Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 24, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Circles

circle 1I just learned how to cut out circles in my simple drawing program and have been messing around with that with some photos of my weaving.

The pattern at left is one I used for a new necklace idea. This time I wove the actual pendant rather than just the cord or band on which pendants hang. It’s 60/2 silk and the pattern is an adpatation of the one that appears on a scrap of belt fabric that I bought in Cusco in 1996.

I wove this and will weave others as something to give me a bit of a change of pace as I sit for hours and hours applying ikat tape for my latest big project. I am hoping to make this ikat project a ”two-fer” ….a chance to practice creating circles and, if it is successful, a piece of fabric that can be made into a travel cover for my new laptop.

Making the photo circles in the drawing program was easy enough. If only it were that easy to create smooth curves and circles in warp-faced weaving. Choosing the right structure and using fine enough yarn does play a large role.

silk cuffs front and backIn the band in the center, I was trying to replicate the pattern on a button I had bought. It took a few attempts before I could get the proportions right and create a somewhat circular motif.

Here are the necklaces that I have made so far. The latest one with the pattern I placed in the round photo above is in the middle…
woven necklaces backstrap weavingThe cord is a cotton 4-strand braid. It was challenging putting that bit of weft twining along the bottom of the pendant using the 60/2 silk. It came out very sweetly.

Before settling down to tearing strips of plastic and wrap, wrap, wrapping for the ikat project, I made a bag with the wool fabric I showed you last week.

backstrap weaving woolI wanted to decorate the sides of the bag with a tubular band and planned something that would complement the twill lines in the main motif.

tubular band on wool bagI am fond of cutting bag flaps into curves and edging them with tubular bands but I decided to leave this one uncut and edge it with coil stiches instead. They are little coil-wrapped circles, or rings, that extend from the upper surface of the flap over the edge and to the inside. These decorative stitches are sometimes used by weavers here in Bolivia along the bottom edges of their woven ch’uspas…the small pouches in which they carry coca leaves. It’s a bit of a fiddly business.

I wove a simple, brown strap and used orange weft to liven it up a little and better match the bag. And this is where circles came into play again. I planned a 75-inch warp to be on the safe side and, as I simply do not have the room to stretch out a 75-inch warp in my room and am not a fan of rolling up the far end of the warp, I wound a circular warp instead.

circular warpingI ended up with 67 inches of woven band and 3 1/2 inches of unwoven warp. I didn’t really have to change my sitting position to scoot closer and closer to the back beam as the weaving rapidly progressed. That is one of the nice things about the circular warp. The distance the weavers sits from the end beam barely changes at all and so, something against which to brace one’s feet can be easily set up. Being so very narrow and in plain weave, the band was very quick to weave. It was fun watching the band turning over the front beam and growing below, then stretching itself out toward the back of the loom, turning up over the back beam and then inching its way back towards me to make a full circle.

Here is the finished bag…

I really like the look of the tubular band along those edges. The pattern reminds me of the carved wooden columns that are used here in Santa Cruz in the centuries-old Jesuit mission churches. They have thick jungly vines encircling their length. The piece was an exercise in several things which included creating a new tubular band pattern and applying coils stitches with very fine wool

This can now join the rather small collection of items I have woven using industrially-spun wool. Each time I have used wool, it has been with more than one goal in mind. The two pieces below were woven with the same kind of wool. I wanted to see how it would stand up to string heddles and warp-faced weaving as well as practice the discontinuous-warp technique that I had studied in Peru.

wool backstrap weaving discontinuous warpThis next wool piece was a chance to practice creating a fourth selvedge and use wool supplementary weft with wool warp…

This last one is an old piece that I wove back in 1997 just after I came back to my home in Chile from Peru where I had studied a supplemental-warp technique for the second time as well as the creation of four selvedges. I had also recently visited a sheep station in southern Argentina where the owners showed me a belt that the Mapuche wife of one of their former farmhands had woven and this had inspired the patterns and colors…

mapuche-bag-front-and-backSo, I haven’t done a whole lot with store-bought wool. Living in the tropics where wool cannot be bought just might have something to do with it.

I have more pendants in mind to weave this week and, if things go well, I will get to dye the ikat project.

Let me leave you here with some projects from students and online weaving friends. Cheryl, Jan and Jane are three of the weavers who are taking part in a guild group project to create a bag for their county fair. Each weaver is to create a band of specified dimensions in red, black and white which will be put together to make a bag.  Jan’s (on the left) and Jane’s (on the right) bands were woven using backstrap looms and the Andean Pebble Weave structure. The patterns are in my books. Cheryl’s tablet-woven piece, with her own pattern, was created using a loom with weighted warps.

jan jane cherylHere’s the finished bag which, after the fair, will be raffled off amongst the contributing weavers. It was really hard for me to imagine how this bag was going to turn out. I think it’s amazing!11742664_10206985393054367_1959968408212876236_n

pick-up within an ikat circleAnd so, for me, it’s back to the ikat frame and those circles. I successfully created a nice small circle in ikat in my very first attempt some time ago. However, I am not entirely convinced that this was not just a fluke.  I’ll let you know how it goes.







Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 17, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – ”Unnatural” Beauty

columnweftthreadsI always try to read my latest blog post the morning after having posted it. More often that not there is a typo or two that needs fixing and I seem to catch those more easily when fresh in the morning rather than at 10pm when I generally hit the ”publish” button.

What I noticed more than anything else when I did the morning-after review of last week’s post, was the way that the picture of Maxima’s ch’uspa gleefully jumped off the page. Those festive reds, oranges and pinks and joyful greens rang out as I scrolled down the page. It is not hard to understand why Maxima should want to use the synthetic thread in these bright colors for her husband’s outfit as Mayor of Huancarani as her aim is to create something festive. In the same way, she and other weavers in her co-operative have started working on their llicllas for Carnival next year and are using acrylic yarn in bright colors bought in the market. There is still work involved before the pieces can be warped as the bought yarn needs to have more twist added so that it will stand up to the abrasion of warp-faced weaving.

natural dye colors independencia Bolivia
While the weavers are able to obtain beautiful deep shades of red using natural substances like cochineal, most colors they get from natural sources tend to be much more muted. Natural whites are not as brilliantly white as the synthetic whites either and these weavers are not using indigo to obtain blues. The hairiness of the handspun wool creates slightly more ”subdued” motifs next to the sharp, crisp ones woven with synthetic yarn. However, we, in the western world, love those natural dye colors and the way they so perfectly blend and work together and we tend to choose handspun wool textiles from indigenous weavers over synthetics.

reversingfor2ndhalfIn the above picture, Maxima has just repositioned her ch’uspa piece on the loom so that she can start weaving from the other end. This will enable her to create a piece with four selvedges. (Picture courtesy of PAZA Bolivia.)

It is even easier to understand the weavers’ leanings towards these bright colors when you see the rather bleak and colorless landscapes at some of the higher altitudes of Bolivia.

When I studied with weavers in Potosi, Bolivia, I shopped with one of my teachers for the yarn that we would use. I had her make the color choices as I wanted something that represented her taste. Her sister, however, turned up her nose when we had finished warping! She might have liked the colors but she definitely didn’t like the way in which we had arranged them. You can see how the woven piece is a spot of cheery brightness against the hard baked dry earth and stone walls of the patio. Of course, there is lots of pink.

learning double weave potosiI remember the first time I visited Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca in Peru in 1996. I wanted to buy a textile from the market in the plaza and kept turning down pieces that were synthetic. Yet, these were the pieces that had the most beautiful work of all. The synthetic thread was extremely fine and allowed the weavers to create double weave motifs with an incredible amount of detail. The motifs in brilliant white stood out boldly and crisply against backgrounds of ruby red and green.

I absolutely love this Bolivian poncho made with exceptionally fine synthetic thread that a friend of mine bought in a textile store in California. The amount of design detail that has been packed into the narrow bands of color is extraordinary. The weaver has used some of the typical strong pinks and yellows alongside much softer tones in the columns of double weave.Bolivian poncho synthetic thread double weave

Sometimes, synthetic colors are used alongside undyed handspun wool such as in this piece from Peru….

tantaSynthetic dyes are sold in the highland street markets. It is lovely to see the mounds of colored powders in rows on the tables next to old weighing scales and sheets of paper for wrapping the purchases. Handspun wool can then be easily dyed for colorful woven bankets and carrying cloths….

synthetic dyes peruBolivian hatbands, decorated with colorful acrylic supplementary weft threads, are woven with warp thread that is finer than sewing thread. This fineness allows the weavers a lot of flexibility in their motifs with weft floats that can span up to 20 warp threads without being too long and cumbersome. I doubt that anyone is taking the trouble to spin yarn that fine anymore. The bright colors, tassels and pom poms give these bands a very festive look.

hatbands-aPebble Weave hatbands in Oruro and belts in Ayacucho are bright and eye catching…

oruro hatband

ayacucho beltWhen I am presenting at guild meetings I place this next piece of cloth on the display table along with samples of handpsun wool, wool weavings of Peru and Bolivia and my own weavings. Many people are immediately attracted to this piece. It is, in fact, a machine-made acrylic version of traditional weaving patterns of Chinchero, Peru. The weavers of Chinchero, of course, weave with their handspun and naturally dyed wool yarn. I don’t know where this piece was made, having bought it in Santa Cruz airport.Craylic knock off chinchero patternYou all must know by now that I adore the use of red, black and white in textiles. For me it has a sort of ”tribal” flavor.  The inclusion of bright acrylic supplemental weft in this red, black and white saddle bag from northern Peru gives it a completely different flavor, I think.

As for me, I remain conservative in my color choices. I took a slight detour this week by using orange. I found a nice burnt orange wool on my last trip away and I wanted to try out this new wool yarn to see how it performed in the grip of string heddles and  warp-faced weaving. I used it, along with the other colors, straight off the skein.

It is wool. Therefore, it was hairy and gnarly in the heddles and sticky. That’s its nature. There are ways to deal with that. Each type of yarn calls on a different strategy for opening clean sheds and avoiding excess abrasion and breakages. I had to be careful to advance the warp often so that the heddles were not sitting too long on one spot and causing a lot of friction on that one part of the warp. No threads broke and the resulting cloth is gorgeously soft!

backstrap weaving woolI am currently planning and sampling a tubular band pattern that will suit the motif. The purpose of this weaving was to test the wool. It was a success and so, I shall make something with the cloth and, at the same time, try out my own tubular band pattern. Ths is the first time I have used the motif you see above besides the tiny sample I wove for my second book.

wool backstrap weaving tinkipaya motifWhen I look at all the colorful weavings in this post, I am reminded of the machine-knitting business I used to have in my skiing days. In Australia, for every colorful patterned wool ear-warmer band that I sold, I would sell ten plain navy blue ones! It was a totally different when I spent the other half of the year in Europe. The Swedes in particular would wear wildly colorful hats with pom-poms that erupted from the top and cascaded down the sides like fireworks! The more colorful, the better and they were a blast of color in the snow. It’s interesting to note the different attitudes to color. And my ski suit? Well, there were a few but my favorite was, of course, black (with some neon pink bands). This was back in the 1980s.

See you next week. I will leave you here with one more piece of bright jolliness….belts from Ayacucho…







Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 10, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Braiding and Thinking

llama fiber and charque

spinning alpacaNo,  haven’t been spinning. I have been braiding and thinking about projects new and old. I am aware from my visits to Ravelry that the great annual Tour de Fleece is underway and, while I am not participating, I was motivated by all the excitement connected with the event to dig through the cupboard and pull out some old handspun projects which I have woven with the alpaca and llama fiber you can see above. If you are wondering what’s in that bowl, it’s llama jerky.

anna-spinningI had bought that llama fiber while wandering around a tiny country settlement in Uyuni, Bolivia back in 2002. It was coarse, dry and brittle but I knew no better.  I was thrilled just to have it as it is impossible to obtain down in the jungly lowlands where I live.

I had already learned to spin but I think that spinning that rough llama fiber was the best spinning training I could have had. It was awful to card. I had a wheezing attack each time I pulled the dusty stuff out of a bag and the memory of the smell of that dust still turns my stomach. The first things I wove with that spun llama fiber still sit framed on my wall. It had been such a business that I never thought I would do it again!

Later, when my friend Janet in the U.S gave me some prepared alpaca fiber, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to spin. It felt like cheating. Here’s one of the alpaca projects on the loom…


natural_dyes_medium2I dyed some of my yarn made from the llama fiber with cochineal and plants.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI ended up making quite a few pieces of coth which I sewed into shoulder bags and pouches. These are the things that I have been pulling out of my closet. They were obviously made in the days before I started weaving tubular bands and embellishing my pieces …there is not a single tubular band or tassel to be seen!
chahuaytire tubular bandThe long pouch had some forgotten tools in them. It was nice to unzip it and discover those. I decided that this whole lot needed some sprucing up. The black bag will get a new strap and have its flap edged with something decorative. The brown bag could also do with a more interesting strap.

I decided to edge the long zippered pouch with a tubular band. This would be my chance to apply the band that is used to edge cloth in the community of Chahuaytire. Although I have sewn this kind of tubular band to pieces of cloth in samples as you can see above, I had never used it in a real project and I had not woven it with wool.

Cloth from Chahuaytire, Peru edged with a tubular band in beautiful natural dye colors

Cloth from Chahuaytire, Peru edged with a tubular band in beautiful natural dye colors.

When I visited Marijke van Epen in The Netherlands in 2012,  I worked with her on figuring out this band from a picture. Almost immediately after that visit, I went to Peru and was lucky to be able to watch one being woven and buy a warp in progress to see how it was set up.

chahuaytire and chichero bandsWhile I have seen the patterned tubular band on the right, which I learned in Chinchero Peru, also woven here in Bolivia, I have never seen what I will call the ”Chahuaytire style’,’ on the left, here in Bolivia at all.

Maxima at the Tinkuy in by Dorinda Dutcher

Maxima at the Tinkuy in 2913…photo by Dorinda Dutcher

One of my weaving teachers in Bolivia, Maxima, has an older sister, Narciza, who knows how to weave the Chinchero style of tubular band and frequently attaches it to the edge of her woven coca-leaf bags.

Dorinda, who works with Maxima, recounted one of Maxima stories in which she told of how her mother did not know the figure on the tubular band to teach them and so bartered corn to have a neighbor teach her oldest daughter, Narciza. The neighbor had recently moved to the area from Oruro (also in Bolivia).

Maxima was not interested in asking her older sister to then teach her the pattern as Narciza was in the habit of giving her a smack when she made a mistake. I always wondered if my weaving teachers sometimes had the urge to give me a wee slap when I was learning! I can remember their frustration with me back in 1996 when I broke my warp threads while trying to operate the heddles.

Maxma is currently weaving items for her husband in his new role as Mayor of Hucarani. There are several items that he and Maxima, as the Mayor;s wife, are required to have. Here Maxima is weaving a ch'uspa with columns of figures in double weave. The woven pieces need to be bright and festive and so she is using store bought acrylic rather than her own handpsun and naturally dyed wool.

Maxma is currently weaving items for her husband in his new role as Mayor of Huancarani. There are several woven items that he and Maxima, as wife of the Mayor, are required to have. Here Maxima is weaving a ch’uspa for her husband with columns of figures in double weave. The woven pieces need to be bright and festive and so she is using store bought acrylic rather than her own handpsun and naturally dyed wool.

And so, it was only in 2013 when Maxima had the chance to attend the Tinkuy de Tejedores in Cusco, Peru, that she had the opportunity to learn to weave the ñawi awapa pattern in much the same way I had in 2010.

However, Dorinda has since told me that Maxima seems to have forgotten how to weave the ñawi awapa band since returning to Bolivia.  She sends her weavings to her sister if she wants them to be edged with a ñawi awapa.

As with everything new like this, if it is not immediately put into practice, it can easily be forgotten. Ask any of my students!

One day I hope I can go out to Independencia and help refresh her memory.

I have had so much fun with the ñawi awapa since learning it, attaching it to so many things and, most recently, using it for jewelry.

nawi awapa jewelryBut, back to the ”Chahuaytire style”. I enjoyed weaving and sewing it to the edge of the pouch. It came out beautifully in wool.

pouch edged with chahuaytire tubular bandI added a braid to the zipper and I think the bag looks a lot more interesting now. There you can see all the swords and shuttles that I will be storing in it.

Not all tubular bands need to have pick-up patterns. I have often woven and attached them in just one solid color and have also used ”threaded-in” patterns, that is, ones that are created by the order of the colored threads in the warp rather than with pick-up.

These two pouches have solid color plain-weave tubular edgings.

These two pouches have solid color plain-weave tubular edgings.

The blue and green piece has a tubular edging with a simple thread-in pattern.

The blue and green piece has a tubular edging with a simple thread-in pattern. The pattern was warped off center to appear on the upper face of the fabric and show as solid green on the reverse.

Maxima often uses simple Andean Pebble Weave patterns in her tubular edgings using two sets of heddles and I have also seen weavers in Pitumarca weave tubular bands with the pattern set up in multiple heddles.

A weaver from Pitumarca weaving and sewing a tubular band edging

A weaver from Pitumarca weaving and sewing a tubular band edging.

Having learned the discontinuous-warp, or ticlla, technique with weavers from Pitumarca, I used the particular tubular band pattern used by weavers  in their community to edge my workshop piece when I got home and finished it. You can see how the edges of my cloth rolled when I took it off the loom. This was due to the high amount of twist in the handspun alpaca yarn that we were given to use. The cloth lay flat once the tubular band was applied.

discontinuous warp with tubular bandOf course, I didn’t spend my entire week on this one tubular band. As the title of this post implies, I was braiding and thinking…..braiding the enormous number of ends on my wall hangings at four minutes per braid. There are still plenty more to go.

And I was thinking about the shapes I want to weave on my next ikat ”sample”. Yes, I don’t feel ready yet to dive into the real project. I think that just one more sample with curved shapes needs to be done.

I also thought about the new slip cover I need to for my new laptop. This new one is slightly bigger than the notebook I have been using these last five years and so a new cover is needed.

Here’s the one I have been using so far with its pattern taken from Central Asian textiles…

central asoan design backstrap weaving

notebook-coverIt has been on many trips with me.

And, while I think, I pull out books, look online and make sketches. While going through the cupboard, I also pulled out a lot of fiber crying out to be spun. Maybe I will also set myself a wee spinning goal for the next months.

I will leave you for this week with this final picture of an event which is creating a lot of excitement here in Santa Cruz.

11698916_10153439643714530_8322870495067486430_nWe are on holiday today as the Pope is in Santa Cruz where he is celebrating his only Mass during his Bolivian visit. BoA, the Bolivian airline that transported him, has been posting pictures of the visit on Facebook and kindly gave me permission to show one here. Pope Francisco was presented with a handwoven souvenir of his visit when he landed and walks hand in hand with a boy who is dressed in the typical green and white outfit of Santa Cruz with his sombrero de sao.

See you next week…..





Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 3, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Cuffs and Stuff

silk cuff on loom backstrap weavingI left you last week with this silk cuff in Andean Pebble Weave still on the loom. I had wound a long enough warp to also be able to weave a few intermesh experiments. I was curious having never before used silk for this structure. And then, I was supposed to go on to my big ikat projects. Wrong.. I got stuck on silk and adornments…cuffs and other stuff… and have been fiddling around with those all week.

Coul stitches adorn the edges of a tiny case for the ipod that weaving friend, Gwen, gave me.

Coil stitches adorn the edges of a tiny case for the iPod that weaving friend, Gwen, gave me.

It is no secret that I like dressing up my weavings once they are off the loom. I like nothing better than to add tubular edgings, braids, pom-poms, decorative stitches and tassels to my little bags and pouches….no matter how tiny they are.

However, when it comes to dressing up myself, I have absolutely no interest at all. Clothes shopping is torture and I long ago gave up on wearing jewelry after having had several sentimental items yanked off my wrists and neck while walking down the streets of my home here in Bolivia. It’s funny that when I am traveling in South America, I am very careful not to display any ”riches”. Everything I have lost was taken when I was at home, feeling relatively secure, and with my guard down.

Nevertheless, I have decided that it would be nice to have some woven jewelry to wear while I am teaching and demonstrating and all eyes are on my hands. That is what I worked on this week….cuffs, a couple of necklaces and a bracelet.

silk cuffs front and backHere are the two faces of the 60/2 silk piece. The pattern on the right is one I adapted to the Andean Pebble Weave structure from a piece of Kuba cloth. The other two are in the intermesh technique and I love the way intermesh looks in silk. The strip in the center was really only a sampler as I tried to get the proportions right to match the design on a button that I had bought. The other strip has a motif from Mexican tapestry. It is always hard to decide which face I prefer.

silk cuff backstrap weaving Andean Pebble WeaveThen I started on a silk ribbon to match the cuff I had made some time ago using a pattern of the Guaraní Isoseño weavers here in Santa Cruz. I wanted to use the ribbon as a necklace.

According to the legend told to me by my teacher, it was a snake that appeared in a dream and taught weaving patterns to the first Guaraní weaver.

While the Guarani weavers’ Moisy weavings depict colorful large trees, plants, butterflies, birds and flowers, the motifs on their Kara Pepo weavings are limited to snake skin patterns and stars. The weavers also think of the snake pattern as representing the life-giving Isoso river along which they have settled.

Although this piece is so very narrow and the pattern so very repetitive, it took longer to weave than you might expect…all those tiny silk threads to pick up. I have volunteered to weave some lanyards for the Braids 2016 conference. They will need to be much longer than this necklace piece..hmmm, I should perhaps get started on those soon!

silk cuff and necklace backstrap weavingThe pendant is one that I had bought, with this very project in mind, at the Northwest Folklife Festival while in Seattle last spring. In fact, I had bought two, and so I also wove a wool ñawi awapa band for the other. While visiting with Karen Huntoon in her kumihimo studio and store last year in Truckee, I got some small magnetic jewelry clasps. I suppose these kinds of projects have been on my mind for some time as Karen’s kumihimo necklaces were very inspiring.

nawi awapa necklace and pendant backstrap weavingWell, after that, I got a little ñawi awapa crazy and decided that a bracelet in this technique would be fun. I used fine wool to weave four of these patterned tubular bands and combined them. These are the tiniest ones I have made so far and I think they are really cute.

nawi awapa bracelet backstrap weavingFun!

So that was my week in weaving and playing. I still have more of the magnetic clasps. I wonder what else I will come up with. Maybe I will just get down to drawing my large ikat cartoons instead…but, wait a minute…I don’t have an ikat cuff, do I? or an ikat necklace…..

silk cuffs and necklaces backstrap weaving


Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 26, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Small and Silky

A small post for a few small fun projects.

backstrap weaving toolsIt is nice being back home and in my spot on the floor with the full range of my backstrap weaving tools on hand.

I did some twining and got the three Bird hangings off their looms at last. Then, I rounded up all the sticks and bits and pieces that had been lying about in my ”studio” and put them back into their bins…loom bars, cable ties, heddle sticks, cross sticks, coil rods, metal selvedge rods, beaters, swords, spacers, needles, pick-up sticks, warping stakes and shuttles.

I photographed and made notes on the tiny samples that were too small to be made into anything and then threw them away, and got my notebook up to date. That all felt great. Now I can confidently say that I can put my hand on just the right stick when needed and I am ready for a new session of sampling and weaving.

Those big ikat projects are on my mind and I will soon be tackling those…getting out the frame, the ikat tape and dye, ready for days and days of tying little strips of plastic around warp threads.

But, for now, it is nice to have a variety of small pieces to work on.

silk bookmark and cuffs

wrist cuff in silk backstrap weavingI finished the bookmark in 60/2 spun silk that I had promised a friend and, finding that I had plenty of warp left over, I made another wrist cuff for myself.

I really enjoyed wearing the little cuffs I had made before I left for  my US trip earlier this year. I used an Andean Pebble Weave motif that I charted for my second book.

It is so much more comfortable doing pick-up with this 60/2 silk in this cooler weather. Working with silk with sweaty hands is quite horrible. It is amazing how much the black-and-white one has softened with wear.

Having my basket of silk out of the cupboard with all those lovely little skeins at my fingertips, I got on a bit of a cuff-making roll. I had bought some buttons while in the US and decided to weave another cuff or two using the patterns on the buttons as guides. I want to sew the buttons to the cuffs purely as decoration. One button had a knot pattern and I decided to use a design that I had charted for my second book which was based on motifs found in Kuba cloth.

silk cuff on loom backstrap weavingThat one is still on the loom and there will be plenty of warp left over to try another using the second button. I will use the intermesh structure for that one.

And, while all that was going on, I summoned up the courage to cut into that reeled silk piece that I showed you last week. This is the warp that Sara Lamb let me have to weave…her hand dyed and hand painted colors and her fabulous color arrangement. I figured that I could get two pouches out of that piece. I had measured my friend Betty’s cell phone while I was staying with her and so I was ready to cut the first piece to suit. It wasn’t easy to take the scissors to this piece! It was so lusciously smooth and slinky. I had been enjoying just holding it and letting it slip from one hand to the other.

So, here is the first of the two pouches finished…

reeled silk pouch backstrap weavingI wove and sewed a plain-weave tubular band to the edge and also used that edging to stabilize the cut and shaped flap. One of the buttons I had bought found its place. I am really happy with this little pouch and only slightly disappointed that a lot of the ”slinkiness” has been lost within the confines of the quite rigid tubular band. It does, however, feel lovely to stroke!

I made the second pouch much simpler…a squared off flap and no edging. This one retains its liquid-like characteristics and is free to slink about as it pleases. Sara had given me a small ball of the reeled silk and I was able to make a four-strand braid with it for a strap.

two reeled silk pouches backstrap weaving

So, that’s all from me for this week. I will be setting up to sample some more curved ikat shapes soon. And when I am not doing that, or weaving silk cuffs, or planning maybe something bigger, like a silk scarf, I will be braiding and braiding and braiding. There are several hundred braids to be made on the ends of the three Bird hangings….plenty to keep me out of trouble.

Until next time….




Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 15, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Folk

It’s been a while! Here I am back in Bolivia with stuff that I brought back from this latest trip. Not much to show for two and half months away, is it?

weaving stuffIn fact, the silk warp that you see there was made from silk I took away with me. I wound a warp with it early on in the trip so that I could make a bookmark for a friend. And that was as far as I got. I was just way too busy on this trip to make a start on it. I made those heddles just last night.

ikat bird shapes filled with pebble weave backstrap weavingI brought back loads of black dye so that I can continue my ikat projects. There are three pieces I want to make for my next set of wall hangings, all with curved shapes. I have found curved motifs that I like from cultures around the world that represent the north, south and center. I bought a used book on ikat which I hope will give some tips to add to the body of experience I have collected so far in my own experiments.

But first, I have to get those three bird pieces off the loom. I need to add some red weft twining to finish them and thus create another common thread to connect the set.

I bought the charcoal pencils that you can see in the first picture…at last! Now I have a better way to mark the motifs on the warp threads before placing the ikat ties. Marker pen, in one of my experiments, bled yellow into the white spaces after dyeing and regular pencil just doesn’t do the trick. I saw, via video, that some of the design masters in Uzbekistan use charcoal to draw the patterns onto the warp before handing it over to those who specialize in the tying process.

valdani cottonI got some Valdani cotton at the Northwest Folklife Festival. I don’t know yet what makes this thread from Romania so special (I’ll let you know once I have used it) but I liked the ladies who owned the stall and the thread is one of my festival souvenirs. I will weave a ”folky” wrist cuff with it in memory of the three fun days spent at the festival with Marilyn.

And then, there are the hairsticks. You can see just one of them in the picture. There seems to be an endless supply of these at all kinds of folk art and ethnic textile and craft stores. I go over each and every one to find the ones with nice points so I can use them as pick- up sticks when I work with supplementary weft.

peggy's backstrap warpI bought the three skeins of wool from a small yarn store in Skagit Valley.

I decided that I need a wool backstrap to add to my collection and the colors were totally inspired by Peggy’s beautiful project that she brought to my ”Thinking Big” workshop….indigo, purple and apple green.

I wonder where Peggy is with that project. I can’t wait to see it finished.

The Valdani cotton that I bought is a selection of variegated and solid colors. I love the look of variegated yarn and thread but have never used it myself in a project. I have never really been sure what to do with it! After seeing Peggy’s project and getting to weave Sara Lamb’s beautiful reeled silk warp, I feel more inclined to start using strips of color that are not solid.

You may remember this next shot from a previous post…that’s me all excited about getting to play with Sara’s dyed and hand painted reeled silk warp. Sara, in what I have come to learn is her typical generous way, gave me her warp. There are two of her narrow hand painted strips amongst the solid colors. I would never in a million years think of putting these colors together. The warp contains, fuschia, copper, blue, orange, yellow and purple. Could this experience launch me into a whole new color palette? Well…maybe after I have finished all the red-black-and-white wall hangings for which I have ideas that will keep me busy for several more years.

Laverne2I used deep red tencel (another choice of Sara’s) as a supplemental weft to weave a hook pattern I designed in the central copper strip. (lower photo by Rainer Romatka)

reeled silk warpThe transformation after washing and pressing was very exciting. I picked it up off the ironing board and it turned into liquid color that simply slipped through my fingers….luscious! Sara has used this reeled silk in a reeled silk with supplemental weft backstrap weavingbalanced weave project having made fabric for a bag and commented on the fact that the reeled silk tends not to ”bed”, that is, warp and weft do not entirely bond to make cloth after the wet-finishing process. Even with a cotton weft and a warp-faced structure I can feel what she means in this band.

Nevertheless, I love this piece and really enjoyed weaving it in the brief moments I had available during this trip. Thank you, Sara! I have enough length to make two cell phone pouches and have already promised one to my friend Betty.

Other things I bought to add to the tool box….extra skinny cable ties, long tatting needles which I will use for weaving, not tatting, and music wire for creating third selvedges in wide pieces….all things about which I got extremely excited. Imagine me skipping around Michael’s triumphantly waving those skinny cable ties.

But, as always, the best things I bring back from these trips are intangible…such as:

Inspiration… in the form of the colors used by Peggy and Sara as well as this Andean Pebble Weave band woven by another Sara who took a class with me in Seattle last Spring…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASara used some of the original patterns that I created for my first book, Andean Pebble Weave. These are colors that I would never have thought to use together and I love the way this has come out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore Inspiration…this time, in the form of patterns. Meg brought an embroidered pouch from Mongolia and I can see an adaptation of the lovely curved shapes being included in my ikat project.

Knowledge…for example, I now know and have experienced the difference between reeled and spun silk having made a cuff in spun silk and a band from Sara’s reeled silk warp.

And, I know a little more about the takadai having spent a few days backstrap weaving with the talented John Whitley during which I had the chance to see some of his takadai creations.

He cleverly edged his beautiful scarf with finger-weaving.

john whitley takadaiSkills...I tried ice dyeing for the first time, thanks to Elinor, and now have a ”new” ice-dyed shirt, plus I know another way to use a shuttle to tatt, thanks to Tracy in Ohio.


Dye covered ice blocks are ready to melt and seep into my shirt.

Experience…the thrill of actually touching, examining and operating an Atayal loom from Taiwan about which I had enthusiastically written in a blog post some time ago. I also got to see some hard-to-get books on Taiwanese weaving that Marilyn has in her textile library.

Marilyn sat and tensioned the warp while I got to use the ''twisty'' stick to open the heddle shed.

We didn’t have a backtrap on hand and so Marilyn sat and tensioned the warp so that I could to use the very cool ”twisty” stick to open the heddle shed. You can see a coil rod has been placed toward the back of the warp.

Marilyn's feet are braced agaisnst the ''box'' around which the circular warp is positioned. Relaxing tension on the warp in order to open the heddle shed is a simple matter of turning the feet to allow the box to roll forward.

Here’s a closer look at the ”twisty” stick that I so love. One prong acts as the shed rod while the other allows the weaver to apply tension to one layer of warp ends while raising the other. Marilyn’s feet are braced agaisnst the ”box” around which the circular warp is positioned. Relaxing tension on the warp in order to open the heddle shed is a simple matter of turning the feet to allow the box to roll forward.

And, I got to experience the Northwest Folklife Festival, once again, after having attended it way back in 1992 while on a backpacking trip through the U.S. I fell in love with Seattle back then and abandoned my planned trip to Canada to stay three weeks in Seattle instead. Many thanks to Marilyn who took me along on three days to enjoy the art, crafts, music, dance and food. On the second day we were part of a Fiber Arts Flash Mob on the green. We also spent some time demonstrating fiber arts in one of the booths along with spinners, embroiderers, knitters, quilters, braiders and basket makers. Marilyn demonstrated one of the many things she teaches, Viking Knitting.

Bcakstrap weaving on the green at Northwest Folklife.

Backstrap weaving on the green at Northwest Folklife.

From Bulgarian folk song and dance on stage in spectacular costumes, to teens in tshirts banging away at marimbas on the grass…

bulgarian choir northwest folklifeThe Bulgarian singing was certainly not like anything I heard before…strong, throaty, earthy voices in harmony presenting songs from various Eastern European countries. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, speaking of traditional folk costume, my hosts Elinor and Einar in Skagit Valley showed me theirs. Einar is Sami from Finland and Elinor has both Swedish and Norwegian background. Here is Elinor’s black Norwegian costume from Gudbrandsdalen…

swedish costumeEinar has examples of ”every day” wear for a Sami man (on the left) as well as an outfit from the Trondheim area of Norway. I was also treated to his playing folk music on his accordion in the evenings…

sami man everyday and formal wear

Trying to drive one of the barn looms. My feet could barely touch the pedals.

Trying to drive one of the barn looms. My feet could barely touch the treadles.

Yes, it has been a busy time since the last blog post a whole month ago from Santa Cruz, California.

From there I headed down to San Luis Obispo (to those stunning impossibly round hills!) where, amongst other things, I was taken to visit guild members Kay and Rosemary’s amazing barn weaving studio.

The upper floor is full of magnificent big ol’ barn looms and the entire place is decorated with textile treasures that Kay and Rosemary have picked up in their travels.

I hope I get to weave there some day and listen to more of Kay and Rosemary’s stories over a cup of tea. There is certainly no lack of heavy things in the barn to which backstrap warps can be anchored.

I got yet another glimpse of Eastern European folk costume in this tapestry that Kay and Rosemary have decorating the barn studio that was woven in Transylvania.

I got yet another glimpse of Eastern European folk costume in this tapestry that Kay and Rosemary have hanging in the barn studio. It was woven in Transylvania.

I then took the train, which slowly wound its way back north up the escarpment, through the drought-ravaged hills, and onward to Oregon and Washington. The forests of Oregon, which had been heavy with snow the last time I took this train, were a vibrant green. The tracks were lined with brilliant yellow Scotch broom.

train north I spent the weekend with my friend, Betty, who had a group in to weave in her studio. It is such an inspiring environment crammed as it is with Andean textiles she has collected in her travels.

As I headed north to Seattle and then beyond to Skagit Valley to finish my trip, I liked to think that I was leaving behind a trail of eager backstrap weavers….

Fourteen-year old Dana in Seattle was so eager, she went home on the very first day of class and wove a wrist band for herself while showing her family what she had learned….

dana and stacy Stacy was already designing her own Andean Pebble Weave motifs by the final day and Susan (below left) also went home to design a pretty one that she calls ”River of Love”.

susan amy marilynSusan had come down from Canada to join us in Seattle and is now happily backstrap weaving in her garden at home. Amy is finishing her supplementary weft piece using a borrowed backstrap that is too big for her (she  added a pillow to make it fit!). Hopefully her next project will be to weave one of her own. Marilyn took off to teach at a spinning seminar in Tacoma and still managed to find some time to weave in her dorm room!

Here’s progress from Jan and Jane further south in Grass Valley…

jan and janeThe first two pieces are Jan’s. She wove with the Beginner and ”Thinking Big” groups in Grass Valley, has finished her backstrap and has moved on to Andean Pebble Weave. We can see Jane’s ”Thinking Big” piece moving along at a get together of the ”String Sistahs”.


Marilyn and Terri with some Andean Pebble Weave warps.

It was a very ”folky” trip!

As always, it is the people…the folks… who make each trip so special…all those who open their homes to me, come to weave with me, bring textiles to share, take me to see places and meet people and do so many little things to make my travels easier and more comfortable.

I am sending you all big hugs. Keep in touch, keep weaving. I hope we can get together again soon.


















Posted by: lavernewaddington | May 13, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Thinking Big

Big trees, Big Hill and a couple of workshops entitled Thinking Big. That’s what’s been going on here in the gold country of California. I passed through a town which holds an annual frog-jumping contest which attracts international competitors, enjoyed the sunsets from the summit of Big Hill where I wove with a group of ladies from Sonora, and walked amongst the big trees that line the historic gold mining ditches.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Thinking Big, or the ”Go Wide or Go Home!” gatherings, as Jane liked to call them, were about creating a project using techniques that had already been studied in other get-togethers. The challenge was to take those skills and go bigger in terms of width, length or warp ends. Not everyone chose to weave a product. Some people used the class as a chance to sample or refresh their memories of techniques they had studied long ago.

Here are some of the things that were on the looms at Diane’s place in Grass Valley…

Jan and Shan ,easure their warps for backstrap projects.

Jan and Shan measure their warps for backstrap projects. Jan’s is complete and Shan is securing the cross on hers.

Diane got a head start by warping while I wa staying with her prioir to the class. Here isher warp, heddled for Andean Pebble Weave, and ready to go

Diane got a head start by warping while I was staying with her prior to the class. Here is her warp, heddled for Andean Pebble Weave, and ready to go.  Her project is inspired by the natural dye colors on the Bolivian pieces I had brought to show and will be a pouch for her long swords.

Jean makes heddles for her red-and-black backstrap project. She wove the band in plain weave and decorated it with a supplemental weft.

Jean makes heddles for her red-and-black backstrap project. She wove the band in plain weave and decorated it with a supplemental weft.

Thse who were weaving plain-weave pieces, like Sara, here, inserted a coil rod to prevent corregation. Sara is ising reeld silk that she dyed herself and inserted two hand-painted sections.

Those who were weaving plain-weave pieces, like Sara in this picture, inserted a coil rod to prevent corregation. Sara is using reeled silk that she dyed herself and inserted two hand-painted sections.

Kathy used wool from a natural dye workshop she took in Cusco, Peru. The wool was handspun by ladies in Chinchero. Asshe had not woven a sample with the wool, we had to wildly guess at how many ends to wind for her project. We measured a pouch she had bought fromthe weavers in Peru which I now suspect was made with much finer yarn. Kathy's project is coming out way wider than we had expected!

Kathy used wool from a natural dye workshop she took in Cusco, Peru. The wool was handspun by ladies in Chinchero. As she had not woven a sample with the wool, we had to guess at how many ends to wind for her project. We measured a pouch she had bought from the weavers in Peru which I now suspect was made with much finer yarn. Kathy’s project is coming out way wider than we had expected! Here I am giving her some tips on how to clear sheds with  this rather sticky wool warp.

This isStephanie's Andean Pebble Weave piece which is flanked by plain weave.

This is Stephanie’s Andean Pebble Weave piece which is flanked by plain weave.

Janet is weaving an Adnean Pebble Weave piece with thick borders.

Janet is weaving an Andean Pebble Weave piece with thick borders.

Jan wove a complementary-warp pick-up technique which required her to pick up the patern in every single shed. Nevertheless, she zoomed along!

Jan wove a complementary-warp pick-up technique which required her to pick up the pattern in every single shed. Nevertheless, she zoomed along!

I gave Diane some tips on how to open the sheds on a wide two-heddle piece.

I gave Diane some tips on how to open the sheds on a wide two-heddle piece.

Here is Sahn's piece with its Anden Pebble Weave pattern in progress. This is a knotwork motif which i charted for the Andean Pebble Weave structure.

Here is Shan’s piece with its Anden Pebble Weave pattern in progress. This is a knotwork motif which I charted for the Andean Pebble Weave structure.

Further progress…


Jean’s supplementary weft pattern, which she adapted from a pebble weave motif in my second book, is progressing beautifully. Kathy’s Andean Pebble Weave motif is emerging while she learns to work with the wool. Diane is operating her two sets of heddles smoothly. Jan shows her progress on her pick-up patterned band and Sara’s reeled silk look luscious with its stranded silk supplementary-weft pattern.

I stayed on longer in Diane’s home and got to watch her progress…

diane progressBefore all this, I had ventured even deeper into gold country and and found myself at the summit of Big Hill with its glorious views and sunsets. My hosts, Anne and Gary, had a group of beginner backstrap weavers in their home from the Sonora area. The evenings brought visits from flying squirrels and a bear while wild turkeys strutted about with their chicks during the day. While the ladies sat and wove, I got to gaze at the view out over the deck.

Sunset view from the deck on Big Hill.

Sunset view from the deck on Big Hill.

The Sonora group...hooray, I will be back next spring.

The Sonora group…hooray, I will be back with them next spring.

And then it was onward to the place I have visited most on these weaving safaris over the years…Santa Cruz, California, and another Thinking Big session. Some people went big while others did some guided study of techniques we had studied in previous years or used my books and online tutorials to study something new.

The new venue was fun. We had our warps tied to handrails. Here are five of the eight people in the group. Jane came over from Grass Valley and Marya came up from San Luis Obispo.


Yonat, Peggy and Anne.

Yonat, Peggy and Anne working on a variety of techniques…Yonat chose to study Guatemalan supplementary-weft with patterning sicks, using a tuorial on my blog. Peggy created a stunning warp with some ikat-dyed sections flanked by Andean Pebble Weave. Anne wove what would make a fabulous hat band using the intermesh structure in 10/2 and 20/2 cotton with an adpated Mexican motif.

Yonat's Guatemalan patern stick supplementary-weft sampler. Jane making heddles for her wide piece afer having completed her sample. Ingrid brushed up on the intermeshstructures from a previous class. Peggy's beautiful ikat and Andean Pebble Weave piece...couldn't take my eyes off it!

Yonat’s Guatemalan pattern stick supplementary-weft sampler. Jane making heddles for her wide piece after having completed her sample. Ingrid brushed up on the intermesh structure from a previous class. Peggy’s beautiful ikat and Andean Pebble Weave piece…couldn’t take my eyes off it!

Dorothy wove a bird motif to practice the Andean Pebble Weave structure. She has a warp prepared with three columns of birds flanked by plain weave which is gorgeous. You can see Anne';s green and white intermesh band . The white is 20/2 cotton and the green 10/2 which gives the piece a lot of texture.On the back of the band the green motif rises above the white background. Marya took her first stepsin Andean Pebble Weave  while Barbara chse fine thread to weave a series of viscacha motifs and refresh her memory on the Andean Pebble Weave structure.

Dorothy wove a bird motif to practice the Andean Pebble Weave structure. She has a warp prepared with three columns of birds flanked by plain weave which is gorgeous. You can see Anne';s green and white intermesh band . The white is 20/2 cotton and the green 10/2 which gives the piece a lot of texture.On the back of the band the green motif rises above the white background. Marya took her first steps in Andean Pebble Weave while Barbara chose fine thread to weave a series of viscacha motifs and refresh her memory on the Andean Pebble Weave structure.

Peggy's hands at work picking up threads for her pebble weave pattern.

Peggy’s hands at work picking up threads for her pebble weave pattern.

Did I mention that Jane had woven a sample in preparation for this class? Here it is! This sample showed her the width she could expect from this weight of thread and also helped her decide the arrangement of colors and width of stripes for her wider piece.

Did I mention that Jane had woven a sample in preparation for this class? Here it is! This sample showed her the width she could expect from a number of ends in this weight of thread and also helped her decide the arrangement of colors and width of stripes for her wider piece.

This is where Jane was at with her wide piece after having finished her sample and planned and warped and made heddles for the ''real''piece.

This is where Jane was at with her wide piece after having finished her sample and planned, warped and made heddles for the ”real”project.

It’s been a very rewarding couple of weeks!

And here I am saying goodbye until the next post, happy as can be, as Sara gave me one of her reeled silk warps with some of her own hand-painted sections to play with….

Laverne2Many thanks to Diane Christ for sharing this and some of the other pictures that appear in this post.

I did walk along the cliffs this morning to enjoy the big trees and ocean before sitting inside on this pretty day to edit pictures and write all of this!



Posted by: lavernewaddington | May 1, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Where will it lead next?

I have just said goodbye to my latest group of beginning backstrap weavers. They had just taken their first baby steps in using their bodies as part of a loom in order to create patterned cloth. I so often get the chance to connect with people like these again and again… perhaps in another class, at a conference, at a guild meeting or fiber fair… and find out what they have (or haven’t done) with the basic set of skills that they take away from my beginner workshops. Everyone comes to learn with different goals. Some people get hooked and go on to create amazing things, some people are more than happy to have just been given this brief taste of the world of South American backstrap weaving, while others, having had their curiosity sparked, are even inspired to take a trip to South America.

Who knows where it all might lead?

amber and janetMy dear friend Janet, who has hosted me for many backstrap weaving workshops over the years, is heading off to Ecuador in July with Amber, who took my beginner class last fall. There they will connect with my anthropologist friend, Kathie, and spend some time on the coast studying with cotton spinners, dyers and weavers. Above, you can see their busy hands at work creating patterns with supplementary weft and tubular techniques.

Speaking of these wonderful kinds of connections amongst weavers, I got to write an article for Handwoven magazine about just this kind of thing and it has been published in their current (spring 2015) issue….

handwoven mag article

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am excited to think about where these ladies may be led if they find themselves truly drawn to this kind of weaving and I hope that they will form some close connections in their love of it, as members of past groups have.

Below, you can see a piece that continuing student, Jane Milner, who is part of the Foothills ”String Sistahs”  made recently.  The ”String Sistahs”, named, I think, by Jane is a group of ladies who have taken one or two classes with me and who now meet regularly to weave and study techniques together.

A few years ago, I adapted tablet-woven motifs that were created by Ursel Studemann to the Andean Pebble Weave structure and wove a short sample band. Jane’s beautiful rendition shows the four fish motifs repeated along the length of  her piece….

fish motifs adapated from abelt weaving to Andean Pebble WeaveJane will be taking my ”Thinking Big” class soon in which participants will challenge themselves to take the techniques that they have studied with me and go wider, longer, or finer….we ”think big” in terms of width, length or number of warp ends. Everyone is busy preparing their project and I have had lots of interesting emails with questions and ideas. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.

At my friend Diane’s home, I have been able to watch her work through the preparation process for this class….finding inspiration, deciding the final product, choosing yarn and colors, warping and weaving a sample, calculating the number of ends based on her sample and, finally, warping the main project. She  decided to get a bit of a head start on the rest of the group by preparing as much as she could before the actual class.

Diane was inspired by the pieces of Bolivian handwoven cloth that I had brought for another workshop. These pieces are made from handspun and naturally dyed yarn and the colors are spectacular.

weaving highland BoliviaShe lined up her balls of Aunt Lydia’s #10 crochet cotton to decide on the color order of her stripes and planned a thin black-and-white Andean Pebble Weave strip bordered by red amongst the colorful stripes. Her project is a pouch for some of these beautiful long swords that she makes…

dianes swords

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext, she needed to decide on the structure of the stripes…plain weave or intermesh?…and then she created her wee sample….

dianes sampleWe spent one evening, when we were both tired, crunching and re-crunching the numbers for the wider project based on the information the sample band provided.

Then, it was onward to wind the warp…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is all happening in beautiful California.

I left the east side and The Mannings the day after a severe storm and tornado watch was in force. I watched the clouds build in the evening sky but not even a puff of wind made it our way. I was able to enjoy an evening walk while the heavy and menacing bank of clouds slid by in the distance…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy last class at The Mannings before heading west brought me many familiar faces and a couple of new ones as we learned about tubular bands and complementary-warp pick-up. Linda returned after having worked with Carol and me during the week to set up Carol’s Guatemalan ikat piece.

linda at the manningsI love taking pictures in the showroom there which doubles as our work space….we are attached to looms surrounded by spinning wheels and other fiber toys. A few days later, Linda posted her class samples….some finished and some with significant progress….makes me so happy seeing this!

dianne tapestry crochetThe classes are a time for sharing all kinds of tips and techniques. Dianne showed Emily how she creates her beautiful tight multi-colored crocheted bags (see above) and Cathy, having read on my blog about my recent dabblings in tatting, brought along a cute Christmas decoration that she had tatted in what looks like a nice manageable thread size for me at my beginner stage.

sharing techniquesCathy also brought a bag which she had created since taking the Andean Pebble Weave class with me. She embroidered the body of bag with cross stitch and wove the sides and strap using motifs from my two books.

Cathy K pebble weave strapArriving at The Mannings was a little different this time as I came in from Delaware and passed through Amish country. It was intersting seeing the local businesses and restaurants providing parking spaces for horses and buggies.

After enjoying the views from the plane of the pretty snow-capped mountains just outside of Denver, and then the great salt lake, I arrived in sunny California where every evening has given us a spectacular and slightly different sunset looking out toward the Yolla Bolly Mountains in Mendocino County…

grass valley sunsetsWe hiked along the Yuba River (I got to use those new shoes!).

yuba riverThe Foothill Fibers Guild invited Vicki Fraser of the California Rug Project to their monthly meeting and I got to attend as a guest. Here is Vicki’s description of the project….

The California Rug Project is the result of fourteen years of design, spinning, dyeing, weaving and knotting. It reflects my reverence for the land, it’s bounty and that part of our consciousness reserved for California.

The warp, weft and pile were handspun using California-grown materials and natural dyes and the hand knotting has been executed in the oriental tradition.

As Diane was hosting both Vicki and me in her home, I got a preview before the meeting as we unrolled the fifteen-foot long piece in Diane and Peter’s home…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI will show small parts of the rug here and leave you to read Vicki’s description which appears on her website.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the southwest corner where you can see native plants of southern California and a Los Angeles skyline in flames.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMoving northward you can appreciate the sculpted knotted pile hills and freeways of southern California before you drop into the agricultural areas and on to the central valleys.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalafia’s face magically appears in profile from amongst the leaves and foliage of northern California and it is only then that you realize that many of the lower features on the rug are actually parts of her body. Calafia is, according to Wikipedia, a fictional warrior caliphess who ruled over a kingdom of Black women living on the mythical Island of California.

The rug is Vicki’s gift to California and we were invited to take off our shoes and walk the length of the woven state enjoying the luxurious texture of the gorgeously thick and dense knotted pile while Vicki pointed out the various features. It is wonderful that the California Rug is out there being appreciated. It is looking for a home, preferably in California, and who knows where these contacts might lead?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVicki’s visit was completed with a visit to The Magic Carpet in Nevada City where she had a chance to examine exquisite knotted pile rugs. I was side tracked by the Kurdish salt bags and camel adornments with their interesting stitched edgings and tassels.

salt bags and edgings

Sadly, I will miss the Magic Carpet’s presentation on Magic Carpets of Turkey on May 9 at 7pm. It’s a Turkish travelogue and exhibit of DOBAG Rugs: Returning to the Roots of Natural Dyes presented by Eileen Jorgensen.

As I finish this latest post, I wonder what magic this evening’s sunset will bring as the light softens between branches of Ponderosa Pine and Valley Live Oak. I am off to Sonora this weekend. I can’t believe that I will be so close to Yosemite National Park but without enough time to visit it! I must return. My nephew is competing in a triathlon this weekend in Buselton, Western Australia. I hope that the conditions will allow him to give his very best and I hope to watch it online on Saturday night. Wish him luck!

I will leave you with an online backstrap weaver that I have yet to meet in person….hopefully we will change that one day soon. Here is Chris in Texas weaving her backstrap, down on the floor and looking right at home with it…..

chris fort worthWith her new backstrap around her hips I am looking for ward to seeing where she is headed next.



Posted by: lavernewaddington | April 17, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Sunrise, Sunset

Do you know the song ”Sunrise, Sunset” from ”Fiddler on the Roof”? I have had that in my head for a couple of weeks as the hours and days fly by, I travel from place to place and winter becomes spring before my eyes..

From Florida sunrises ro Pennsylvania sunsets and a whole lot of activity in between…

Sunrise at the Florida Tropical Weavers Conference

Sunrise at the Florida Tropical Weavers Conference

The ast rays of the setting sun over the creek at The Mannings Handweaving Studio in Pennsylvania.

The last rays of the setting sun over the creek at The Mannings Handweaving Studio in Pennsylvania.

Sunrise, Sunset. This is the name of one of the songs that we sang gathered around the table while David played the guitar at the Passover Seder in which I participated at my friend Claudia’s home in Maryland.

10471195_10206350602506701_1973694388140159785_nThat was one of my stops on my way to my current ”home” at The Mannings in Pennsylvania. The journey took me to New York City, Salem Ohio and Wilmington Delaware.

I attended the monthly meeting of the Harmony Weavers Guild in Wilmington in what is the prettiest meeting venue I have come across so far…Greenbank Mill. As we drove by, I was just about to ask Carol if we could stop to take a picture of the mill and its wheel and then I realised that  this was the meeting spot and I would have all day to enjoy and explore it. It was a short stay in Wilmington and I left with images and stories of Dupont, grain and textile mills and lively, gushing, cascading creeks and a desire to return and see more.

greenbank millInside Greenbank Mill along with all the preserved mill equipment – stones, wheels, cogs – a hefty post surrounded by plenty of open space allowed us to hitch up our backstrap warps and stretch out like wheel spokes.

???????????????????????????????A visit to the Hagley Museum the previous day brought us to an unexpected sort of ”yarn bombing” of the entry gates…

yarn bombing Hagley Museum

In Ohio, in my host Tracy’s home, I knew I had come to the right place when I saw this…

???????????????????????????????Tracy’s warp weighted loom stands like a work of art in her living room along with the Tonkinese cousin of my own cat back in Bolivia.

warp weighted loomI got to throw a couple of shots of weft, just enough to see how to operate the the two sheds. I realised pretty quickly what hard work it is on the shoulders to be standing and reaching up to pass the weft and beat with an upward motion.

We wove together at the Canfield Fair Grounds, home of the largest county fair in the US. I have never been able to plan my visits to coincide with a county fair in the US and would love to go to one.

Tracy and Marjorie had taken an Andean Pebble Weave class with me at The Mannings a couple of years ago. They worked on their own projects while the rest of the group started from scratch.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Tracy had bought some Harrisville Highland wool on that trip to The Mannings and had saved it for a backstrap. The red and green are the Harrisville Highland wool (the kind that is sold washed in skeins rather than on cones). The grey is a mystery  wool which is slightly heavier than the other two. It gave Tracy’s Andean Pebble Weave design a nice three-dimensional look. This wool was really fabulous….not at all sticky…a real pleasure to work with. Tracy is using it here to weave a backstrap. It’s the perfect weight for that. She chose a pattern from my second book.

???????????????????????????????Marjorie went to the other end of the yarn weight spectrum with a very fine alpaca yarn that she bought on giant cones on one of her trips to Cusco. This is not what I would call easy yarn to work with and I have all my fingers crossed for the success of this project. She also worked on a backstrap using Plymouth Yarn Fantasy Naturale mercerized cotton but, at the same time, was curious to see how the alpaca behaved.

Marjorie also brought in this marvelous llama bone tool that she had acquired in her travels in Peru. I have never seen a carved one like this….how beautiful!

???????????????????????????????Here’s Tracy’s backstrap off the loom, braided and finished…

???????????????????????????????In the evenings, I had tatting lessons with Tracy and I got the chance to be a student,  which is always a useful experience. I would be going along with a nice rhythm convinced that I had it all down and then suddenly completely lose the plot and create an ugly string of knots instead of hitches.

My friend Vonnie in Sacramento had also taught me to tatt but Tracy showed me a different way to hold and manage the shuttle which doesn’t require the ”flip”. It is is less elegant but it is nice to have options. I was sent off with a couple of shuttles and thread. I hope to go back to Ohio some time and learn bobbin lace with Tracy. Those of you who are into lace will probably already know Tracy in her former business as The Lace Maker. She was even at Convergence in 2010 in Albuquerque as a vendor when I was there. I had been attracted to her stand because of the small warp-weighted loom she had on display but we didn’t meet.

In fact, Tracy’s home was a showcase of all the fiber activities and techniques in which she has been involved. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn a bit about the Theo Moorman technique from the runner on her dining table. You all know that I am a big fan of supplemental weft…

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I’m hoping that she will feel confident enough and find the time to use the handspun and naturally dyed yarn that she got when she attended the Tinkuy in 2010 in Cusco.

Yes, we were both there in 2010 and had a brief encounter. It’s about time we spent some more time together.

She has a large supply of the handspun dyed yarn in her plastic hamper as both she and her boyfriend took the natural dye workshop at the Tinkuy and I know that she will do something spectacular with it.

Hands have been busy and continue to be so as I move along from place to place. It is always great to hear from people as I move on and find that they have been working at their warps.

Here are some shots of busy hands at the loom. This first picture was taken by Sara Norine James at the Florida Tropical Weavers Conference and shows Berna expertly working the two sets of string heddles to open a shed on her Andean Pebble Weave warp…

berna FTWG by Sara Norine James

???????????????????????????????It was nice to meet Facebook friend, Alison, who came down from Ontario, Canada to weave with me at The Mannings and learn some Backstrap Basics. She wove the leaf pattern and then continued on her own to weave it as a negative image. In the picture you can see her busy hands selecting threads under which to pass her supplemental weft. Alison has been weaving using my books in her home in Canada and has made some lovely Andean Pebble Weave pieces….

???????????????????????????????And whose hands are these? Well, those are mine doing a demonstration with the silk Andean Pebble Weave cuff on wrist.

Laverne at the ManningsAnd now….no hands…not even any arms!

Laverne in huipilWe guessed that this must be a child’s huipil. I just managed to get my head through the opening but there was no way my arms would pass through those armholes. Yet the piece is so big! All that purple and green work is embroidered. Amazing.

Kristen got herself set up with a pillow case as an improvised backstrap. She said that she was challenging herself to let go of the pattern  chart by guessing what came next in the pattern by reading the cloth and then confrming by looking at the chart before passing the weft. Her cat helped, as cats like to do, by lying on the chart.

kristenHere’s Sarah in the showroom at The Mannings, amongst the looms and spnning wheels, using hands and head to figure out the next step in the process…

???????????????????????????????I have a whole week between classes here at the Mannings. You can be sure that there is no shortage of things to do and see when you are practically living in a yarn store. Linda and Carol dropped by on Tuesday to weave with me. Linda had read both my books cover to cover without touching a piece of yarn. Yet, she had somehow absorbed the technique and I needed to just to give her a little guidance before she was underway weaving lovely Andean Pebble Weave patterns. I figure that she must have amazing powers of visualization.

???????????????????????????????Here she is preparing her warp with its second set of heddles.

???????????????????????????????Carol came with something completely different in mind. She had been given an ikat warp from Guatemala. The warp had been wrapped and dyed and was ready to go on a floor loom. Carol wanted to weave it on a backstrap loom. She had put a similar warp on her floor loom and woven it as a balanced plain weave cloth creating a mobius shawl. Although the threads shifted more than she probably would have liked, I think that the finished piece is lovely. I hesitated over posting a picture of her shawl as my picture really does not do it justice.


Carol is no stranger to ikat having studied weft ikat in Thailand and bringing home her dyed thread to weave stunningly fine cloth on her floor loom. She came to The Mannings on Tuesday with the idea of putting the Guatemalan warp on a backstrap loom and weaving it into a warp-faced piece of fabric. We spent a great part of the day getting it sorted onto loom bars as it had somehow become almost hopelessly tangled. Here’s Linda holding one end of the warp while Linda and I try to straighten things out. The original warp was multi-colored and the several colors were bundled and wrapped together to create the motifs.


???????????????????????????????Now it’s starting to look like something but there is still a long long way to go and with each handling those threads are shifting.

???????????????????????????????Carol has just inserted the cross sticks. That horizontal line at the start will be helpful but it remains to be seen if the upper layer and lower are well aligned. There are many many string heddles to be made before weaving can begin.

On the other days between classes I decided to work on a ”three-fer”, that is, one project with three purposes. I wanted to get my hand back in with a Bolivian embellishment technique that I call the ”coil stitch”. This project would give me practice in something that I am not doing all that often, provide an additional sample for one of my classes, as well as a little slip case for my new iPod. One of my students who has become a dear friend, along with her husband, gave me this iPod. I have never owned one before and am thrilled.

Bolivian embellishment coil stitchesYou can see some of the handwoven fabric made from naturally dyed handspun yarn that I use in my finishing and embellishment classes. I had a small leftover piece that was just the right size for the iPod. I have started by edging it with coil stitches and will dress it up with all kinds of doo-dads. I love doing that and it gives me practice in the various techniques. Next, I’ll make a pouch for the charger and cable using the fabric with the cochineal tones that you can see above.

bolivian embellishments coil stitchesI am using Cascade 220 superwash yarn for the sewing and the colors match so well. It’s a fun little project which mostly keeps me out of the yarn store where there are too many lovely things to buy.

???????????????????????????????I have one more fun thing to show you.

I was persuaded to buy new sneakers and got a kick out of the laces on the ones I chose which have a classic little inkle weaving pattern which matches the strap on my own woven handbag.

Now I will be able to hike some light trails when I am invited. Hiking was such a huge part of my past and I miss it.


I will leave you with a shot of the sun casting its golden glow at The Mannings. Another day ends and I enjoy my down time in this lovely peaceful place before I start bouncing again across the country











Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 31, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Where are you?

I’ve been getting emails and messages these last few days with a common question….WHERE ARE YOU???? Yes, I have missed a few blog posts, as I often do when I am on the road, and so here I am attepting to squeeze in a quick update before I start teaching a three-day Andean Pebble Workshop tomorrow.

I must warn you that there is not a whole lot of weaving related content in this post. I am, after all, simply attempting to answer the ”’Where are you?” question and I will save all the stories about new friends and fun people I have met along the way and the inevitable fibery tales for another post, if you don’t mind.

Right now, I am in the vicinity of this….

???????????????????????????????This is the view from my window on my way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After having spent six days in Florida, which had been downright refreshing after the brutal heat and humidity of the Santa Cruz summer, I had almost forgotten that yes, the USA was exiting a hard winter and snow was to be expected.

I had been looking at the small, odd and widely scattered patches of white from the plane window as we left Newark thinking that they might be salt lakes (!) and then remembered as we drew closer to Boston, where the white patches grew and started to merge one into the other, that Massachusetts had experienced record-breaking snowfalls this winter….duh!

???????????????????????????????I spent a weekend in New York city. Ah, ”if I can make it there”…..! :-)I was excited to be staying on the 15th floor of an apartment building in Manhattan with glimpses from my bedroom window of the Manhattan Bridge and the river. It was cold outside. I felt quite the silly tourist as I headed out to meet weavers in the New York Guild of Handweavers wrapped in a scarf and clad in my host’s long, well-padded winter coat but with my bare toes exposed to the elements in sandals.

Picture by Sally Ogren

Picture by Sally Ogren at the guild meeting…indoors… warm, toasty and welcoming.

And just a week before this I was here, in an area that my host, Berna, nostalgically calls ”old Florida”….a place where old oak trees dripping with Spanish moss line beautiful Lake Yale…

???????????????????????????????This was the venue for the annual Florida Tropical Weavers Guild Conference.

Strolling the lake shore in the cool, soft, early hours of the morning was my favorite way to start the days that were, in typical conference style, crammed with activity. It gave me time to think and get my head together before approaching a day of teaching.

??????????????????????????????? And whenever I got the feeling that I wasn’t quite alone out there, I was usually right…

???????????????????????????????And then the sun would make its glorious appearance, I would feel its heat and it would be time to head to breakfast and get charged with the energy and excitement of all my fellow weavers heading off to refine tapestry weaving skills, learn about the Quigley structure, study boundweave, dye skeins in multiple colors and play with cashmere…just to name a few of the workshop options that were on offer.

???????????????????????????????Well, okay, I will show you one textile thing before I go. I made some cuffs and have been wearing these while teaching. When attention is focused on what my hands are doing in amongst the warp threads, it is nice to have some prettiness on my wrists. I am really pleased with these. They are all fastened with snaps. You might remember that the brown one was a four-selvedge experiment and so it does not have any raw edges to deal with. The others are woven with fine thread with three selevedges and I was able to turn the one raw edge over and hem it without creating excessive bulk.

??????????????????????I definitely want to make more of these and have been inspired to make some very colorful ones by something that one of my students showed me. You will have to wait until the next post to see that.

So now you know where I am. As to what exactly I have been doing and what I have seen, there is too much to tell right now! It’s time to get ready for a fun day of weaving tomorrow. See you soon.











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