Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 30, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Taking My Own Advice

This will be a very sparse blog post, I am afraid. But, the exciting thing is that I have been spending almost all my time working on my next book. I am on a roll! I am weaving samples, washing and pressing them, taking photos, wishing for clear days with good natural light to re-take photos, and writing, writing writing. There have been some very exciting and surprising discoveries along the way. There’s always something new to learn.

October was supposed to be what I considered to be a well-earned ”play” month after two-and-a-half months away from home on the road. Writing was to begin promptly in November.

Well, that didn’t happen. I was having way too much fun weaving, spinning and even knitting. But, by mid-November the books I had started writing earlier this year were calling for attention. I do, after all need to earn a living! Getting everything set up to start is the hardest part. I tell myself to just get over that hump and everything will start to flow. Well-taken advice. I cleaned up my chaotic creative space and set up for writing and photographing just before I went to bed one evening. It turned out that the ”hump” had been the cleaning. I woke up to a clean, organized space and happily jumped into the writing the next morning.

As for my play-time weaving experiments, I took my own advice again and stopped spinning cotton to weave a sample. It would be no use continuing to spin if the thread I was producing was not suitable for the kinds of cloth I want to weave. I am, after all, very new at spinning cotton. What I am producing now is clearly beginner stuff and I don’t expect to be able to produce anything consistent until I spin my way out of this beginner phase and improve my skills. That just takes mileage….lots of it…..and, hopefully, some advice and tips from experts.

I was curious about how my beginner efforts in spinning singles for weaving would hold up. I created a warp for the kind of sheer cloth that I recently wove using the hand spun Guatemalan cotton I had bought. I wanted to spin thread that was finer than that.

Well, my hand spun cotton is finer in most parts, less fine in other parts and shockingly thicker in others…you know, typical beginner stuff! But, I was determined to weave with it anyway. I didn’t use a reed, as if one challenge would not be enough!

There was a fair bit of un-weaving and re-weaving in the beginning as I messed around trying to get the sett right. I didn’t have a sample from which to take measurements. This was the sample. My hand spun didn’t really care for all that fiddling about and a couple of threads broke.

And then I ran out of weft and that is where it stands. Is it worth spinning more thread for weft to finish this or has the sample already told me what I needed to know? You might know by now that I like to make things from my samples if that is at all possible. I’ll let it sit there while I think about it. What I do know is that I have much to learn about spinning cotton.

The other thing I wove, before I got my nose buried in my writing, photo-taking and sample-weaving, was the strap for my little pocket bag. When I use the ñawi awapa tubular band as the edging for a piece, I like to weave a strap with a design that resembles the ‘eye’, or diamond shapes on the edging. A simple pattern like that is easy to set up with four sets of string heddles.

Here’s the finished bag with its strap…

Weaving can zoom along when I use those extra heddles. I have used up to eleven of them when I have needed to quickly knock out a strap or lanyard.

It’s fast and could almost be boring if I didn’t have to busy my mind with remembering which heddle came next in the sequence. I found color coding useful.

And then there’s this…! Those are all heddle rods. This lady certainly knows how to weave a complex pattern without having to do pick-up.

I spent a lot of time watching this lady weave and realized that figuring out the next heddle in the sequence was not a visual thing for her but rather a matter of ”feel”. She could tell by the way the sets of heddles moved along the warp which one was next. The  heddle sets she had already used would slide freely. The next one in the sequence would resist.

Now I am going to take my own advice again and set up a couple of small weaving projects that I can play with as ”rewards” for time spent at the keyboard working on the book. I have been advising a friend who is moving house to take time out and reward herself during the tedious packing-up process. When you live alone, like I do, and don’t have encouragement and support immediately around you, the rewards system seems to work well. I might weave the fabric for some hair barrettes (yes, the going-grey plan is still in action) and add some new pieces to my woven jewelry collection.

Until next time….





Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 16, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – The Plan

Spinning cotton had certainly not been part of The Plan for how I was going to spend my time during this Bolivian summer. I spend a fair bit of time when I am away sitting in airports, or on planes, trains and buses, and that is when I like to get out my notebook and create sketches and notes on the projects I would like to attack when I get home. Cotton spinning was not one of them. However, the seed had kind of been planted, although it had not quite taken hold, when I was in Australia. Elizabeth, who came to weave with me, gave me a lovely gift of prepared cotton, a tahkli and a pretty dish in which to place the spindle tip. She had taken classes with Joan Ruane earlier that year and gave me a little demonstration one lunch break. We were so absorbed and I was so swept up in her enthusiasm that we forget to eat!

I had learned to spin cotton in 2007 in coastal Ecuador when I stayed with a family of spinners and weavers along with anthropologist Kathleen Klumpp, but had not taken it much further. I practiced a little when I got home but never spun any useful kind of amount. I certainly couldn’t imagine using the clunky kind of thread I was producing in my weaving and I didn’t have the will to practice more in order to refine and perfect the skill.

                                                                        Photo by Kathleen Klumpp.

I had brought back some of Trini’s prepared cotton and still have it sitting in the closet. Now there is a good chance that I will spin it.

This cotton had passed through the hands of the many grandchildren in the family who would sit on the floor after dinner and pluck out the seeds. Mariana, Trini and I had taken turns in pounding it. I had even made myself a miniature stand from a tree on their property on which to drape the cotton while spinning it.

I simply couldn’t see any reason to spin my own cotton. I didn’t feel that the cotton I was buying was lacking in any qualities that I needed for my weaving….until now. I want cotton singles that can come somewhere close to the fine thread that the weavers in Guatemala use for their sheer cloth. They are able to buy skeins of the commercially-spun cotton singles that they use.. Some weavers in Mexico, who also create this kind of sheer cloth, go to the trouble of splitting the ply of commercially produced cotton if they want to weave the finest pieces. Can you imagine? The seed of interest that Elizabeth had planted in me in Australia started to sprout when Deb in North Carolina showed me the amazing piece of sheer white cloth that she had bought in Guatemala. I actually own a small sample of this cloth. I have taken it out of the closet many times to admire.

There is a wonderful article by Cherri M Pancake and Suzanne Baizerman in the 1980-81 issue of the Textile Museum Journal on the production of Guatemalan gauze textiles. The article states that Handspun single-ply (Z-spun) cotton of varying fineness and degree of twist was used to produce some of the historical textiles. This is referring to textiles that were produced prior to the last decades of the nineteenth century. It seems that the weavers now only use commercially-spun thread.

Kathleen Vitale of Endangered Threads has produced a video on these sheer textiles that are being produced in both Guatemala and Mexico. If your mind boggles at the idea of splitting the ply of your already fine two-ply cotton, take a look at the technique used by the ladies in Mexico in this video!

I brought back a big ball of hand spun doubled cotton singles from Guatemala. I don’t know for what style of weaving that thread had been intended. I separated the strands and used the singles in my experiments in weaving the sheer cloth. My cloth is heavy next to the Guatemalan work! So far my own attempts at spinning cotton is producing thread that is only ever so slightly finer than the Guatemalan thread I bought but, even so, I know that I will enjoy weaving with it.

In the meantime, I decided to try weaving a small sample without a reed. I only wish I had used my own hand spun for this experiment. If I had done so, I could have killed two birds with one stone…testing the strength and suitability of my own thread as well as experiencing the difficulties of maintaining consistent sett without a reed. The sample was very small….just over four-and-a-half inches wide.

After all my talk of temples in my last blog post, I didn’t end up using one. I did find it very useful to use the comb, pictured above, to beat rather than my usual sword/beater. I used a coil rod at the start to help establish the sett. I took measurements from the scarf I had woven. If you are familiar with the ”twisty sticks” that I like to use in my backstrap loom set-up, you will understand what I mean when I tell you that I also used a coil rod in place of the far stick in the twisty stick pair. I think that was helpful. There was much time spent keeping a close eye on warp threads that might be threatening to wander out of position, probably way more time than was necessary. I was happy with the way the width remained consistent but won’t get too carried away with happiness. This was, after all, a really small sample.

And then, I wove a sample with the same number of ends using the reed. It takes time to thread the reed but then you can just relax and weave.

These experiments are preparing me for the time when I can either get hold of much finer singles, or spin my own.

Do I then abandon my 24dpi reed which won’t be fine enough, or thread multiple ends in each dent?

I have been asking some online weaving friends about the very common practice of threading reeds with multiple threads per dent to achieve a finer sett on their floor looms and have been hearing about their experiences with the ”reed marks” which can sometimes result. Apparently, they quite often disappear in the wash and one needs to sample to see if they will do so according to the material and structure that is being used. I think that reed marks would annoy the heck out of me! However, it’s good to know that these marks sometimes do remain in the cloth even after washing and that their occurrence is pretty much normal.  I need to get over that if I am to going to be able to enjoy the ease of weaving this kind of cloth in fine thread with a reed. What about you…do you have any thoughts on how having multiple threads in the reed dents will affect the kind of open cloth I am weaving?

So, I have been spinning. I have a surprising amount of prepared cotton to spin in a big box in my closet. Back in 2009 and 2010, I was swapping llama bone tools and Bolivian drop spindles by mail with folks in Australia, the USA and Europe for various bits and pieces. Quite often I was sent cotton as a swap from generous people…way, way more than I had initially bargained for! I have natural green and brown cotton ready to spin and all sorts of other natural tones as well as dyed stuff. The picture above shows just a small sampling. And then, there’s the Indian charka that my friend Lisa gave me in 2010 and all kinds of useful tips in the book that Stephanie Gaustad gave me when she came to weave with me on one of my U.S visits a couple of years ago.

I can’t spend my time only spinning. I need to be weaving too. So, I prepared a warp for anther bag with built-in pocket. Both this new bag and its pocket are bigger than the green example I recently wove and decorated.

And, this latest example is far less colorful…black and white and that’s it. I am working my way up to a shoulder bag that will will have a large built-in pocket and pick-up patterns. I am done with sampling for this larger project now. I think I have remembered and put into practice all I need to review for the creation of the pocket and am ready to move on to the real project.

Here’s the warp set up with its longer pocket section. I actually remembered to take a photo of this part of the process.

I edged the pocket with a patterned tubular band this time instead of cross-knit looping. And then, I edged the entire bag, including the mouth, with the same kind of patterned tubular band. The pocket is just the right size for my Bolivian ID card.

I added a snap to close the pouch, rather than a zipper, as well as a decorative button.

It looks a little dull in the picture above and so I stuffed the pouch and the wee pocket with bits and pieces to give it some life.

It needs a strap and I’ll most likely weave a pebble pattern into it as the bag itself is so plain. The back of it is pretty unusual. I wove the back with a window so that I could place my little sheer woven cotton sample within. I even lined that side of the bag. That’s a big deal for me with my limited sewing skills! It’s a quirky combination 🙂

Now, I would like to show you what a couple of my weaving friends have been doing with the bamboo reeds that they made with Bryan Whitehead at the ANWG conference in 2017. I will show just one project from each of Tracy and Kristin for now (so hard to choose) so as not to overload you with all that beauty! I’ll show more in future posts as the reed topic continues….

Here’s Tracy’s work using the 22dpi reed that she made herself with natural 10/2 cotton from Lunatic Fringe. It looks so awesome on the loom with that lovely roll of finished cloth on the front beams!

Here she is working on it during my visit earlier this year…

And here’s the finished cloth…so gorgeous!

You can read Tracy’s blog post about the making of her reed at the ANWG pre-conference workshop with instructor Bryan Whitehead here.

One of the reeds that Kristin made in the same workshop is 25dpi. She used it on her backstrap loom with natural and blue 16/2 hemp from Hemp Traders that she combined to weave fabric for several towels….

The finished cloth…

These ladies also do some awesome work on their backstrap looms with their hand spun yarn and reeds. I’ll be showing you more from time to time.

Here are a couple of cool warp-faced projects from online weaving friends…

This if from Penelope in the UK. She says that the hat is nalbinded in Oslo stitch using some unknown chunky grey wool…..Felted down to size. I created the chart for the pick-up pattern for her. It is based on a motif that is often seen in tablet-woven bands. Penelope says that the pattern is based on a 10thC viking find from Dublin that many call ‘Little Dragons’. 

Marie Paule in France is weaving Andean Pebble Weave patterns on her inkle loom using the two-heddle technique that I teach in my first book, Andean Pebble Weave…

The same pebbly patterns can be created without the use of the additional heddles as Marsha is doing here….

Marsha is using the technique that I teach in my third book, Complementary-warp Pick-up. If you don’t think you would like to deal with the additional heddles that Marie Paule is using, or if you don’t think that your particular loom will comfortably accommodate them, my third book teaches a method that does not use them. It is a slower method, but it suits a very wide range of looms and can be used for other complementary-warp structures besides Andean Pebble Weave..

And here’s some of Bradie’s work. I wove with her in Vermont a few months ago. She was using an inkle loom but is already wondering about going on to weave wider pieces. I feel a backstrap loom coming on! This and other Andean Pebble Weave patterns can be woven with two sets of heddles, as Marie Paule does, or without them, as Marsha does.

So, it’s back to my spinning and maybe I will get the silk on the loom this week. I have already put together my pre-warping project notes and all is set to go unless I decide to go with the wool pocket shoulder bag instead. And there’s always a chance that something else will come along to have me throwing The Plan out the window…..

Until next time………..






Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 2, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Time for a new Tool

One weaving tool which hasn’t really made its way into my kit is the temple, an instrument that helps weavers maintain consistent width in the cloth they are producing. I have never really felt the need to use a temple and that’s most likely because I haven’t used my backstrap loom to create the kind of cloth that I felt required one. The ladies with whom I studied in Guatemala used temples. They were wonderfully simple tools….a piece of bamboo that sat underneath the cloth with a couple of small nails holding it in place.

I have to admit that I would cringe every time we pushed those nails into the edges of the woven cloth. When I took the pieces that I had started weaving with my teachers in Guatemala back to Bolivia to finish, I continued using the temples for a while. However, I soon abandoned them as I really felt that they weren’t doing anything for me. I have seen some fine Bhutanese textiles with horrible holes gouged at intervals into the edges from the sharp ends of the temples and that, more than anything, has really put me off using them.

But, now as I am typing, I am remembering that there has actually been one piece of cloth that I wove where I could see a clear need for a temple. It was a wide silk piece that I wove some time ago. I did manage to get away without using a temple because I couldn’t bear the thought of pushing nails or even pins into the edges of the silk.

When weaving this wide piece, I was finding that the cloth would ripple slightly as I propped the shed open ready to pass the shuttle. I had to try and grab the edges of the cloth, first one side and then the other, to straighten and smooth the cloth so that I could be sure that I was laying in the right amount of weft. A third hand would have been handy! It was clumsy and slowed me down but I was willing to do it to avoid using the ”dreaded” temple.

My Montagnard (Vietnamese hill tribe) weaving teachers used wooden temples with carved pointed tips for the cloth they wove on their backstrap looms. They even used them for narrow bands…

And, my weaving teachers in coastal Ecuador who wove on vertical looms rather than backstrap looms, used a similar style of temple cut from a large tube of bamboo that they attach to the upper face of the cotton cloth on the loom. I remember really struggling to bend that slat of bamboo into place each time it had to be re-positioned on the cloth. This heavy-ish sturdy cotton did not suffer at all from the pointed tips of the temple.

Why all this talk of temples? Well, I would like to weave another sheer cotton piece like the one I just wove but using much finer cotton. I don’t have a reed that is fine or wide enough for the piece I have in mind and so I will have to resort to trying to maintain the sett and width by other means just like the Guatemalan weavers in Alta Verapaz do. The temple will help with the width. Maintaining the sett will be another story! What tool do the ladies in Guatemala use?….skill and lifetimes of experience and know-how passed down through generations!

Until I get the fine cotton singles that I would like to use, I will practice with the little bit of hand spun cotton that I have left over from my most recent project. For that project I used a reed and so I have a sample from which to take calculations for width and something to guide me to determine and try to maintain the spacing between warp threads. I have wound a short warp with half the number of ends that I used for my scarf. Wish me luck!

Here are some bits and pieces I have gathered together for possible temples…

The piece at the bottom of the picture is the temple that came with a Karen loom that a friend gave me. Pins have been taped to a piece of wood and the temple was sitting on the back side of the warp-faced cloth. The bamboo pieces are the temples I was using with my teachers in Guatemala. The nails that pierced the cloth and then turned into the open ends of the bamboo, are sitting on top of the tongue depressor. I was wondering if cutting points into a piece of heavy cardboard like the black stuff you see there and reinforcing it with a tongue depressor would also work.

Or, there’s this….contributed by friend Franco to the backstrap weaving group on Ravelry many years ago…

It was working well for Franco. I would love it if I could get something like this to work for me. It measures and maintains width all at once!

As for my current project…it is finished! Except for the very first part which I un-wove and turned into fringe, I got a consistent 9 1/8 inches of width.

First patterns underway.

After finishing the hem-stitching the far end, I slowly unrolled the cloth and worked my way back to the start, burying weft ends as I went. Then I  cut the weft out of the first wider part of the cloth and hemstitched that end.

Here it is off the loom waiting to have its fringe twisted before being washed and pressed.

Procrastinating! Enjoying the cloth and taking pictures because I was nervous about what was going to happen to it when it was washed!

Moe procrastination…yes, it’s sheer now but will it lose this translucency when it has been washed?

A whole day has gone by. Tomorrow I’ll wash this thing.

Post-wash and press: it lost between 1/8” and 1/4” in width and the warp threads moved closer together ever so slightly. It feels so soft!

Post-wash cloth with twisted fringe.

Post-wash verdict: I love this super soft supple cloth that is so unlike anything I have woven before!

Now I am thinking about dyeing it. Should I?

During all the pre-wash dithering, I decided to take a sample that I had woven before my last trip away and make it into something. You might remember that I wanted to make a wool shoulder bag with a built-in pocket in the style of the ch’uspas (coca-leaf bags) that the Bolivian weavers make. I learned how to set up the warp and weave the pocket back in 1997 with my teachers in Potosí. This small green piece is the wool sample that I most recently wove to refresh my memory of the technique. I edged the little pocket with triple cross-knit looping.

I decided to go ahead and make this into a little zippered pouch. I edged it with a tubular band style that is woven in Chahuaytire, Peru which also served as the strap. The bottom is decorated with coil stitches and the pocket is edged with single cross-knit looping. A four-strand braid makes a nice zipper tab.

The wool surface loved to attract the stray bits of cotton that I have had flying around during my latest project.

I had started gathering materials for this project before I had finished weaving the cotton scarf. I thought about what I could possibly fit into the tiny pocket and found that my door key sat within it perfectly. Two days later when I wanted to go out, I turned my apartment upside down looking for my door key. I was locked in and had completely forgotten about having placed the key in the little pocket. I had to call a friend who keeps a spare for me to come and let me out. Another two days went by before I picked up the little green bag once more to work on it and discovered the secret contents of the little pocket. Duh!

So….I guess the hand spun-cotton-with-temple experiment is next. I have also wound my skeined silk into balls ready for warping. I am thinking about weaving a silk cowl….just a simple tube to drape around my neck instead of a whole scarf. At three-and-a-half months into the grey hair transition I am still thinking about wearing color around my face to brighten things up a bit. Until next time……..









Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 19, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Summery Cloth

With the temperature around 91 F and a broken air conditioner, it’s just as well that I have decided to weave something light and airy as my first big project for this season. I usually find myself at this hotter time of year weaving something totally inappropriate, like a wool lap blanket. Silk thread is not pleasant stuff either in sweaty fingers. I do, in fact, have plans for both wool and silk projects for the next few months but hopefully my a/c will be up and running again by the time I get around to them.

I threaded the reed for the project for which I am using some hand spun cotton that I picked up from this lady in Guatemala in 2008.

It was a little worrying while re-tying the cotton ends to have some of them untwist  and break as I attempted to pull and tighten the knot. Breakages?! I hadn’t even started weaving yet! I did not want to have to size this warp and I am glad I didn’t panic and do so as, so far, I have only had one thread break while weaving. This same thread has broken multiple times and so I guess and hope that it was just one section of this particular strand that was more loosely twisted than the rest.

Of course, I first wove a small sample for this open and airy balanced-weave that I want to do. You can just catch of glimpse of it at bottom right in the picture above.

I am trying to replicate the structure used by weavers in the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala…a base of open balanced weave into which they place patterns using supplementary weft. The thread they use is much much finer than the cotton singles that I have. I was told that in some communities in Chiapas, Mexico where this kind of cloth is also produced, some of the weavers divide 20/2 commercially-spun cotton into singles and use that as their warp threads. What a job! Not everyone can manage it and those who can’t will pay someone to convert a cone of thread into singles. In the Alta Verapaz region, some weavers use commercially-spun 20/1 cotton thread is used which perhaps explains why the thread in the sample piece that I bought at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe a few years ago is so incredibly white. This information comes from Kathleen Vitale. I also read that other weavers use a 30/2 mercerized cotton which isn’t split and which is available in local markets. The hand spun cotton that I am using is off-white (and much thicker!) as you can see below.

But, I am happy to have this piece of fabric from Guatemala and these balls of hand spun singles so that I can at least try this out and practice creating the patterns. The finer thread can come later!

Here’s a look at the little piece I bought in Santa Fe still on its loom. I would love to know how it changes after washing but I don’t want to cut it off its little loom. Or…did they somehow wash it in order to sell it?

Here’s my tiny sample on the loom, and then after washing (sitting on top of my latest knitted cowl…still very excited about picking up knitting again!)

The more open sett at the start of the sample is what I was aiming for but I unconsciously allowed the piece to narrow and deepened my beat which gave me consistent width and neater selvedges. However, in doing so, I almost lost the translucent quality that I had been wanting.

So, here is the large piece underway. I was so doubtful about the success of this project that I very uncharacteristically did not bother to plan out and chart a pattern. I just started winging it. So, I have to say that I am not entirely pleased with the layout of the figures. I am just practicing various basic lines and shapes. It’s another ”sample”, albeit a very large one!

I would call it successful because I have only broken one thread so far. That had been my biggest concern.

Un-weaving is quite the thing. The fluffy warp and weft threads meet and grab hold and do not want to let go! However, it is this ”gripping”quality that seems to allow the Guatemalan weavers to simply cut off the start and end tails of supplementary weft right at the edges of the pattern rather than leave some length and make an attempt to bury the ends within the pattern. I am guessing that washing the fabric will further reinforce this. I suppose I’ll find out! This is after all a sample, right? I haven’t cut the tails very short yet.

I was eventually able to coax out one of the ends of supplementary weft in the unwashed Guatemalan sample so I could count the number of strands the weavers were using.

It’s a very relaxing technique for me. I can sing, listen to podcasts…it doesn’t require the heavier amount of concentration that most of pick-up work involves. And, it sits light as a feather on top of my legs. It is certainly the fabric with highest amount of drape that I have created on my backstrap loom. There’s a long way to go. The warp measures something like eighty inches. which means that there is plenty of room left to play with patterns.

I am so thankful for these reeds that I managed to buy in the vendor hall at Convergence in 2010. They have just the right spacing for this open structure in the weight of cotton I am using. When the time comes to use finer thread, I will have to figure out something else. Or, not use a reed at all. The Guatemalan weavers don’t. I only want to handle one challenge at a time!

I think the only other time I used one of these reeds is when I did a four-shaft shadow-weave piece a few years ago…

My backstrap weaving friends, Christine, Kristin and Tracy made their own bamboo reeds in a workshop with Brian Whitehead at ANWG 2017. Here’s Christine with hers…I know that Kristin and Tracy have put theirs to use multiple times with both commercially and hand spun fibers and have created some truly awesome pieces of fabric. I’ll have pictures and details in future blog posts.

A much simpler project that came off my loom last week was the piece on which I had been demonstrating at recent fiber events. It is now a backstrap to add to the collection of straps that my weaving friends use when we get together. It is sitting here with a couple of my bone tools. The one on the right was given to me by a gentleman in northern Chile. He had found it in the Atacama desert. It has a beautiful shape and point.

And, here’s the latest from some of my online weaving friends and students…

It’s lovely to see patterns from my books appearing in Marsha’s beautiful band projects. She is using the Gilmore Mini and Big Wave looms as well as a Handywoman treadle tape loom with a variety of materials…cotton, silk and tencel.

Maxine combines colors so beautifully on her inkle loom. How inspiring is this? It’s nice to see these patterns from my first book being used in such an awesome way.

This is Caroline Sargisson’s first band using an inkle loom and a pattern and instructions in my Complementary-warp Pick-up book.

Julie Beers finished a really long band of the playful kitties patterns in my latest pattern book. She wove this on one of the Gilmore looms.

Tara’s making a pouch from fabric she wove using a backstrap loom. She may use some of the finishing techniques I teach to decorate it.

And Tracy has edged her bag with the ñawi awapa tubular band. She wove the bag itself using a backstrap loom and her own hand spun wool. The strap is currently underway.

Penelope made bands for her living history top hats using a Jonathan Seidel card loom with a Vav kompaniet heddle.

And, yarndragon made some keyfobs using 10/2 cotton. Because she thought 10/2 cotton too lightweight for fobs, she neatly backed them with denim.

Patrick finished the double weave band he started with me. The pattern is his own creation…

And, last of all, I will leave you to gasp at a picture of the amazing pikb’il cloth that really inspired my current project. It was one of the last things I saw on my recent trip away but became the item that jumped to the top of my to-do list on my return. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Many thanks to Deb who showed me this scarf that she had bought on a recent trip to Guatemala. It looks like it would float away in a summer breeze………








Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 5, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – The View from my iPod

I love the little pouch I made for my iPod. With it hanging around my neck, I can quickly and easily take pictures anywhere I go. And, it also gives me access to Instagram, which I love.

Backstrap weaving in Maine with camera at the ready. Oh yes, and there’s me going public with my new silver hair streak..

Using the iPod as a principal camera does have certain limitations, though. The battery life is pathetically short and the zoom is pretty useless. I will probably go back to also carting my larger camera around on my next trip away.

However, the iPod did enable me to take some nice shots during this two-and-a-half-month trip away and so I can now show and tell you that Ohio has the cutest story-book clouds….

And that I learned yet again on my second visit that Vermont has epic sunsets…

While Kentucky has awesome hiking trails and vistas…

And that strolling through Charlotte airport is like strolling though a park! Someone had the brilliant idea to plant trees and place rockers under them. That, with the natural light streaming in through the high glass walls creates a very unique airport experience…

It is so convenient to be able to grab my camera from its little pouch around my neck and snap a quick shot along my demonstration warp with the backstrap still in place around my hips…

You might recognize this warp from the cover of my dvd Operating a Backstrap Loom.

I had created it just for the cover shot and then put it away in a drawer. When I was asked to demonstrate backstrap weaving at the Fiber College of Maine event, it seemed like the perfect thing to use with its bright colors and small amount of pick-up. I have found that when there is a mix of weavers and non-weavers in the audience, most people are more interested in seeing how the loom works rather than watching a whole lot of pick-up. The tiny strip of pick-up in this piece was just enough to give people the idea while allowing things to move along at a captivating pace. Finding just the right spot outside is sometimes tricky and I found myself moving around this tree, like the hands of a clock, chasing the shade.

All ten of the people who came to weave with me were also able to comfortably enjoy weaving outdoors under a tent…

Each tent had its name and we were in the Laugh one among the woods at the Fiber College of Maine campground.

Over two days we wove bands with complementary-warp pick-up together enjoying being in the open air….

Other folks came to weave with me for just an afternoon. Young Mira added an extra bit of sunshine to my day when she showed up with a warp she had created from her own handspun and naturally dyed wool…

It had a few minor issues which we sorted out together. What fun! In the background you can see one of the porch hang-out spots where fiber enthusiasts gathered to weave, spin, knit and share stories.

After playing with the warp and making some adjustments, she  showed me the bark berry baskets she makes. She made this one into a backpack. It’s lined and she sewed on the leather trim herself. It’s gorgeous! On other baskets she has used tablet-woven trims.

There were so many cool people at the Fiber College of Maine. It truly is a special place. Check it out for next year if you are in the area in early September.

Knitting ”softwear” engineer Alisdair Post-Quinn was there. I got to hang out with him one morning on one of the porches while I wove a band with interlocking Andean hooks attached to my toe. Alisdair was starting a new piece in double knitting. He showed me the pattern he had created and it was also all about hooks in positive and negative space, looked very Central Asian and was absolutely stunning!

Later on, we all got to see one of Alisdair’s finished double-knitted pieces…whoa.

There are several relaxing ”hang-out” spots such as this throughout the campground which are great places to sit and practice your craft and talk to whomever happens to come by. There was even a convenient post for attaching a backstrap loom at this one.

There were folks making felted vessels, painting on silk, weaving rag rugs, making chain mail, doing Sashiko embroidery, double knitting, tapestry weaving, quilting, making long and short bows, plasma cutting, basket making, flute making…and these were just the activities that I managed to get around and see. There were a whole lot of other fiber and fiber-related things going on as well at this five-day event known as Fiber College of Maine. Classes ran for two days, one day and half days and there were several ”taster” activities offered by the hour. I was drawn to the pottery taster but knew that I wouldn’t be able to carry my creation home.

The entire campground is a wonderland of creativity from the plasma-cut fire places to the whimsical outhouses.

I was quite taken with the sleeping quarters for the artist-in-residence that stands within the weaving studio building…a tent structure within the building which has been covered with antique doilies. It was like a little fairy land inside.

From the seashore of Maine, I headed to Ohio to stay with weaving friend, Janie. We gathered a group to weave ñawi awapa tubular bands and play with various finishing techniques used by weavers in Peru and Bolivia.

Janie was busy preparing for a show of her tied and dyed silk scarves…

Between weaving and silk dyeing, we managed to have an awesome day out hiking in Kentucky in the Red River Gorge. It was a day of beautiful views and just enough challenge for me whose legs had not been hiking for a long, long time!

And then, I bounced over east again to Vermont to stay with Lausanne and Brian in their little cottage in the woods…

Fall was in the air and we harvested potatoes but I was just that little bit too early to see the leaf colors that I had enjoyed on the Columbus Day weekend on my last visit.

We wove, went to the Harvest Festival at which Lausanne performed on her fiddle, cruised thrift stores and did some short local hikes.

Lausanne wanted to refresh her Andean Pebble Weave skills and she put together a beautiful wool warp for her backstrap loom. Yes, wool has its challenges but working with it is so worth it. Once you get used to its hairiness and adapt your shed opening techniques to suit, it all becomes so much less intimidating.

She chose  figures from the aquatic set in my latest book of patterns Complementary-warp Pattern Book starting with some little fish in among the currents and progressing to one of the four larger fish that are charted in the book.

Carol, Peggy and Bradie came along to weave complementary-warp pick-up on their inkle looms. We used patterns from my Complementary-warp Pick-up book for those. That book has the instructions along with forty-two narrow patterns.

Online weaving friend, Lizze Ruffell, has been enjoying the book, too….

Bradie felt quite at home on the floor with her inkle loom and I may be mistaken but I have a feeling that she might try out a backstrap loom at some point…

Carol and Peggy worked at the table. Each person finds their own way to hold and work at the loom. Both Carol and Peggy took home unwoven warp and patterns on which to work.

Later, up at the table, Rosie found a warm lap on which to ride out the cold wet day…a good day to be indoors weaving. Bradie quickly picked up the technique and I know that she will go far with this!

  My last afternoon with Lausanne was spent taking a gentle walk on a perfect fall day to a lovely lookout spot where we could enjoy views of the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.

I then moved on and visited with my good friends Claudia, Janet and David in Maryland. It’s been nine years since we met online via Weavolution and there is always much to catch up on. It was tough having to limit the visit to just two days. But, we didn’t muck around. Claudia suggested reviving my limited knitting skills and I was all for it. Perhaps it was the encounter with Alisdair that reminded me of the amazing things that can be created with yarn and two simple pointed sticks. And so…I knitted! I learned the long-tail cast-on and used circular needles for the first time…exciting! Claudia sent me home with a whole kit of interchangeable needles and a half-finished simple cowl.

My warm-up sample.

I think that wearing colored cowls near my face will be nice way to brighten things up a bit when I complete my transition to silver hair. There’s still a loooong way to go on that! I also ordered silk so that I can weave some silk button-up ones too.

Last stop, North Carolina and the Yadkin Valley where we gathered weavers to try out some backstrap weaving and pick-up patterns. I stayed with Leslie and husband John on their property along with their alpacas, goats, donkeys, cats and dogs and enjoyed being back in North Carolina after a break of eight years.

Leslie had been to Convergence where she took my friend Marilyn’s class. I immediately recognized the bow-loom-woven double bracelet that Marilyn teaches people to weave. Marilyn also presents this class on dvd or via streaming on the Taproot Video website.

Here’s our happy group of backstrap weavers at the Fiber Center. A couple of the ladies are studying for the Master Weaver Certificate offered by Olds College. The Yadkin Valley Fiber Center partners with Olds College to offer all levels of the Master Spinning and Master Weaving courses. I have since seen on Facebook that Deb is enthusiastically continuing the samples we started together and I hope that the other ladies find time to do so too.

And, the other thing that the iPod has been good for is…. those dreadful selfies. They are too hard to do with my big camera and I would like to record my transition to silver hair. I promise I won’t bore you with these pictures in every blog post but I figure that if I put a picture or two ”out there” I am less likely to chicken out and go back to dyeing.

Now, I am back in Bolivia and giving myself a few days to clean house, do laundry and re-stock the fridge before jumping back in my loom. First, I will finish the demo warp that I took away. It’s going to be a backstrap for one of my students. And then, I will decide on whether I want to start with the silk cowls, some ikat, linked warp, or perhaps a light gauze cotton piece using some fine handspun cotton that I found in the closet. I think I bought it in Guatemala back in 2008. It has been doubled and rolled into a ball and I have been winding the singles back into separate balls.

I am wallowing in time before my next trip away…exciting! There’s lots of weaving to do and, of course, there is a book or two to work on as well.














Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 3, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Snippets and Snaps

Well, I was hoping to make some ”postcard” mini-posts while on the road but I have been so busy moving from place to place….long flights back and forth across oceans with the dreaded jet-laggy recoveries. But, here I am now happily settled on the pretty seashore of Maine, with my dear friend Astrig, for the next part of my journey. The only thing missing from making this next picture perfect is a warp hooked to my big toe, but there will be plenty of time for weaving soon…

I went to the local Farmers’ Market yesterday and met, quite by chance, weaver Susan Barrett Merrill, the creator of the small lap loom called the Journey Loom. I have several weaving friends who have created fabulous woven masks using Susan’s book “The Art of Weaving a Life”and I have seen her and her fans in various online groups over these last years.

As I strolled through the market, I was attracted to the sign on a booth that read ”Handwoven Earrings”. I really am not one for jewelry. I have worn the same two pairs of tiny gold hoop earrings for at least the last 12 years but I am currently making the tough transition to my natural hair color, that is, grey (actually, more like white!), and I am rewarding myself for every inch or so of new grey growth with a new pair of earrings. I’ll wear them when all my dark brown color has been cut out. That will take some time!

So, there I was admiring the idea of handwoven earrings and there was Susan! Susan uses silk, cotton, bamboo and metallic threads for her earrings and it was quite difficult to pick a single pair as my favorite from her display. I looked through a catalog of her amazing masks and noticed that she had incorporated ”Bolivian-style finger weaving” (crossed warp technique) in one particular mask that she calls Epona, She of the Wild Horses. This mask is made from Maine handspun island wool and linen. The face is woven and the headdress and horse figures are felted with merino and ram’s wool. The corona has Shyrdak designs of Central Asia. You can take a look at a gallery of her masks here.

My time in Australia was fast-paced but awesome. It was fun meeting weavers for the first time in Adelaide, wonderful catching up with old weaving friends once again and meeting new ones in northern Tasmania, Melbourne, Maitland and south coast NSW.

Weavers in Adelaide pause to chart some patterns from woven bands.

Patrick in Melbourne is a new addition to our backstrap weaving fold. He sits beside Ruth who was weaving with me for the third time in Melbourne.

Patrick was a natural and immediately started creating his own patterns in warp-faced double weave…

Ruth also created her own pattern using only twelve threads…a sweet flamingo…which she was happy to share with other students. In another class, Mog saw the pattern, loved it, and wove it as paired flamingos on her twenty-thread warp.

The endless days of glorious sunshine in NSW were marred by the fact that the state is once again in the grip of drought. Wildlife is attracted to the thin line of green grass that borders the country roads that wind through fields of dusty dry yellow. As a result, we hit a kangaroo on the way home from weaving one evening…so very sad.

Ten happy backstrap weavers enjoy warping outside in the winter sunshine on the south coast of NSW.

Cornelia, who wove with me last year, returned and I got to see the interesting things she has been weaving on her backstrap loom in the meantime. Pick-up patterning is not really her thing but she is always interested in learning. As you can see from the picture, she is very much into texture.

Here you can see Maeve’s clever hands creating a goat pattern of her own design in warp-faced double weave…

I saw the work of Tasmanian weaver Michael Kay in an exhibit called Towards an Origin in Launceston. He happened to be there when I visited and we got a personal tour. Among the various pieces displayed were Michael’s unique images that he creates using a rep weave technique and hand painted warp. The two layers of warp are painted different colors and he uses the thick and thin weft that is traditionally used in rep weave to allow one of the two colors to dominate at will to form images.

I was lucky enough to be in Melbourne during the Viking exhibit and Ruth was kind enough to take me along. It is amazing to think of the thread being spun and the cloth being woven piece by piece and interlaced to form the sails of the traditional boats. ”Krampmacken” has been reconstructed from an archaeological boat discovery from the end of the Viking Age.

I particularly loved seeing the sewing tools, the needles and their decorated cases among the hundreds of pieces on display.

Thanks to my weaving friend, Glenys, I got to spend the last days at south coast beaches which were largely deserted in the off-season. Only a few hardy surfers could be seen bobbing among the waves. I love wild wintry beaches.

There I said goodbye to Australia for 2018 and attempted a selfie for what might be the last picture of myself with dark hair. I am hoping I don’t chicken out on this transition to my natural color. The contrast in the newly emerging natural color is startling to say the least!

Beautiful early morning strolls along the boardwalk were a perfect peaceful way to end my Australian visit and contemplate the road ahead.

The immediate road ahead involved a trip across the ocean and multiple time zones to L.A where I wove once again with my friend Kathleen, experienced an earthquake which toppled some small objects and wobbled pictures on north-south walls off center, stayed in a town where wild peacock roam the suburban streets, and found a small city that bears my name!

This is one of the few places where I don’t need to lie to the Starbucks guy and tell him to write ”Mary” on my cup.

Kathleen took me along to visit the Charter Oak Weaving and Spinning Center which has over 100 looms distributed between two rooms and at least 80 students. It must be the biggest school of its kind in the USA. We visited at the start of one of the evening classes and there was quite a buzz of excitement at the start of the new term. It was nice to meet people there with whom I have corresponded as well as a weaving friend I had made on my visit to Palm Springs earlier this year.

I had stayed with Kathleen on my way through to Australia and she was kind enough to host me again on my return trip. The first time I came through, she had been fresh back from Convergence where she had taken a velvet weaving class with Barbara Setsu Pickett. Kathy’s piece was still on the loom and she showed me what she had created from Barbara’s instructions as well as some innovations of her own. She created various combinations of flat weaving, cut and uncut pile. The piece was gorgeous and particularly so because of Kathleen’s color choices and combinations. Kathleen, who is a professional costumer, plans to incorporate velvet in an opera cape that she will sew. It is bound to be stunning.

And now to enjoy beautiful Maine and the company of my friend Astrig, seen here spinning in the late evening sunlight, and other weaving friends. Let’s see if I can squeeze in another post of snippets and snaps before I head back to Bolivia.




Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 19, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Taking Stock

As I get ready to hit the road once again…how these seven weeks at home and back at my loom have flown!!…I always find it useful and somehow necessary to stop and take stock of what I have done with my weaving time and think ahead to my return so that I can hit the ground running when I get back. The next time I am home it will be for a full luxurious six months, unless I get restless and decide to go visit with my weaving teachers. Several ideas have already come to mind.

The first thing I finished when I got home seven weeks ago, was the silk paisley-patterned scarf.

If you have been following my blog over the years you will certainly know about my friend Dorinda. She recently left Bolivia to return to her home in the USA after having worked with a group of weavers in the central Bolivian highlands for about a decade. She writes and tells me about her transition back to life in the developed world. It is inspiring for me as I face the the fact that one day, I too, will most likely need to return to my other home in Australia and leave all this behind. This year I celebrate twenty-five years in South America. Leaving seems impossible and the very thought of it breaks my heart. If I could somehow make my home in both countries…..

Dorinda has also been taking stock of many things, one of which is the inventory of woven items she has had brought over from Bolivia recently. Naturally, Dorinda has had a difficult time assuring the weavers she left behind that all is not over and that she will be better able to generate sales for them in the USA than when she was with them in Bolivia. She is eager to give them a new order but funds for materials to create more textiles must come from the sale of existing stock.

This is where I am hoping you can help out. Dorinda has with her in the USA a limited number of bands of various width, zippered pouches and straps all created with the weavers’ own handspun naturally-dyed wool. If any of you have woven tubular bands with me, you will be well-acquainted with this beautiful cloth. I have also shown the pieces many times on my blog.

From Dorinda:

Those of you who enjoy working with the hand spun natural dyed woven cloth to make your own creations will be pleased to know that there are 19  fajas/bands ($38) (70” x 5” ) 6 larger weavings ($68) which are 63” x 9.5”, and 12 straps ($18) which are 74” to 78” long and 1.5” wide available for purchase.

Photo courtesy of Dorinda Dutcher.

There are also zippered pouches…$17 with wrist strap, $16 without, as well as yoga mat straps. Dorinda is particularly keen to promote the yoga mat straps as these are woven by the youngest weavers and sales of the straps encourages  themto continue learning to weave from their elders and advance to wider pieces. Read more of the story in Dorinda’s blog post.

Photo courtesy of Dorinda Dutcher.

You can contact Dorinda directly to order or ask about any of these items by emailing her at

As for my taking of stock, I am pleased that a couple of the items I completed during this short stint at home will travel with me. I have a new pouch for my iPod and charger as well as a handy neck pouch for carrying my iPod about when I want to use it as a camera.

I finished the neck ribbon for Tracy so that I can complete our fun sprang-for-backstrap-weaving barter agreement…

And, I wove a couple of silk bookmarks which are gifts for some friends. On the first one I used patterns that I haven’t woven for years and which I saw during time I spent with Angela, my Guaraní weaving teacher. I got half way through charting these patterns, but found that it was actually faster to just wing it….something which is fairly easy to do in the intermesh structure.

I wove the mug rugs pictured above many years ago with one of the patterns and still have three of the test pieces which served as my guide for replicating the motif. It had taken me a few attempts to get the tubular edging on those mug rugs right and the two pieces in the picture were duds. I am not showing the ugly edges of the mug rugs in the picture! I have a large tub of these abandoned pieces under my bed in case you believe that everything I weave turns out well first go! Occasionally I pull them out and they become useful.

Speaking of mug rugs, one of the new backstrap weavers on Ravelry has been using the mug rug pattern charts here on my blog to weave sets of mug rugs. It’s nice to see those patterns being used along with the tutorial on double weave. Those mug rugs were a favorite project of mine all those years ago. They wove up so quickly and I still have them scattered all over my home.

I took another silk book mark of the loom and used a 9-strand flat braid for finishing it. The green one was finished with a five-strand version.  I call these my ”lazy” braids…one large braid that is quick to make as opposed to the multiple four-strand round braids that I usually like to do. I have a tutorial for the five-strand version here. The nine-strand one follows basically the same steps except that individual strands go over two and under two instead of over one, under one as described in the five-strand tutorial. It keeps all the fine ends of 60/2 silk nicely under control.

In my last blog post I described my small test pieces for double-width fabric on my backstrap loom and lamented the fact that I didn’t have swords that were long enough to weave the width I want, around 23 inches, in a single layer rather than two.

Well, it turns out that I do! My place is so small it is hard to believe that I could overlook something like this. I have a beautiful sword that goes with a backstrap loom from the Karen people that my friend Bhakti gave me. It would work beautifully on fabric up to 23 inches wide. I also have lots of Navajo-style battens from my tapestry days. They are long. I used to weave 24-inch wide Navajo style pieces back then. These are, however, probably too narrow but would do in a pinch. And, I have four wooden one-meter length rulers that are the perfect width. They have been sitting in a tub alongside uncut broom handles for so long, I no longer even notice them. So, I think I am well set to cut and  shape some nice long swords from those when I return to Bolivia.

The Karen loom with its nice long split-beams and sword.

So, that’s one for the to-do list when I get home. I also want to weave a shoulder bag  with one of the cute pockets that highland weavers here incorporate in their coca-leaf pouches. These pockets are typically very small, about the width of two fingers. I want to weave a patterned wool bag with a much larger pocket that would fit perhaps my iPod, a notebook or other small item.

I learned to weave these pouches with pockets in Potosi, Bolivia way back in 1997. Part of the fun of that project was learning how to decorate the pouch after I had finished weaving it. The bag was edged with a patterned tubular band. The pocket was edged with triple cross-knit looping.

My teachers Julia and Hilda discuss how to set up the warp that includes the pocket. It had been many years since either of them had woven one of these bags.

That’s me weaving the small pouch on the horizontal ground loom. And here’s the finished pouch with its little pocket in some of the lively colors of the highlands.

I attempted to weave one these a few years ago. It resides in that tub of stuff under the bed that I told you about earlier! I had attempted it in cotton and quickly realized that cotton requires a lot more precision for this kind of thing than wool. For something like this, a bit of stretchy-ness is good! So, I have woven a miniature version in wool with a teeny tiny pocket. My notes in my journal on this back in 1997 are quite sparse. I am sure that I thought at the time that it was all just so obvious and not worth noting down. But, it was amazing how things came back to me when I hit the first obstacle in the process.

Above you can see the wee pocket with some triple cross knit looping on the side. I need to practice that some more. Some of these pouches have their pockets edged with tubular bands, like the one at left, and some have no edging at all but may have a small pom pom or tassel or added fringe hanging from them. So, that gives me a second project to come home to. I am hoping to weave the pouch with four selvedges, as is the tradition. I had also hoped to get some ikat experiments done during this time at home but that didn’t happen.

And, to finish my taking-of-stock, it was fun to be able to finally edge the purple lap blanket and put it to use in what has been a winter with unusually lengthy periods of cold-ish weather.






The double weave music band will travel with me as a sample for those who will be weaving double weave with me in Australia.

I will leave you here with some news from Taproot Video. I am sure you must all know by now that Taproot Video is the home of my video class Operating a Backstrap Loom.

Taproot Video offers its classes on dvd or as streamed content. The most recent offering is Carol James’ much awaited class on sprang braiding. Carol has had a free video on the site for some time in which she teaches some of the basics. Now you can explore the topic further with her Introduction to Sprang.

I haven’t tried it myself but I can’t see any reason why sprang wouldn’t work on a backstrap loom. One of these days I’ll do that…after I finish the wide silk piece and the wool shoulder bag and all the ikat experiments and and and…I hope my time at home later this year will see some book projects finished too.

I hope to find time to write some “postcard” blog posts while on the road. Until next time!






Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 6, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – The Bands Play On

The bands play on…

In a time when my weaving goals are geared toward going wider, finer and longer, there is a surprising amount of narrow band-weaving happening on my backstrap loom. I guess I am satisfying the desire to go finer and longer, if not wider, in some of these projects. At least the 110-inch band that I wove as an edging for my wool blanket falls into the long and fine category.

Two years have passed since I took the panels for the wool blanket off my loom and now I have it finished at last along with its red and brown partner.

Now….bring on the cold weather so that I can snuggle under these!

I stayed with fine thread for the next band project which only satisfied one of my three goals. I wove a strap for my new iPod neck pouch. First came the tubular bands for the sides of the pouch followed by the neck strap. I  set up the warp for the strap with four sets of heddles and zoomed along.

I was able to fit three of the four cat patterns from my latest pattern book on the back of the pouch. After attaching the tubular edgings, I sewed coil stitches to cover the raw edges at the bottom of the pouch. The mouth of the pouch ends in selvedges that don’t need protection. I want to re-do the coil stitches as the needle I used was too thick for the weight of wool and I think I can make the coils more compact with the finer needles that I have.

And then it was back to 60/2 silk for another band with lots of pick-up. I am using only two sets of heddles this time and so my pick-up stick is getting a good work out.

This band is for my friend Tracy who makes the most adorable sprang pouches.

I asked her if I could buy one…they are just so darn cute and I loved the colors. I know that it is hard to put a price on these kinds of handmade items and so we came to an arrangement to make a swap…a silk neck ribbon for a sprang pouch. Tracy surprised me by delivering that pouch quick smart. You can see it pictured above.

I am afraid that I am sadly lagging behind on my end of the deal. I am so happy to have this ribbon underway on the loom now.

I am using the same snake pattern that I used for a neck ribbon I wove for myself some time ago. I hang a pendant on it and use it as a necklace. This is a pattern that I adapted to fit the number of threads I am using from a pattern woven by my Guarani weaving teacher. When I showed this to some online friends, one of them pointed out the little red “rubies” that appear in the bends of the snake when you look at the other face. I hadn’t noticed that before.

So there have been a handful of narrow projects on my loom while I have been contemplating my next big project. This one will be wide. I will be on the road again before I can even hope to get this next one started. Besides, I think I need to buy more thread for it and I’ll bring that back with me when I return.

I have played around with a handful of what, for me at least, are wide projects in the past….

This was the first time I tried 60/2 silk as warp.

Another wide-ish one in 30/2 cotton. I’d like to stress that these are only ”wide” in terms of what I normally weave on my backstrap loom. They are not at all wide compared to the pieces that are routinely woven on backstrap looms in S.E Asia! Take a look at these images of backstrap weavers from Laos and Vietnam with their tremendously wide warps (used with kind permission from the folks at Above the Fray Traditional Hilltribe Art.)

I felt I needed to stand to get my friend Janet’s wide wool warp started unlike the gentleman in Ecuador who skillfully works at his wide and very heavy wool warp while seated…

 A Peruvian weaver, below, stands and “dances” with her loom as she manages her 39-inch light cotton warp…

The challenges of going wide…firstly, there’s the equipment. Long beams, shed rods, cross sticks, coil rods and heddle rods are no problem. There no end of wooden broomsticks and such things down the street in the market. What I am lacking are swords of the right length. I rummaged around and pulled out my biggest ones…

Only one is the length that I feel I need. I could have some made for when I return (make them myself?…I am useless at that sort of thing!) But then I started thinking about the double-width cloth that many floor loom weavers make when their looms are not wide enough to accommodate the width that they want to weave. They weave half the width in two layers which then unfold to make one wide piece.

Time to experiment.

I have no idea if the following small experiments will really give me any clue as to how easy this will be to handle with many more warp ends. I guess I was more curious at this point to experiment with sett and how that affects the fold in the cloth.

What I liked while making these experiments was the ability to cut off a sample and clamp off my warp. That way I could wash and press the sample, take notes, plan changes and then continue using the same warp for the next one. The width of the warp you see on the loom below is half the width of the woven cloth.

I suspect that these wooden clamps that I inherited from a guild were home made. I have searched on Google for similar things but haven’t turned up anything yet. I have two of them and they work well at holding the threads while I cut off a woven sample. I clamp one to the unwoven warp while it is under tension and then cut off the woven cloth. I lash the clamp to a dowel when I want to start weaving again.

You can see the first two samples above. I calculated the width I should produce with this number of ends of 60/2 silk based on pieces I have woven in the past. I wove the first small piece at a closer sett. It’s not the width that would normally be produced in my hands and I had to work to stop the cloth from widening.  That resulted in uneven selvedges. The density also made the sheds that much harder to clear. However, of the three samples I wove, this one was the only one where the fold in the cloth was not noticeable at all.

I let the second sample go wider than I normally would, which made shed management much easier. I also practiced a new pattern that I had charted in supplementary weft. The fold in the cloth was quite obvious in this one. It wasn’t noticeable when the cloth was just lying flat but it certainly was when held up to the light. The warp ends were spread further apart at the fold, enough so to create what I would consider a fairly weak spot in the cloth. Again the selvedges were not tidy because I was forcing the cloth to be a width which was not natural in my hands. The only advantage had been that the slightly more relaxed sett made opening the sheds easier.

I let the final sample sit at its natural width…yay, selvedges I like at last. The fold is only slightly noticeable when the washed and pressed cloth is held up to the light but I don’t believe that it affects the integrity of the cloth. It’s amazing how much variation there can be in width while still producing good warp-faced cloth.

Each sample had its advantages…1. invisible fold line, 2. easier loom operation, 3. a more natural rhythm for me and neat selvedges. It’s a toss-up between numbers 1 and 2. I won’t have to decided until I get home from my next trip. Most likely I will want to weave more samples. In the meantime, I can think about colors. Or…if I don’t go with double width, I’ll come home to some new long swords.

As usual, I have some pieces to show you that were woven by my weaving friends. I will limit the selection this week to four different techniques…

Ann wove this wool band using a backstrap set-up and one of my favorite patterns. I discovered this one on a pre-columbian fragment that I was shown and it is charted in my second book (you may have gathered that I have lots of favorite patterns)…

I think it is magical how the pelicans flow from light on dark to dark on light. Of course, you may not be seeing pelicans. You might see cogs and gears, as one weaver remarked. Ann wove this using a temporary picking cross, manually selecting threads for every weft shot.

Kristin’s beauty is based on an adaptation of a central Asian pattern that I charted. Those colors!!! This is stunning. This pattern allows the optional use of two sets of “pebble heddles” and I am pretty sure that that is the method she chose for her backstrap loom.

This is Nicole Stronge’s warp-faced double weave using the two basic sheds on her inkle loom. I have more projects from Nicole to show in which she has continued to create her own patterns, beautifully personalizing her bands for the intended recipients. I will save them for future posts.

Martina has created a really cool set-up for her backstrap weaving in her home. She’s using the backstrap she wove herself and is creating a band decorated with patterns in supplementary weft.

Cut into lengths, the band was made into key fobs and a book mark.

There are free tutorials for the last two techniques right here on my blog. Follow the links I posted above. I am also producing a pattern book and dvd on the double weave technique which extends and deepens the basic tutorial I have provided here.

Now it’s back to my loom and my wee silk ribbon. I also want to follow through on all my good intentions and surprise friends by weaving the bookmarks and ribbons that I have had in mind for them. Goal: get these finished before I hit the road again.

By the way, Australian friends….If you live in the Newcastle area I will be teaching two workshops there in August. There are spaces available! Contact me if you are interested via a comment on this post.









Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 22, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Musical Bands and a Bunch of Looms

My patient piano-playing friend will be waiting for his music-themed bookmark. He’ll have to wait a bit longer. What I have ended up with is a band that is too long to be a bookmark but not long enough to be anything else. It will go on my table of samples next time I teach a workshop on warp-faced double weave. It was a lot of fun to weave and I would really like to weave more music notation with more complex figures while aiming to create something a bit more useful.

The piano keys wove up quickly and the whole process was made easier with the use of four sets of string heddles and some thread markers. Using markers helped me to quickly pick up the right number of threads for the black keys without having to do any counting or rely on eye-balling. I have used marker threads before in other projects. I just tie a colored thread around the heddles that raise certain warp threads in that shed or around the threads themselves if they happen to be in the other shed.

In my last blog post I had just finished the piano keys and started on the bass clef and key signature. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fit a treble clef in the space in which I was working.

I chose a simple piece of music written for “easy piano”. I wasn’t sure about being able to represent rests well and so I chose something that didn’t include them.

Charting out the notes was fun. Because I was weaving with 60/2 silk, I had a lot of threads to work with in a small space and could produce  quite a good impression of curves.

But then, I started running out of room and I wasn’t sure if I could squeeze in the last measure. I had, after all, only measured out enough warp to be able to comfortably weave a bookmark.

But, I did manage to squeeze it all in…phew…enough to be make the melody recognizable. Do you know it?

While still in “band mode”, I decided to resurrect an old project that had never been properly finished. This was one of two lap blankets that I had woven two years ago. The brown one has been completed. The two panels were first aligned, ready to sew together…

The patterned edging band was woven. About 110 inches were needed…

Then the band was hand-sewn to the perimeter…

The other lap blanket, the purple one, has been on standby awaiting is edging band. The problem is that the lap blanket is just as warm to use without its edging. It was not the weaving of the band that had me procrastinating. It was the hand-sewing to the edge of the blanket that had me pushing it to the bottom of my “to-do” list.

I set up a warp to weave the 110 inches of band with a very simple pattern in the center. The blanket itself is quite busy with pattern and so I wanted the edging band to be relatively quiet. It was a pattern that could be set up with four sets of string heddles. Rather than just have the four heddles in the center for the pattern, I set them up all the way across the band. I find that sometimes little bunches of heddles in the middle of a piece can get sort of swallowed up by and entangled in the rest of the warp threads. Then they are just annoying rather than helpful.

Here’s the band as I approach the end. The last sheet of paper has just rolled off the end beam.

Now I need to wash and press it before sewing it along the edge. Luckily we are having cooler temperatures in what passes for a winter here in the Bolivian lowlands and it will be pleasant having the blanket on my lap as I sew.

And then, another sort of music-related project came to mind. I had woven a zippered pouch for my iPod and charger and decided that I really needed a neck pouch for only the iPod when I want to carry it around to use as a camera. I should mention that I don’t have a single piece of music on this iPod. I bought it for taking photos and for being able to access Instagram.

The need for a neck pouch was apparent when I took the Maid of the Mist boat trip at Niagara Falls on my last visit to the USA. I wasn’t able to get to my pockets under the big plastic poncho that we were given and I was fearful the whole time that my wet hands would drop the iPod overboard. It would have been nice to have been able to pull out a neck pouch and deposit the iPod, which I was using as a camera, safely within.

I set up an Andean Pebble Weave warp in 20/2 wool with plain-weave borders. I added the yellow wraps to the tiny heddles to keep help stop them from getting swallowed and messed up by the neighboring warp threads, as I mentioned earlier. They worked beautifully. It is an idea I got from looking at a picture I took in Peru of a warp with several bunches of heddles that controlled various patterning structures within the one warp.

Bunches of string heddles control the colored layers of warps on the horizontal loom of Taquile Island, Peru.

I used the Weaver 2 pattern from my latest book of patterns, Complementary-warp Pattern Book. It can be woven by doing pick-up using two basic sheds…one that holds all the dark threads and one that holds all the light ones. This makes the method ideal for inkle looms, rigid heddles and other kinds of band looms. Or, it can be woven using additional sets of string heddles as I have done here.

Maja in Germany had designed the patterned called Weaver 1 and contributed it to my book. She allowed me to make small changes to her original pattern to make a new Weaver 2 pattern so that I could include two options in the book.

I had never woven the pattern in wool. All my samples for the book had been woven with cotton. The figure on my sample warp came out more elongated than I had expected.

Well, that’s the purpose of sampling and I was able to adjust my beat for the real project in purple and teal 20/2 wool. I also widened the pebble area and reduced the width of the border.

I swapped the plain-weave border structure for the ”thick border” that I teach in my Andean Pebble Weave book. I felt that the pouch needed that kind of sturdiness across its width. However, I have to confess that now I am just confused and am not sure which of the two motifs I prefer…the long one or the more squat one.The band has a selvedge at its start which will be at the mouth of the pouch. I will leave you with some pictures of bands that were woven on other kinds of looms by online friends using the instructions and patterns from my Complementary-warp Pick-up book

From Mog using her Gilmore Mini Wave loom. I like the way she has woven the border and main patterns in the same colors.

From Marsha, also using a Gilmore Mini Wave loom in cotton and tencel.

From Nancy who used the Better Loom pictured below…

Alison Roddham is using what she tells me is a reproduction of a Medieval box loom with a rigid heddle.

Kathy Amabile used her Louet Erica, a sweet table loom, to weave this band for a camera strap.

Kathy (aka drygardening) wove this band on her Schacht inkle loom. She tells me that she alreday had a warp on the loom when she got my book and used it to weave some smaller patterns on half the warp. I like the effect of the horizontal stripes next to the motifs.

Penelope is using a Jonathon Seidel card loom to weave her first ever complementary-warp pick-up band using a rigid heddle.

And, of course, there are backstrap weavers too. Sonja has been learning to do complementary-warp pick-up and use a backstrap loom while making a series of key fobs as gifts…

Tracy has multiple backstrap looms set up on her deck.

It’s nice to see the patterns on Tracy’s black warps that now feel like “old friends” to me, published way back in 2010…two of three of a set of original patterns I created for my Andean Pebble Weave book.

Martina has been doing some striking plain weave using a backstrap loom to make her own backstrap using the instructions in the WeaveZine article I wrote that dates back even farther than my Andean Pebble Weave book…all the way back to 2009.

It’s so interesting to see all the different kind of looms and set-ups people are using to enjoy creating patterns in the complementary-warp structure.

I am heading back to my backstrap loom now to weave the other face of my iPod neck pouch. The patterns have a sort of weaving theme. The other face will have cats and balls of yarn which seem to be a fairly common theme among weavers. 🙂

Until next time….








Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 8, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – ”Big” Projects

Paule Bernard Roussel

I decided some time ago that I wanted to devote myself more to ”big” projects on my backstrap loom….longer and wider and with a greater number of ends.

But, as I put my latest big one aside, I felt that it would be fun to play around with some smaller ones for little while, something like a pouch for my iPod, for example.

However, after several days of searching through books and web pages, finding ideas for patterns, adapting them and charting, erasing and re-charting, I have come to the conclusion that even the projects that are small in physical terms are, in fact, ”big”….and that’s why I like them. I like putting in the time to search and sample. I could do without the do-overs that are sometimes necessary but that is all part of the process.

It’s nice to look back at the first steps towards the weaving of my most recent project…the silk paisley scarf…  and then look at the finished scarf lying on my bed. I think that perhaps the first thoughts about tones of blue sitting next to crisp, clean white entered my head when I came across the image of the Roussel painting, above.

Gathering colors…three tones of blue, white and assorted colors.

Deciding on the first shape to chart.

Other first steps involved sampling, lots of it. I have three small abandoned paisley samples which I am now willing to throw away plus a chart that is well-worn from all the erasing and adjusting.

There’s the memory of this first warp which got put back on the warping stakes and unwound back to zero. One of my stakes had shifted on the first attempt and the tension was off.

I have a tangle of blue 60/2 silk…the one part that didn’t survive my attempt to unwind and re-warp. I tell myself I’ll sit down one day with a good movie and untangle it, but I doubt it!

And now the scarf is done…washed and pressed and showing off its lovely sheen. Until the iron started pressing and lifting the dampness from the fabric, it was refusing to look or behave like silk at all. I am really happy with it.

Now what should go next on my loom from the list of ideas I have?

I have been carrying my iPod around in a sweet sprang bag that Tracy made for me but I decided that it really needed a woven bag of its own…a bag big enough to carry the iPod as well as its charger.

I had seen some photos of pre-Columbian textile fragments online and a particular motif had caught my eye. I charted something based on that and added a border pattern with the idea of weaving it with supplementary weft on a ground of 30/2 cotton I had bought way back in 2013 from Mayan hands.

It’s the same cotton I had used for the journal covers I  wove some time ago so I knew how it behaved. I had all the figures in my notebook from those projects and so I didn’t need to sample. I just needed to figure out the width I wanted and calculate the number of ends.

How do you like that bright pink tatting thread for the heddles?

I installed a coil rod because the cotton base structure would be plain weave.

Of the number of ways that I know of preventing the ”corrugated” look that my plain-weave cotton fabric sometimes gets, the coil rod is my (current) favorite. I much prefer it to another method which would involve turning the loom around and weaving an inch or so at the other end.

This cotton is not mercerized. There was a kind of tearing sound as I opened the sheds as the threads clung and scraped past each other but there were no breaks despite all the strumming I needed to do and everything stood up well.

Cindy and I bought this cotton at ANWG 2013. I bought a bag of this color labeled ”champagne” and Cindy bought the indigo. We shared the two colors.

Here’s the finished motif…

I was content to have a motif on just one face of the pouch and so I finished it off with plain weave, doubling the weft so that the rest of the fabric would have the same weight as that which included the supplemental weft.

And here’s the finished pouch…hand sewn. I was glad that I hadn’t forgotten how to put in a zip.

This project was supposed to give me a small break before launching into another ”big” one….but then I got distracted by a post in one of the online groups about the ”turned Krokbragd” that many people are weaving on their inkle looms and it reminded me that I had always wanted to weave a music-themed bookmark for a piano-playing friend of mine.

I chose to do it in warp-faced double weave using 60/2 silk so it would be fine enough to make a good bookmark. I set up my warp with four sets of string heddles, something I only do when weaving double weave if the thread is particularly fine or if there are a lot of ends.

I didn’t need to sample as I knew how the silk behaved in double weave, thanks to various woven samples and the notes in my notebook. Of course, I didn’t feel that I needed to chart the piano keys. However, I got a little cocky and tried to eyeball the length of the black keys rather than count threads and paid the price for that in the first two attempts.

Placing a marker on the 55th black thread made picking the colors for those black keys much faster. After a couple of repeats of piano keys, I got bored! Then I decided that it would be fun to weave a couple of bars of music. And now, of course, the ”project’ has turned into a ”sample”. My piano-playing friend will have to wait for his bookmark because weaving in those bars of music will make this piece much longer than any bookmark needs to be. Once my curiosity has been sparked, I need to follow through. The ”small” project has suddenly become big as the charting paper comes out.

Making a start on what I have charted so far…the key signature with the time signature soon to follow…

Once I have charted the notes and woven them, I guess I will go back to the beginning and figure out how to place all of this in a bookmark that is not ridiculously long!

Hopefully, I will be able to show the finished sample in the next post and we will see if you can recognize the melody I chose.






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