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!












Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 10, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – Racking up the Miles

From sunset in Phoenix….

to Jacaranda season in Sydney…

I am back in Australia after visiting with backstrap weaving friends in the USA. Why am I back here again? Well, I did something quite mad when I was last here in August…I went and booked a weft ikat workshop in Bali at the end of this month!

As you know, I have been dabbling on and off in warp ikat with varying degrees of success these last few years.

I started with these first tiny strips on a piece which got turned into  handbag…

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

Then I started to get more adventurous with these pre-columbian bird figures.

After dyeing the warp black, I wove and filled in the white ikat shapes with pick-up patterns.

Some more experiments with pretty pleasing results.

I love it when my experiments can be turned into useful things. This is the draw-string bag for my Kindle.

An attempt to create a circle in ikat and fill it with pick-up pattern. Due to take-up, my circle got flattened as I wove it!

The workshop in Bali seems like the perfect chance to learn about weft ikat so that I can perhaps start putting warp and weft ikat together to create double ikat pieces. We will be using natural substances for the dyeing and combining two colors…exciting! I have done one experiment with ikat in two colors in which I over-dyed parts of the first dyeing in terracotta with dark blue. I didn’t end up with dark blue as you can see. It turned out blue-ish dark chocolate brown. The blue part in the middle was spot dyeing damage control!

The two-color sample made a nice book cover.

There is a community on the island of Bali that specializes in double ikat and I hope that I can also spend some time with the weavers there. The other interesting thing about weft ikat is that the cloth must be balanced and I am always curious to know how backstrap weavers create balanced cloth on their looms. Do they use a reed? If so, I hope that I will be able to buy one for myself. I already have some bamboo reeds but would be very happy to acquire another of a different sett.

On the other hand, if they don’t use a reed, I would love to learn how they manage to maintain an even sett without one. I am not sure how weft ikat will look in balanced cloth…quite sketchy, I should think…but I really want to learn how to plan and lay out a pattern and then place the weft in sheds for a minimum of blurring. I want to use what I learn to help me create some very simple double ikat one day.

It’s a beautiful mild spring here in Sydney and the jacarandas are putting on a glorious show. I think I will have to rename the color in my bracelet after these pretty flowers and weave something new that the color has inspired…

My last days in the USA were fun times spent with weaving friends. I got to see what some of them have been doing since my last visit.. Here are some of the pieces that my friends in Phoenix were working on using some of the finishing techniques that we had studied…tubular edgings, cross-knit looped edgings, braids and coil stitches. The pouch on the left has plain-weave tubular edging and coil stitches along the flap. The one on the right is edged with a patterned tubular band and has coil stitches along the bottom and cross-knit looped stitches along the top. The strap is a square braid.

The pieces are sitting on a beautiful piece of Bedouin weaving that Nicole brought to show.

Here’s Collyer’s pouch under construction…

The fabric for the little pouches is from my weaving friends in Bolivia. They are woven from naturally-dyed hand spun wool. Several people in this group ordered more fabric in varying widths from the ladies in Bolivia. This is the gorgeous piece that arrived for Diane…

One of my weaving teachers, Maxima, heads the co-op that produces these beautiful pieces of cloth. She is headed with fellow co-op member Justina and Dorinda to Peru this week to attend the Tinkuy in Cusco, the gathering of weavers of the Americas, that is run by Nilda Callañaupa’s Center for Traditional Textiles.. Maxima and Justina will give one of the presentations at the conference. With Dorinda’s help Max and Justina have put together a Power Point presentation…such a big step outside their comfort zone. I know Max as a very shy lady. I hope they get to present early on the first day so that they can put away their nerves and enjoy the rest of the conference.  You can see Justina, at left, with the ch’uspa she wove to wear in the opening parade.

Many of my weaving friends have gone to the Tinkuy including one of the ladies with whom I wove last August here in Australia. I can’t wait to hear how it goes. I opted to take the workshop in Bali instead and it is hard not being there in Peru this time.

This picture came up in my Facebook Memories this morning…

This young fellow was only 10 years old when I  watched him weave at the first Tinkuy in 2010….7 years ago! I wonder where he is at with his weaving now at 17 years of age. I wonder if he will be there at this year’s Timkuy.

I met with other weavers on my recent trip to the USA and once again we worked with some of the beautiful Bolivian cloth…

Here is a piece of the cloth next to some hair braids that Janet made using a crossed-warp technique. The yarn is her own handspun.

We played with tubular bands and decorative stitching to finish and embellish pieces of weaving.

We wove the ñawi awapa pattern into tubular bands and Catherine mistakenly wove one orange eye on top of another connecting the two into ”cat’s eyes”. Rather than unweave it, she decided to weave the whole band that way weaving pairs of eyes instead of single eyes as is the traditional pattern.

I love it and have named the new pattern ”michi ñawi” because the word for cat in Quechua is michi (and cat can be a short form of the name Catherine) :-).

I have started wearing this ñawi awapa necklace as a tripled bracelet and much prefer it that way. It is really sweet in 20/2 wool…

One of the Phoenix gatherings was all about double weave and we wove Andean Pebble Weave together in the other.

Here I am demonstrating embedded double weave. I really like the colors in this warp (influenced by my friend, Lori!)…

Nicole got into charting quickly and started weaving some of the little bird figures that I had learned in my first ever experience with double weave with my teachers in Potosi, Bolivia back in 1997…

The little llama figure was popular.

We wove at Sarah’s place where she showed us a beautiful vest made from Shipibo painted cloth and handwoven panels that her husband had bought in his travels in Peru in the 70’s. What we couldn’t figure out was what the little wooden implements, which were acquired at the same time, could have been used for. Any ideas? We thought that they could be inked and then rolled to print a pattern.

Here’s some double weave work from my friends Cynthia and Kate in northern California…

Hopefully the weaving provided a nice break from all the worry and concern over the fires that had ravaged the area. We couldn’t help but pass one of the affected areas on the way to Sonoma to shop one day…no words :-(.

I bought a device that allows to me to post to Instagram…I feel so modern! So, if you are into Instagram, please look for me 🙂

The air had cleared of the terrible smoke by the time I got to the area and we enjoyed a  couple of days out at the barn weaving….

Lori’s 8-year old daughter Lily was there as a fully participating group member. I just love watching those little fingers manipulating the threads, picking up patterns and expertly making string heddles on a  stick…

If you have been following my blog for some time, you will know Lily well. I have been watching her learning to weave at a backstrap loom with her mother’s instruction and then with some of mine since she was five.

I got to accompany the family to Lily’s Feis (Irish dancing competition) in the bay area the following Sunday. She entered nine dance categories and won first place in eight of them…what a day!

Lori had a new Huichol bag that she had bought to show me . The jaguar is brilliant in orange on the purple background. This is the Finnweave version of double weave pick-up in which certain shapes are slightly altered on the ”back” side of the cloth.

While in Phoenix, my friends Annie MacHale (aka Aspinnerweaver) and husband Rick drove over from New Mexico to visit.

We spent the day at the MIM, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. It’s awesome but probably needs three separate visits to take it all in. There was lots to inspire in terms of patterns on the musical instruments and folk costumes. The headsets we were given tuned in and out of each display as you moved around and allowed you to drift between exhibits at will, lingering at each one for as long as you chose. There were lots of people standing around tapping their toes to the various rhythms at each display.

Because the decoration of musical instruments is often closely linked to a culture’s broader sense of aesthetics, it was sometimes possible to guess the origin of a piece from its ornamentation. It was fun trying to do that. The pattern on a gourd percussion instrument looked familiar and when I learned that it was from Panama, I remembered that I had seen similar Mola patterns.

It was entertaining recognizing familiar textile patterns in many of the instruments and costumes.

A Sami framed drum with beater, a goblet drum from Iran, a plucked lute from Saudi Arabia and a dancer’s dress with nanduti lace from Paraguay.

I found the lowland Bolivian instruments, in the picture below, fascinating. I have yet to see or hear one of these bajunes being played n Santa Cruz. They belong to the unique Baroque-mestizo music that is part of the history of the Jesuit missions that were established in the second half of the seventeenth century in the jungle areas of Santa Cruz where I live. They are made from ”Kusi palm leaves, wood and leather”. While I have been to several of the Baroque music concerts in the city during The International Festival of American Renaissance and Baroque Music that is held in Santa Cruz every two years, I haven’t managed to see one of these being played. I need to get myself out to the jungle towns instead of racking up miles across the globe! They are a mere 90 km away from my home…a mere 2-hour drive in red dust…but that can turn into 14 hours if it rains!

I can imagine being in one of the Jesuit Mission churches at night listening to one of these concerts accompanied by the sounds of the deep jungle…

Image from

In this Youtube video you can see a performance of one of the Bolivian groups that performs at the Festival. The bajunes are there but I can’t distinguish their sound at all in the first piece but then…yes, in the second one, I think I can!…

Meanwhile….my inbox and various online groups have shown me what some of my online backstrap weaving friends have been up to…Carlos Vargas in France wove a belt using the intermesh technique that I teach in my second book. This structure produces a really sturdy band and allows faces with two different solid colors. Carlos could have woven red motifs on a blue background and vice versa using this technique, if he had wanted to.

Bob Seymour in the USA sent me this picture of various structures he has been studying using tutorials on this blog as well as in my books.

Christine in South Africa wove another project on her inkle loom using my new book on Complementary-warp Pick-up. She used the 4-thread patterns as attractive borders for the 8-thread hook motif and made a belt.

Julie wove this 18-thread pattern on her Gilmore MiniWave loom using a pattern and instructions in my latest book as well as this lovely wide piece with two columns of a 9-thread pattern. By flipping the pattern, as she has, you can create nice ”ram’s horns”.

KatyCat on Ravelry wove one of the 6-thread patterns. I can see that she is using some of my friend Terri’s lovely swords from her MagicalMoons etsy store. Contact Terri if you would like swords made in any size you like.

Wendy in Australia has been weaving some patterns from my second book. Here we see her set-up which involves attaching her warp to her floor loom. That’s a nice sturdy anchor for a backstrap warp.

I hit the ground running when I got to Australia last week…no sign of jet lag! We were out and about the next day at the Sculptures by the Sea exhibit at Sydney’s beautiful Bondi Beach. There is lots to show you about that but I will leave you with just a couple of pictures. This first one is of a sculpture that took my fancy simply because the large wooden Y shapes made me think of backstrap looms and the forked tankas that are used in some warps in Peru to hold the cross. Seems I always have backstrap looms and weaving on my mind!

This next one just captures the feel and sparkle of that gorgeous sunny day at the beach! Luckily I was small enough to be able to crawl inside this sculpture along with the kids and look out and up…

I also found some time to put together a little slide show promotion for my new book on Complementary-warp Pick-up. I want to thank everyone who has bought it so far and tell you that I so appreciate all the feedback I have been receiving, especially the feedback that comes in the form of pictures of bands on looms!

If you have already bought the book you might enjoy this little slide show anyway for the zippy music I chose. Plus, it might remind you that the file is on your desktop and nudge you in the direction of your loom :-)! Thanks, everyone! Sending hugs to all my friends who are at Tinkuy 2017. It’s weird being on this side of the world while you are all over there!




























Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 13, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – What in the world? Where in the world?

Where in the world am I?

The Tibetan tent and flags adds a spot of color in a dreary day. The tent had been erected next to a Buddhist stupa and was intended to shelter honored guests at a Tibetan wedding.

While all this was going on, I was inside weaving with a group of backstrap weaving friends. We heard the occasional gong, deep booming drum beat and singing. We peeped outside to try and catch some of the ceremony but it had been moved indoors due to the weather.

The building in which we were weaving is owned by Sonam, a Tibetan stone mason. He built the stupa and it was his wedding day. We caught a glimpse of his bride and her attendants draped in gold-colored scarves. Each guest had brought a scarf and placed it on the couples’ shoulders. I know that butter tea was served. I had tried that in Nepal where it was called ”Sherpa Tea”.

The sun came out a few days later and we were able to enjoy warping on the picnic table with the lovely Tibetan tent as our backdrop.

I won’t blame you if you haven’t been able to guess where all this took place…it’s Western Massachusetts!

From there I headed to a lovely city where Janie and I discovered an alley named ”Weaver”…

…and where Janie has a fabulous pole in her basement around which we could hold a backstrap weaving party…

We all adopted different sitting positions.

In the picture below, Karen, in the middle, is sitting on yoga blocks which helps her maintain that position with her legs bent under. That position is a handy one if you like to have your warp steeply angled. You can position your backstrap almost under your butt so it doesn’t ride up. You can then have the place on the warp on which you are working almost at eye level. Karen’s warp in this picture isn’t steeply angled but she could use that kind of angle if she chose to. Then you simply raise yourself slightly on your knees to relax tension on the warp. Relaxing tension on a steeply angled warp is very hard to do if you are sitting like I do, flat on the floor. I prefer a more gentle angle on my warp as is used by backstrap weavers in South America.

Alice, on the right, was weaving this sweet Andean Pebble Weave pattern…

Terri warped, wove and finished her backstrap during my visit. She used some really pretty purple and pink variegated cotton yarn…

She got to use it when we wove double weave bands together later…

We explored double weave using some traditional Bolivian and Bedouin motifs and then some people moved on to create their own designs…we had cats and Halloween pumpkins, swinging monkeys and llamas. Chris in Massachusetts brought me a rabbit motif that her daughter Emma created for us to use.

It was a lot of fun…lots of laughs. I have never had a group that could concentrate on weaving pick-up patterns while chatting and laughing so much! We were all very pleased with our work…

And yes, there were some quieter more serious moments. Goodness knows what I am saying here but whatever it was certainly got everyone’s attention!..

Karen, who was the most confident about creating original designs, was using this beautiful backstrap that she wove since my last visit when we wove Andean Pebble Weave together. The main motif is an original one of mine from my first book

And check out the knit hat in which she has incorporated an Andean motif with pebble spots and all!

Now she is busy adapting some of the Bedouin motifs that I showed the group and creating her own pattern for a fine band that I think she plans to use as jewelry. She’s using the embedded double weave technique for this one.Janie is keen on making jewelry too and has gone down to size 20/2 cotton to weave an Andean Pebble Weave band. She is using a pattern from my second book..

First comes the warping and then the heddles are made. Janie’s cat Bugsy needed some affection as there had been a pesky visitor (me) in the house for several days grabbing mom’s attention…

And here’s the sweet band underway…

I love the close-up of my friend Terri’s bird’s-eye maple sword in that picture and, how gorgeous is that band? It will make a lovely bracelet or neck ribbon.

Speaking of jewelry, I made a couple of tubular bands to hold pendants just before I left Bolivia for this trip…

This ñawi awapa tubular band nicely holds a silver pendant that I bought while scouring stores for beads, buttons and findings that last time I was in Arizona.I made it in 20/2 wool. I have been wearing it as a tripled bracelet rather than as a necklace. This next one is a modified tanka ch’oro pattern also made in 20/2 wool and woven as a tube. It holds a lovely weaver bird pendant which is the logo of the Weavers Guild of Greater Cincinnati. I wanted to show it to the weaving friends from whom I got it last year and so that tells you where in the world we all were in these pictures. I was really ill on my last visit, crawling miserably into bed at the end of each day. This time was different and I even went English country dancing with Carolyn on Saturday night! What fun that was!

Janie also showed us how she uses two dowels to make a simple band lock. Using this system, she can have the end of her woven band hanging freely rather than wound up around the beam. I can see this being really useful if you are weaving a very long or very thick band which would be too cumbersome to have rolled up on the beam. I did see a weaver from Chahuaytire in Peru who had his woven cloth hanging freely. He could pick up his cloth at any time and show us his work without having to do any un-rolling.

So, here is Janie demonstrating for us using one of my silk bands. Pass the woven band around a dowel (you will have to imagine that the part that is sitting on top of the dowel is unwoven warp)…

Place a second dowel underneath…

Roll the two sticks together as shown for one turn…

Place the backstrap around the far dowel (pay special attention to how the strap is placed in this picture)…

When you want to advance the warp, lean forward a little and separate the sticks. Pull the end of the woven band through and then lean back again to secure the band within the ”lock”…

I haven’t tried it myself but Janie uses this system and loves it. THANKS, JANIE!!

I have been really pleased and excited to see some pictures starting to trickle in from people who have bought and are using my latest e-book on Complementary-warp Pick-up.

Christine Oettle Rusconi in South Africa showed this picture on Facebook. She dove right in with one of the wide patterns. The patterns in my latest book range from 4 threads to 20 threads wide and this one has 20 pattern threads plus the interesting border that Christine created…This put such a big smile on my face!

Julie showed this next one on Ravelry. She is using her Gilmore MiniWave loom to weave one of the 9-thread patterns. I love that she has used two columns of the pattern separated by plain weave to create a piece that could easily become a lovely pouch for a cell phone. Julie’s picture shows her swords within the two sheds forming her ”picking cross”. Those who have my book will know all about those picking crosses!

Lorna, who wove with me last spring and who also has my book, is weaving this 16-thread pattern on her inkle loom… I love the gold on the border.

Ginny in New Hampshire sent me this picture of her backstrap weaving set-up in her pick-up truck. There is her band attached to the glove compartment with a lovely Andean Pebble Weave pattern in progress. There is an 18-thread variation of this pattern in my new book which uses two simple sheds which makes it easily transferable to an inkle loom or a rigid heddle set-up.

Here is the backstrap and bands that Ginny has been making since she first tried backstrap weaving in June…

And I am thrilled to show you Bethan’s finished poncho. Bethan has been corresponding with me from France about this project for a few years now. It is all her hand spun yarn which she dyed with lichen and walnut husks. She wove two panels on her backstrap loom and sewed them together….awesome! She commented on some problems with getting the tension even but here is the finished poncho and it is absolutely amazing! Where’s my spindle?!

And, I am so happy to see that my second and first books have not been forgotten in the excitement over my latest one. Geja Spruit in the Netherlands just wove this stunning band using a pattern from my second book. I don’t think anyone has yet shown me their work with this particular pattern from my book…

For those of you who have bought my latest book and learned the method, you will find more complementary-warp patterns in the second half of my second book. However, I should tell you that the patterns I include in that book tend to be larger ones (lots of threads for making wide bands) and many may not be suitable for inkle looms.

And, while on the topic of my various books, I thought I would take this opportunity to explain what they are about and what the difference is in the techniques that are taught in each one. As interest has grown in my latest book, I have had a few people writing to me asking me to tell them about these differences and so I have decided to go into that here in this post.

Firstly…. what in the world is the ”complementary-warp” structure?


”Complementary”means that both faces of the woven cloth are structurally identical, with their colors reversed. A motif that is dark on a light background on one face will appear as a light motif on a dark background on the other. A double-faced band is produced. Within this large category called ”complementary-warp” there are several varieties that are woven in the highlands and lowlands of South America.

One variety involves aligning the warp-floats so that little spots or ”pebbles” are created. That form is commonly known as ”pebble weave”. Here are the two faces of a pebble weave band with its characteristics spots. This is one kind of  arrangement that exists within this larger category called ”complementary-warp”…

Another way of aligning the floats can give a very solid, rather than spotty, look to the pattern and background. This form is often called ”intermesh”… (some weavers don’t push the warp threads close together which results in a fabric that has a more open ”meshy” look rather than the very solid-color look, shown below, that I prefer). This is yet another variety within the larger category called ”complementary-warp”.

One more way of aligning the floats that is used in the highlands of Peru and Bolivia, is one which creates twill lines within the motifs and in the areas surrounding the motifs. Rather than spots or solid color, you can see the diagonal lines that have formed in this woven band in the sections of the star and in the background….(in some books this form is called ”uneven twill”)

Quite often, I find woven pieces in Peru and Bolivia that combine these various techniques making it impossible to call a piece ”pebble” or ”twill” as the weaver has used both arrangements to be able to most efficiently tie down the floats to form a motif or fill the space around it. You can see both pebble spots and diagonal twill lines in this band….

Once you have learned the method for picking up the threads to weave complementary-warp patterns and can follow the standard pattern chart, all these varieties of patterns – pebble, intermesh and twill – are available to you. Most of the patterns in my new book are of the ”pebble” variety but one or two combine both pebble and twill. Threads are picked up by hand or with a pick-up stick for each and every shot of weft. The charting system is the same for all these varieties of complementary-warp patterns.

The method only requires two basic sheds and can be worked on any loom that allows you to produce warp-faced bands…backstrap with rigid  heddle, backstrap with continuous string heddles, inkle looms, to name a few.

My Inklette set up for the complementary-warp pick-up technique.

And, what about this other thing called ”Andean Pebble Weave”….what in the world is that?

There is a certain group of pebble patterns that have two particular pick-up sheds that are faithfully repeated along the entire length of the pattern. I call patterns that fall into this group Andean Pebble Weave (capital A, capital P, capital W) to distinguish them from other pebble patterns. I call the two regularly repeating pick-up sheds ”pebble 1” and ”pebble 2”. The threads from these two sheds repeat so regularly in the pattern that they can be placed within string heddles. This means that the weaver does not have to pick up those threads by hand. He, or she, can simply pull up a heddle.

It’s a four-step sequence:  1.Pick up threads by hand to form one shed according to the pattern chart and throw the weft. 2.Lift the heddle for pebble 1 and throw the weft. 3. Pick up the threads for the next shed by hand according to the pattern chart and throw the weft. 4. Pull up the heddle for pebble 2 and throw the weft. Start again.

Only every other shed needs to be picked by hand. That makes the weaving relatively fast! So, warps that have been set up to use the Andean Pebble Weave method will have two sets of string heddles,  like Ginny’s band that I showed above attached to her glove compartment, and this backstrap warp below…


And, this one below on an inkle loom. If I use my Inklette or any other small-ish inkle loom for this method, I need to have the loom clamped to a table so I can pull up on the heddles without pulling the loom up and off the table!

I wove an inkle band with designs in Andean Pebble Weave on a couple of road trips and at the beach. Ikea pencils came in handy for heddle sticks!


This is the method that is followed up with many more patterns in my second book. The method is taught in the first book, Andean Pebble Weave. The second book, at left, provides more patterns.

However, it is important to know that you don’t have to use the two heddles. They are simply there as an option to make the process faster. You can just go ahead and pick up every shed by hand if you prefer. As for me, as much as I LOVE pick-up, I’ll use the two sets of heddles whenever I can! But this is not possible for every pattern. Then, of course, it is very handy to know how to form picking crosses and pick threads efficiently by hand. This is precisely what I teach in my latest book.

Recently on Ravelry we were asked by a member of the Backstrap Weaving Group to explain the differences between all the pick-up structures. I made an attempt to at least define the ones that I have encountered in South America and maybe I will write about that next time with the aid of lots of pictures! But for now, let’s leave it with ”complementary-warp” which is, after all, my favorite….for now, anyway!

I have moved onward to Arizona for five days of weaving with friends 🙂 Let’s see what lovely patterns emerge from this gathering.






Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 25, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – A Basketful of Bands and Memories

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has bought my new e-book, Complementary-warp Pick-up, since it was released last Sunday evening. I am looking forward to seeing how you use the technique and patterns. And, thanks also to the many people who wrote to me to give such kind personal comments on it.

And now, after having completed my third instructional manual, I am working on a big book of both large and small patterns for Andean Pebble Weave. I am really excited about it and have many samples to weave and photograph. These are patterns that I have been collecting for years! It is, after all, five years since I published my last book with Andean Pebble Weave patterns and much has happened since then.

Just some of the bands that I wove for my second book.

What I now find myself with, after all this weaving of samples, is a rather large basket of bands. Some of them are from my books and some were woven just for fun.

Band weavers will know that it is quite okay to weave bands just for the pure joy of it. They don’t need to have a purpose! A few of the bands in my basket were woven when I ran some weave-alongs on Ravelry a few years ago.  By the way, I am planning to run another weave-along in January on cuffs and bracelets after all the madness of Christmas, New Year and end-of-year activities has passed. Northern hemisphere folk will be sitting by cozy fires. I’ll be in my Fortress of Solitude with the air conditioner blowing cooling air, no doubt! Good times for a weave-along, right?

Each and every one of the bands in my basket holds a memory and I remember very clearly where I was in my weaving adventure at the time that I wove them.


For example, I remember weaving a few bands like the two in the center, above, in sewing thread shortly before heading off to visit my friend Janet in California back in early 2011. One of the sewing-thread bands is still the fob for her car keys. Two of them were made into bookmarks that my brother still uses. These two remain. The upper one is in warp-faced double weave and the other in complementary-warp pick-up. In fact, I included the chart for that pattern in my second book.

Here’s another band in sewing thread…this one uses the Andean Pebble Weave structure. I might recover this one from the cover of my journal and make a bracelet from it.

Now the brown sewing-thread bands have become bracelets by adding ribbon clamps, braids and buttons. One of my favorite things to do when I am traveling is visit yarn, fabric and button stores to find interesting buttons for these pieces of jewelry. I usually find a button that is a good match for an existing band, but there have also been times when I have woven a band just to match a cool button!

The black and red band in the top part of the photo of the sewing-thread bands has beads along the edge which I had threaded on the weft. That one is a leftover band from a key fob weave-along I ran on Ravelry some years ago.  That weave-along was a lot of fun. The band  never got used as a fob and now it will be a bracelet.

These silk bands were woven specially to be made into wrist cuffs.  One end of the bands has a selvedge (which is one of the many nice things about using a backstrap loom….a third selvedge can be easily created) which means that one of the ends doesn’t have to be turned and hemmed. I create that third selvedge  on narrow bands by placing a metal knitting needle through the warp ends and lashing it to the backstrap beam. That way, I can start weaving at the very end of the warp. I have all kinds of needles…some super fine ones too for when I weave with yarn like 60/2 silk.

Using a fine knitting needle at the start of the band and finishing by removing the needle and then passing the starting tail of the first weft shot on a tapestry needle to fill the gap.

I can sew simple snaps to the ends that have selvedges as well as to those that have sewn hems. And, there are some really cool snaps available these days (thank you to Susan in Canada for telling me about them, and for even sending me some). The usual types that I have always known and used are those classic bulky metal ones. Now there are some lovely flat ones that come in black, white and clear plastic that you can see in the photo of the silk cuffs.. I remember Google-searching like mad for these and getting frustrated as I simply did not know what to call the little things. It turns out that they are pretty easy to find in craft and sewing stores.

Those silk cuffs remind me of shopping trips with people with whom I have woven in my travels. Sue in the U.K took me to the Handweavers Studio in London back in 2012 where I bought lots of tiny leftover spools of 60/2 silk. The little tree pendant that looks so nice on the silk neck ribbon was bought on an outing with Christine in Arizona a couple of years ago. The colors on the silk neck ribbon were modeled on a hand-dyed and hand-painted silk warp that Sara Lamb gave me some years ago. All great memories! 🙂

The bands for my bracelets and cuffs that you see above are woven in various materials…mercerized cotton, worsted spun wool, fingering weight knitting yarn and naturally dyed silk. The pattern on the first band on the left is in my first book. The next one was a sampler for my second book. It remains to be seen how ”pilly” the one made from the knitting yarn gets after a lot of wear. That one was woven for my newest book and reminds me of the last trip I made to the highlands. Maxima and the other weavers up there fell in love with that pattern and I ended up teaching it to them. There are many fond memories tied to that trip.

Adviana learning to weave the new pattern.

The naturally-dyed silk band with the leaves reminds me of warm and generous friends in Grass Valley, California. While visiting with them, I was given a bunch of little naturally-dyed silk skeins which enabled me to weave beautiful bands and pieces of cloth for book covers.

Generally, if my band has a selvedge at one end, I will sew a button to that end. I then use a ribbon clamp to cover and protect the raw edge at the other end. I can braid some yarn and thread it through the loop in the ribbon clamp, knot it together and use that to loop over the button. That is also a good solution if the band in my basket is not long enough to allow me to use the more traditional jewelry findings, like rings and a lobster-claw clasp. The longer bands get the traditional findings (although I have to say that I am no expert at applying the tiny split rings even though I have the tools! I get crazy when those little rings slip out of my grasp and  ”ping” across the room!).

If I have two raw ends, I use ribbon clamps at both ends. Sometimes I sew a button on top of the ribbon clamp just for decoration, or because I have a particular button that happens to match the band well. It is very easy putting the bracelet on and slipping a braided loop over the button.

Depending on the kind of yarn, I sometimes paint some diluted PVA glue or Fray Check on the raw ends before putting them into the ribbon clamp. This helps to tame stray warp ends that can sometimes flare out at the sides of the clamps.

The red and black band with the beads is kind of an odd one. It is a very short band  that was meant to be a key fob. I had worked the unwoven warp ends into a bunch of tiny braids. I applied the ribbon clamp to the braids and I think it looks pretty good, if somewhat unusual.

So, I hope I have given you some ideas for maybe making some jewelry from your own band stash, or perhaps weaving some bands specially for that purpose. I think the bracelet/wrist cuff weave-along in January will be fun and very productive. If you would like to participate, you will have plenty of time to look for buttons and findings.

I want to leave you with a piece of exciting news about my video Operating a Backstrap Loom. The dvd went touring with me on my recent trip to Australia. It was very interesting talking to people who are interested in the video and who do not live in the USA. I listened to their thoughts on buying streamed content as opposed to physical dvds.

Operating a Backstrap Loom on tour in beautiful Australia.

And so, I am so happy to tell you that Taproot Video is now offering LIFETIME STREAMING of the video as well as the usual option of buying the dvd. Those people who bought the original 30-day streaming option will have heard by now that they have been automatically upgraded to lifetime streaming  at no extra cost.

Thank you to everyone who has bought the dvd or streamed option so far.

Oh, and one more thing… my “Sunrise, Sunset” piece is off the loom. This is the piece that I set up so that Marilyn and Rainer could film me for a documentary they are creating. It was a little stressful as I usually dither over new projects and need to ponder them for days, if not weeks. I am usually planning the next project as I sit at my loom half-way though another. In this case, I just had to grab yarn (10/2 mercerized cotton), wind a warp and go for it. I chose berry colors…ones that I like to think of now as the soft tones of sunrises and sunsets…dusty pinks and purples bathed in the golden rays of the sun.

I am going to sew it into a tool pouch for Marilyn, whose yarn I used. Maybe I will dress it up with a tubular edging too.

Until next time….





Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 18, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – Complementary-warp Pick-up…my new book

I have been home after my trip to Australia for quite some time. The dreaded jet-lag has washed off. You would think that I would be back in my loom working on my next large project. I do, after all, have a tremendous list of ideas in my head especially after having bought all that luscious silk from the super folks at Red Fish Dyeworks when I was in Canada.

Well, yes, I have been back at the loom, but not at a large project. Instead, I have been weaving lots of lots of lovely bands! What fun it has been weaving these small projects after having spent so much time at one very large one…the black silk wrap…for a great part of this year. It was particularly fun using wool for some of these bands.

And, why have I been weaving bands? Because I have just published a new e-book on!

I have been at the loom, the computer keyboard and at the camera…back and forth, back and forth, from one to the other…. while I finally finish off one of the several book projects that have been lurking around the middle of my project list for quite some time. You are probably tired of hearing about these books that have yet to appear! I am excited to be able to present one of them now….Complementary-warp Pick-up


The complementary-warp structure produces lovely double-faced bands like the ones you see at left.

The method I teach in this book can be applied to any loom that allows the weaver to create warp-faced bands.

The warp threads are divided into two simple sheds from which they are selected to create the patterns. Generally, two colors are used…one light and one dark. One shed on the loom holds all the light threads, and the other all the dark threads.

Inkle loom weavers, for example, could place all the dark threads in the open position and all the light ones within the heddles.

Weavers who like to use a rigid heddle to weave warp-faced bands need to thread all the ends of one color through the holes and the ends of the other color through the slots.

While weaving some of the samples for this book, I enjoyed using the band lock and wooden rigid heddle that Becky and friends at Vavstuga so sweetly gave me the first time I visited. Vavstuga stocks various sizes of these cute band locks!

But, I am sure that you know that I am a  continuous-string-heddles gal at heart!

And, of course, the other fans of those lovely continuous string heddles,  will set up their warps for the complementary-warp pick-up technique by enclosing all the threads in one of the two colors in the string heddles and the others in the nifty shed loop. Remember that you can always refresh your memory on the warping technique by watching Method 2 on my free video.

My Inklette set up for the complementary-warp pick-up technique.


Here are some of my backstrap weaving students from my recent visit to Australia getting their complementary-warp groove on…

And, look at the fabulous guitar strap that Helen Deighan has woven since our Complementary-warp class in Australia!

She has taken an idea that I would like to encourage further with my latest book, that is, using small motifs as border designs alongside larger patterns. I have provided charts for a variety of such pretty border patterns. These smaller patterns alone would make lovely lanyards, shoe laces and straps for pouches. They also add a lot of interest along the edges of  wider patterns.

The charted patterns in the book range from four to twenty threads. For those of you whose loom allows you create wider pieces, it is just a simple matter of piecing together two or more patterns from the book, just like Helen has. They work wonderfully together. Or, you can always weave two columns of the same pattern and add a lot more border threads to create something wide enough to hold a cell phone, for example…

After finishing this latest book, I really want to thank all my weaving teachers, weaving friends and students who give me so many ideas and who are always so inspiring.

And now, I find myself with a basketful of bands. The bands are pretty to look at and I might just leave them there. Or….. I could use the dozens of little jewelry findings I have been collecting such as, split rings, lobster-claw clasps and ribbon clamps, and make these bands part of my woven bracelet collection.

From band to bracelet…quick and easy…no sewing required…I love that! I have to admit that I was really lucky to find that I had just the right size of ribbon clamp for this band. I have them in four or five sizes and various metal colors.

Now I have some teaching warps to work on which will take me back to my loom once more….my happy place! I’ll be sitting there thinking about the other book project which is part-way done. I hope to have that ready early next year 🙂

I might also make some more jewelry with various closures, like buttons and braids, and give you some ideas for those in the next post.

If you decide to buy my new book, I hope you enjoy it and I welcome any feedback. Of course I would love to see anything you weave using it.











Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 26, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – Windows

I can tell when I have had a particularly full travel schedule when many of my photos have been taken through windows. Scenes fly by out of plane and train windows. I grab my camera and try to take a shot out of the car window as something amazing flashes by or I curse the fact that I left the camera in the trunk with the rest of my stuff. Sometimes in the dying light of a day I arrive at my new ”home” and just manage to take a picture out of the bedroom window. Windows open and close giving me glimpses of people, places, life styles and personalities.

I am nearing the end of the Australian visit. In a couple of days I’ll be making the long trek home. It feels weird saying that I will be going ”home”. On this visit, Australia has felt more like home than on any other I have made in the last 24 years. On other visits I have watched the places where I grew up become less and less recognizable. Sydney had become strange and foreign to me. A whole new younger generation had appeared in my absence and I was on the outside. This was especially true after my mother died in 2013. I came to realize that she was actually what represented home to me. She seemed to be the one comforting constant while everything and everyone else had changed and moved on.

I guess I have adjusted my idea of what it is about Australia that represents ”home” to me because I really felt different about it all on this visit. I won’t attempt to figure out what has changed. I’ll just enjoy the warm feeling and be grateful for now having two places in the world in which to live that feel equally familiar and welcoming.

My dvd Operating a Backstrap Loom has been making the rounds visiting all the places in which I have stopped and woven on this trip…

I guess the background to this picture could be one of any number of places around the world. Gum trees turn up in so many countries and I am always surprised and happy to catch that wonderful aroma of eucalyptus in the breeze when I am in certain parts of South America. It immediately transports me back to Australia. The gum tree in this picture is special as it seems to be the favorite hangout for a trio of baby kookaburras. I only managed to photograph two of them together at any one time…

I wove with friends in Sydney. We tackled warp-faced double weave. We had woven together on several occasions in the past and so everyone was up for this more advanced technique.

We arrived early trying to shake off the Sydney winter chill. Lunch time would find us outdoors soaking up the warmth of the midday sun. Weaving warp-faced double weave on a backstrap loom involves a few more steps than those that are normally used to create pick-up patterns. This is what makes it a more advanced workshop topic. It is the method, rather than than the structure itself ,that makes it that little bit more challenging. Once the steps are mastered, students can move on very quickly to creating their own patterns. I call it ”doodling on plain-weave”. It is, after all, just two layers of plain weave on which we virtually ”draw” patterns. There aren’t any floats to consider. You can literally decide on the spur of the moment which of the two colors  you want to pick without having to be careful about not creating a warp-float that is too long.

Susan designed and wove gum leaves while Brenda, who loves to knit celtic knotwork patterns, did the best she could with the relatively few threads with which we were working to design and weave some cross over lines that could later be expanded into knotwork motifs. Tapestry weaver Marie Clews also took the class and told us about her recent visit to New Zealand where she took a workshop from visiting Peruvian tapestry artist Maximo Laura. Here is the sampler that she wove in his workshop…

Jen brought in a tablet-woven band that she had bought on a visit to Uzbekistan. I had marveled at these bands that were being used to edge the magnificent Uzbek ikat garments that I saw at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe. Jen had bought her band in a street market in Uzbekistan. It is quite long and wider than the edging bands that had been used on the garments. I wonder what for what it was intended.

Seeing these bands in Santa Fe had inspired me to weave one to use as the closure tab on a shoulder bag I was weaving.

The piece in the middle is a wrist band that I bought at the Santa Fe market…a precious example that I could take home and study. On the right, you can see one of my first attempts to replicate it in heavy thread and, on the left, the final piece that I used on my bag. Because my piece was so short, I didn’t use tablets to weave it. I just set up a warp on my backstrap loom and twined the warp threads by hand rather than using tablets to do so. I only needed a few inches of band for my project.

It was nice to be able to handle and examine one of these tablet-woven bands once again.

My good weaving friend Emerald joined the group for the class. She usually invites me to her home in Sydney so we can weave together and it was nice to have her join the group this time. She bought my dvd Operating a Backstrap Loom and has returned home full of energy and ready to tackle wider warps. One of the topics on my dvd is about how to set up and operate a backstrap loom for wider warps. This seems to be just what Emerald was waiting for! Look at the gorgeous warp she has made…Emerald seems to get in quite a lot of practice between my visits. She was certainly the one who most quickly and efficiently made her heddles in the double weave class. She made heddles using nylon on her latest warp. Lots of weavers use nylon and love it. I have to confess, and you will have heard this before, that I really hate using nylon for heddles! I have nothing against the use of synthetic thread. I just prefer thread that has a bit of ”tooth” and grip.

Emerald sewed together several of the bands that she has been working on to learn the various techniques and has made a really cool and unique backstrap…

I got to weave with Brenda again today. I joined her in Epping with a group of weavers, knitters and spinners. She and I attached our warps on each end of a small table and spent a few happy hours weaving our bands while listening to the other fiber-y conversations. Brenda was weaving a double weave band that she had warped and set up herself. She also designed the pattern. I wove off a few of the sample bands that I use to demonstrate techniques in my classes. Here’s Brenda about to create a pick-up shed on her double weave band…Brenda’s backstrap is a finger woven band and the cords that attach it to the beams are kumihimo braids. I love this wonderful combination of techniques…

Pictures of other backstraps have been appearing in my inbox and Facebook feed. This one was made by Tara, who wove with me in Seattle…

There’s a lot to be said for weaving a backstrap in plain weave. I love the flowing rhythm of plain weave. I think it is a great learning experience for the first steps in working with wide warps. Many people long to have a backstrap that is covered with pick-up patterns. That can come later. The first backstrap you weave will tell you a lot about what will be the ideal length, width and weave structure for the next one.

Cornelia, who wove me more recently in the Bega Valley, sent me a picture of her backstrap and some tools. I love this picture…so many natural materials and interesting textures…

Other weaving friends in other countries have been taking up the challenge of creating wider warps. Here are my Arizona weaving friends, Christine and Caroline, at one of their study group days. It is nice to see Christine here after having spent time with her in Canada recently…

Caroline’s warp looks great! I hope I will get to see it in person this October.

A couple of days after the Sydney workshop, I took the train up north to Maitland to do some complementary-warp pick-up with a group of weavers who were taking their first steps in using a backstrap loom.

I awoke to pretty mornings of heavy frost and fog drifting among the hills. I was nice and warm in Kerry and Graham’s beautiful mud brick house. The mud brick house was awesome! I don’t think I have ever been in a place where warmth was so evenly distributed. We spent happy snug evenings looking at the photos and textiles from Kerry’s recent trip to Bhutan.

Magpies competed with kookaburras and rosellas to greet the day. I spent a good part of the early morning trying to record all that lovely birdsong before we headed out for a day of weaving.

Galahs came to feed and a satin bower bird had built its impressive bower and comically decorated it will all kinds of blue objects. Painters tape, yarn and bottle tops, all of them blue, were among the treasures collected and strewn about to attract females to the harem.

There’s my fabulous Maitland group. They were all there to greet me when I arrived and came in extra early on the second day so we could get even more done. No dawdling over lunch! Everyone wanted to pack in as much as they could on those two days…and we certainly did that! Di came down from the Gold Coast in Queensland to join us. Amanda came over from Tamworth, Liz came over from Morisset and Raelene traveled up from Canberra. Kerry, who hosted me in her home, will be going to the Tinkuy in Peru this November. If you are going, make sure to say hi to her for me. I think I might have helped her make the final decision on that one :-).

Kerry took me around to see as much as we could of Newcastle before I got my flight south to Melbourne. Growing up in Sydney, I really didn’t know much about Newcastle. I knew that coal was mined in the area and so I guess I always had a picture of a bit of industrial and mining ugliness. So sorry about that, Newcastle! It was great to have this little window of opportunity to banish those images from my mind and see Newcastle for myself . This beautiful view is from the ANZAC War Memorial cliff-top bridge.The sky on my day out and about with Kerry was so pretty with clouds that looked like soft strokes from a painter’s brush. The lines seemed to draw your eyes outward and beckon you away. This is an observation tower down on the banks of the Hunter River backed by that lovely sky…

From there I headed to Melbourne and Raelene followed me so she could have another class.

I was excited about flying over and actually being able to see Australia’s Snowy Mountains where I had spent six ski seasons working many, many years ago. For all of you outside Australia who raise your eyebrows when I mention skiing in Australia, I took this shot for you :-)…

Another window, another lovely view. They are not exactly the high rugged peaks that one might get elsewhere but I can tell you that the backcountry skiing on that range is superb!

Melbourne: you may remember that I had woven with members of the guild in Melbourne last year. I had some familiar faces in the workshop as well as a bunch of new ones.

I was happy to be back staying with Ruth in North Carlton surrounded once again by all those gorgeous terraced houses with their wrought iron railings and fences. That reminds me that a plan to weave some of the wrought iron patterns is still on my list of things to do.

The late evening arrival gave me a pretty sunset view over wrought iron spires from my bedroom window. The other window in my bedroom looked out over the Melbourne skyline.

Last year, we had two three-day classes on Andean Pebble Weave and this year we decided on complementary-warp pick-up.

Raelene was coming from having just taken that very same class in Maitland but I had plenty up my sleeve to keep her challenged.

We had two first-time weavers in that class…not just first-time backstrap weavers. They had never done any kind of weaving at all and they did so very well!

When not weaving with a backstrap loom at the Guild, Ruth showed me how she has been doing pick-up weaving on her inkle loom. She took the Andean Pebble Weave class with me last year and has been continuing to make bands using her Ashford inklette. It’s interesting to see Ashford’s new version of the inklette with its sliding tensioning system rather than the one that used a paddle.

She has one loom, the nearest,  set up for Andean Pebble Weave (she is weaving the little pre-columbian bird motif that is charted in my first book). The other loom is set up to weave the intermesh structure which she learned from my second book.

Here she is doing some pick-up on the intermesh warp..

This picture was taken late on the second day of our workshop when energy can sometimes be flagging. Everyone is very absorbed with getting the new wider and more complex patterns started on the fresh warps that they had created and set up themselves.

It’s always exciting seeing a new pattern appearing and then it’s hard to stop! So, here’s Raelene continuing to weave on her train ride back up to Canberra…

She doesn’t have much room left to weave on that particular warp but she has several more bands that were started in the two classes to complete.

Glenys, from the Canberra group, sent me a picture of one of her completed bands…

And, while I am showing finished bands, I’ll show you Claire’s from Hobart (Tasmania was my next stop after Melbourne). Claire chose a different pattern to weave on the warp she wound herself…

Jeanne in the Bega Valley sent me this picture of one of her finished bands…

Here’s Caitlin in Hobart showing that she can not only weave a hook, she can also flip it back and forth…

But, I am getting ahead of myself! First stop in Tasmania was up north in Launceston. From there I headed a bit south-west to weave with a group in Deloraine. I stayed with Jutta and Heinz in the pretty village of Chudleigh. It was cold in Tasmania…but of course! I didn’t get to see the surrounding hills on the first morning because of the cloud and fog but I was blown away by the magnificently clear night sky when I arrived. It was lovely seeing the Southern Cross way overhead among the stars of the Milky Way. In Santa Cruz Bolivia where I live, the Southern Cross appears just above the horizon.

The tails of fog drifting along the fields and hugging the hills in the early morning were really attractive. After class on the first day, Jutta drove me around to see the pretty dairy pastures that surrounded Chudleigh village.

After two days spent with the weavers in Deloraine, it was time to head on down to Hobart. Jutta made many stops along the way to show me around. We visited Launceston and its Design Centre. There we saw an interesting exhibit of wood that is being reclaimed from the bottom of valleys that were long ago flooded for hydro-electric schemes. Massive tree trunks are being turned into furniture by Tasmanian artists. In the gift store, Jutta bought and gave me a shawl pin made from Tasmanian huon pine. The point of the pin makes it a perfect little pick-up stick. I had bought a kitchen implement made from Tasmanian sassafras wood which I hope to have modified into a sword.

One of Launceston’s cathedrals…

We visited a few historic sites along the way like the Callington flour mill in Oatlands which was built in 1837. I wasn’t expecting to see a windmill in Tasmania!

As we approached Hobart, Jutta kept pointing out the mass of heavy grey cloud behind which she promised was an impressive mountain called Mt Wellington which dominates the city of Hobart. I had to wait a few days to get to see it in all its glory. It peeked out now and then as I came and went from the guild rooms at the start and end of the day. Here you can catch a glimpse of the organ pipe rock formation near the summit…

The Hobart guild has its rooms in Battery Point, an absolutely gorgeous part of the city full of pretty Georgian stone cottages and houses made from convict brick. The houses were built for early-Hobart workers and merchants of the port. The guild rooms have a shop, a library and spacious well-lit rooms for workshops and gatherings. My group surprised me with a lovely gift…a needle case made out of Tasmanian myrtle.

I got to stay on Mt Nelson with Margot which gave me pretty views of the river and bridge and then I swung over the river to Lindisfarne to stay with Jillian. Her historic home offered views of the bridge and the famous mountain that was slowly emerging from its shroud of cloud and fog.

Jillian does all kinds of weaving but has spent a lot of time on tapestry. She shared some of her works with me. I was really taken by this miniature that she wove while seated in a botanical garden. I have seen people with their easels painting outdoor scenes or sketching or using pastels (I have always been so envious of those skills!) but the idea of weaving a scene like that, painting with yarn what is right before your eyes, just blows my mind.

I had a whole day free in Hobart to wander about and so I arranged to meet up with a friend. If you have been following my blog for years you may remember stories about Anna who was bicycling from Alaska to Ushuaia with her boyfriend, Alistair back in 2010. They took a detour to come to Santa Cruz so that Anna could weave with me. We have been in touch with each other ever since. Here we are together in 2010 at my place doing some spinning…

It was a very happy reunion seven years later!

I was tickled to see the fob on Anna’s car key. This is an Andean Pebble Weave band that she had warped and used to learn to weave with me at my place back in 2010. This last remaining shred of band is now her keyfob!….

Here is she is at my place in 2010 learning on this very same warp…

And here are her first steps in double weave…

And, look what she has been doing with those double weave skills!

Much has happened since we met in 2010. Anna and Alistair got married after their three years of bicycling through North, Central and South America, moved to Tasmania and now have two little ones.

Anna and I strolled around Battery Point together catching up while looking at the historical houses.

Anna pointed out the convict-made bricks to me…

I love all the tones of white and grey in this next picture…

Of course, we had to go up Mt Wellington. We almost made it to the top. The roads still get icy and dangerous towards sundown at this time of year and we got turned away before we could reach the summit. That led to a really nice hike out to Sphynx Rock at the highest point we could safely reach…

Hobart has over 300,000 inhabitants and I felt like I could see the homes of each and every one of them from up there!

There’s that elusive summit….at last!

Meanwhile, while I stand there rugged up in a down jacket and vest, folks have been enjoying a summer of backstrap weaving on sunny desks and porches in other parts of the world. Here’s Anne weaving on her deck in California with a little winged visitor…

Alison, with whom I wove very recently in Canada, has been weaving on her porch in British Columbia…

I know that Deanna, who lives in southern California, often weaves outside in her gazebo. She is getting re-acquainted with double weave…

She plans to make bracelets with I-Ching hexagrams.

I’ll end this post with a picture of a curious magpie checking out my dvd. Well, I’ll confess, it was only there for the crumbs. 🙂 The song of the magpie is, for me, the sound of my Australian home. Here is a little clip of birdsong in Australia, much of which I recorded on cold crisp mornings when I was in the Hunter Valley at Kerry’s place…

















Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 4, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – In the Bush

At the loom and in the bush…what a perfect mix of activities. Hiking! This used to be so much a part of my life and something I have been neglecting since weaving became such a major part of my daily activity. I have been out and about in Australia enjoying yet again the soft colors of rural sunsets, this time on the far south coast of NSW…

…colors that inspire projects on my backstrap loom…

And now I have a whole new palette of colors from the Australian bush to work on. While on the south coast I met Tabitha who came to weave with me. Tabitha has yarn spun from the fleece of her Lincoln Long Wool and Awassi sheep..”100% Bega Valley yarn” she tells me.

She told me that those long locks are from lambs. She spins a 3-ply yarn and I bought several dyed balls and one natural to try on my backstrap loom. It will be a nice souvenir of that part of my Australian visit…

There among the balls of wool you can see some other little treasures that I picked up in my travels around the southern tablelands. We stopped to take a look at Longbarn provincial antiques. Owners Gary and Jane Kendall travel to France every year to pick up new pieces and it was fascinating picking through their rustic store. As you can see, I found a spindle which I am actually planning on using as a shuttle and two small wooden things that look like shuttles. These ”shuttles” were part of a large fishing kit and are actually not shuttles at all. My traveling companion, Cornelia, bought the whole kit and shared some of the pieces with me. What look like shuttles are, in fact, small fishing reels. They came complete with line and sinkers. Now they will carry yarn for me as I weave on my backstrap loom. They are full of character. They have traveled all the way from France to Australia and will now head to Bolivia.

We also spotted this in the store and hope it goes to a good lace-making owner…

The hard case around the lace-making pillow has a hollowed section at the back which is filled with bobbins and a few pattern sheets.

I wove with two groups when I was down on the south coast.

The place where we gathered was nestled in the most gorgeous sheltered bay and while we wove we could watch its changing moods as the tide came in and out and the sun crossed the sky.

One moment there would be fierce crashing waves on the rocks and at other times sublime serenity.

On the last evening, we had a bit of rain which with the low evening sun created a spectacular double rainbow.

In one of the serene moments, the dark clouds and the golden light of the setting sun painted quite a picture…


The winter sun was so pleasant that Karen and Maeve decided to weave outside, each one adopting the position in which they felt most comfortable…

And here ‘s Maeve indoors getting the hang of using multiple swords…

There’s one of our happy backstrap weaving groups. A couple even have their bands still attached to their waists and have slung them over their shoulder so they can get straight back to weaving!

I loved the far south coast and had some time to take a look around. Karen and Rachel took me out to see some sights around the various bays, beaches and harbors. We lunched on fish and chips at my request, browsed cute stores that carried works by local artisans and strolled among the majestic Norfolk Island Pines on the sea shore….

The Gallery and workshop of Aboriginal artist Merryn Apma.

Driving here and then from town to town there were blissful rural scenes of cows contentedly grazing. This is prime dairy country. In late afternoon, cow-dotted fields would be replaced by ones dotted with dozens of kangaroos. You can tell I am a city girl, right? It was heavenly!

I was happy to meet British weaver and braider Helen Deighan who came to weave with us fresh off a flight from England. She has written books on braiding and dyeing and studied with Rodrick Owen. She always brings exciting and fresh activities to share with the local fiber group and I know that she has come this time armed with many foam discs to share her kumihimo braiding skills and knowledge. She enjoys giving to the group and has been particularly enthusiastic about having the opportunity to weave on a backstrap loom with us.

She went right out and made herself a cloth backstrap and fashioned some swords from wooden spatula handles. She also has one of Terri’s (Magical Moons) cherry wood swords.

I think she is really enjoying operating the backstrap loom without necessarily doing any pick-up. There really is something magical about the rhythmical body movements that are used when doing plain weave. More than ever you become aware of the fact that you are part of the loom itself. Here Helen is doing plain weave with a ”threaded-in” pattern. Using weft in a contrasting color adds yet another attractive design element.  I am guessing that this wide piece will become a backstrap…

John was the only male member of our group and he has been working on his pick-up skills since I left. It takes a while for the mechanics of operating the loom, handling multiple swords and developing strategies for chart-reading to all fall into place and it all seems to be coming together nicely for John.

And I just now received this photo from the group of their first backstrapping get together since my visit. A warm winter’s day allowed people to be outside weaving. Apparently too much good conversation and food kept some of them from setting up their warps and weaving.

While out and about once again, I loved seeing the ”cathedrals” of spotted gums that are so typical of certain parts of this southern region…

I was lucky to be able to stay with Delma and Doug Roseman. I had seen one of Doug’s hand crafted weaving benches in one of the stores that supports local artisans and I asked him if he would consider making me a couple of swords using Australian wood. He was happy to do so and made me four!

From left to right, these are made from manna gum, forest red gum, spotted gum and NSW blackwood. What amazing souvenirs to have from this part of New South Wales.

Here’s the loom that Doug built for Delma…

It’s the result of a collaboration with Australian Master Weaver Kay Faulkner. The plate on the side of the loom names this one as the fourth Faulkner Loom to be made. I think Doug has made nine of them so far.

I had a whole other day away from looms to explore the area. A group of us decided to climb Mount Gulaga at 2644 ft (formerly named Mt Dromedary by Captain James Cook). From Wikipedia…

Gulaga is the place of ancestral origin within the mythology of the Yuin people, the Indigenous Australians of the area. Gulaga itself symbolises the mother and provides a basis for Aboriginal spiritual identity; the mountain as well as the surrounding area holds particular significance for Aboriginal women. For the Yuin people it is seen as a place of cultural origin. The mountain is regarded as a symbolic mother-figure…..

We were lucky to have Bernadette and Richard with us who shared a lot about the local flora. That’s Bernadette below telling us about the Rough Tree Ferns which were my favorite things along the way.

After lunch at the saddle we followed an unmarked trail…thanks to Mog and her local knowledge… to a large section of strangely shaped and balanced granite boulders, or tors, or ”standing stones”. To the Yuin people, the boulders represent guardians of time that are interlinked with the well-being of the mountain and of the people. While the boulders are looked after by the Aboriginal custodians, the guardians will look after the mountain.

It was a place where I felt that I needed to talk in whispers and I lagged behind on my own for a bit. There was certainly something very spiritual and even eerie about it. I wasn’t the only one to find that I had pan-pipe music in my head as I wandered about the giant stones reminiscent of the soundtrack to the 1970’s Australian movie Picnic at Hanging Rock. Take a listen and you will find the hair on your arms standing on end! What weaving will come of this?

This was one area where the bush was open enough to give us views of the ocean below…

It was a fabulous day…thanks so much for making it possible, Mog, John, Sue, Bernadette and Richard. My calf muscles reminded me of the ascent and the scrambling for several days after when I got out of bed in the morning!

Visiting Canberra was lovely. My gosh, the weather has been kind to me! I have been seeing lots of activity from some of the ladies who wove with me in Canberra since my return to Sydney. I am so happy to be leaving behind enthusiastic backstrap weavers. It certainly isn’t absolutely everyone’s cup of tea and I am happy that people have followed their curiosity and have wanted to try it out.

Double-pocket saddle bag.

Pam brought this lovely weaving still on the backstrap loom from the Piura province of Peru to show us. This is an area where cotton double-pocket saddle bags are typically woven. The weavers use a single-faced warp float pick-up technique and their work is unique in the way they use small pieces of  supplemental weft to add splashes of color. I was once shown a completed saddle bag (at left)  from this region when I was traveling in California.

The piece that Pam brought has been left on the loom and has been obviously made as a souvenir of the township of Catacaos. It is interesting that the weaver has used two sets of string heddles…one holding all the red threads and the other the white ones…rather than one set of heddles and a shed rod as backstrap loom weavers would most often do.


Kristy has been busy since the class checking her local yarn stores for suitable and yarn and weaving a backstrap. The yarn is Katia Bombay and it comes in a beautiful range of variegated colors…no solid colors that I could see on the website. This plain-weave backstrap has come out beautifully.

Jo has finished off two of the three sample bands we started together…

If I had had a wee bit more time in Canberra, I may have managed to visit the National Gallery and see this beauty…

Some pieces of literature say that The Bronze Weaver is from Indonesia while others say possibly Borneo. It was collected in Flores, Indonesia and dates to the 6th century. Isn’t it wonderful how she remains seated, being the loom, while she suckles her infant. I love the detail in her hair and backstrap in this view…

Here is an excerpt from the National Gallery of Australia’s description of the piece…

The woman, feeding a young baby who touchingly clutches her other breast, is clad only in a calf-length skirt, typical of everyday wear of the more remote regions of Indonesia, especially Borneo, until recent decades. In contrast her carefully braided hair and plait are most unusual. While her necklace is simple, the large bold earrings, probably plugged earlobes, strikingly frame her serene face. The figure is seated at a simple loom. The foot-braced body-tension loom depicted has not been observed in Flores in historical times although local looms, where the warp beam is braced by poles, are very closely related. Identical foot-braced looms, however, have survived in remote districts of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan, and Hainan Island in the South China Sea. The creator of this sculpture was obviously very familiar with loom technology as the apparatus and the loom patterning are accurately depicted. The circular warp, the cloth and warp beams, the shedstick, the weaving sword and the delicately rendered plaited back strap speak of an era when bronze casting and textile weaving were already prominent gender-specific arts.

You can read more here.  

Cornelia made a trip to the National Gallery to buy me a postcard of The Bronze Weaver while I was weaving.

From there it was back up to Sydney, away from the loom for a bit and into the bush with my brother, sister-in-law and friend. I love the Blue Mountains. This will be where I settle the day I decide to come back to Australia.

This was yet another day of amazing colors and textures in trees and rock with wanderings through canyons and glow worm tunnels among enormous Rough Tree Ferns…

From the cool depths of canyons we looked up at a piercingly blue sky with the sunlight bouncing off sandstone walls…

We spotted a lyrebird…the first I have seen in the wild…look closely!

Here’s our view of a little piece of fern paradise from within the old railway tunnel which now houses hundreds of glow worms.

Many thanks to Wayne and Debbie for supplementing my photos and for making the trip possible.

I’ll be weaving this weekend with Sydney friends including Emerald with whom I always weave on my Sydney visits. She made a trip to her homeland, Myanmar earlier this year meeting up with U.S tablet-weaver and ply-split braider Linda Hendrickson. I am looking forward to hearing about it. I was lucky to be able to spend a morning with Linda on visit to the USA in May.

There will be more travels to follow….time at the loom with friends new and old and, hopefully, some more time for the beautiful Australian bush!






















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