Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 20, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Coasting Along

cincinnati from kentuckyOn the road again….from Florida, from which I just escaped before hurricane Matthew hit, to the golden leaves of western Massachusetts to the Ohio River and on to mission country in southern California. I have been covering some ground. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of this time with the most awful chest cold. It stopped me from doing some sightseeing but it didn’t keep me from weaving with lots of backstrap weaving buddies at every stop.

Janie’s daughter had had an interest in learning to pole dance. A pole was installed in the basement and now it makes the most perfect backstrap weaving post.

jane backstrap weavingJanie’s guild in Cincinnati has its own house! We were very comfortable there weaving Andean Pebble Weave for three days…

guild houseIt’s pretty cool when a weaver can arrive in the morning by bicycle with the potential to carry her loom, fold up the bike, stash it under the kitchen counter and then sit down to weave….

janie and karen with bikeI am afraid that I was far too ill in Cincinnati to think about taking more pictures. I enjoyed the chance to speak at the guild and weave with this lovely group of ladies but I simply had to crawl into bed at the end of each day. Taking it easy paid off…I am well again.🙂

In western Massachusetts, the fall hadn’t quite taken over and we found that it was really very pleasant to be outside winding warps for Andean Pebble Weave in the sunny afternoon. I got to catch up with old weaving buddies here, put a face to an online weaving friend and meet a new backstrap weaving enthusiast.

warpingfor backstrap weaving outdoors in western massIt’s a close group of weavers here and they have started a monthly study gathering. The first one was on the weekend immediately after I left. They are keen! These kinds of get-togethers where weavers help each other through their planning, warping and weaving make such a difference and I know that  next time I see these weavers they will be more than ready to advance their backstrap weaving skills.

Jacquie, above left, is already confidently creating her own Andean Pebble Weave patterns and is planning a band with dancing figures and drums. I love this idea and can’t wait to see it.

backstrap-weaving-in-massachusettsJacquie sent me a picture of the first study group gathering. Amy, who didn’t weave with us this time, also came along to the study group. It seems that the backstrap weavers in western Massachusetts are very well connected! I hope they don’t lose momentum with the inevitable interruption over the holidays and that they continue gathering to weave on backstrap looms well into next year and until the next time I get to see them all again. We might have a study session by Skype some time if I decided to upgrade my internet connection in Bolivia this summer.

group-meeting-1Martha, pictured on the right, made some Andean Pebble Weave contributions to an Ethnic Weaving exhibit in which her guild is involved. Maybe you can go along to see it if you live in the area. You can see some of Martha’s work in this postcard that advertises the event…martha's pebble weaving

Back in Florida, I had left three of my weaving buddies working on wide warps. The width of their planned projects depended on how much experience they had with their chosen pick-up structure. As Cyndy had only just learned Andean Pebble Weave, she settled on a 2’’-wide band that is the perfect size for a guitar strap. She wants to gain confidence with this larger number of ends and finer thread.

Jennifer and Berna, who both have more experience with Andean Pebble Weave, spent most of the first day warping wider projects and dressing their warps. I think they are both planning some sort of bag and are confident that the project they warped in class will be more than a sample. Berna worked hard to prepare for this gathering by weaving a sample, pictured below, with her chosen yarn which she used to calculate the number of ends she needed for her larger project.

bernas-sampleHere’s the gorgeous warp that Jennifer created. There was much talk of Harry Potter house colors. I haven’t seen the movies so I wouldn’t know about that.

jennifer's backstrap warpShe has plans to weave bee and flower motifs in the center strip and plain pebble weave in the two outer ones. I like this idea of having strips of plain pebble weave as accents rather than having a strip of pick-up patterns.

Here’s Berna ready to weave after having picked up the threads for her two pebble sheds and then enclosing them in string heddles.

berna ready to start her backstrap weavingCyndy quickly installed her string heddles and was ready to weave. She had wound her warp before our get-together and was able to get underway well before the others.

cyndy heddled and ready to weaveHere’s Jennifer picking up the threads for her pebble sheds…

jennifer creating pebble shedsBerna shows us how she smoothly and cleanly opens a pebble shed using her heddles and adjustments to the amount of tension she applies to the warp with her body. She has got the moves down!

berna opening pebble shedsAt last the pattern starts to emerge. She has combined a Celtic knot motif with a classic Andean motif.

bernas backstrap pattern emerging

bernas celtic knot and Andean river patternsI love the small amounts of black she used to make those colors pop.

cyndy's sun moon and river patternCyndy chose a particular combination of motifs that I like to call ‘’The sun, the moon and the meandering river’’.

I hope I get progress pictures soon. These ladies get together regularly in Berna’s home to encourage and help each other and it is wonderful to see their progress. Study groups, people…hint, hint…if you have the chance to form one, do it!

close up circular warpCyndy gave me this wonderful example of a circular backstrap warp which has been set up for hanging. It was one of those miraculous thrift store-like purchases. We have no clue as to the origin of the piece but I love it as a super neat example of a circular warp with all its bits and pieces. There is a wonderful shaped sword and sweet shuttle sitting with in a shed. The coil rod is in place and you can see the split beams at the front of the loom which help secure the warp and allow the weaver to beat without having the warp slide around the beams.

The woven cloth is interesting with its simple warp-float pattern and strips of weft twining. It is the ideal size and weight to carry about and show people how a circular warp is typically set up.

I used to carry my own circular warp around to show people…


my example of a circular warp …but this new one is far more interesting…

circular warp and toolsJennifer brought her new backstrap loom. She had purchased the wooden pieces as a set online and then had a friend of hers burn beautiful patterns into the wood including the image of Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of weaving. What a special loom!

jennifers loom with burned decorations

jennifer-backstrap-loomCyndy also brought interesting tools to show…some lovely shuttles for band weaving that a craftsman in Estonia makes…

cyndy's shuttles from estoniaOver In southern California, we were back outdoors enjoying the mid-fall warmth. Out on Ginny’s lawn, we wove double weave for two days…both one-weft double weave and the two-weft embedded version.

14650616_10207682302997089_3010964772416597055_nThere’s some progress on Ginny’s one-weft double weave piece….

ginnys double weave band backstrap weaving

brown and blue wool jewely backstrap weavingOn the third day we wove a tubular band pattern.

I had woven the ñawi awapa tubular band with this group before and so we tackled a different pattern which involves the use of multiple string heddles. I saw this kind of band being woven by weavers from the community of Chahuaytire in Peru.

Recently I made a nice bangle to add to my woven jewelry collection using this particular tubular band pattern. You can see it at left on the left of the two brown flat bands.

I gave the group some magnetic barrel clasps so that they could do the same if they chose.

We also learned to weave and sew the band as an edging as it is used in Peru. We had to develop the skills necessary to be able to operate and keep track of multiple heddles on wool without excessive scraping or sawing.

We used up to 5 colors and the different color choices produced bands of vastly different character.

Yarn and samples ready for weaving the tubular band.

Yarn and samples ready for weaving the tubular band.

Judy joined us at this gathering. I had woven Andean Pebble Weave with her last spring. We started talking about horse hair and horse hair braiding and hitching. Melinda joined in as she too has experience with this craft. I had started looking about online for information about horse hair hitching after the BRAIDS 2016, the conference of the Braid Society in Tacoma WA last July. One of the instructors from the UK was teaching cylindrical braids in raw hide and told me about the work of the Argentine cowboys, or gauchos, who use braided raw hide to decorate their horse tack. He showed me pictures online of gorgeous examples of fine work. This led me to images of horse hair work and I was intrigued. My friend, Betty, showed me a hitched key fob that she had bought in Montana which had been made by prisoners. So, I ended up ordering a couple of technique books online which I will pick up later in this trip.

In the meantime, along comes Judy, who has owned and worked with horses all her adult life and she brought examples of horse hair braided key fobs and hat bands as well as decorative embellishments made with hitched horse hair for various pieces that she owns.

horse hair hitching

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here is something else I have picked up along the way….

wayuu ply split braidsThese are ply-split braided bands made by the Wayuu people of the Guajira Peninsula that straddles Colombia and Venezuela. They are used as the straps for the crocheted bags, or mochilas, that they make. I have included examples of these bags in several blog posts in the past particularly after I went to visit Mirja Wark in the Netherlands and got to see the bags she collected when she lived in Venezuela. My friend Dorothy has one of the bags, see below, that has a very similar strap to the one above right. You can see the tapestry crochet technique that is used to create the bags themselves.

close up of Dorothy's Wayuu mochilaI am thrilled to have these examples and will find a way to use them as straps for a backstrap woven bag that I plan to make one day. It’s amazing how similar the strap on the left is to the one I happened to see on a Wayuu bag in a beach-side boutique on my recent trip to Sydney…

wayuu mochilas in sydneyI am hanging out with my friends Ruth and Lise for a few days. Ruth captured me, the ”mop with a nose”, weaving some double weave motifs…

weaving-at-ruthsI got a lesson in the basics of power-tool use from Ruth and she is sending me home with a dremel-type tool!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe gathered a group of friends to weave double weave for two days. After learning to weave some basic shapes by simply ”eyeballing” and not using charts, we moved on to more complex patterns. Ruth charted a sweet llama that would fit on our 12-thread warp and you can see me weaving it, starting with its four little legs.

weaving double weave backstrap loom

Here are Ruth and Cookie setting up their slightly wider and finer warps…

cookie-and-ruth-setting-upAnne and Dorothy are weaving patterns…

annes double weave

dorothys double weaveDorothy cleverly managed to keep the scroll pattern going while swapping the pattern and background colors. Kathy and Kathleen who have woven with me several times before were there too.

We looked at one-weft double weave and the two-weft or ”embedded” version as well as the technique used by some Bolivian weavers who set up additional sets of string heddles.

samples of double weave for backstrap weavingCookie works with all sorts of fiber crafts and brought her latest finished crochet piece to show…cookie's marilyn monroe crochetAnne brought a piece that she had woven with me years ago when we had studied Bedouin weaving techniques with my Santa Cruz friends. The upper face of a double weave band and that of a Bedouin Saha weaving are identical in structure. However, the bands as a whole are vastly different because the Bedouin weavers leave the long threads- those that are created by the substitution of one colored warp thread for another- floating on the back of the band. Bolivian weavers use those hanging threads to create a lower shed through which they pass weft. This creates the second layer of the double weave. Double weave bands have two ”good” faces. The pieces created by the Bedouin weavers have only one ”good” face as the other one comprises long floats, some of which are often startlingly long.

bedouin weaving and double weaveAfter weaving over the weekend with my friends, I found that Mary, a recent Facebook and Ravelry acquaintance, lives just a few blocks away from Ruth and so I visited and spent a day with her playing with the basics of backstrap loom operation. I gave her some tips on how to manage narrow and wide warps and I had a ball looking at her collection of zentangle books while she wove on the balcony. Just having those few hours to sit quietly and thumb through the zentangle and weaving books left me with my mind exploding with ideas!

mary and lola weaving a narrow project on the balconyAnd later, she learned how to change the basic set-up and modify her moves to weave wider warps. Here she is making string heddles on a stick…

mary making string heddles on a stick

The following day, Ruth, Lise and I went to the De Young Museum in San Francisco….

We went to see this exhibit…

The idea is to draw pieces from the museum’s textile arts collection which exhibit the characteristics normally associated with Minimalism…including regular, symmetrical, or gridded arrangements, repetition of modular elements, direct use and presentation of materials, and absence of ornamentation.

But for me, who has never been to the De Young before, there was plenty to be excited about in the museum’s permanent exhibit of pieces from its vast collection. As a result, we didn’t get to the Minimalism exhibit until after lunch.

Here’s a wee taste of the very old and not-so-old in the museum’s permanent display…

I emjoyed seeing this piece from the coastal province of Manabi in Ecuador as I have spent time there with cotton spinners and weavers.. This is a hollow figure from 1500-1300 B.C. The incised patterns on the figure's lower body are suggestive of textiles.

I enjoyed seeing this piece from the coastal province of Manabi in Ecuador as I have spent time there with cotton spinners and weavers.. This is a hollow female figure from 1500-1300 B.C. The incised patterns on the figure’s lower body are suggestive of textiles.


A burial offering for a high-ranking official.t A.D 600-900 Huari culture. The mosaic of colored shells, stone and bone represent teh motifs of a tapestry-woven tunic-feline heads, rectangular bars and concentric circles.

A burial offering for a high-ranking official A.D 600-900 Huari culture. The mosaic of colored shells, stone and bone on a wood and bitumen base represent the motifs of a tapestry-woven tunic suitable for a person of such high rank with feline heads, rectangular bars and concentric circles.

Limetone monument, or steal from the southern Mayan lowlands A.D 761 shows a Mayan queen proclaiming her legitimacy and power

Limestone monument, or stela, from the southern Mayan lowlands A.D 761 shows a Mayan queen proclaiming her legitimacy and power.

Seed jar Hopi Pueblo late 20th century by Jacob Koopee

Seed jar, Hopi Pueblo, late 20th century by Jacob Koopee

Looped wire sculpture by Ruth Asawa late 20th century. i loved the way the lighting in the museum cast shadows of her work on the cinder block walls.

Looped wire sculpture by Ruth Asawa late 20th century. We loved the way the lighting in the museum cast shadows of her work on the cinder block walls.

Very subdued lighting made it difficult to capture the often rich colors of the pieces in the Textiles and Minimalism exhibit. It was wonderful to see a few Aymara pieces included with their rich red, blue and brown stripes…incredibly fine pieces woven with four selvedges with subdued decorative edgings and often an absence of patterning along the joins of the panels. Ruth’s camera captured the colors better than mine. I like these simple late 19th century plain-weave Aymara pieces more than some of the intricately pick-up patterned pieces that we usually associate with Andean weaving.

Fingers were itching to touch the textiles and further appreciate their fineness. We bent over with our noses as close to the textiles as we dared without upsetting the security guard in order to better see the threads and study the patterns along the edges.

Once again, I feel it would be a shame to cram all the wonderful things my online friends have been weaving into the end of what has become a pretty long post. I think I will save them for next time when you will get a very large shot of inspiration all at once! I can tell you that Adem has finished a marvelous Mapuche-style piece in which he incorporated some traditional Turkish motifs. Tracy has been in Laos weaving on circular warps on foot-tensioned backstrap looms so, as you can imagine, there is plenty to share there. Julia W has not only been weaving but has also been piecing together bands she wove some time ago into lovely purses and bags. Julia T is back at the loom designing Andean Pebble Weave motifs after what feels like along absence and I have new online weaving friends who are making cuffs and balanced- weave cloth and all sorts of exciting things on their humble backstrap looms.

I’ll leave you with a few more pieces from the museum visit…

I lobe the detail of the facial scarification on this kneeling warrior. Maya, Jaina Island, Mexico A.D 600-800.

I love the detail of the facial scarification on this kneeling warrior. Maya, Jaina Island, Mexico A.D 600-800.

I could look at Moche pieces all day! The pre-columbian museum in Santiago, Chile has a wonderful collection. Moche, nortn coast Peru, 400B.C -550 A.D

I could look at Moche pieces all day! The pre-columbian museum in Santiago, Chile has a wonderful collection. Moche, north coast Peru, 400B.C -550 A.D.

And I really enjoyed Ruth Asawa's work and the way it has been displayed. What is real and what is shadow here?

And I really enjoyed Ruth Asawa’s work and the way it has been displayed. What is real and what is shadow here?

Until next time….





Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 23, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – From little acorns…

There is something about the process of weaving all the tiny projects I have been working on these last few weeks. While I love my large projects on which I sometimes work for weeks and weeks, it is hugely satisfying to be working on small ones and turning out something new almost every day….new colors, new materials and new textures. But there is something else about the process, and I am not sure exactly what it is, that is opening up doors and letting ideas come flooding in. I am writing and sketching them and saving them for later. Sometimes from little projects come big ideas.

The last couple of weeks have been about making jewelry…”arm jewelry”,  as I like to call it. I want to wear lots of cuffs and wristlets and bangles all the way up my arm. I am not sure how practical it will be to weave with all that stuff jangling away, but we shall see.

In my last post, I showed you the beginnings of a blue set of pieces. The bangle was the latest addition…

backstrap weaving jewlery

Since then, I have added two wristlets, another bangle and a neck ”bangle” (?) (I have no idea what that thing should be called)…

woven jewelry backstrap weavingI am also using the sample pieces I wove when I was planning my silk journal covers and making them into arm adornments. I used more of that lovely cochineal-dyed silk to make another bangle and wristlet with leaf-themed patterns…

silk and wool jewelry backstrap weavingThe berry-colored silk pieces are on the right. One of the wide bands is decorated with leaf motifs in supplemental weft and the other has a leaf pattern I invented for the Andean Pebble Weave structure. I used a slight variation of the classic Andean ”meandering river” motif to make another leafy pattern on the narrow band and bangle.

brown and blue wool jewely backstrap weavingI used a tubular band pattern that I saw woven by weavers from the community of Chahuaytire in Cusco to make a bangle in the brown set (second on the left) and an Andean Pebble Weave band to make another (far left). The pieces connect using buttons and braided loops, or snaps, or end clamps and lobster claw clasps.

blue silk pendant backstrap weavingI then set about making a matching silk pendant for the light blue cuff I wove some time ago. I put it together like the brown and black pendant on the right. There was lots of pick-up to be done  with tiny threads of 60/2 silk but the pendant only required one pattern repeat and so I was able to finish this project fairly quickly. I love these small projects and love my backstrap loom even more as it allows me to warp and comfortably weave such tiny things with little waste.

neck bangle pattern backstrap weavingThis is the pattern I used for  the neck ”bangle”. It’s one that I wove using the Andean Pebble Weave structure and I was able to set it up with multiple sets of string heddles which made the weaving relatively fast.

You can probably tell that I had a lot of fun with these little projects. One idea that came to mind while I was sitting there weaving and sewing and struggling to put together tiny split rings and other jewelry findings, was how to edge the wool panels that I wove some time ago and had put aside to finish awaiting inspiration.

brown wool panels backstrap weavingI have two raw edges with which to deal on this wool project. The cloth is really lightweight and I know that it would not support a tubular band which is what I usually use to edge my sturdy warp-faced projects. Besides, I don’t think a tubular band would work in this case to cover and stabilize the raw edges.

I really liked the way the pattern that I wove for the blue neck ”bangle” looked when it was rolled into a tube and so, I came up with this idea for edging my brown panels using that same pattern. Here is the sample…

sample for edgingThe ”star” motif is a big part of the design on the large wool panels that I wove and so I think that this pattern will be a good match for the edging. I am going to fold the band in half and sew it so that the center pattern forms a tube. The edge of my panels will then be sandwiched between the solid brown sections which will cover and protect the raw edges well. A couple of little tucks help the band bend around the corner of the blanket and I am really pleased with the way that looks.

Here is the small sample placed at the edge to give you an idea….

sample band on blanket edge So, from the little jewelry projects came the big idea of how to finally finish my large wool pieces….at last! The two wool pieces have been sitting in a box for months waiting for me to come up with just the right idea for this finishing touch.



peruvian braidI am still lumbering along trying to improve my braiding technique. This is the Peruvian braid that I studied with Rodrick Owen at the recent BRAIDS 2016 conference. I am now trying it in fine wool. You can see the chunky wool that I used in the class. My fine piece is full of flaws and wobbles due to poor tension and a little carelessness. I blamed the cotton for my last wonky attempt thinking that it must be easier with wool. The cotton is not the problem…of course, it’s me! and my lack of experience. Try again, try again. I’ll get there. The idea is to make a wrist cuff but I won’t be wearing this one! It goes in the Reject Box.

One last thing I have been playing with is lettering in silk. I am enjoying this a lot. There are no prizes for guessing what word I am writing. After completing this sample, I might weave a band with writing which will become the strap for another conference pouch.. I will tell you more about this lettering when I have sampled a bit more. Ruth, with whom I stayed in Melbourne, gave me the idea for this. I wonder how she has been getting on with her own lettering.

silk band with letteringMy online weaving friends have been doing some amazing things and I will show you all of that next time. Bands, yardage, scarves and fobs are being created by my backstrap weaving buddies around the world.

My friend Adem, in Turkey is always up to something interesting and has been at the beach weaving on a tripod loom.  Here’s a sneak preview of more to come about this in my next post…

adem-tripod-loomAh, I managed to squeeze in a few more rows of lettering before posting….It’s growing on me!

lettering band backstrap weavingUntil next time….













Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 9, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Tales from Way Down Under

I went to Melbourne as a 10-year old. Most of my parents’ friends from India, where I was born, seemed to have settled in Melbourne rather than in Sydney where we lived. So, we made a summer family trip to visit. I remember eating lots and lots Indian food, the tremendous summer heat, the trams on the city streets…but little else.

So, I was delighted and excited when I was invited to teach backstrap weaving by the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria. Here was a chance to venture to the southern end of the Australian mainland once again and experience Australia’s second largest city.

canning street north carlton

I was hosted by Ruth Mitchell who lives within walking distance of the guild. The guild is a truly unique place among the various guilds that I have managed to visit in my travels. It is located in North Carlton, a beautiful city suburb of Victorian era cottages and terraces. I do love inner city living and spent some years before I left for South America in Strawberry Hills in inner city Sydney.

I loved walking the blocks to ”work” every day at the guild. Every little cottage and terraced house was gorgeous…the lace iron work, the little gardens, the colors!, not to mention the palm tree-lined streets.  I couldn’t get enough of it. Of course, I took lots of pictures strolling home in the late evening light and I can’t wait to weave something inspired by all those iron work patterns and colors.

north carlton iron lace work.

blue and white north carlton

colors north carlton



north carlton housesThe pattern formed by the colors of the brickwork in this house reminds me of the dru, horse’s tooth, pattern used in Bedouin weaving.

classic whiteThese patterns in classic white inspire me to weave something similar in brocade. I would love to weave white patterns on black using a supplementary weft somewhat like I did in this piece some time ago…10574396_940870309260140_2468390398880458039_n

It will be interesting and challenging to try to create patterns in brocade that capture the beauty of the Victorian era iron work motifs. I must get some fine silk for that so that I can make the patterns as detailed as possible. It will be a nice piece to commemorate my Melbourne visit.

As you can imagine, after strolling these streets in the mornings with thoughts of pretty iron work and brocade in my head, I would arrive at the guild feeling very inspired and ready to weave!


I did tell you in my last post that the home of the guild is a marvelous place. It’s big! There’s a large library, craft supplies store, exhibit area, woven and knitted goods store, workshop spaces and rental equipment storage space. The craft supplies store certainly did some damage to my wallet. I wanted to bring home Australian fleece for spinning and I also bought some Landscape Dyes…colors of the Australian landscape. Lesley gave me a skein of yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills to use with the dye I had bought. It’s labeled ”fine merino magnolia” and it feels gorgeous. I will weave something with it on my backstrap loom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also had a fiber and textile outing in Melbourne with Ruth and I purchased some lovely fabric pieces from  Kimono House for perhaps lining some of my woven bags and pouches.

Victoria guild warping for backstrap weavingHere is the first of the two Melbourne groups busily winding warps for Andean Pebble Weave. My host, Ruth, is second from the left facing the camera.

victoria guild staff and storeThe guild is a busy, welcoming and fun place every day. At least four volunteer staff are there every weekday to run the craft supply store, front desk and library. Marie on the left was my ”go-fer” for the day. I am not used to having one and was hard pressed to keep her busy. I was certainly well looked after!

victoria guild libraryThe library now has my books!🙂 Lesley was on library duty on this day.

I picked up some bargain book gems from the boxes of used books. The open magazine has articles on Australian Aboriginal art and Maori textiles. You can see a piece of Aboriginal art work on the open page with a beautiful leaf design…right up my alley!

If you are wondering about the weight of my luggage when it was time to come back to Bolivia… well, yes, less important things, like clothes, got left behind in Sydney.

Here’s new guild member, Sia, working on her Andean Pebble Weave patterns. Sia walked into the guild and signed up as a member, saw a flyer for my class and jumped on the opportunity. She is hoping to come to the Tinkuy in Peru next year and maybe visit me in Bolivia so perhaps we will meet on this side of the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASia made a wee mistake in one of her patterns and ended up creating the design which I have named ”Sia’s fish”…


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJune is celebrating the completion of her first star pattern. She was particularly happy when we later learned how to make continuous string heddles mounted on a stick. She had gone to Japan and brought back a traditional Japanese backstrap loom and has been teaching herself to work on it. However, she told me that making the continuous string heddles had defeated her. Here is a picture of her loom. It’s an intriguing set up. I find myself saying over and over ”If I come back to Melbourne, I will….”. That list of activities includes the hope of being able to see June weave on this loom.

june-japanese-backstrap-loomIn any case, even though she has been finding the heddle making challenging, it looks like she has been producing some lovely cloth.

She brought along some Japanese textiles to show me as well as her tea ceremony equipment… all wrapped in a furoshiki cloth, of course. You can see one of the beautiful bamboo reeds that she got in Japan.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATatiana, from Chile, was in my second group of Andean Pebble Weavers. She does meticulous handwork and brought me one of dozens of hand knitted dolls she has made. The doll collection is fabulous and I told her that she really should make an exhibit for the guild. When in Chile, she had seen such knitted dolls being made by Aymara ladies from northern Chile and this gave her the idea. She tells me that the Chilean dolls are more rustic and charming. I find the doll she gave me absolutely adorable!


doll-front-and-backShe also had a bag decorated with the embroidery of Ayacucho. I have shown this in other blog posts. My friend Dorothy has some of this Ayacucho work and when I made an appeal on this blog, several people wrote to me to tell me how to do the stitches. I have never actually used the stitches but, you never know, one day….

ayacucho-embroidery-1It seems that wherever I go, I will run into something South American. I showed you in my last blog post the Mapuche belts that Gerlinde gave me. These belts traveled from Chile to Europe to Australia and now are in my home in Bolivia.

mapuche bands chile

Of course, the beautiful work of the weavers of Chnichero, Peru is internationally known. One of my Melbourne students, Melanie, had been to Cusco where she took weaving classes. The little pouch she uses for her weaving tools is from there. The Chinchero pieces with their gorgeous natural dye colors are instantly recognizable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI worked with two groups in Melbourne. They both learned Andean Pebble Weave. There is talk of forming a study group and I hope that comes together. The guild has the space to hold such meetings but I was told that the problem is finding a spare day as there are so many study groups and other activities happening in the space. While I was there, the kumihimo and tapestry groups got together to braid and weave.

On my day off between the two workshops, Ruth kindly took me into the city.. a short tram ride away. We did a little textile and fiber tour stopping first at the famous Australian Tapestry Workshop. It is housed in a historic building in South Melbourne that was once a knitting mill and it is beautiful both inside and out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom the mezzanine level we got to look down on the work area with its works-in-progress and recently completed pieces. Amazing!


This piece designed by British artist Keith Tyson is called Gordian Knot The circular piece seems to float in space.


Australian designer John Olsen’s piece, Life Burst, was on display in the gallery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi signature appears in the corner along with the emblem of the Australian Tapestry Workshop where his design was woven by a team of tapestry weavers. It was amazing to look closely at the piece and see just how many colors had been blended. What appears in the picture above to be solid yellow actually comprises many strands of multiple shades of yellows, oranges and other colors.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was fascinating and mind boggling watching one of the weavers at work. I will always remember Joan Ruane’s remark when she watched me doing pick-up  on my backstrap loom. She said something like..”Oh my God, it’s slower than tapestry!” After watching this lady at work…I don’t think so! This piece is called Perspectives on a Flat Surface and was designed by John Wardle Architects. You can see the sample pieces that have been woven and mounted next to the main piece of work. Yep, tapestry weavers have to sample too.

It was a very enjoyable visit. There was a hands-on piece in one of the galleries where Ruth and I got to pass a few wefts and leave our mark and then we went yarn shopping. I picked up a half dozen tiny cones of tapestry wool which I think will work wonderfully in warp-faced weaving. There are 362 colors from which to choose and the workshop has a resident dyer. I will weave something to remind me of my visit to the ATW.

Melbourne is a pretty city.  I found it light, open and airy. It has quite a few churches. This one is St Patrick’s Catholic church. It is possible that Sydney’s CBD has just as many but they just don’t seem to jump out at you like the ones in Melbourne.


The Flinders Street Station is bustling and beautiful…


I loved running into these landmarks. These are names that I have heard all my life growing up in Sydney.We crossed the Yarra river that flows through the city dividing Melbourne into north and south banks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went to the Nicholas building which houses an eclectic gathering of craftspeople including a tailor from Peru who uses, among other materials. industrially produced fabric from Peru in interesting ways to make elegant coats.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter being thoroughly absorbed looking at the various stores and studios we suddenly realized it was 3 o’clock and we hadn’t had lunch. I enjoyed visiting one of Melbourne’s famous laneways. This one, Central Place, is stuffed full of tiny eateries that have just enough space to seat a handful of people. We crouched on tiny stools eating sushi and watched the people go by. There are apparently many of these laneways, each one with its particular personality.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt home, Ruth showed me what she has been weaving. I am kicking myself for not having taken photos. She has been using my second book to learn intermesh and has been using her Ashford inklette to weave bands with lettering. She adds the two additional sets of string heddles for the ”mesh sheds” to her inkle loom and was using fine wool to weave a striking red and black band. I was happy to meet Ruth’s two daughters and discover that her elder daughter, Lisa, is a well known Australian singer and songwriter and has been so for the last ten years. Well, I have been away for 23 years and am not caught up with what is happening in Australian music.

Lisa Mitchell is her name and here she is performing with one of Ruth’s hand woven guitar straps. I was tickled to see that she had used some of the celtic knot patterns from my second book that I adapted to  the Andean Pebble Weave structure. Ruth has woven several other beautiful guitar straps for Lisa, one of which has silver-colored threads and which catch the light beautifully when Lisa performs on stage. And yes, that’s one of my friend Annie’s guitar strap kits that she is using.

screenhunter_86-sep-02-15-16I got back to Bolivia last Thursday. It was a 54-hour trip…don’t ask! I don’t think I have ever really known what jet lag is until this trip. Sure, I get tired after a long flight but jet lag is something else again. I have been trying to claw my way out of the fog and get back to my loom and I am pleased to report that yes, it finally happened. I have been putting to use some of the jewelry findings I bought while in the U.S.

backstrap weaving jewleryThe cuff isn’t new. Nor is the silk lanyard. You might remember that I wove this lanyard pattern again as I hadn’t been happy with this first attempt. The ”good” one went to the BRAIDS 2016 where I met its new owner. This less-than-good one is now the holder for my new glasses. I forgot my glasses in Sydney, darn it. The new thing in the picture is the bangle. I want to have sets of ”arm jewelry” and wear them all at once from wrist to half way to my elbow…cuffs, bangles, braided wristlets and bands like the lady in the picture below. I have been fascinated by this idea ever since I came across the picture. You may remember it from this blog post. So, here are two pieces in the ”blue” set. There will be more ”arm jewelry” in blue to come.

From Afrostyle magazine and designer Tarun Tahilian

From Afrostyle magazine and designer Tarun Tahilian

Now there is a brown set underway…

backstrap weaving jewelrySo far, I have a bangle and a wristlet. I will use a tiny braid to connect that wristlet, tied through the eyelet at one end and looped around the button.  The wider piece is going to be sewn into a cuff with a tubular edging and then I will weave a few tubular bands to also use as wristlets. I have lots of things going on right now that are preventing me from getting into a large project…although my head is overflowing with great ideas!!  The list gets longer. Traveling opens my eyes to so many things and gives me the time and head space to organize my ideas, visualize possible projects and make adjustments and improvements before I can even touch the loom.

My small jewelry projects are keeping me happy for the time being. They are fun. I hope I get to wear them soon.

See you next time.












Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 25, 2016

Bush, Birthday, Birds, Bow-looms and Braids

ScreenHunter_83 Aug. 13 06.20I woke up to this Google doodle greeting on my birthday. It was like having two birthdays this year. I celebrated it first in Sydney, Australia and then 14 hours later I started receiving greetings from my home in Bolivia and from friends in the USA and other parts of the world.

It was a perfect day spent out in the bush with my brother and sister-in-law. After stopping for tea at a country cafe/pub,


we took the turn- off at this eclectic collection of country mail boxes to Yengo National Park…

mail boxes on way to Yengo National Parkwhere we enjoyed this view over lunch…

Mt YengoThat’s Mount Yengo in the distance which, according to Wikipedia, is a natural feature of spiritual and ceremonial importance to the Wonnarua, Awabakal, Worimi and Darkinjung Indigenous Australians. In indigenous mythology, Mount Yengo is the place from which Baiame, a creational ancestral hero, jumped back up to the spirit world after he had created all of the mountains, lakes, rivers and caves in the area. Baiame flattened the top of Mount Yengo when he jumped skyward and the flat top is still visible today.

Following a narrow bush track, we came to a large dome of rock which held several Aboriginal carved figures….

rock carvingsParts of the bush and surroundings were peacefully still and quiet while others were full of bird song, some of which I recorded. If you have never heard Australian bell birds before, take a listen to them on this piece of video I made. There are some raucous kookaburras and other unidentified birds joining in too.

This little guy (courtesy of Wikipedia) is responsible for those pretty, tinkly wind chime sounds.


Bell Miner! December 7, 2010

I picked up a gum leaf in remembrance of the day. I think this leaf shape will have to appear in one of my woven pieces soon among colors of the Australian bush.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy weaving friend Berna enjoys weaving leaf patterns too. Here is a picture she recently sent me of a couple of backstraps she has made. On one she has woven a leaf and creeper motif using supplementary weft.

bernaBetween bush outings, I visited my weaving friend, Emerald, and taught her the ñawi awapa tubular band in wool.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe later sent me a picture to show me that she has tried it in cotton and really has the hang of it…

14067582_10209255335634455_5450000789705560541_nEmerald and I spent time together looking together through the beautiful book on Sazigyo, Burmese manuscript binding tapes woven with tablets, that she owns. It was lovely listening to Emerald read the words woven into the tapes in Burmese and surprising to hear her translation of some of them to English. It wasn’t what I had been expecting at all.

SazigyoI took a few moments here and there to try out the Peruvian headband braid that I learned in Rodrick Owen’s class at the recent Braids conference. We had worked it in wool in the workshop and I was keen to try it in cotton. I had found maintaining even tension challenging enough in wool but it was even more challenging in cotton. Practice, practice…I will come up with a way of handling the threads that will make it easier to create and maintain good tension. The cotton threads just want to slip and slide past each other whereas the hairy wool threads tended to rub together and mesh eventually creating a better hold on each other.

peruvian head band braid in cottonThis is precisely the width that I want for a wrist cuff and it perfectly suits the size of the findings that I bought. There are several mistakes where I was finding it hard to see twists in the black thread. I am accustomed to working with black thread and think that better lighting will put things right for the next attempt. This one will go in the ”sample” box. I am just happy that I still remember how to do it and that the notes I took during the class continue to make sense.

With thoughts of the Braids 2016 conference still fresh in my mind, it was bizarre to walk past a store when I was down at Cronulla Beach in Sydney and see this…

wayuu mochilas in sydneyPly-split braiding! A little boutique called South of the Border, which claims to be ” a little bit theatre, a little bit beach and a little bit luxury”,  was selling crocheted Wayuu mochilas with their gorgeous ply-split straps. This was not something I was expecting to see in Sydney! Nope, I didn’t ask the price.

Marilyn Romatka bow loom weavingAnd, while still on the topic of Braids 2016, I received quite a few questions from various people, after my last blog post, about my friend Marilyn Romatka and the bow loom weaving that she teaches.

I showed some pictures in my last post of Marilyn, my fellow instructor and roommate, at Braids 2016.

It seems that many people are intrigued with these neat little looms and are scouring their yards and neighboring parks for suitable sticks that can be bent into bows.

The looms themselves are interesting as are the bead-edged bands that Marilyn teaches people to make using them. These are based on bands made by the Akha people of northern Thailand.

Marilyn has been a long time supporter of passing on folk art and indigenous craft skills to the younger generation and has published a book in which she provides lesson plans on folk art and craft for home-schooling parents. Her website Taproot Folkarts lists the more than 50 skills that she teaches.


But, back to the bow loom….here is one of the double bracelets that Marilyn teaches people to make on the bow loom….

bowloom-bracelets-22_medMarilyn and her husband recently launched their new Taproot Folkarts Video site where you can stream her class on the bow loom or purchase the dvd. This is the site on which I plan to offer my own video backstrap weaving classes soon.

Busy and exciting times!

Let’s see what some of my weaving friends from around the world have been up to….

I was thrilled about recently being able to connect two weaving contacts in Turkey. Adem, who has made several appearances here on my blog, lives in Ankara. Here he is showing me the Mapuche-style weaving that is on his vertical loom at the moment in which he is cleverly incorporating traditional Turkish motifs…

adem with Mapuche weavingPeter lives in Istanbul and has contacted me via this blog on several occasions to ask questions about projects on which he has been working. He really needed some face-to-face instruction. There is only so far that you can go providing advice and instruction online. I asked Adem if he would be willing to help and the next thing I knew, Peter had traveled to Ankara at Adem’s warm invitation, was a guest in Adem and his wife’s home and was having lessons in Mapuche-style weaving on a backstrap loom. Fantastic!

adem and peter

Here is another online gentleman weaver contact…this time from Mexico. Oscar contacted me a few years ago when he was taking his first steps in backstrap weaving following my blog. I just LOVE this picture that he sent me back then…a weaver in heart and soul!


Let’s see what he has been up to lately. He learned the warp-faced double weave technique from my blog and look what he did with it!

oscar double weave mexicoThis is now his backstrap and is being used to create other wonderful pieces…

oscar in mexicoI think that there just might be a connection between Oscar in Mexico and Adem in Turkey. Perhaps Oscar watched the video that Adem made and allowed me to post on how to use sticks to hold the pattern warps for the simple warp-float technique. You can see the video in this post.

ginnys slippersGinny sent me a picture of her recent county fair entry…her gorgeous felted slippers with ñawi awapa laces…winners! I love seeing my students putting the techniques to use like this!

Another county fair winner….here’s Tracy’s backstrap weaving which she backed and filled to make a lovely pillow. That’s all her own handspun yarn and I can tell you that it is simply gorgeous. I got to handle this piece still on the loom when Tracy and I got together last spring in Seattle. There are no surprises that this took a blue ribbon…Her handspun yarn did very well too by the looks of it.

IMG_2253_mediumJulia sewed her latest piece made from commercially spun wool onto a pillow. She is just getting into using wool for her backstrap weaving, experimenting with various weights and types while she sees what characteristics of commercially-spun wool make it suitable for warp-faced weaving. Looks like this yarn was a winner.

The larger patterns are charted in my first book.

Fresco_Pillow_mediumRoli in Nigeria sent me pictures of the finished robe, hat and bag on which she had been working. I posted pictures of her first white strips of cloth some time ago on this blog.She weaves strips of white warp-faced cloth on a simple frame loom  and sews them together to make garments. Her husband is modeling this set. The red patterning is done using the simple warp-float technique.

roli robe, hat and bagYingyu Hung in Taiwan has been working from my Andean Pebble Weave e-book and has finished a sample band of some of the 8-thread patterns using a backstrap loom….

yingyu hung

Cathy JohnsonAnd, one of my most recent students, Cathy, here in Melbourne, has been practicing Andean Pebble Weave. She has woven a pattern that I discovered once purely by mistake when I set up my pebble heddles back to front.

It was immediately after having studied the technique in Peru way back in 1996 and I obviously was not yet entirely clear on the process.

I decided to call this pattern ”rabbit ears” at the suggestion of one of my students.

Here are some familiar scenes to finish….doing what I love when I can’t be weaving myself….teaching enthusiastic weavers to create Andean Pebble Weave patterns….(many thanks to Gerlinde for the pictures)



You can see the lovely premises that the Victoria Handweavers and Spinners Guild has in Melbourne with its craft supplies store, library, handwoven and knitted goods store, exhibit space, workshop space and more. I have been building up quite a shopping cart of Australian-made goodies from the craft supplies store!

DSC03151Gerlinde not only gave me these pictures to use, she also gave me two beautiful bands from Chile woven with handspun wool by Mapuche weavers. One was created with double weave and the other with a complementary warp-float structure. She obtained them in Europe. From there they went to Australia and now I will carry them back to Bolivia, relatively close to their place of origin. I don’t have any Mapuche pieces and these will be a wonderful addition to the samples I bring to show my weaving friends….

mapuche bands chile

Now I am heading off for a day of weaving with my Melbourne friends. I’ll tell you more about the visit in Melbourne in the next post.



















Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 12, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Strands

BRAIDS 2016 – Braids, Bands and Beyond. The conference at UPS Tacoma, Washington is over. What a week it was.

Let me quote my weaving friend Ruth Temple who was one of the 175 or so participants…

My soul is happy, my heart is full, my brain is jumping with excitement, and my fingers have been wonderfully well-tangled in strings all week.

The Proceedings of BRAIDS 2016 is available through the Braid Society, Braidershand and Giovanna Imperia Designs.

The Proceedings of BRAIDS 2016 containing articles by all 30 instructors is available through the Braid Society, Braidershand and Giovanna Imperia Designs.

If you are not already a member of the Braid Society, there are many reasons to join, one of which is the fabulous conferences.

But, even if you can’t attend one of those, the annual Journal  which is aptly named Strands, is alone well worth the price of admission. I had missed out on receiving my journals the last two years because I had lost my P.O Box. Debbie brought my copies for me with her from England. They are juicy!

Many of the instructors at Braids 2016 have authored the articles alongside other renowned braiders and band weavers. In the following photo, fans of Susan Foulkes will catch a glimpse of an article on Latvian bands in the 2015 issue with detailed instructions and photos.

strands journals braid society

Strands…after attending an event like this you start to see strands everywhere and in everything. Strands…wavy tentacles of glass at the Chihuly exhibit in Seattle. Strands…branches extending in all directions from the trunk of the massive sequoia on the UPS campus like strands of thread waiting to be worked into a braid.

At the conference, strands of yarn, wire, raw hide and even human hair were plied, split, twisted, turned, crossed and looped into beautiful braids and bands as well as exquisite pieces of jewelry like the brooch of braided hair below.

Ruth Macgregor and Carol James work on a Peruvian head band in Rodrick Owen's workshop.

Ruth MacGregor and Carol James work on a Peruvian head band braid in Rodrick Owen’s workshop.

I was lucky to have the chance not only to instruct but also to take Rodrick Owen’s class on Peruvian head band braids along with Ruth and Carol (above) and several other participants from the 14 countries and 6 continents that were represented at the conference. I was proud to be representing South America.

participants from Japan braids 2016

Rodrick owen's workshop at Braids 2016We spent the first morning setting up our looped strands to braid. I was determined not to miss anything and took lots of notes. I find that it is best to get things written down in my own hand and in my own way as a supplement to the instructions we received in our color handouts. That is what works best for me.

I really want to continue working on these kinds of braids and I have plans to try and make some wrist cuffs with them. I wanted to make sure that I was absolutely clear on the process. For that reason, I stayed with working on just the one braid for the two days rather than learn the second one that Rodrick presented on Day Two. I know that I will take the opportunity to learn that second braid in a class with Rodrick some other time in the future.

Sprang expert and instructor, Carol James, also took the class.

Sprang expert and instructor, Carol James, also took the class. I am sure that she felt, like me, that being a student now and then is a priceless and necessary experience for teachers.

Demonstrating the second braid on Day Two.

Rodrick demonstrates the second braid on Day Two.

My briad in progress...some mistakes and lumps and bumps while I get the hang of managing the tension...but I am very pleased with it!

My braid in progress…with some mistakes and lumps and bumps while I get the hang of managing the tension…but I am very pleased with it!

I bought some Valdani cotton at the conference in the Braiders’ Bazaar so that I can work on this braid while I am on the road. I am wondering how manageable it will be in cotton which doesn’t have the stretch and ”give” of wool.

I had met Rodrick Owen by chance at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival back in 2010. It has taken me this long to take a class with him even though our paths have crossed many times since. All the wonderful things I had heard about him as an instructor were true.

rodrick owen's workshop braids 2016I love workshop tables with their chaos of yarn and sticks and tape and tools and this one which I shared with Jeanne, who kindly shared her photos with me, was no exception.

Outside of class time, Washington gave us some glorious weather and the campus gave us lots of opportunities to enjoy it with outdoor eating areas to hang with friends and maybe do some braiding for those who practice the more portable techniques.

John Whitley works on a ply-split piece of his own. I met him at Braids 2012 in Manchester and he and his wife Stacy have done some backstrap weaving with me on a couple of occasions.

John Whitley is always able to whip out one of his current projects and keep his skilled hands occupied. Here he is working on a ply-split piece of his own. I met him at Braids 2012 in Manchester and he and his wife Stacy have done some backstrap weaving with me on a couple of occasions since then.

Meeting new people and hanging out with old friends

Meeting new people and hanging out with old friends…6 of my backstrap weaving students from various parts of the USA are present in this picture.

The conference was a great opportunity to meet up with my weaving buddies from all over the USA as well as folks from Europe that I had met in Manchester in 2012. Even a blog follower from Capetown South Africa, Joel,  was there.

With Annie! You will know her as Aspinnerweaver, the weaver of unique colorful guitar straps. We haven't had much chance to hang out since she moved to New Mexico.

With Annie! You will know her as Aspinnerweaver, the weaver of unique colorful work-of-art guitar straps. We haven’t had much chance to hang out since she moved to New Mexico.

Tablet weaver John Mullarkey was at the table too (see below). He likes to tease inkle loom weavers about the supposed inferiority of their chosen equipment and technique to the tablets that he prefers. I think he met his match at that table of fierce inkle loom fans. Jennifer accused him of ”inkle envy”.

I got to wear my woven accessories…something I dare not do at home in Bolivia where I have had several things pulled off my neck and wrists in the past while walking down the street.

backstrap weaving accessoriesI had woven a neck pouch especially for the conference in which I could stash business cards and card keys. My sample for that project became a wrist cuff and I only realized later that my necklace and camera strap were also good matches.

You may remember that I was just one of many many people who had volunteered to weave lanyards for the conference. I contributed a mere 6 of them. There were 175  of them to be made!

lanyards for braids 216 backstrap weavingHaving arrived early at the conference with my friend Marilyn Romatka, I was able to enjoy scanning the lanyard table before the name tags were distributed, ooh-ing and ah-ing over the variety of techniques and patterns and colors represented there.

Marilyn taught bow-loom weaving. Here’s Marilyn ”dressed” in her looms entering our dorm building for the first time. And, if you are curious about these very cool bow looms, which are used by the Akha people of northern Thailand and Laos to weave narrow bands with beaded selvedges, here’s a closer look at them as Annie and I weave with them after the conference at Marilyn’s place…

with annie bow looms Here’s Robyn Jackson who did a fabulous job attaching the various clips that turned braids and bands into lanyards for our name tags. She chose to wear one of mine🙂

It was fun playing ”spot the lanyard” trying to see which of the 175 participants got mine. It wasn’t until Day 3 that I found the last of the 6 I had made around the neck of Braid Society Chairperson Shirley Berlin. Unfortunately, I never found out who made the pretty purple lucet-worked lanyard that I was given.

conference lanyards braids 2012

supplement=ary weft and double weave class braids 2016The weather was perfect for outdoor weaving  and I wish I had thought of suggesting doing just that to my group of backstrap weavers above. There were certainly plenty of trees to tie to and lovely lawn in which to sit. We studied supplementary-weft patterning and double weave over two days.

Supplementary-weft patterns.

Supplementary-weft patterns.

Brian and KarenBrian and Karen are working on their double weave here. It was lovely to meet up again with Brian who had woven with me at Vavstuga last fall, as well as Eileen, my host on several visits to Austin, Texas and Tracy with whom I have woven quite a few times in California. Karen is the first Alaskan weaver I have ever had in a class. She really took to backstrap weaving. It was nice to have two UK participants…Kay and ply-split expert and instructor Julie Hedges. Barbara had interesting stories of her travels in Peru with Martha Stanley.  Susan was there. I had worked on the Weavolution booth  with her at Convergence in Albuquerque 6 years ago. Beverly and Heidi were new backstrap weavers and I hope they enjoyed the class enough to continue their new skills at home.

When these weavers were happily settled into their double weave adventure, I took the opportunity to go out and briefly visit a few other classes that were in neighboring rooms.

Here are two of my dear backstrap weaving buddies. Braiding expert, Ingrid Crickmore, is instructing pick-up patterns on finger looped braids while inkle- weaving artist, Annie MacHale, watches. Dominic Taylor braids away in the background. I met Dom at Braids 2012 in Manchester and he was here in Tacoma to teach cylindrical braids in raw hide. I am grateful that he made me aware of some of the beautiful work in braided raw hide that is being done by the gauchos in Argentina.

Here are just a few of the pick-up patterned loop braid samples that Ingrid brought for her workshop.

pick up patterned loop braids by ingrid crickmore braids 2016Annie showed Marilyn and me something of what she had learned with Ingrid in the finger-loop braiding class. It was interesting after having just taught double weave on the backstrap loom to learn about these double layer braids that connect when colors are exchanged between layers and which allow motifs to be created through ”pick-up”. The braider can decide which way she wants to handle a dual-colored loop to bring one of the two colors to the upper face of the braid to form a pattern. Ingrid’s article in the conference proceedings goes on to explain more.

Carol James was just down the hall wearing one of her amazing sprang creations and watching over her group of happy sprang braiders. I saw some really sweet pouches come out of that class.

Here I can treat you to a closer look at Carol’s sprang garment while she advises one of her students.

Marilyn took this class and gave Annie and me a demonstration when we got back to her place after the conference. It was nice to see it in action on the frame. I had been at one of the fun kitchen parties at Braids 2012 where Carol had placed yarn in my hands and given me an impromptu class in the ”scissors and pinch” technique….so beautifully explained and something which I have never forgotten.

marilyn sprang

Mariyl set a piece with space-dyed yarn that looked anazing

Marilyn set up a piece with space-dyed yarn that looked amazing.

20160731_163044While I didn’t get to visit Anna Sparr’s class on braids made with human hair, or ”hair work”, I got to attend her evening lecture and see some of her jewelry pieces. It is a technique that dates back to at least the 17th Century. Anna’s family originates from Våmhus in Sweden, home of the traveling hair workers who would move from city to city all over northern Europe offering their work and providing a significant source of income for the village.

You can read much more about this in Anna’s contribution to the conference proceedings. Apparently whisperings were overheard on how some people would have liked to harvest Robyn Jackson’s and my hair for hair work. I decided to sleep with my dorm room door locked that night😉hairwork Braids 2016

anna sparr hair braiderI dropped in quickly to another room where Ria from The Netherlands was busy braiding in Leigh Morris’ class on variations of zig zag braids for jewelry. Ria and I had met in Manchester and it was lovely to see her again. She even remembered the liking I had developed for Dutch stroopwafels when I had visited with Marijke van Epen and brought me a bag of them all the way from Holland.

There was a break from the talks and workshops mid week for an outing. I joined the group that visited the Burke Museum and the Mood Indigo exhibit at the Seattle Asian Museum. I had already seen Mood Indigo in the spring but these things are always worth a second look.

I guess one of the things I enjoyed most was the chance to see Maori twined and woven work at the Burke. When I had been exposed to kteh twining with my Montagnard backstrap weaving teachers, I had looked around online for more examples in other cultures and found information on Maori taniko, bought a book, and started playing. Here are my first experiments using Montagnard and  Bedouin motifs…


This was the first time I was able to see real Maori pieces. Of course, I very much wanted to get my hands on this skirt and look at the other face of the taniko wasitband. I have used weft twining here and there in my work and now I am inspired to do some more.

maori taniko waistband

There were also examples of local work in the form of a Salish mountain goat wool robe and coastal Salish clam basket and strap…

salish mountain goat wool robe

clam basket and carrying strap coastal salishIt was a lovely day out and about. We had lunch by the water and there were masses of blackberries nearby just asking to be picked. I couldn’t understand how they could just be left there for the taking until someone told me later that I had been stomping about in poison oak while I was happily picking. Fortunately, I did not suffer any effects….and the blackberries were delicious!

picking blackberriesMy eye was caught by Judy walking about with an interesting bag. She had taken a trip on the Silk Road and picked up this bag in Kyrgyzstan. I was struck by the fact that I had just posted about Kyrgyzstan textiles and looms in a blog post and welcomed the chance to be able to examine the textile.

judy and kyrgzstan bagThe conference ended with a banquet which I chose to miss. It had been a busy and exciting week and I felt that I needed a little down time. I walked out on a quest to find a good viewing spot to peacefully watch the sunset over Mt Rainier, or Tahoma. I found one perched on top of a wall and enjoyed the colors of the sunset from orange to pink to blue as the sun slipped from the sky. For me, it was a perfect ending to the week. I then met up with friends when all the banquet excitement had subsided who told me that the venue for the next Braids conference had been announced…Kyoto, Japan in 2019.

tahoma sunsetThe departure day at conferences is always bewildering. How did 5 days just slip by so quickly? You regret the pictures you didn’t manage to take and lament the fact that you didn’t get to hug certain people goodbye. This departure was softened for me as, rather than heading off alone, I was leaving with Annie to spend a few days at Marilyn’s place in Seattle. On the way home we had a frantic and fun time at Shipwreck Beads buying findings for jewelry making, I have lots of ideas for making more necklaces and bracelets from my woven bands. We bumped into other conference folk there which made it feel like the conference hadn’t really ended at all.

At Marilyn’s, between harvesting her figs, apples and Japanese plums, we spent time on the floor sharing the techniques we had learned in our conference workshops. That was an excellent way to reinforce what we had learned and for me to update and extend my notes.harvest
We watched the first rough edit of the little instructional movie that Marilyn’s husband is making with me on backstrap weaving. That’s just a little tease for now. I will tell you much more about that later🙂

We visited the Chihuly Glass Museum which was breathtaking both inside and out. We strolled about the gardens soaking up the colors and shapes.


Chihuly Garden and Glass

And then, from that strange world of glass, it was back to nature, strolling the wooded trails near Marilyn’s home to a special place that she calls ”Middle Earth”…more strands!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnnie then headed back to New Mexico and I went south to my friend Betty’s place where there were blueberries to be picked. Have I mentioned that I love to pick and eat fruit straight from the trees?

Betty and Ladella took me out to meet with a group of Karen community backstrap weavers who get together every Thursday in a nearby community center. The ladies were not weaving and had not brought their looms but I got see some of their textiles and I was able to demonstrate some backstrap weaving of my own for them on a tiny narrow warp. I showed them how my loom is set up and operated to weave the Andean Pebble Weave structure. They were fascinated.

One lady, Ra-day, who I was told is the best weaver of the group, was so intrigued that I gave her my warp to take home to study. I am sure that she will quickly see how it all works and I would be thrilled if she started playing with the technique herself.

Isn’t it amazing how strands of yarn can connect people creating common ground and understanding and overcoming language barriers?

Ra-day on the left and one of the other Karen community weavers examine the picking cross in my warp.

Ra-day, on the left, and one of the other Karen community weavers examine the picking cross in my warp.

All the information needed for experienced backstrap weavers such as them selves to set up a warp like this is there. The examined the threads that were enclosed in the two sets of heddles.

All the information needed for experienced backstrap weavers such as these to set up a warp like this is there. They examined the threads that were enclosed in the two sets of heddles.

I admired one of their woven pieces for its colors and lovely warp-float pattern and, before I knew it, Betty had bought it for me as a rather early birthday gift🙂. It was one of Ra-day’s pieces and I asked her to pose with it with me.

As always, I had a lovely time at Betty’s, talking textiles and yarn, visiting my first county fair, looking through her extensive collection of textiles, artefacts and  books and listening to stories of the textile and trekking tours she had led to Peru and Bolivia in the 1980s and 90s. And then, it was time to move on…

I left this behind…

and boarded one of those huge Airbus A380s for the long flight to……

…greet a glorious Sydney morning. Good morning Australia! If you look closely you will see Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House beyond it.

61O9zUazlvL._SX386_BO1,204,203,200_Braids 2016 already feels like it was a long, long time ago….

Let the magic live on….you can buy the book of the conference proceedings from the Braid Society website or from Braidershand (where you can also buy Rodrick Owen and Terry Newhouse Flynn’s new book Andean Sling Braids: New Designs for Textile Artists), or from Giovanna Imperia Designs.












Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 29, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – When You are not the Loom

Weaving buddies of mine were recently at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market and shared pictures and video of all the wonderful people, crafts and textiles they saw.

Marge Sume was in the right place at the right time and shared a small piece of video that she took of a gentleman from Kyrgyzstan weaving a narrow band. It was very interesting to see this as I have woven replicas of patterns of Kygyzstan woven in the terme structure and I wrote a tutorial on the method that I use to create the structure. It is always wonderful to  be able to see the methods the weavers themselves use but this is not always possible. And so, 6 years after I wove my first Kyrgyz motif, I now have been able to watch one of the weavers at work via Marge’s video clip. Exciting! It turns out that although my loom is different, the method is similar. The gentleman from Kyrgyzstan uses fewer steps than I do and is more efficient.

kyrgyzstan weaver screen shot of videoYou can see the loom on which the weaver is demonstrating and you will see more of it in the video. I, of course, use a backstrap loom for all my weaving.

When I am using a backstrap loom, I feel that I am part of the loom myself. The warp is attached to my body by way of the backstrap. My movements back and forth allow me to relax and increase tension on the warp and operate the loom smoothly and efficiently. I am part of the loom. In fact, on the occasions when I stretch the warp between my hips and my big toe, I am more than just a part of the loom; I am the loom.

My body movements enable me to easily open the shed controlled by the string heddles. A few coordinated moves which involve adjusting the tension on the warp allow me to raise the heddle stick and create a clean shed without having to struggle or scrape the heddles along the warp. All of you who have tried backstrap weaving will know what happens if you repeatedly scrape those heddles…fluff builds up, then pills and warp threads start to stick together making it very difficult to create clean sheds.

Watch two Peruvian weavers operating the heddle shed on their backstrap looms…

So, what happens when you are working with a warp that is under a fixed tension? Your body is not part of the loom and you can’t increase or ease tension at will.

If your loom is strong and fixed in place, you can grab hold of the heddle rod and pull with all your might…

vertical loom coastal EcuadorMariana is pulling the heddle rod with one hand in order to create a shed of all the white warp threads. Her other hand holds back the blue threads that want to stick and come forward with their white partners. The vertical loom is lashed to the floor and ceiling beams of the house and Mariana can put all her strength into pulling on the heddle rod without disturbing the loom.

But, what if the loom is not fixed in place like Mariana’s and, what’s more, is made of very light-weight material?

martaMarta, a Mapuche weaver of central Chile, is using a warp that is under fixed tension and her leaning vertical loom is very light. If she were to pull on her heddle rod, she would simply pull her loom away from the wall. She uses a different system for raising the warp threads that are controlled by the string heddles.

The heddle stick rests against poles which are placed alongside the leaning posts of the loom frame which means that the warps in the heddles are in a raised position. This means that Marta does not have to pull on the heddle stick in order to raise the warps in the heddle shed. You can see in the following video at the 28-second mark that by pushing down on the warps held on the shed rod, just enough space is created to allow her to get her fingers under the warps in the heddles and lift to fully raise them. (You might want to turn down the volume for this video).

Which brings me to the weaver from Kyrgyzstan. His heddles are in a position that keeps them in what looks like a permanently raised position. You will see that, like Marta,  he does not need to touch the heddle stick at all in order to open that shed. He simply strums the warps to bring all the light-colored warps to the upper layer. He props the wide flat piece of board on its side to raise the dark threads. Many thanks to Marge for allowing me to share her video here.

s yurt

The weaver uses what I call a ”simple” warp-float technique because warp floats are used on only one face of the cloth. It is based on two sheds with dark threads in one shed and all the light threads in the other. Plain weave on such a warp would produce a band of alternating dark and light horizontal bars.

You can see him selecting pairs of light colored warps and then adding them to the dark shed. Then he selects dark-colored pairs of warps and adds them to the light shed.

One of my other weaving buddies, Annie, took pictures of the woven band. The motif is not clear at all in the video but in the pictures I could see that he was weaving an ”S” shaped motif.

I was pretty tickled about that as it just happens to be the motif that I use in my tutorial here on my blog.


The patterns are formed by floating certain pairs of dark threads over  light horizontal bars and certain pairs of light threads over dark horizontal bars.

I have woven some of my favorite pieces using this technique and motifs from Kyrgyzstan but I have also seen cloth woven using this structure in tropical lowland Peru, Mexico and the Middle East.

yurt band design

Now, let me show you some things I have been working on lately.

I have been continuing to use the tiny skeins of naturally-dyed silk that I was given.

Since I last posted, I have finished the piece using the blue and green tones and created a fourth piece using browns, tans and golds. I wanted to maintain the ”leaf” theme and wove a pattern of leaves and creeper into the blue and green piece and I invented my own leaf pattern in the Andean Pebble Weave structure for the brown piece.

 I have yet to glue and finish the book covers.

I need to buy some nice paper in colors that match the fabric I have woven. I glue this paper on top of the ends of the woven fabric that get turned over to the inside of the covers. You can see an example below on the last collection of covered journals I made.

inside cvers of journals with backstrap weaving

Here are the three pieces I have made so far. The fabric is just sitting around the books for now until I am ready to glue and finish them.

book covers with naturally dyed silkAs for the fourth piece with the brown tones, I first needed to weave a sample as I had to see how the silk would behave and what kind of width it would give me in the Andean Pebble Weave structure. The first three pieces I had a woven with the silk were in plain weave…two simple versions with supplementary-weft patterns and one more complex one in double weave. I also wanted to see how my invented leaf pattern would look in case I needed to make adjustments. What looks good on paper often doesn’t weave up with the same happy results.

andean pebble weave leaf sampleI was pleased with my new pattern. The light colored silk is finer than the darker colors and I wasn’t sure if the pattern would show up well enough as a result. It’s quite a narrow pattern and so I decided to weave two columns of it in my project using the browns, tans and golds from my collection of naturally dyed silk. Now I can finish the red sample and sew it into a wrist cuff…another one for the collection.

natural dyed silk in browns and golds backstrap weavingI have to admit that this new warp looked a little drab after the rich reds, purples and greens with which I had been working. However, once the light Andean Pebble Weave pattern started showing up against the darker tones, the contrast brought the whole thing to life.

front and back of leaf natural dye pieceAs usual, it is hard to decide which side I like better. I had planned to use the darker side on the book cover and that is why I used light colors immediately next to the pebble weave section to provide a nice contrast. The back looks nice in its own way because the thicker dark-colored silk makes the leaves stand out more against the lighter finer silk background.

four natural dye pieces leaf themeHere are the four finished pieces waiting to be turned into book covers. I haven’t washed and pressed the brown piece yet.

I still have plenty of silk left! There are lots of the deep rich red tones to play with and I might make something using only the finer of the two kinds of silk. The finer silk took the dye colors in a very different way and there are some very pretty apricot, melon, lavender and peach tones.Perhaps I will make some cuffs.

As for the wee journals, they might become gifts…although, I’ll be keeping the berry-colored one for myself!🙂

Speaking of natural dye colors, I will finish by showing you just a tiny sampling of the bands I just received from Maxima and the weavers in Cochabamaba…

latest bands cbba










Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 15, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Leaves on the Snow

I can’t tell you how much fun I have been having with the tiny natural dye silk samples I was given on my last trip away! As the temperature here fluctuates every few days from the 60s to the 90s, I find myself buried in cool purples, warm golds and soft cheery spring-like greens and blues.

First I would like to show you what is going to become of the ”Leaves Amongst the Berries” piece that I showed in my last post. I am going to make it into a journal cover. I have woven journal covers before where I first found some suitable journals, wove a width sample with my chosen yarn….supplementary weft leaf pattern journal cover backstrap weaving and then wove fabric to fit…

journal coversThis time, I have done things the wrong way round having first woven the cloth and then deciding to use it to cover a little book. I needed to find a journal that was just the right size and I got lucky…

book cover natural dyesThen, I dove into that lovely heap of naturally dyed silk and picked out some purples and golds for the next project…

purple and gold natural dyesThe center has purples, rusts and greens mixed with off-white in what I planned to be a section of double weave. I wanted to have multi-colored naturally-dyed silk leaves on a background of solid off-white.

purple and gold natural dye with double weaveHere it is getting started on the loom. Only the center is double weave and it is flanked by warp-faced plain weave…”embedded double weave”, as I like to call this technique, which requires the use of two weft threads.

embedded double weave with natural dye silk samplesOf course, the back shows off-white leaves on a multi-colored background for an entirely different look. I am calling this one ”Leaves on the Snow”.

Now I have to figure out how to use this in a finished item where both faces can be seen. I had initially planned it as a book cover but it seems a shame to have the other face permanently hidden. Hmmm….I should have switched the background and motif color halfway. That would have made an interesting book cover with front and back covers being different.  And this is one of the many things I love about writing this blog… ideas come to me as I sit here typing. I’ll weave another one that shows both possible faces!reverse of double weave

So, here are both pieces showing off all those luscious natural dyes colors…

On to the next one….this time using greens, blues and golds with a few dark greys tossed in here and there…

blues and greens

This one has been planned for a book cover. I have bought the journal and I want to have a sort of ”leaf and creeper” pattern down the center of the front and back covers…

leaf and creeper pattern on natural dyed silk

Between these larger projects, I sewed a wrist cuff from some of the sample fabric I had woven for my conference pouch and edged it with a ñawi awapa. I love it when my samples can also be turned into a finished item.wrist cuffs with nawi awapas

I made the one on the right some time ago with my hand-spun llama fiber. I dyed the fiber with cochineal and spearmint leaves and used that along with some natural brown. I was wiser this time with the blue cuff as I started and ended the tubular edging in the spot that would be covered by the button. It is pretty hard to finish it neatly.You can see the start and finish on the llama fiber cuff on the lower left-hand side where there is a noticeable bump.

yurt design cell phone pouchMeanwhile, many of my backstrap weaving buddies have been in Santa Fe at the annual International Folk Art Market and have been sharing pictures and video. Marge Sume has kindly allowed me to use the video she shot of a gentleman from Kyrgzystan weaving a narrow band and I want to put together a post on these simple kinds of looms that have what I call ”raised” string heddles. Mapuche weavers here in South America use a similar system. I was particularly interested in seeing that weaver at work as I have woven several replicas of motifs of Kyrgyzstan. But, that will be for next time!

Other weaving buddies around the word have been sending me pictures and sharing what they have been creating on their looms. You may remember that Adem, in Turkey, was weaving a poncho for his niece as a surprise gift. Here is the fabric in progress on his vertical loom…

adem (1)

And here is the delighted Hazel showing it off! What a fabulous job Adem did.


Anne has been enjoying some summer outdoor weaving of complementary-warp bands on her porch with its spectacular views…


Aśka Kucharz, in Poland, sent me a picture of a double weave piece she created after having followed my tutorial.  She used her piece as part of the exam to obtain the title of Master Craftsman in Poland as an external student of the Folk University of Artistic Crafts (ULRA). You can see more of her beautiful work on her blog.


I still have lots of the naturally dyed silk left. I have rolled all the tiny skeins into balls and sorted them into color groups. What a lovely sight they are and I have to thank Sara, Eileen and Diane who were responsible to getting these skeins into my hands. They are giving me a lot of joy.

naturally dyed silk

Let me close by sharing this cute wool promotional video by Woolmark…






Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 1, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Winter Moods

It has been a couple of weeks since the last post and I started off weaving something in a woolly wintry mood. I guess the colors make it feel wintry to me…the blue and black alongside a greyish snow-like white. This is the piece that I was planning as the ”conference pouch” that I told you about in my last blog post. A few things changed along the way. I decided to weave it with four selvedges. It is a small piece and a nice opportunity to get in some more practice with finishing a weaving with four selvedges. For that reason, I decided not to include the little pocket that I had planned. One challenge at a time is enough for me! I would have my hands full laying in the last few shots of weft on a needle and didn’t need the additional  challenge of creating the pocket.

First, I wove a sample to see how the pattern I had chosen would look and to get an idea of how I should lay it out on the real project…

sample band for pouch projectI wove the sample with four selvedges too. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use the sample to give me one of the essential pieces of information as I had neglected to note an important detail…warp length. Normally, warp length is not an important issue to me. I generally wind one of my standard-size warps to try out a new pattern or material and decide when I am finished with the experiment what I would like the piece to be. I weave as far as I feel comfortable and then simply cut the piece off the loom. However, this time I was planning a specific product and had a specific size in mind for it. As I was planning to weave a piece with four selvedges, I needed to know what the take-up would be with the kind of wool I was using. That would tell me how long my warp would need to be to produce the 12cm long pouch that I had in mind. I wanted a ch’uspa-style pouch…one with an open mouth into which I could easily place and remove things without any fiddling about…so, no flap or closure.

Now I know that the amount of take-up is extremely small. It was very surprising information but it came too late. I over compensated for take-up and wound a warp that was too long and so my pouch now has a flap…oh well. A warp of 30.5cm ended up as 29.5cm of woven cloth which reduced to 29cm after washing and pressing.

Here is the project underway. I have started the weaving at both ends so that my piece can have four selvedges.

I wanted the ”terminal area” (the area where I have to stop weaving the pick-up pattern because the space between the two woven ends becomes too small to manage for pick-up), to be where I folded the cloth to form the pouch. This meant I had to do a bit of back-and-forth-ing from one end to the other to make sure the terminal area would be positioned just where I wanted it. I should point out that there was no need for this piece to have four selvedges. I have made cloth for many little bags by simple cutting the fabric off the loom and hemming the raw edge. I simply wanted to make this piece with four selvedges as interesting challenge.  I had never attempted it in wool this fine before.

closing the gap in four selvedge clothHere you can see the gap between the two ends of weaving getting smaller. I have changed to finer cross sticks and finer swords. I use the cross sticks to help open the heddle shed. I form a separate cross on two swords to do the pick-up. I wanted to keep doing the pick-up pattern for as long as I could. That involved a bit of awkward wrenching around with fingers stuffed into spaces that were too small and, as a result, the weft shots on one side got compressed more than those on the other meaning that the fell dipped at one edge. That made it hard to close the gap at that edge neatly.

wool piece with four selvedgesThe final needle-woven rows are a bit on the wide side.  I am, nevertheless, pleased with the result as a first attempt in this fine wool. I wanted a tiny terminal area and I wanted it to sit at the fold in the cloth…

pouch constructionThen came the construction of the pouch with all the fun embellishments…

coil stitches and pom pomsI edged the bottom of the pouch with coil stitches and added a couple of cute coiled pom poms.

nawi awapa edgingThe sides and flap are edged with a patterned tubular band called ñawi awapa.

nawi awapa and andean pebble weave strapI wove an Andean Pebble Weave pattern strap choosing a pattern that resembled the ñawi awapa and wove it without having to do pick-up by using 4 sets of string heddles.

Andean Pebble Weave strap with four sets of heddlesThe pouch is ready for my next conference…

conference pouchNext, the lovely pile of naturally-dyed silk samples that I told you about last week was calling to me….

While I thought long and hard about how I wanted to use these small samples, I spent some time sewing my two wool panels together…

joining stitch on wool panelsBoth this and the brown wool blanket stand by while I figure out how I would like to edge them.

As for the silk samples, I gathered up tiny skeins of similar sort of berry colors and wound them into balls. I wanted to create a warp with all the berry colors mixed. I decided not to go with any kind of stripe formula or planning and just wound a bit of this and a bit of that together. It is a random mish-mash of colors and I like it! Not all the silk is of the same weight and so there is yarn of varying girth all thrown in together here…silk dye sample warpBut first…. a sample…of course!

sample for silk natural dye projectThis may not look very wintry to you but it represents a different kind of winter mood to me. I love the way it looked as I sat at the loom with the soft low rays of winter sun falling across it.

I needed to sample to see what kind of width I could expect as well as figure out how many strands of embroidery floss were suitable for the supplementary weft. The sample gave me the ability to know approximately what width I could expect from the main project. It couldn’t be 100% accurate because of the mix of different weights of silk in the large project.

Random colors, random weights of silk and random placement of leaves…this is so not like me! But, I am really happy with it. I have used variegated tencel as supplementary weft to weave motifs on a single-color background in other projects. This project turns that idea around with solid-color motifs on a multi-color background. I like how the leaves change shape when they are placed on the areas of warp that comprise the finer silk warp threads.

Here’s the late afternoon winter sun illuminating the larger project…

winter sun on leaf projectI got the initial idea for this project from a piece by Mollie Freeman in which she stamped solid leaf motifs on one of her hand painted warps. I haven’t seen her piece woven yet.

I don’t have a product in mind for this. No doubt the cloth will end up being folded into some kind of pouch. It is a really fun project and I have lots more of the naturally dyed silk samples in other tones to play with. I am wondering how this will wash and hope I don’t lose too much color.

leaf project progressI am getting pretty close to the end here. I hope I can squeeze in a couple more leaves while I think about what I want to do with all those other gorgeous silk natural dye sample skeins.





















Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 17, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Wool Weather

Finally….I am weaving with the right material to suit the season. It’s winter here in Bolivia and, although I am back in a tshirt and shorts today, we have had a couple of weeks of rather chilly weather. I wove with 20/2 wool as I finished the second of two purple panels that I plan to sew together. While doing so, I used the joined brown wool panels that I recently wove as my lap blanket. It was just the right weight for the cool-ish temperatures that we sometimes experience here in our tropical winter.

two purple wool panels backstrap weavingHere are the two finished panels that have been washed and pressed. The one on the left is actually showing its ”wrong” side so you can see how the narrower of the two patterns looks on the reverse. When both ”right” faces are showing, the wider strips of hook patterns on the two panels are mirror images. I created the patterns using black supplementary warp threads. I now have to decide which kind of joining stitch I will use to connect the panels and what I would like to apply to the edges.

My brown wool piece has been sitting by waiting for its edging. I have not quite made up my mind about that but I now have the brown wool that I need and just need to make some sketches and plan out the pattern. I am thinking about applying a flat band to the edges rather than a tubular one.

brown wool panelsl backstrap weavingIn the meantime, I have warped a sample using the same wool I used for my panels for my next project. The item itself is small but there will be quite a lot of time involved as I hope to weave the piece with four selvedges as well as include a tiny pocket and lots of decorative stitching and other embellishments. My short, narrow sample will simply show me how my pattern will look in my chosen colors of 20/2 wool.

sample warp for wool chuspaI want to make a 4-inch wide pouch…the kind people often wear around their necks at conferences. All participants were given one at a conference that I attended and it turned out to be the handiest thing for storing room key cards, meal passes, the business cards of people we had met along with other bits and pieces. So, I want to weave one of my own and I want it to look like a mini ch’uspa….the woven pouch in which people here in Bolivia carry their coca leaves.

chuspa I wove in Potosi 1997Here’s the acrylic ch’uspa I wove with my teachers in Potosi, Bolivia back in 1997. Using her drop spindle, my teacher Hilda added twist to the acrylic yarn that we had bought in the market. The piece has four selvedges and I wove it down on my knees using a horizontal ground loom.

Hilda showing me how to finish a four-selvedge piece.

Hilda showing me how to finish my first piece with four-selvedges.

I wove a few inches at both ends of the loom and then, when the space in between was too small to allow me to continue weaving the pick-up pattern, I changed to weaving just horizontal bars. Eventually, the space was too small to allow me to continue using the shed rod. It was removed and I continued using only the heddles for one shed while needle-weaving the other.. I finally had to remove the hedddles and create both sheds using a needle.

A shed is created by picking up every other warp end on a needle and then transferring the ends to a very narrow wooden sword or metal rod. Then the weft is passed.

It is a slow, slow process. Hilda had helped me finish my first piece this way but for this, my second piece, I was on my own!

While Hilda wove a band on a backstrap loom and her sister Juliana cut wool to spin, I wove the fabric for the little pouch on a ground loom.

While Hilda wove a band on a backstrap loom and her sister Juliana cut wool to spin, I wove the fabric for the little pouch on a ground loom.

The pouch has the little outer pocket that is typical of many of the Bolivian ch’uspas. I had asked to be shown how to weave a ch’uspa and Julia and Hilda had to consult about how exactly to wind the warp to include the pocket as neither had woven one for many years.

warping-for-chuspaSetting up to weave this odd-looking warp is easy enough when using a ground loom. You simply pound stakes into the ground to hold the extra warp-length for the pocket section under tension.

It’s a bit more fiddly when using a backstrap loom. Some years ago, I tried it here at home using cotton. The warping and set-up went smoothly but I came to the conclusion that cotton was not a good material for this particular technique….at least not in my hands. So, I am looking forward to trying again with wool. It seems to me that a stretchier material would make things a lot easier.

chuspa experiment in cottonThe little pocket sits on the outside of the pouch and is accessed from the inside…

chuspa-inside-outI have turned my woven ch’uspa inside out in the above photos and you can see the little pocket opening.

When I had finished weaving the pouch, after having struggled through the final rows of needle weaving, Hilda and I set about decorating it. She taught me to weave and sew a patterned tubular edging. We edged the pocket with a tripled cross-knit looping stitch and then added a finger-loop braided strap.

This is the pattern  that I hope to use (it is charted in my 2nd book) and my sample will tell me if it is going to look too small in the 20/2 wool. I charted these birds from a small fragment of pre-columbian cloth that Tom Knisely once brought to show me when I was visiting the Mannings.pre columbian bird patternI’ll be embellishing my little pouch in almost every way I know using patterned tubular bands, coil stitches and other decorative sewn finishes, braids and pompoms …it should be a fun project.









Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 6, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Majestic

MAJESTIC – I took the title of this post from the new name of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite….just one of many majestic things I saw during my trip in the U.S. this spring.

I was already jumping up and down at this first sighting of Half Dome. While I took pictures, Anne took a few pictures of me. My friends in Sonora made sure we had a day to spend together in the park. Thank you!

I was already jumping up and down at this first sighting of Half Dome. While I took pictures, Anne took a few pictures of me. My friends in Sonora made sure we had a day to spend together in the park. Thank you! This has always been a dream of mine.

I am back in Bolivia now to a rather cold and soggy winter. There’s nothing like travel to show you how climates are changing in different places. I just left southern California where people are seriously wondering if they will ever see rain again. Back here in Santa Cruz, our dry season is on hold, with day after day of dreary drizzle which is seeping into the walls. Wet Season used to mean hot humid mornings with clouds building up to tropical downpours at 3pm daily. They were a joy and a relief. Twenty minutes later, the sun would be out and the clean streets would be steaming.

One thing about those endlessly warm dry days in southern California…you can weave outdoors! This is something I have been wanting to do on all the visits I have made to the U.S and it has just never happened. The weather wouldn’t cooperate.

This time, it was simply perfect with just enough breeze to cool things down. And it remained perfect day after day after day. We had fun weaving tubular bands and Andean Pebble Weave patterns on Ginny’s sheltered patio and then out on the grass as more people came and we needed extra room.

backstrap weaving outdoors

Here is some contrasting scenery from the south and north along the west coast…

Hills in southern California.

Hills in southern California looking sandy and dry.

Hiking in the forest with Betty in Washington state.

Hiking in the forest with Betty in Washington state.

And then, of course, there’s Yosemite! My friends saved this overlook for me for the end of the day after having done some hiking and some sitting about in the sunshine in the valley. Majestic!

I love the two soaring birds against the face of El Capitan.

I love the two soaring birds against the face of El Capitan.

And, there was lots of weaving to be done, fun people to hang out with and beautiful textiles to be seen along the way….

…like the opportunity to meet Taylor Cass Stevenson whom I had first encountered via my blog while she was learning to make string heddles from my tutorials. She came to visit with Betty and me in Washington and brought bundles of beautiful Bhutanese textiles to show. There were large backstrap-woven panels and tablet-woven belts that she had bought and been given in Bhutan as well as books and remarkable pieces she had made herself.

Tablet-woven belts and fabric that Taylor wove herself while in Bhutan.

Tablet-woven belts and fabric that Taylor wove herself while in Bhutan.

Gorgeous Bhutanese cloth that Taylor acquired during her stay.

Gorgeous Bhutanese cloth with fine supplemental-weft motifs that Taylor acquired during her stay.

Taylor had spent two years in Bhutan working on a project which involved weaving with recycled materials. She worked on weaving bags made with recycled plastics. The large green bag in the next picture is woven with strips cut from plastic soda bottles. A small simple device that uses the blade from a pencil sharpener is used to cut the bottles in strips. The best part of this story, for me, is that the bags have found a strong local market.

I’ll quote from Taylor’s Live Debris website…

Live Debris workshops demonstrate and develop techniques and products for reusing and reducing waste materials, while also addressing the social and personal significance of reintegrating our discards. The workshops are site specific, taking into account local waste production, resource availability, need and interests. They also demand mutual education, asking participants to share their own skills and ideas around reuse and alternative waste management systems. Artist and waste researcher Taylor Cass Stevenson has taught reuse craft and design in the context of peace and security to kids and adults around the world. Workshops can be conducted in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese or Sharchop.

recycled plastic bags live debris Bhutan

See more bags here. You’ll be hearing more from me about Taylor in future posts.

I got to go to several guild meetings and see Show and Tell, hear about weaving challenges and see the results, get lots of ideas for my own projects, as well meet people who have been following my blog.

In Los Angeles, I got to see a fiber art exhibit which included Anna Zinmeister’s amazing work, The Beatles, which I believe also appears in the latest edition of Handwoven magazine. On my visit last year when I stayed with Anna, I saw her pieces depicting John and Yoko which she had made as part of her guild’s Beatle-themed weaving challenge.

Anna Zinmeister Damask Weave The Beatles

Anna Zinmeister. Damask Weave. The Beatles.

At this same guild meeting, I was given two beautiful Bolivian awayos one of which is labeled as having been made in the late 19th century.


Here it is folded up. As you know, one of my latest ”things” is the siray, or joining stitches that weavers here use to connect their woven panels into larger pieces. This weaver has used a couple of styles to decorate the join in her carrying cloth. Look how small the terminal area is where she had to stop doing her pick-up pattern and resort to plain weave in order to complete the four-selvedged cloth. You might be able to make out what look like stripes in the black solid-color section. Those are formed by using Z and S-twist yarn in alternating narrow strips.

In this next picture you will be able to see more closely the changes in the direction of twist. Now I think this is something that I would like to try.

awayo with z and s twist ''stripes''My friend Betty has an enormous textile collection and each time I visit is another chance to look at things. Each time I have something else on which I want to focus. This time it was joining stitches. As you know, I don’t buy textiles any more when I am traveling in Peru and Bolivia unless I really can’t figure out how a piece was made. I will then buy it so that I can examine it more closely at will.  I just take pictures of textiles now and so I don’t often get a chance to handle and inspect things as closely as I would like.

sirayI love all the pebble weave figures on this one and the jolly joining stitch down the middle.

narrow band with heddles on a stick

I used another piece in Betty’s collection as background for my band with its heddles on sticks. This band is too narrow to warrant heddles on sticks but I was teaching friends how to make them  and this narrow warp served the purpose. The heddles are just so darned cute on those tiny sticks. It took me a while to recognize this pattern which I copied from one of Betty’s pieces as simply the kuti hook pattern woven connected head to tail and flipped back and forth. That is the way so many of these patterns are formed…by simply mirroring, flipping and sometimes connecting small simple motifs.

One of my weaving friends took this very classic Andean hook motif and flipped it this way and that, separating each motif with a white horizontal bar. I love the look of her own innovation. It sits on a piece with the beautiful natural dye colors used by the weavers in the CTTC in Peru.

That particular Andean hook pattern is more often seen woven like the examples in the next set of pictures Focus on the white threads in the picture top left and you will see the basic hook. Focus on the black threads in the picture bottom right and there, again, you will see the simple hook motif.

andean hook patterns

Here’s another version. If you focus on the white threads rather than the red, you will see that this is the same classic hook woven tail to tail and then head to head. I charted this one from this textile in Betty’s collection and sent the chart to a couple of weaving friends with whom I had spent time on this trip. Here’s Elinor’s version…

elinor 2

I love charting and like to share my enjoyment of it with the people with whom I get to weave. I like to walk them through a couple of simple charting exercises in the hope that they will find patterns on textiles and online that they want to weave and have the skills to do so. I was very pleased when Tina grabbed the Tarahumara band that Sofia had brought to show and started charting it. I hope to see her woven version of it one day. It wasn’t an easy one to chart!

tina charting

There was double weave fun to be had too in northern California. Wendy had charted her own butterfly motif but didn’t get to weave it in the time I spent with her. I hope she sends me a picture of it soon.

double weave cali

We got brave and later added extra heddles to make the pick-up process faster…

Tubular bands and decorated pouches were also on the weaving list…

annie's pouch with tubular bandThat’s Annie’s pouch with ñawi awapa tubular bands along the sides, coil stitches along the bottom and some cross knit looping along the mouth.

Here’s a closer look at that tubular band…

nawi awapa

Here’s one of the outdoor weavers, Carl, enjoying Andean Pebble Weave…

carl andean pebble weaveGinny got tired of having to pick up her sword when it slipped out and fell to the ground and Snap the dog was probably tired of being bonked in the head with it. I offer two solutions…sit on the ground so that sword doesn’t have far to fall…weave lots more because experience will help you find that ”sweet spot” and ideal tension that allows the sword to stay in place. But now, Ginny has a third solution: apply some double sided tape and stick a piece of fine velvet on the sword…

ginny velvet sword

And while Anne was taking pictures as she Patty and I were hiking in Yosemite park, my weaving friends from the U.S and around the world were sending me pictures of their work and themselves at the loom…

Heading to Yosemite Falls

Heading to Yosemite Falls.

destin washingtonThat’s Destin a day or so after our time spent together. She was camping at a lake and her husband set up a post so that she could do some Andean Pebble Weave. How idyllic is that?

In Florida, Berna and Cyndy got together to make their backstraps…

berna and cyndy

Lori in northern California made a backstrap too…


As did Wendy…

wendy backstrapI love those colors!

cindy andean pebble weaveCindy sewed three bands together and made a pouch. She covered the joins and decorated the edges with red cross knit looping. While I haven’t seen cross knit looping sewn flat in Peru and Bolivia, my Montagnard backstrap weaving teachers use it flat, as Cindy has done, as a joining stitch when connecting woven panels.

Adem in Turkey has just about finished the adorable poncho for his 1-year old niece. You can see that he split the piece while weaving to make a neck opening for her. I told him that I want to see her wearing it in the next picture. Adem uses a vertical Mapuche-style loom rather than a backstrap loom. The patterning technique he is using is the one I call Simple Warp Floats.

adem (1)

Alicia Wilches in Argentina, under the instruction of my friend Susanna Vallejo, wove a pattern that I charted in my second book. Alicia also uses a Mapuche-style vertical loom…

alicia wilchesHungyingyu in Taiwan has been dabbling in double weave. She used the llama figures that I have charted here on my blog. This is her first attempt. I see great things coming!

hungyingyuDawn, in the Netherlands, sent me pictures of things she has been making following my blog. I cannot tell you how much admiration I have for people around the world taking up their sticks and learning all this via the internet and my blog without ever having had face-to-face instruction. They are inspiring!

First we see her beautiful backstrap…

dawn mul backstrap

Then she tried some Andean Pebble Weave using my book

dawn apw 1…as well as some supplementary weft patterning. This is a pattern I charted from a scrap of pre-columbian fabric that I have.


dawn supp weft

Sobahime has been delighting us in the Ravelry group with the fabulous towels she has been weaving on her backstrap loom in cotton. Sometimes she uses her own handspun cotton as weft. She made her own reed to achieve a balanced weave structure.

sobahime reed and project

sobahime finished towels one with handspun cottonHere are two of her finished towels. The one on the right uses her own handspun cotton as weft.

What else?

I bought yarn, I was given yarn, I stayed in Susie and Rex’s yurt again, this time with its new painted door..

Betty had read about my use of 60/2 silk in backstrap weaving and brought out some unused cones of Lunatic Fringe 140/2 silk for me!! Dare I??

 Later I showed these to Sara saying that they were kind of her colors. She agreed but said that the pink was a bit wimpy. She likes fuchsia. The next day she showed up with cones 140/2 silk from her own stash to add…Thank you!

I will be making cuffs to start with to see if this is actually doable! It will be interesting to see how much pattern I can squeeze into a cuff width using this fine thread. In this picture you can also see a bunch of buttons and charms that I picked up all over the place for bag closures and more woven necklaces and bracelets. I really enjoyed wearing those things on this trip. There’s also a sweet zipper adornment that Cindy made in tatting and gave me.

While with weaving friends in northern California, I was invited to select things from a deceased weaver’s estate. There were so many GREAT books. It was nice to see them go to good homes but inside I ached…it would just be too troublesome getting them back to Bolivia. Instead, I picked up all the wonderful silk natural dye samples you see below. They are all beautifully organized and labeled and I think I can weave something nice with all these soft tones. There are samples of logwood, indigo, cochineal, madder, osage orange, cutch, fustic, mixes of two or three of these and overdyes.

I am thinking of picking one color group and weaving small projects with dark solid supplementary-weft motifs on the background of soft tones. I wonder how that would look. I am inspired by Mollie Freeman who posted a hand painted warp project on Facebook on which she stamped dark leaf motifs.

Speaking of natural dye colors, I got to visit with a textile collector in southern California. I can’t even begin to tell you about this collection. The color work on some of the older mantles, the incredible fineness of the yarn and the width of the backstrap loom woven pieces were astounding. What would appear as a blackish purplish solid-color piece in indoor natural lighting would simply shimmer with all sorts of tones when held up to the light.

I was struck by the piece you see below from Bolivia which the owner estimated as being possibly made in the 1880s because the colors look just like those that are being so expertly produced by the CTTC now in Peru. I like the plain-weave tubular band edging. It is interesting to see the ripples across the solid colors in the terminal area which shows how the weaver must have labored to finish the four-selvedged piece picking up the extremely fine threads with some kind of needle to form those final sheds.

Mary, with whom I stayed on this trip, is running an online natural dye class. The first sessions are on yellows. I got to see all her prep work for the classes as well as some of the finished work from her students. Future classes will be on reds and indigo. What fun to be able to do this online from far away interacting with teacher and fellow participants online.  A kit is sent in the mail.

marys online class

I will leave you here with one more picture of that special day in Yosemite…

the weaving gang at yosemiteMany thanks to all those who opened their homes to me.









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