of the patterns in this new pattern book have from eight to forty threads, a quarter have from forty-four to sixty threads and the rest have from sixty-four to eighty threads.

Much will depend on the thread size that you like to use and the size of your inkle loom. To give you an idea, I wove a band with size 3 crochet cotton (24 wraps per inch/2.5cm) with thirty-six threads in each of my heddled and open sheds (pictured above). I feel this is the widest I can comfortably weave using my tiny Ashford Inklette . Of course,  I could fit in many more warp ends and weave larger patterns if I used finer thread. The Inklette is a pretty small loom.

I know that a lot of people are using the Gilmore range of Wave looms  to weave pick-up patterns. Julie in the Ravelry group often shows pictures of her latest wide projects combining many patterns from my various books. She uses the Mini Wave which she tells me can accommodate up to four inches of woven width and she uses it to combine many patterns from my various books.

After all the editing and proof-reading I am not sure I can look at another red-and-white block chart for a while! I close my eyes and see a blurry scroll of red and white figures! Thanks go to Sharon with all her speedy and accurate help with the charting. Fortunately, my current paisley pattern is charted in pencil on oval cells and will give my eyes a nice change.

I had to leave the silk scarf project aside for some time just as I got over the halfway hump so that I could focus on putting the finishing touches on the e-book. I’ll be happy to get back down on the floor to weave again. I will certainly get a good night’s sleep tonight after a long day of preparing to launch my new Complementary-warp Pattern Book.

Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 2, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – A Few Steps Back and Many Steps Forward

I don’t have a whole lot to say in this post except that I have made what feels like a whole lot of progress on my scarf with its paisley-like patterns. It has been fun planning and weaving the smaller simpler motifs along the length of the scarf after all the busy-ness at the start. I am slowly adding spots and dots to the smaller motifs building up to another splash of busy pattern in the center.

I love the stretches of plain weave between the motifs when I can get into that lovely shed-beat-weft-shed-beat-weft rhythm, leaning forward to relax the tension on the warp threads to lift the heddles for one shed and sitting back and strumming for the other.

I am using five strands of 120/2 silk for the supplementary weft in three different colors. It is interesting to see how different the motifs can look depending on how the light hits them and which color happens to dominate. I change the mix for each motif. I have deep reds, reddish-purples, blue-ish purples, purples, blues and green-ish blues, some of which you can see below (beautiful Redfish Dyeworks thread given to me by my friend Ginny)…

This warp started off as a circular one but, once I started weaving, I noticed a significant difference in tension from one side to the other which I couldn’t explain. And then I saw the cause…..urgh! The shelf to which one of my warping stakes was clamped had slid out of its bracket. I don’t usually wind circular warps and so I had needed to alter my normal set-up. This sliding must have been happening gradually as I wound the warp and I hadn’t noticed. I really didn’t feel like battling this tension difference for the entire project. That would not be fun. There would be no rhythm and a lot of fiddling and adjusting. And so I had to take some steps back before I could move forward once again.

I had wound the warp in lots of small sections and so I carefully placed a section back around the warping stakes, untied the knot and wound the thread back into a ball before moving on to the next section. I had my heart in my mouth the whole time but I only had to ditch one section of blue that got hopelessly tangled.

Then I set my clamps a different way to more reliable surfaces and wound an end-to-end warp. That meant that I had to roll up much of the warp around paper so that it could fit in my weaving space but I have done that before and it works just fine.

I am at the half-way point repeating the large motif in the middle….

I am enjoying using the unusual shuttle that I bought at the Braids conference, unusual in that it had been soaked in an indigo dye bath. It carries the supplementary weft and is a nice size for this project.

It’s great to see this project finally moving along after starting out many weeks ago with just my paper cut-out paisley shape, blank charting paper and a confusing array of paisley-pattern ideas from online searches…

I have had other largely off-loom activities going on as well. Here’s the tease picture again for the new pattern book on which I have also been spending a lot of time…

Most of the steps I have been taking while preparing this have been forward. I have around 75 patterns so far. Occasionally there is a blip where I have to take a step back to fix a chart and weave one of the designs again. Doing that is often a nice break from the 60/2 silk project. Suddenly #10 thread feels so heavy and it’s so easy to see! If all goes well and there aren’t any major steps backward, I plan to have this new book out this month.

The Cuff and Bracelet Weave-along officially ended yesterday but I am sure that we will continue to see more contributions. I, for one, have yet to finish the cuff I planned with my handspun wool (in fact, I am still plying!). Maja showed us the lovely bracelet she made with her own handspun alpaca fiber. She threaded beads on the weft and added them to the edges along the way…

Now that Marilyn has finished weaving her own backstrap….

…she has joined us in the weave-along and has been weaving a band in plain weave for a cuff and playing with color…

Katherine is always full of cool ideas and placed three narrow bands together to make this one wider bracelet…

Rosemary wove with embroidery floss for her latest bracelets and told us how much she loved using it. She mentioned how nice and tightly it packs, how smoothly sheds open and how easy it is to see. I have never used it as warp myself.And so, it’s back to the silk weaving, the book lay-out and plying for me. It so nice to be doing rather than just planning and hopefully there won’t be too many backward steps along the way to finishing all three projects.











Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 16, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Paisley Progress

The bands I ordered from the co-op in Cochabamba arrived. That’s always so exciting. I had been able to take a sneak peek at them when Dorinda sent me a picture of them laid out in her yard but there is nothing like seeing the true richness of the colors, smelling the natural dyestuff in the handspun wool and feeling the firmness of the cloth.

I love being able to put faces to most of the names on the tags after having met many of the weavers on my visit last year. We spent a day weaving together. The tags on the bands tell of the work of Maxima, my teacher, and her sister Narciza, the go-getter, (pictured below) who chose one of the largest patterns and kept begging me to show her with ”just one more row” so that she could fully grasp it before I left.

There’s young Eulalia whom I remember as being the quickest to pick up one of my woven samples and start copying the pattern.

Justina’s name is there. As head of the Huancarani weaving group, she represented her weaving friends and Bolivia when she traveled to the Tinkuy in Peru last November. Antonia contributed a band too. She and her daughter wove with me at Dorinda’s place during my visit.

And then there are Felicidad and Casimira as well as a new name I haven’t seen before –  Cerila. Her band has a lighter touch and I wonder if she is one of the much older ladies.

As for my own weaving, I drew and erased and wove and un-wove, drew and erased and wove some more. I like sampling and I almost always make something useful from the samples. That was not so much the case this time as I kind of lost the plot along the way and some of the samples are already in the trash. I told you about that in my last blog post.

Sometimes I would go to bed completely dissatisfied with what I had created only to wake up the next morning to be almost completely happy with it. I decided that I needed some feedback and so I put a picture on Instagram. The response was favorable and very supportive and confirmed that I was headed in the right direction…thank you, guys… and so I felt that I was at the point where I could tackle the ”real” project and put the sampling aside.

This is warp-faced double weave in 60/2 silk. My paisley-like shapes don’t have the curled tails that you often see in classic Paisley shapes. That is a further challenge that I will leave for another time!

This is the one sample that I will continue to weave and keep so that I can make it into one of my little conference neck pouches. But for now, I am putting it aside while I return to my chart. I need to convert it so that it is suitable for the supplementary-weft technique that I want to use for my silk scarf project. Here is my blank palette awaiting its pattern…

The parts of the pattern in my sample that have long horizontal stretches of solid white won’t work if they are woven using supplemental weft. They will result in exceedingly long weft-floats. Floats of that length are impractical. They can easily get caught on things and pulled. I needed to break up the long white solid sections into smaller ones. For example, look at the solid white paisley shape that sits within the larger one at the bottom left of the design on my sample. I would need to fill that shape with circles and spots to break up the long horizontal lines of white into shorter floats.

So, here is the scarf warp underway. The start and end of the scarf will have its busy pattern and I will keep things much simpler along its length. I might double the large design for the center of the scarf or I might even repeat it at every quarter. We’ll see how it goes. I used multiple strands of 120/2 silk in three different colors for the supplementary weft….a deep red and two tones of purple. What’s fun is that the colors of the pattern look quite different depending on how the light hits the cloth.

Now I think I will pick up my drop spindle and finish plying the wool I spun for the Tour de Fleece many years ago. It has just been sitting there and I would like to use it to weave just one more cuff for our Bracelets and Cuff Weave-along on Ravelry. I might be able to squeeze this in before the end of the month. This is yarn I spun from a bag of random fiber that I won in a little Ashford online competition and I think the colors might go well enough together for a cuff project. The blue, red and white are wool. Both the red and blue are variegated but you can hardly tell. The red fiber was a weird red and brown combination that I didn’t like at all. But the spun thread looks quite nice.

The cuff in the picture is one I wove from my handspun llama fiber a few years ago. It’s one of my favorites. I used spearmint leaves and cochineal (for the beige and red) as dye. I want to weave something similar with this new batch of handspun and add a tubular edging.

Here’s a nice collage of some of the weave-along bands. I am really happy to see how people are using the patterns and technique from my latest book on complementary-warp pick-up.

Katherine’s latest one looks lovely on her backstrap loom…

I provide quite a few very narrow patterns in my book and it is great to see them being used as borders alongside larger ones as Katherine has done. I love brown and indigo blue together as well as a buttery yellow and blue combination. She also turned the blue bands I showed in my last blog post into bracelets…

The bars that she has at the ends of her band are really pretty. Three small metal loops are sewn to the edge of the band. You can see it better in this next shot of her pink band on which she has added a safety chain…

One thing that KEOG discovered when she added a safety chain to her bracelet is that if the clasp is magnetic it is better to find a chain that won’t be attracted to it. That hadn’t even occurred to me. If you are considering this kind of closure for a bracelet, you should keep that in mind. I have a couple of cheap clasps that came with chains and it just so happens that they are not attracted to magnets.

Rosemary got four bracelets out of the circular warp she put on her backstrap loom. She was also kind enough to show us several pictures of her set-up. When you use a circular warp, you need to clamp the warp in such a way that it doesn’t just slide around the end beams every time you beat. I was taught to clamp it at the end closest to my body. Then I have to un-clamp and un-roll each time I need to advance the warp. Rosemary has come up with an ingenious way of securing it at the far end which allows her to advance the warp without touching anything…

In her own words….

…..”when I apply tension and beat with my beater, the band does not move. However, if I release tension, just a bit, and put the beater in the shed, and pull towards myself, then the whole warp shifts forward. In this way, I never have to rearrange anything – I keep the fell about two inches beyond the bar at my belly, and I can weave and weave and weave, without having to stop and rearrange, and this fills me with joy.”

I love it!

Katycat placed her crimps and clasps on her finished band to create her bracelet…


This is Julie B’s work using a complementary-warp pattern from my second book, the one I like to call the Rolling River. I love seeing how people use various kinds of looms to enjoy these techniques and patterns.

I will finish this post here with a celebration of Taproot Video’s one-year anniversary. I am one of the founding-year members of the cooperative and we celebrated the anniversary via email recently. I won’t be seeing the other members until April when we’ll be able to clink mugs and celebrate again.

What is even more meaningful to me personally, is that Taproot’s launch also marked the release of my first ever instructional video. It was a scary trip at first, but it has been fun and heart-warming seeing my dvd make its way to countries all over the world and receiving such favorable feedback.

The video can be purchased as a dvd or you can buy lifetime streaming.

People very often ask me if it is hard to learn backstrap weaving on one’s own. Most often this question is more about the weaving techniques rather than about the loom itself. The kind of weaving I do on my backstrap loom can be done on many other kinds of looms and I have written tutorials and books about these techniques and plan to keep adding to those with more books, photo tutorials and dvds. My new pattern book is coming along nicely.

What about learning to use the loom? That is a little trickier because the weaver’s body movements are so much a part of the smooth operation of the loom and that can sometimes be hard to understand on your own. It is a lot about ”feel” and that is something that I wanted to be be able to convey via my video class. Many people have told me that they feel that I am in the room with them as they watch the video class. That is exactly what I was hoping to achieve! Even those who were already up and running and using a backstrap loom speak of having had several ”aha” moments while watching.

It has been a great first year with Taproot and I would like to thank everyone who has bought the video so far. There will be more video classes coming.

See you next time with, hopefully, a whole lot more to tell about the paisley progress.













Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 2, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Bands to Bracelets

My contribution to the Cuff and Bracelet WAL.

February is here and we are still weaving along in the Cuff and Bracelet Weave-along on Ravelry. I had initially proposed closing it at the end of January but I think that folks are just getting warmed up! I have to hang my head in guilt as, since finishing the first cuff, I have allowed myself to be completely captivated by my paisley project.

Yes, I am still sampling paisley shapes! I took my own advice from my tutorial on Designing for Double Weave in which I say that once you have traced your pattern onto the charting paper, you should put the original drawing away because you will never be able to exactly replicate it and you will, therefore, always be comparing and feeling that the shape you have charted is not good enough. The problem is that I changed my traced shape and re-drew and reshaped and changed it again and again to the point where I had completely altered it. It no longer looked like the classic paisley shape and looked like more like a large comma….a large circle with a tail. I had to get the original drawing out to remind myself of the original idea and start all over.

Now I am working on all the little spots and dots that fill in the spaces within and around the paisley shapes and am finding that there is a very fine line between a well-balanced layout and total chaos! I learned the value of a good pencil and eraser….love my palomino Blackwing 602…thanks, Lori for putting me onto those.

Here’s the latest sample warp. I seem to be in a blue phase…such a nice cooling color in this summer heat. The heddles are made with tatting thread which is a similar girth to the 60/2 silk. They work pretty well together. I am using four heddles simply because my warp thread is so fine and because there are so many ends…360 in the pattern area. Normally when I do double weave, I keep it simple and reduce the clutter by just operating with two sheds. On narrow bands I work much faster that way with just two basic sheds.

Participants in the Ravelry Weave-along have been producing some gorgeous things.

KEOG’S bracelet is so elegant with its magnet closure. She said that she was not sure about how well the magnet would hold and I agree that the bracelet could well snag on something which might pull the two magnets apart. I think that she could add a fine safety chain to the loops on the ribbon clamps so that the bracelet could be opened wide enough to slip over her hand. Then she could close it with the magnet. I imagine that the dangling safety chain would look elegant too.

Here is Katherine’s first weave-along band cut into two for two potential bracelets. They came out a little too wide for her hardware and so we will see if she comes up with another idea for transforming these bands into bracelets. She used the Andean Pebble Weave structure to create her patterns.

I love the way Jan posed her cuff for this picture. She wove a pattern in a supplementary-warp structure. She used a technique for the closure which is used by the Mayoruna people of Peru as described in this issue of The Weaver’s Journal.

Aphelocairos is weaving the above piece on her inkle loom using a pattern and instructions from my Complementary-warp Pick-up book and has joined the weave-along so that she can make a bracelets with her bands. Any loom that allows you to create warp-faced fabric can be used for this pick-up technique which requires just two basic sheds.

I might use this now as an excuse in this New Year to remind you of my latest e-book which is available from….A an edition in German is under construction.

It is aimed at ”experienced” band weavers by which I mean that you need to know how to warp and set up your loom of choice and weave warp-faced plain-weave bands. It’s as simple as that!

Below, you can see Rosemary’s band. She is working from my book too and is using a combination of linen and cotton.

She’s working on a backstrap loom, has wound a long warp, and hopes to get several bracelets from it.

While Katy-cat awaits the arrival of her jewelry findings and ribbon clamps, she wove a pretty plain-weave band and made her first bracelet. She is not crazy about the lobster-claw clasp. Admittedly, it takes some practice connecting bracelets with those kinds of clasps with just one hand. I have it down now. 🙂

Here’s Kathrine’s next warp…so soft and pretty…

Ooh and I just spotted some progress on this warp…this is Knit Picks Curio cotton, by the way…

Wendy’s variegated yarn warp in jewel colors came out beautifully with its Andean Pebble Weave pattern…

Janet has been learning complementary-warp pick-up from my book. She is not actually participating in the weave-along but perhaps she will decide to make this band into a bracelet or two when she is done. I love this pattern which is included in the book. My weaving teachers here in Bolivia always weave it in black and white, as have I. It is great to see it in other colors.

Janet is using a Gilmore Wave loom and her second band, using another pattern from my book, is even more striking than the first….

My inbox brought me some lovely work by Janneke with star patterns from my second book…

My inbox also brought news from Dorinda. She lives up in the highlands of Cochabamba and works with Maxima and the other weavers in the co-operative that she helped establish. Firstly, she told me that she had mailed my latest order of long bands that the ladies make with their handspun naturally dyed wool. I always order a mix of bands…half with cochineal red and half without….

Then she showed me a picture of what Maxima has been weaving using my second book. I left a copy of the book with the ladies when I visited last year. Maxima can weave the patterns by simply looking at the photos of my samples. Other ladies in the co-op say that they read the charts. Each person has their own way of seeing things. The problem for Maxima is that not every single pattern has a pictured woven sample. Here is a band which Max wove working from the pictures in my book. This puts a big smile on my face!

Dionicia, who is the oldest member of the co-op at 86 years of age, looked at one of Max’s other sample bands when she was in town. It was another band that Max had woven using patterns from my book. Dionicia then went back to her community and wove the pattern from memory. An NGO in town has given synthetic yarn to the ladies and encouraged them to weave tapa bancas (bench seat coversto be sold at the local market. Dionicia has made her first one and included the pattern she had glimpsed on Max’s band. Yes, each person has their own way of learning new patterns!

Here is Dionicia studying and attempting to replicate the fish pattern on a band, which you can see on her lap, that I had taken to show on my visit last year…

She was more than willing to help younger ladies to get on their way when we all got together to weave last year and she was the one who generously lent her hat for me to wear in the sun…

Julia Tate in the Ravelry group has been working a large projects. First, she recently finished this stunning piece patterned with supplementary weft which she plans to make into a pillow cover…

And now she is using a rigid heddle with her backstrap loom to create this…

Carlos wove this elegant cotton piece. It is such a gorgeous combination of subtle color and pattern…

And here is one of his latest projects. I love seeing other people’s set-ups. I see a nice coil rod in place there.

Winding wide warps with perfectly even tension is always a challenge. I have my way which involves warping in sections. I don’t allow the threads to climb up too high on the warping stakes so that I don’t risk having the stakes lean in. Carlos is experimenting with different ways and is interested in a set-up that he has seen in videos on warping in Mexico, a system which is also used in some communities in Guatemala. My teachers in Guatemala used a system of spaced vertical stakes. He showed a screen shot of the warping board and is interested in building one of his own….

And here I will leave you to make some more progress on my spots and dots and swirling paisleys….hoping not to fall over the edge into chaos!







Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 19, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Curves

It’s been all about charting these last couple of weeks. I have been drawing and sampling those Paisley shapes that I mentioned in my last post. It hasn’t been as straightforward as most things that I chart as Paisley patterns are all about curves. It is helpful that I will be using very fine thread. I have found that the finer the thread and the higher the number of ends, the closer I can get to creating patterns that look less angular and more curvy in warp-faced double weave. I love double weave so much I have made it the topic of my next instructional dvd.

In the piece above, I had originally wanted all the lines to be curvy but simply couldn’t get the thicker outlines to look good in the 20/2 cotton. So, I settled on heavy, hard angular lines enclosing fine curves and was really happy with the result. But, it took a lot of time with paper and pencil and several woven test pieces to get there.

Warp-faced double weave is so versatile. I can create hard angular designs with varying degrees of diagonals as well as softer more curvaceous ones.

This was my very first experiment with curves many years ago. I wove this sample in a #10 crochet cotton and I know that it will look much nicer in finer thread. It is calling out to me to be woven.

I guess the only limitation on freedom of patterning in warp-faced double weave is the fact that it is not ideal to leave large areas of open space. In open spaces the two layers of the double weave do not connect and that can sometimes lead to a sort of ballooning effect between motifs. I don’t think I will have any problem with open space in my Paisley pattern. They are such dazzlingly busy designs!

In my last post I showed you the warp that I had wound for a 60/2 silk wrist cuff. It was a sample for a larger scarf project that I had in mind in warp-faced double weave decorated with the Paisely motifs that I have been charting.

I finished the cuff and it gave me the measurements I needed to plan the wider project. I am particularly happy with the way the border turned out with the three tones of blue. I wanted it to have a washed-out uneven-indigo-dye look. It was hard to tell if that would work or if it would just end up looking like stripes.

The two ends of the band overlap and I used clear plastic snaps to secure them. I placed a button at the overlap purely for decoration. I like wearing it with the wool ñawi awapa tubular band that I wove as a necklace some time ago. I prefer wearing that as a tripled bracelet and the colors match the new silk cuff nicely.

The sample taught me two things about my scarf project….warp-faced double weave fabric, even in fine thread like 60/2 silk, does not have enough drape to make a nice scarf. The other thing, that was more reinforced than learned, was that the density of the warp-faced double weave structure creates more abrasion than usual on the threads on my backstrap loom. Some of the colors I used were doubled strands of 120/2 silk and I simply could not see those threads standing up to the abrasion of double weave along the length of a scarf project, even if they were doubled.

So, I have gone another way with the scarf project.

First, I will weave a shorter, simpler piece in the 60/2 silk with my double weave Paisley motifs. Then, I will adapt the Paisley charts to a supplementary weft technique for a plain-weave silk scarf. Paisley is such a busy kind of pattern….lots of swirls and spots and circles and dots…that I am sure that I will be able to break up excessively long weft floats with added design elements. In fact, I got quite overwhelmed looking at the busy patterns online. Some of them were so over-the-top! I struggled with the lack of symmetry and the lack of repeats but I was finally able to lay out something that I liked. And, I have managed to make it repeat.

I wound and set up the scarf warp. I am still loving the way those blues look together! However, I will put this warp aside until I have thoroughly sampled the motifs in double weave.

I have made it a circular warp so that it will fit in my bedroom.

I am so used to weaving from end to end that circular warps always feel strange to me at first. I could have used an end-to-end warp and then simply rolled up the excess warp at the far end of the loom so that it would fit in my weaving space as I often done in the past. You can see my long yellow scarf warp rolled up below.

However, I decided that I’d like to get more used to the ins and outs of circular warps as I look forward to doing longer projects in the future. One thing about the circular warp set-up that I use is that the circle is not open. The warp stretches out like a long flat loop. Here’s my Vietnamese weaving teacher’s warp followed by one of my own…

Sometimes all the unwoven warp that lies under the top layer on which I am working feels like it is getting in my way especially when the warp is wider. That’s why I was very interested when watching a video of a backstrap weaver in India who is using a circular warp. I could see what she does with all the unwoven warp below her work space. Here’s a screen shot from the video. She has tied off the lower layer and has what I am guessing is a weighted bag dangling from it. That is the first time I have seen that. I am not sure if I will try it…we will see.

Band weavers in Salasaca, Ecuador set up their circular warps in a triangular shape. These allow long pieces to occupy even less room and keeps the unwoven warp well out of the way. You can see how my teacher Felipe, below, can fit his long warp on his narrow porch.

Before I go, I’d like to tell you about some interesting web pages that I have been looking at lately.

  • The Kindcraft Brief describes itself as being for people who care about how things are made. Subscribe and you will receive a twice-monthly newsletter with articles on such topics as Indigo-dyed Washi Paper, the process behind Miao pleated skirts and the Handmade Textiles of Bangladesh.
  • Asian Textile Studies: Asian Textile Studies is a new website written by David and Sue Richardson. It is aimed at people with a serious interest in traditional hand-woven textiles from Asia, especially those from Eastern Indonesia.It will initially cover the foundation subjects, such as fibres, natural dyes, production techniques and the origins and history of the Austronesian people. We will later add pages focusing on specific regions and islands. Please contact us if you would like to be notified when new material is added.

    The website already contains pages and pages of detailed information on natural dye sources and techniques as well as weaving techniques of various regions of Indonesia, all accompanied by stunning photographs. You can get happily lost in that site for days and will find yourself returning again and again.

  • Threads of Life: Threads of Life is a fair trade business that works with culture and conservation to alleviate poverty in rural Indonesia. The heirloom-quality textiles and baskets we commission are made with local materials and natural dyes to an exquisite standard usually only seen in museums.

    We work directly with over 1,000 women on 11 islands across Indonesia, helping weavers to form independent cooperatives, to recover the skills of their ancestors, to manage their resources sustainably, and to express their culture identity while building their financial security.

     Threads of Life recently started offering workshops in batik, natural dyeing and weaving. You can find their 2018 schedule on the website. Sign up for their newsletter.


Here are a couple of projects from weaving friends…

Elinor finished an Andean Pebble Weave belt for her husband using a pattern from my second book.

Chris is ready to get back into some backstrap weaving now that she has woven her own beautifully finished backstrap in rep weave on her floor loom. What a great idea for nice sturdy strap…

I am saving the cuff projects of our Ravelry Weave-Along-ers for next time.

Now it’s back to the charting paper and the warping board and some more head-spinning Paisley patterns.

Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 5, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – A New Year and New Ideas

A New Year and New Ideas…. but let’s look at the end of the old one first. There were projects to finish before diving into the new ones and a couple that got carried over into the new year.

There were the little journals that needed to be covered with my silk fabric and lined with the pretty paper that John had given me over a year ago.

It was fantastic seeing this project finally come to its end. It must be almost two years since I was first given the gorgeous collection of little naturally-dyed silk skeins that I used to weave these pieces of fabric. Now I just have to make myself use the little books. I don’t want them sitting on the shelf as ornaments.

Here’s what the insides of the covers look like with the decorative paper that I was given. I really am very pleased with the way the books turned out.

The next project that needed finishing was Marilyn’s tool bag. I had been wondering what to do with the finished fabric and had only come up with the idea of a tool bag. Marilyn read my last blog post and assured me in her comment that she would be more than happy to have one.

It has been ages since I sewed in a zipper. I sew by hand and I was not looking forward to the trial-and-error process that is usually a part of my efforts to sew anything. Luckily, I got the zip positioned correctly first go. And then I sewed a patterned tubular band, a nawi awapa, to the edges and flap of the bag. I managed to find colors that would match the bag and went ahead with the edging even though I would rather have used thread that was a wee bit heavier.

So, there’s Marilyn’s bag holding a nice assortment of tools. I am sure that she will have plenty of tools with which to fill her new pouch.

The little balls of thread that you see next to bag are the ones that I plan to use in the Weave-Along (WAL) that we are running in the Ravelry Backstrap Weaving Group starting this Saturday January 6th. It is a ”Cuff and Bracelet” weave-along which people can join at any time. I expect it will run until the end of the month. You can never tell just how many people will participate and how long there will be interest.

Some people have already started making the cuffs from bands they wove some time ago. It’s just a matter of getting the right findings…clasps and jump rings, ribbon crimps etc or buttons, snaps and braids…deciding on a structure (plain weave is also very much encouraged!) winding a short warp, dressing it and weaving.

Hopefully, many bands will be made giving participants a chance to really get comfortable with the warping and heddle-making process. I hope that my Basic Warping for Backstrap Looms video, which wasn’t around for the last WAL, will be useful for new participants.

We had some amazing plain weave contributions to the last Weave-Along we ran back in 2015 (gasp!…really? Was it that long ago?) where we wove bands that were made into key fobs.

Here are Julia T’s fruit-inspired patterns in plain weave. We had all kinds of structures represented in that Weave-Along but I particularly enjoyed the creativity that went into layout of the plain weave ones.

Any kind of loom can be used in the WAL. Julie is using a Gilmore MiniWave loom. Others will use backstrap looms and I am sure we will have a few people using inkle looms. Who knows who might drop by and what equipment they will use?

There have already been some interesting ideas thrown out there, such as this one from Katherine: starting and ending a band as a tube and then inserting the tubes into barrel clasps to connect the two ends. It would be better suited to a bracelet rather than a cuff and I can’t wait to try it!

Here’s a band with pick-up patterning that Julie made a short time ago and has turned into a cuff.

I love Claire’s braided loop and the earthy look of this cuff…

Wendy has shown us the yarn that she plans to use. She is interested in further exploring the use of variegated thread. Those jewel colors will look fabulous with the black in pebble weave. She also found ribbon crimps that are just the right size for an Andean Pebble Weave band that she recently wove.

As for me, I plan to use the thread pictured next to Marilyn’s bag to start with. There I have some Valdani cotton (on the left) and some DMC #12 on the right. I have fond memories of buying that Valdani cotton while at the Seattle Folk Life Festival with Marilyn a couple of years ago and I was out and about with Ruth and Lise when I got the DMC at Lacis in the Bay area.

Julie continues her exploration of complementary-warp pick-up on her MiniWave loom and has just woven one of my favorite patterns from my second book, the one I like to call the Rolling River…

One of my favorite parts of making jewelry from my woven bands is this…

I found these plastic containers at my local supermarket. I am such a sucker for containers with small compartments into which I can put all my bits and pieces all neat and tidy! Unfortunately the tools that I use to open the jump rings don’t fit. I love poking around in the one that holds all the buttons and pendants.

As for my large silk project….that one has spilled over into the new year and hasn’t moved very far since. I did wind most of the silk from the skeins into balls. I love that I am still using some of the silk I bought in London back in 2012 along with the silk I bought this year from Redfish.  Ball-winding was a nice mindless activity to do while enjoying my faster internet and listening to podcasts. Getting this faster and more stable internet has been kind of life-changing!

The original plan was to weave a longer and wider 60/2 silk version of this piece….

This short piece became one of the journal covers. I wanted to weave a scarf using this same idea but with the main color theme being blue rather than purple. I had the leaf chart already drawn up and was good to go. I had a double weave sample in 60/2 silk from which to take my measurements. It was just a matter of figuring out how to arrange the colors and then going ahead and winding the warp.

However, a new year rolled over and I suddenly felt the need to create something new.

I do consider my leaf motif to be one of my ”signature” patterns but I have woven it a good number of times already. There’s no real challenge there. Putting together a nice combination of colors would have been the real challenge but I wanted something more.

So, I won’t be winding this warp until I have come up with the new motif.

I love the haphazardly floating leaves and wanted to weave something that had that same sort of feel.

Feathers? No…too much like leaves.  Sea shells? Pretty shapes but not at all ”floaty”.

And then I remembered a brief discussion in one of the online groups recently about weaving paisley motifs.

Paisley motifs have always seemed to me to have lots of movement…twisting and turning their way across the cloth. I had played around with that idea some years ago. I had wanted to weave paisley shapes using supplementary weft but had found it quite difficult to come up with a pattern in which the weft-floats weren’t too long.

You can see one of my solutions  in the red band above… to break up the long weft-floats into smaller ones in some sort of consistent manner.  I didn’t make a paisley shape but I did weave something approaching that. I wasn’t one hundred per cent happy with the result. I then apparently got distracted and moved on to something else!

The good news is that I plan to weave the motifs in this latest silk project in double weave, not with supplementary weft, and so I do not need to consider either warp or weft-float length. Ah, the freedom! So, I imagine I will be armed with pencil and eraser for some time figuring out how to chart a paisley motif. And it seems that just one paisley motif is not enough! I’ll need various sizes and alignments. My goodness, some of the examples that I have seen online are busy! Not that I am contemplating anything like this for this current project, but the next picture will show you what I mean by ”busy”.

And now for the charting….

Step One: Figure out how large I want my motif to be and then, using my silk width sample, figure out how many warp ends I will need for the motif.

My notes on this double weave 60/2 silk lanyard helped me plan the number of warp ends I would need for my paisley motif.

Step Two: Create a chart with the right number of cells.

Step Three: Draw the outline of the shape, cut it out and transfer the shape to the chart .

That is where I am at so far. You can see my cut-out shape below. The large chart I made is not in the picture but you can see the chart of staggered oval cells that I use for these kinds of motifs. You can download this kind of charting paper from my blog on this page.

I think it will be fun figuring out how I want to fill the shape. There are so many options that I have seen in the paisley images online. And then I will need to decide just how open or busy I want to overall pattern to be. Then, of course, I will need to weave a sample to check proportions. So, it might be some time before all that lovely silk makes it onto my backstrap loom bars. That will give me more time to think about the color arrangement, my ideas for which change from day to day!

By the way, I go through all the steps I typically follow to create a double weave motif in a tutorial I wrote some time ago.

Between all that action, I shall continue to put together my new complementary-warp pattern book. The charts are nicely taking shape and I am slowly photographing the samples. There’ll be some filming going on too plus I’ll be weaving bands for the Cuffs and Bracelets Weave-Along and soaking up all the inspiration there. I hope you will join us!






Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 22, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – Starting Small

I am back in Bolivia and as much as I wish I could throw all the lovely silk I bought at the ANWG conference in Canada earlier this year onto my backstrap loom and weave something large and lovely, I realize that I am simply not in the best state to do so. Why?… Jet lag. I’ll say it again….there is something about flying from west to east through all those time zones that makes the jet lag particularly brutal. I have been at home six days now and still struggle to stay awake long enough to be able to finish a meal!

So, I decided it would be wise to start with something small. Better still, I decided to finish off some projects rather than start something new.

I have been thinking about the lovely cloth that my weaving teacher and friends in the central Bolivian highlands make ever since I wrote my last blog post. In that post I told you all about the unsold pieces that Dorinda had taken with her to the USA after having attended the Tinkuy in Cusco. What a response! Many pieces were sold. Dorinda was thrilled and can’t wait to get back to Bolivia to tell the ladies. THANK YOU SO MUCH everyone who bought the long fajas and yoga mat straps. Julia showed all of us in the Ravelry group the three lovely pieces she bought…

Those are all natural dye colors. I hope that everyone who bought pieces will enjoy hanging them on their walls or maybe cutting them up to make bags or pouches. Don’t feel bad about cutting them up. That is exactly what the weavers themselves in the co-op do with these pieces. I know that Julia is thinking about using one of her pieces to sew a case for a charka that she is having built. Julia sews beautifully and constructs gorgeous bags. I have shown the bags and other items that she has made with her backstrap woven cloth on this blog many times and I can’t wait to see what she constructs with this cloth.

My own projects with this cloth tend to be a lot more basic. My sewing skills are very limited. I like to make small pouches similar to the ch’uspas that the ladies use to carry their coca leaves.

This is one of the bands that I had bought from Dorinda to use when I teach tubular bands and sewn embellishments to my weaving friends. I cut it into pieces so that each of my friends could have a piece with which to practice and perhaps later turn into something useful, like a pouch. While holding the beautiful cloth in my hands and breathing in that special aroma of the highlands it is hard to imagine the amount of work that went into its creation.

(The following series of pictures of Maxima and my Bolivian weaving friends are from the PAZA Bolivia blog and were taken by Dorinda Dutcher who works with the ladies.)

From shearing the sheep or purchasing skins and then washing them in the river…

…to preparing the clean fiber and spinning it…

…to gathering plants for dyeing and watching the pots as the skeins of singles take up the rich colors of the countryside… (if you are curious about the intense yellow color in this picture, read the PAZA Bolivia blog post on the ”magical dye pot”)

…to plying and then warping the looms, dressing the warp and eventually weaving…

For a long long time I have been demonstrating decorative stitching on a piece that I had cut from the long band pictured way above. I have created the stitches and then cut them out, created them again and cut them out again as I demonstrated the method over and over to my weaving friends. I decided that it was time to ”retire” this particular piece of cloth, that is, make it into something more than a demonstration piece and allow it to sit in peace on the table as a sample when I am not using it. So, I sewed it into a pouch and decorated it with stitches and bands that are typically used by weavers in Bolivia.

I like using Cascade 220 yarn and KnitPicks Palette as they have colors that very closely resemble the natural dye colors of the Bolivian highlands.

Here’s the finished pouch. I used ”coil stitches” along the bottom, wove and sewed a tubular band along the sides, decorated the top edges with cross-knit looping and wove a pebble weave band for the strap. It is just the right size for carrying my small purse when I travel.

Here’s a closer look at the tubular band with its ñawi  pattern and the cross-knit looping. I wove the tubular band and the strap with KnitPicks Palette yarn. It is much finer than the Cascade yarn and the handspun that was used for the pouch itself and makes a a very neat tubular edging. See how perfectly the colors match? I used the Cascade yarn for the coil stitches and the cross knit looping .

And here’s a closer look at the coil stitches. I love those chunky coils!

With that project under my belt, I turned to something else that I could finish off. I really won’t trust myself to the critical task of warping with my 60/2 silk until I feel that my feet are completely back on the ground again…and they are not quite there yet!

However, I did find something silky to get into. It must be a couple of years ago now that I was offered a whole bunch of tiny naturally dyed skeins of silk from a guild member’s estate by friends in Grass Valley.  When you are a backstrap weaver, amounts like these are not too small!

What fun I had rolling the skeins into balls while thinking of ways to combine the colors. There was cochineal, logwood, madder, indigo….

I didn’t want to risk wasting any of it and so I chose some colors and first wove a small sample as a width gauge. That sample has since become a wrist cuff. After that, I was free to plan some bigger things combining the reds and berry colors, then the purples and golds, the browns and tans and finally the greens and sandy colors.

First came ”leaves among the berries”using gold-color supplementary weft…

…followed by ”leaves on the snow” in double weave…

I designed a creeper pattern with leaves for the green piece…

…and finished with my own original pebble weave leaf pattern on the browns…

And, the pieces have sat since then waiting to become something.

I had the idea to use them to cover notebooks or journals but what were the chances of finding books of exactly the right dimensions to fit all four pieces?

Well, as luck would have it, I know a gentleman who makes books and who has a whole studio devoted to it in his home. On my first visit to his studio, I hadn’t taken the pieces of fabric but was thrilled when he offered me off-cuts of beautiful pieces of decorated paper that I could use inside the covers of the books. I had to try and imagine which bits of paper would best suit my woven pieces.

A year later, I visited him again and remembered to bring the fabric. He agreed to cut some books specially for my project. By scratching around in the stores here in Bolivia, I had found two suitable books and the project was at a standstill until could find two more. Each of the four pieces of cloth is a different width as I had just thrown together random amounts of the various colors until I liked what I saw.

So, there are my two beautiful custom-made notebooks for my project! We chose paper with a grid of squares so that I could use the books for charting. I intend to fill them!

Then came the time to match the paper with the weavings, something which I hadn’t yet bothered to do. Without all four books ready to go, I had had no interest in the project. I am really pleased with the way the paper and cloth look together. I think I just got lucky and managed to choose well.

Then it was time to get out the glue and construct. I use contact cement. It works well with the fabric and does not penetrate and stain it. It is tricky stuff however, as once those two glued surfaces make contact there is very very little wiggle room for adjustment.

I turn the edge of the fabric to the inside of the cover and glue it in place. It looks pretty rough at this point. Once it is holding there nicely, I apply glue bit by bit to the front cover, the spine, the back cover, and then finally turn the edge to the inside of the back cover. I don’t let the glue completely dry. While it is still wet, and there is still room to maneuver, I wrap the cloth all the way round the book and then open and close the covers to make sure that I have stretched the fabric just the right amount. Then I peel it back, wait for the glue to dry and make the final contact…that’s the point of no return!

Then I cut the paper to fit the inside cover and glue it into place on top of the raw edge of the cloth…

Two down, two to go…

What’s next before I launch into the big project?

I am trying to think of what best to do with the piece of cloth I wove for Marilyn. You might remember this piece in pink and purple I called ”sunrise, sunset”  which I wove using Marilyn’s 10/2 perle cotton.

All I am seeing right now is a tool bag but I don’t have the right colors of yarn to decorate it to my liking. Perhaps I should just give the fabric to Marilyn and see what she would like to do with it. Or maybe tomorrow I will wake up with a whole new idea. I’ll let it rest for now.

Oh, and the other thing I have been doing since I got home is charting…lots and lots of charting… for my next book of complementary-warp/pebble weave patterns. I am drawing out the spotted charts and then my friend Sharon will draw up the block charts for me. So, yes, I have been pretty busy and quite productive since I got back.

And, I upgraded my internet. It pays to keep checking with the providers every now and then (which I have neglected to do) as prices drop and I find that I can now afford the faster and more reliable service. No more having the signal cut off every 40 seconds which means I can even use Skype now…yippee! And I have an unlimited Megabyte allowance.

I celebrated by listening to the WeaveZine podcasts, Weavecast, that I have never been able to listen to before. Seeing as the second volume of Rodrick Owens’ book on Peruvian sling braids has just come out, I decided to listen to his podcast first. These podcasts are wonderful things that Syne Mitchell has created for us along with all the marvelous WeaveZine articles that she published.

Another thing I have been able to enjoy with my new internet service, without stops and splutters and various other interruptions, is a new free video on Sprang Braiding that expert Carol James has made available on Taproot Video. In this free video she teaches the basic technique using a method that does not require any kind of loom or frame. It’s awesome!

My friend Tracy, who took a sprang class with Carol earlier this year, made this cool pouch for me. The technique is very versatile. The vest that Carol is wearing above was made with sprang braiding and you should see the gloves, hats and other items she shows in the video…

Julie has been showing pictures of bands she has been making using her MiniWave loom. She is well and truly hooked on the complementary-warp pick-up technique and, after studying the ”picking cross” method in my latest book and weaving some of the patterns there, she is now gobbling up the larger and more complex projects in my second book….This particular pattern is very dear to me. It was the pattern on the very first piece of weaving I bought on my first trip to Peru. It was a mere scrap I found in a street market and all I felt I could afford at the time and I bought it before I had found my first weaving teachers. I puzzled over the pattern for quite some time trying to replicate it before I realized that weavers quite often combine more than one kind of arrangement of floats in a single piece. Julie’s piece is beautiful.

Now she is weaving another great favorite of mine that I like to call the ”Rolling River”. I love this picture with Julie’s two swords nicely holding the picking cross and her pretty pick-up stick, all made by Terri at Magical Moons.

I am hoping to get the big silk project going soon and I think I will be able to show it to you in the next blog post.

I’ll be announcing the ”Cuffs and Bracelets” Weave-along on Ravelry soon. I am hoping to get it started in the first week of January once all the festivities are well and truly over. The idea is to weave several short and narrow projects in plain weave or pick-up that can be made into bracelets by applying ribbon clamps and other jewelry findings. I’ll write more about that in the next blog post.

Christmas will be happening in the meantime. I hope you all have a happy one.












Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 8, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – Mother Nature

Mother Nature! From Wikipedia:

The Virgin Mary/Pachamama taking the form of Cerro Rico, the mountain of silver, in a painting from colonial Potosi.

Pachamama is a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. She is also known as the earth/time mother. In Inca mythology, Pachamama is a fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting, embodies the mountains, and causes earthquakes. She is also an ever-present and independent deity who has her own self-sufficient and creative power to sustain life on this earth. Her shrines are hallowed rocks, or the boles of legendary trees, and her artists envision her as an adult female bearing harvests of potatoes and coca leaves. The four cosmological Quechua principles – Water, Earth, Sun, and Moon – claim Pachamama as their prime origin, and priests sacrifice llamas, cuy (guinea pigs), and elaborate miniature burned garments to her. After the conquest by Spain, which forced conversion to Roman Catholicism, the figure of the Virgin Mary became united with that of the Pachamama for many of the indigenous people. In pre-Hispanic culture, Pachamama is often a cruel goddess eager to collect her sacrifices. As Andes cultures form modern nations, Pachamama remains benevolent, giving, and a local name for Mother Nature. 

This trip away (which began for me way back in the last weeks of September!), has had its share of acts of Mother Nature. First, a cluster of hurricane activity threatened, but fortunately did not hinder, my flight into the USA. Then, I arrived in a devastated Santa Rosa, California just a week after fires fed by raging winds had destroyed hundreds of homes and taken lives. I saw the devastation. Solidified pools of molten metal on sidewalks were a shocking revelation of the incredible heat that the fires had generated. All so terribly sad. And now other weaving friends in southern California are on standby as fires rage in Ventura county.

from the website of

On this side of the world (currently Australia), Mother Nature made her presence felt in the form of an erupting Mount Agung in Bali.

And, this time my plans were indeed disrupted! I was five hours into my flight to Bali. We had already left the Australian coast behind when the Captain made an announcement. I fully expected him to tell us that we would be starting our descent in 20 minutes. Instead, he told us that after months of threatening rumblings, Mt Agung had finally erupted and that our flight had to be diverted to Darwin because of the threat of ash clouds in the vicinity of the airport in Bali.

Reports said that tens of thousands of people from surrounding Balinese villages and settlements had already been evacuated back in September when the volcano first began to show signs of high activity. It was a waiting game and I decided to take a chance. For me it is a blip, a slight detour, in my plans. Here I sit safe and comfortable in Sydney while a reported 30,000 people’s lives in Bali have been dramatically changed.

So close! A picture from the inflight flight tracker….

It was all quite chaotic with a further diversion to Cairns along with passengers from four other flights. However, Mother Nature did provide some awesome distractions on the flight home from Cairns…views of the famous atolls and reefs off the coast of far north Queensland…

And, Sydney harbor always puts on a splendid show as we descend towards Botany Bay and the airport. You can see the bridge and Opera House…

I must give a shout out to Jetstar Airways who were amazing. They kept us safe, got us all home and gave us credit vouchers for our flights… for something that wasn’t even their fault.

Well….back in Sydney, I decided to make the most of my time. I wove and wove during the time that I was meant to be in Bali!

I got to work on my next book of pick-up patterns and I am pleased to say that I have 95% of the patterns woven and ready to be photographed. Then, I will start working on tidying up the charts. Many of the patterns I had in mind are way outside the ”Andean Box” and required a lot of weaving, un-weaving, chart adjustment and re-weaving. After over twenty years of weaving these intriguing structures, I am pleased to say that I am still learning!

I have been granted the use of many wonderful contributions from weaving friends around the world…motifs and shapes that I never thought would be possible to carry off in this structure. My weaving friends out there are awesome! So, it has been an interesting exercise in discovering the possibilities as well as the limitations of this particular structure. And, it has been interesting, challenging and very rewarding being able to find work-arounds for some of the limitations.

I have a lot of my weaving kit with me and it was just a matter of getting some yarn and finding a place to anchor my warp. Some railings in my brother’s home and a nice cushy bit of rug gave me the perfect spot in which to work. I have set up this warp for Andean Pebble Weave with its two additional sets of heddles. Setting up the warp this way is slower but it makes weaving these particular patterns faster as only every other shed needs to be picked up by hand.

Of course, you don’t have to use the two sets of heddles. You could just set up the warp with its two basic sheds…one dark and one light as seen above… and pick up every row by hand. People who work on fixed tension looms, like inkle looms, Wave looms etc might find this method more comfortable. This is the method I teach in my latest book Complementary-warp Pick-up. With this method, you can weave any of the various complementary-warp structures which include Andean Pebble Weave.

The first warp pictured above, was for a lovely pattern of galloping horses, ”Eldy’s Mustangs”, that my friend Deanna created. Then I moved on to a band of pink and purples with flowers, leaves, birds and butterflies, patterns that I have drawn and woven and developed over the years…

One thing that was missing from my kit was a small shuttle and I was glad for ice cream sticks that I had been collecting and throwing into my tool bag as they made sweet shuttles for these projects. I am not a fan of the combined beater/shuttle tools. They just don’t suit my rhythm. So, I always have a sword/beater and a separate shuttle. You can see one of the lovely Magical Moons maple swords in my picture above and some of the little shuttles I use below.

I like having a nice collection of shuttles of all sizes. The ones pictured above were made for me by my weaving friend Jim Smith. South American indigenous weavers use simple sticks around which they wrap their weft thread. If you need a new shuttle for a particularly wide piece of weaving, you can just go out and find one on the ground or on a tree! I am not fond of using those kinds of shuttles even though I see how practical it is to be able to just step outside and pick one up from the garden and cut it to the exact size you need.

Here’s a short video of two weavers loading their simple stick shuttles. The first lady is one of my Montagnard Vietnamese teachers and the other is from the Cusco area of Peru.

If the band I am weaving is particularly narrow, I don’t use a shuttle at all and prefer to work with weft lengths of a yard or so. I love just being able to whip the weft back and forth. My cat always found that very amusing! Plus, it makes un-weaving super easy! As for joining in new weft, the joins don’t show when I am weaving a warp-float structure which means that working with short lengths is not a problem. However, the joins do show when I am doing plain weave. So, I avoid running out of weft for plain weave and will load up a shuttle with a good amount of weft for that.

Here’s a video, just for fun, to show how I work with short weft lengths on a tiny warp. It also shows the speed of using multiple heddles…in this case I think there are seven. This is not the way I prefer to weave. In this video, I was pumping out one of several promised products and just wanted to weave fast!  I am usually less concerned with product and more in love with the process and I enjoy having my hands in among the threads picking up the patterns.

In the video, the two light green heddles closest to me hold the pebble sheds. These are alternated with the other heddles that hold the pattern picks. I never put down my sword when weaving narrow bands and even do simple pick-up while holding onto it.

As for a Travel Weaving Kit and what one decides to take ”on the road”, one of my students, Kyoko, showed me what she has packed for her backstrap weaving while she takes a trip away…

Back to my ”get-over-Bali” weaving therapy: next came a Christmas-themed band. This was fun as I got to weave patterns that I had only charted but never woven. There was a bit of un-weaving and some adjustments to be made.

Yes, you will notice that I am not showing these delightful patterns….yet! They will be in the book! Things are still developing….I don’t like to tease but I do like surprises. 🙂

In the meantime, I have been receiving mail from friends who attended the Tinkuy in Cusco last month. I was most curious to know how my teachers and weaving friends Maxima and Justina had enjoyed the event. It was Max’s third time and Justina’s first. Dorinda, who accompanied the ladies and who was responsible for raising the funds to make the trip possible, has written a blog post about it. Here are Max and Justina on Day One getting ready to join the pre-conference parade through the streets of Cusco.

Photo by Dorinda Dutcher

Photo by Karen Sprenger  The ladies delivered a Power Point presentation on weaving traditions of their Central Bolivian communities.

I had been hoping that Max and Justina would present early on so that they could then relax and enjoy the rest of the conference but, no, it turned out that they were the very last pair to present just before the closing ceremony! I hope that they were able to put their nerves away during those first days.

Photo by Cat Bordhi. Max and Justina, sold products from their weaving co-op, participated in demonstrations and spinning competitions and took part, as students, in some of the workshops.

Please take a look at Dorinda’s PAZA website and blog post to read more about Tinkuy 2017. Like me, Dorinda is currently in her ”other home” in the USA and has taken much of the unsold product from Tinkuy with her. Are you still looking for Christmas gifts? Dorinda has a nice selection of yoga mat straps that the young weavers in Bolivia produce. They run at $21 and $22 and can be purchased by contacting Dorinda via the PAZA site…

Pictures courtesy of PAZA Bolivia.

If you have woven tubular bands with me in my travels, you will be familiar with the gorgeous lengths of handwoven naturally dyed cloth that I bring to sew into pouches. Dorinda also has these lengths of cloth available for $35. You can easily make four pouches with flaps from these lengths…

Visiting with Maxima last January sitting alongside one of my completed band orders.

But, HURRY! Dorinda can only accept orders until December 14! Order through the PAZA site.

Pictures have been arriving from people with whom I have woven on my trips away as well as from people I have never met. I love getting this kind of feedback from people who have been using my books and free tutorials on this blog. Thank you!

Caroline, who recently wove double weave with me with friends in Arizona, finished one of the bands she had started with a cute llama motif and attractive twisted fringe. Thanks go to Karen in Cincinnati who adapted the llama motif to a narrow band from one of my much wider pieces.

Claire in Tasmania, with whom I wove in August, used one of the patterns from my latest book to weave this elegant band in linen and cottolin. She commented that after a good hard press, the linen looked and felt beautiful. I haven’t yet worked with linen and  I love the look of this band. I am excited that I will be able to return to Tasmania to weave with Claire again next year.

Bob Seymour followed my double weave tutorial on this blog and designed his own Kokopelli motif. Fabulous!

Below, you can see work from Julie using her Mini Wave loom and using the technique I teach in my book on Complementary-warp Pick-up. The first pattern is from that book and Julie is using the method to weave the second larger pattern which is in my second bookOne of the members of the Ravelry group told me that she learned to weave patterns by picking up all the sheds by hand from my latest book and likes that method so much that she is using it now even for the patterns for which she could use additional heddles.  Once people learn how to do complementary-warp pick-up and see how simple it is….just hands and sticks and no extra heddles….they quite often do not feel the need to add the optional extra heddles for the Andean Pebble Weave technique.

Jörg has combined two 12-thread patterns from my latest book. I love the combination of colors!

Karen Sprenger showed me how she has been progressing with the double weave bands we started together.

And, Kathy sent me a picture of what she has made on her draw loom using a traditional pattern from my second book. You might remember that she had me weaving on her draw loom when I visited with her some time ago…

You can just see a bit of the Tinkipaya-inspired motif and the marvelous system of pegs and cords that I am pulling to lift the threads for the pattern.

Here’s Kathy’s finished piece…

Vatinee in Thailand is currently into Andean Pebble Weave patterns as well…great colors!

And, here’s Wendy’s finished band in Andean Pebble Weave…we have pebble weave in luscious pinks and blues on looms in different parts of the world! What fun.

As for me, I am about to weave some cats! And yes, I do love those two sets of heddles for the pebble sheds!

The collection of new sample bands is expanding!

Heading back to Bolivia soon to throw this silk on the loom!












Older Posts »