Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 25, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Color Catching

I have been washing all the pieces I have made with the cotton my friend Betty brought back from Guatemala. Two of the pieces were recently made and two were made quite some time ago. Why have I waited? Well, the Guatemalan cotton was around 30 years old and that might explain why the color was coming off the thread as I wove. The most serious case was the purple thread in the spring scarf I made. It is flecked with white where the color had completely come off in places while I wove giving the cloth a sort of denim look. To tell the truth, I really liked that denim look. But, I was afraid to wash the piece thinking that it would lose a lot of color and that perhaps the purple would bleed into some of the silk supplementary weft.

I suppose that people who have more experience with fiber and dyeing would have told me that that wasn’t likely but, what did I know? I didn’t want to take the risk. And so I waited.

supplementary weft patterned scarf backstrap loomI had been hearing about Color Catcher cloths in one of the online groups and my friend Claudia got some for me when I was visiting her in the U.S. They work like a dream. You throw one in the wash with the garment and it magically takes up all the color that is released and is roaming about loose in the water. So, I washed all the pieces and there were no disasters. I can’t tell you how happy I am with the results after giving all four pieces a good press. They feel so wonderful!

The purple scarf doesn’t look any dfferent for having lost what seemed like a lot of color in the water.. I was worried that it might end up looking quite worn. It looks as bright as ever and feels gorgeously soft.

Four pieces got washed and three of the four were a great success. The fourth piece was the subject of a mini disaster. It taught me how the use of different kinds of silk supplementary weft in the same piece can effect the way the fabric shrinks.

Let me show you the red ”leaf” piece that I recently made. This is one of the successes.I finally got around to hemming and finishing it with a wash and press.

red and brown cotton panels backstrap weaving It’s sitting on top of the two brown panels that I showed you last week that are now off the loom. I used the same kind of silk throughout this piece and all went well.

As soon as the brown pieces were cut off the loom, I couldn’t resist placing some of my small woven samples on them to see how they looked. As you will know from my previous posts, I want to sew the two panels together into one piece using decorative stitches to cover the join. Here they are fresh off the loom. I haven’t even tidied up the broken warp threads yet.You can see the replacement threads still pinned to the cloth.

two panel display cloth backstrap weavingAnd now you see them, tidied and hemmed….

two brown panels backsrap weavingAt this point, I was a little unhappy with the fact that the brown color wasn’t nice and solid. The off-white supplementary-weft was showing through in several areas where the warp threads were spaced slightly further apart than in others. I could have called that a ”denim” look and been happy with it but I didn’t want that denim look in this piece.

What I was really pleased with were the edges…good and straight. That is something that I have under control. Once I have figured out the width a piece wants to be, I easily manage to keep it there and don’t need to fuss with it. The two panels were going to join up beautifully. I was excited. I was also happy that the motifs on both pieces lined up nicely. Although I didn’t have to measure and check on width as I wove, I did have to check and compare the length of the two pieces as I finished each motif to make sure that my picks per inch were the same on both.

I washed and pressed the two panels. The Color Catcher cloth drank up the significant amount of brown dye that was released into the water….yay.

The good thing:   as the piece shrank, the warp threads smooshed together and gave me a much more solid brown piece of cloth.

The bad thing:   my edges got messed up.

I had used three strands of one kind of off-white silk as the supplementary weft to make the double hook pattern and four strands of another kind, in yellow, to weave the diamonds. The parts with hooks pulled in more and now my edges are scalloped. The scalloping is so regular….the fabric draws in for the hooks and out again for the diamonds…that it almost looks like it was planned! My two panels are not going to join together as neatly as I had hoped. I will have to come up with another plan and perhaps sew the tiniest seam possible. I read somewhere that the strips of Kente cloth that are sewn together are connected with 1/8” seams. Maybe I can pull off something like that.

guatemalan cotton backstrap weavingAbove, you can see the even edge of the red piece next to the wavy brown edge.

I so love the way the red piece feels and looks now. The floats of supplemental weft in the leaf pattern are quite short and now, after pressing, the patterns have really become embedded and it looks as if they were printed on the cloth rather than created with supplemental threads. The patterns on the brown piece don’t quite look that way as the floats, particularly in the hook pattern, are considerably longer.

I hope I can get more of this Guatemalan cotton. I love working with this weight of thread and there are empty loom bars asking to be filled. In the meantime, I will continue with my curved ikat experiments and see where they take me. Now to see how I go with my decorative sewing.

backstrap weaving Guatemalan cotton









Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 18, 2015

Backstrap Weaving- 5 years

Facebook has started reminding me that it was five years ago that I opened my account. Every few weeks I get a Facebook Memories reminder showing me a picture I posted on that day five years ago with the option of sharing it with the public. It seems they consider five years the period of time that should pass before a person can look back on an event with nostalgia.The first one I got was this:

40547_151962888150890_2724025_nThis was taken the day before my birthday five years ago. I was in North Carolina and went to visit some ladies from Vietnam – Montagnard, or hilltribe, backstrap weavers –  to look at their textiles and watch them weave. They dressed me up in one of their traditional skirts. The skirts are made of two panels which are woven on backstrap looms. The panels are sewn together and the join is covered with decorative stitching. The entire piece is then placed on a frame so that it can be edged with weft twining. They also gave me one of their shoulder bags to carry for the picture.

The following day I returned to watch Ju Nie prepare her warp. I learned a lot about her use of the coil rod on a circular warp and heddles that are applied during the warping process. It was a perfect way to spend a birthday. I was lucky to be able to return to visit Ju Nie and Ngach again a few months later and study their weft twining technique.

I went home and wove something to put into use some of the things I had learned and seen…a patterning technique using warp floats, patterning with supplemental weft and weft-twining.

This Montagnard inspired piece was on my loom this time last yearI can’t believe it has already been five years since I did this. It takes me back to the time of my beginnings in the online weaving communities, the purchase of my first digital camera and the start of this blog. So much has happened since then in my world of weaving and even more had happened prior to that. I am in my 20th year of backstrap weaving now.

I can’t believe that it has already been eight years since I went to coastal Ecuador to study cotton spinning and weaving with Trini and her family.

weaving with cotton coastal ecuadorThis has been on my mind because my friend,  Janet, has just returned from time spent with this same family and it has been amazing seeing some of her pictures. Trini’s nieces and nephew have grown and one even has a child of her own now. I am waiting for Janet to send me pictures so I can show you. She has been busy practicing the simple warp float technique that she learned there…the patterning technique that you see on the piece in the above picture. She also came back with the confidence to warp up a 10-foot long piece using a dovetailed warping system (see below) on a large vertical frame to make a plain-weave panel for a hammock.

dovetail warp

She will weave and sew two panels together to make the complete hammock in the same way that my Vietnamese hilltribe teachers sew panels together to make their skirts and blankets. The dovetail warping system allows a weaver to work her way around the circle of warp and then open out the cloth once it is off the loom without having to cut the warp ends. Stick D in the above drawing is simply removed and the intact end loops of the warp can be used to form the ends of the hammock.

Guaraní weavers here in the Bolivian lowlands where I live also use this system. They use vertical frames and cotton thread and weave their hammocks with pick-up patterns all in one piece.

Picture courtesy of Aude Rossignol.

Picture courtesy of Aude Rossignol.

Warping for a hammock in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. This would certainly give you a work out.It’s been thirteen years since I first met my Guaraní teacher, Angela, pictured above warping for a hammock, here in Santa Cruz. She left shortly after to return to her community. It was only in 2010 that I found her again back in the city.

I have had the joining of woven panels on my mind lately which is partly what has been responsible for all these thoughts about my past experiences with this practice and the weaving teachers who showed it to me. My latest project is about weaving two identical panels and then joining them using a decorative stitch.

I have done this in the past using narrow pieces which gave me a chance to put to use one of the decorative stitches that my Montagnard backstrap weaving teachers use. Below, you can see how I joined two bands to make a tool bag…

47543_160384537308725_6646315_nYou can see the stitching down the center. I also joined a long belt that I started weaving on a floor loom at a friend’s house and finished at home on my backstrap loom. This is the piece that I used to put together my instructions for Andean Pebble Weave on a four-shaft loom.

andean pebble weave strapI cut the long strap in half and sewed the two pieces into a backstrap. It has been used by many people who come to weave with me and is a favorite. I used the same stitch as the one I used on the tool bag for this project.

new-backstrapI came across some belt weavers in Peru who sew their pieces together to make satchels to sell to tourists. They create neat joins which they do not cover with embroidery.

bands joined to make satchels peruI decided to be moderate in the width of this project rather than fill my loom bars up completely with thread. Weaving two very wide pieces with pick-up patterning and joining them is my ultimate goal. These panels are just under 12” wide with 1100 ends of Guatemalan cotton in each. I am weaving a pattern using silk supplemental weft along the four edges and leaving the center blank as I hope to sew large stitches over the seam where the two pieces will be joined.

The project has progressed with all the challenges that I had anticipated and then some more!

Firstly, I wrongly assumed that this brown cotton from Guatemala was the same as the red cotton I used in the project I showed you in my last post. I calculated to get a 30cm width based on measurements taken from the red piece but, once I started weaving, the piece clearly did not want to be that wide. So I unwove and started over at 27.5cm.

Both panels have exactly the same number of ends and are the same width yet the one on the left is exposing more of the white supplemental weft than the other. I have three broken warp threads in the one on the left and several others are looking kind of sad. Meanwhile, the threads on the one on the right are in excellent shape. I am scratching my head about that. I also have to be on the lookout for the need to adjust my beat as the picks per inch on one panel tend to outnumber the ones on the other. So far, it is pretty much under control. I expect the embroidery over the join will be another challenge and I think I will practice on other cloth before I attempt it it on this piece.

I have the idea that creating identical panels in plain weave in this fine thread may be more difficult than doing so using a warp-float structure. I think that finishing this project will place me in a good position for a second one in Andean Pebble Weave.

I played around a little with supplementary-weft designs before starting this piece. I had seen a picture online of a flower motif and wanted to try something new in the way I used the supplementary weft. The image was so tiny that it was impossible to see any kind of detail by enlarging it, but it gave me ideas.

Bhutan design bagOne of the limitations of the single-faced supplemental-weft patterning technique that I use a lot is that you can’t really create and fill in large solid shapes. You are limited by the length of the weft floats. This is simply because very long floats are not practical. They won’t lie flat and can get caught on things and pulled. One of the supplementary-weft threads around the buttonhole in this bag that I made got pulled right out of the shed. It got caught on a finger nail as I fastened the button. It was too long and placed in a high-traffic area.

Naturally, the finer the thread you use, the more detailed the patterns can be. With fine thread, the weft could float over 15 warp ends, for example, and not cause any problems, whereas heavier yarns might make anything more than a 5-span float impractical. This means that if you want to fill in a large shape with supplemental weft, you need to break the weft floats into several short segments.

This is the picture I saw online…


I am not even sure if this is a handwoven piece of cloth or what the technique is but I like the idea of having the shapes of the leaves and petals broken into those regular diagonal sections. It gives the shapes the look of being solid without being heavy. It is a lovely delicate look and I would love to create something like it.

At the bottom of this red band you can see my first rather clumsy experiment with this idea. I wasn’t pleased with this and will definitely keep working on it. In the meantime, I decided to go with something more Andean-like for the current project and wove a couple of samples to test design proportions.

sampler for supp weft project backstrap weavingMy Guatemalan weaving teachers have their ways of dealing with large shapes.  I took out my Guatemalan samples pieces and journal to refresh my memory and, again, I had to pause in disbelief at the realization that it has already been 7 years since I went there to study.lidia-and-iBelow, you can see one of the patterns that is typical of San Antonio Aguas Calientes. You can see that the large shapes, that look quite solid when viewed from a distance, are made up of several short weft floats. Three short floats take the place of one long one which would simply not be practical on a woman’s blouse.

short float lengthsThe weavers of San Antonio Aguas Calientes use both single and double-faced techniques when patterning with their supplementary weft threads. The double-faced technique allows them to create truly soild looking shapes without the sort of ”speckled” effect created by the exposed warp ends that you can see in the single-faced method above,

single and double faced supplemental weft patternsThe bird and flower motifs that I wove above are made with the double-faced technique. The motifs look exactly the same on both faces as you can see below. Although the figures actually comprise a series of several short weft floats, they look solid.

double-facedHere’s a brief explanation of how the double-faced method works. This is not meant to be a tutorial as I have not gone into details of thread weight and how to actually start and end a pattern. I just want to give you an idea of how the solid look is created as I have been asked many times about this especially by my backstrap weaving friend, Eladio, in Mexico. I hope he is reading this!double faced supp weft

The ground cloth is warp-faced plain weave. The next shed in the weaving sequence is opened and the band is beaten. Then, blue supplemental weft is worked over and under the warp ends on a closed shed, that is, the weft goes over and under all the threads rather than just the threads in any one shed. The supplemental weft goes over and under groups of four warp ends…two ends are taken from the upper layer of threads and two from the lower layer to form this group of four threads.

In the first picture,  you can see the weft going from right to left over, under, over, under four groups of threads. The weft then turns around behind the last group and passes from left to right (see the second picture above) going over, under, over, under. The supplemental weft needs to be laid quite loosely in the shed. The original shed is then reopened and the main white weft is passed.

The next shed in the sequence is then opened and the band is well beaten. The two passes of supplemental weft will pack to look like a solid line. After beating, it is time to use the supplementary-weft again on a closed shed to build up the pattern as you can see below. The supplemental weft shows on both faces of the band.

Below, you can see the little bee motif which was the first one that I was taught by my Guatemalan teacher. The weavers often use sheets and booklets of cross stitch patterns for design inspiration. Lidia took me yarn shopping and the little stores had many cross stitch magazines and individual pattern sheets. One of Lidia’s wishes was to to find patterns to which no one else in her community had access. Competition to sell weavings is fierce.

bee and chartYou can see how I have chosen to chart the bee motif. Each filled square represents four passes of the supplementary weft (my two explanatory photos above show how to make two passes). A half-filled square, therefore, represents two passes. What is critical to the success of this technique, as with all work with supplemental weft, is finding the right balance in the weight of the ground weave material and the supplemental weft. That is a matter of trial and error. Supplemental weft that is too light will not provide enough coverage. The opposite will make it difficult to maintain a horizontal weaving line.

One of these days I will make this a complete tutorial, take much better pictures than the blurry ones I took in low light this morning and fill in all the details.

However, I have to tell you that this is the slowest and most tedious technique I have done so far! I wove my large piece with the quetzal birds (at left) when I got home as well as a couple more samplers, and I have not done anything with the double-faced technique since!

I used the quetzal piece as my journal cover which was not such a great idea as you can’t see the other side and appreciate the double-faced nature of the technique. However, the Guatemalan weavers’ double-faced work is also hidden on the inside of their blouses.

It’s time to get out some cloth and start practicing my stitching for the join in my two panels. I want my sewing to be as neat and pretty as my teacher Maxima’s is. I hope to sew triangular shapes, as she has, and I chose the supplementary-weft motif that I am weaving, with its sort of triangular base, with that in mind.

Picture courtesy of PAZA Bolivia and Dorinda Dutcher

Picture courtesy of PAZA Bolivia and Dorinda Dutcher.

I will leave you with a couple of hat bands that Anne wove using the intermesh technique that we wove together on one of my visits. My teachers in Huancayo 19 years ago, taught me the intermesh structure with a two-heddle set up which makes it partly loom-controlled. You can see Anne’s two heddles and sticks holding her picking cross below.12011180_10203611210680313_88856834057994414_nShe has used the lettering that I include in my second book in which I also teach this structure. The other design is charted in my second book and was adapted from a Mexican tapestry motif. Anne started the hatband as part of a weaving get-together we had on one of my trips. It is lovely to see it finished. I think her hatbands have come out beautifully.










Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 4, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Cheerfully Plain

I have been weaving my way through the yarn jungle that is my living room while I prepare warps.Yes, it’s that time again….yarn on every surface and many warps to prepare. I hesitate to allow myself to feel secure in being way ahead of schedule on this as I fear jinxing myself. But, I am now looking forward to a relaxed couple of weeks at my big loom, weaving for myself.

I was hoping to have my red Guatemalan cotton warp off the loom to show in this post. I got so close! I really dedicated myself to warping these last two weeks with just a few moments snatched here and there to sit at my big warp.

backstrap weaving red guaemalan cotton supplemental weftNow I am at the end and I am just weaving some plain unpatterned rows to fold over into a hem.

One of the many things I love about the backstrap loom is the fact that there can be very little loom waste, if you wish, although I admit that it isn’t a whole lot of fun trying to open sheds, prop them open and feed shuttles of weft through tiny openings when there is a mere four inches in which to work.

last inches on backstrap loom I don’t usually choose to be so frugal with my thread. The problem is that I was not sure of having enough red cotton to create this project in the dimensions I wanted and so I had to calculate for take-up and warp the bare minimum length. As I am using a 60/2 weft at the end for the hem, progress on this last inch or so isn’t exactly fast.

I so enjoyed weaving this piece. As I said in my last post, I love having the loom bars filled with thread and really enjoy using the big swords. Warp-faced plain weave is so gorgeous and fun to weave in fine thread. This thread is rather grippy and I had to work hard to clear sheds, especially the stick shed for which I had to strum to break each thread’s sticky grasp on its neighbors. I broke one of my pick-up sticks with zealous strumming. Don’t use your finest and favorite pick-up stick for strumming. My weaving teachers use strong llama bones for strumming for a reason and, goodness knows, I have a bunch of those. One thing to which I paid close attention in this project was strumming evenly and smoothly in both directions.

A backstrap weaver from Pitumarca, Peru with her llama bone tool ready to pick up at any time and use for strumming, beating and picking up threads.

A backstrap weaver from Pitumarca, Peru with her llama bone tool in her lap ready to pick up at any time and use for strumming, beating and selecting threads.

I have one large skein of brown left in this particular Guatemalan thread. I would like to use it to weave two identical wide panels that I can join with bright decorative stitches. I gaze at Maxima’s beautiful aguayo and would like to use the kind of stitches that she has used to decorate the join. You can see the row of colorful triangles where the two pieces come together.

Picture courtesy of PAZA Bolivia and Dorinda Dutcher

Picture courtesy of PAZA Bolivia and Dorinda Dutcher.

However, I will not attempt to give my panels four selvedges….not with this fine cotton! I am not ready for that yet and probably never will be. My successes with four selvedges, so far, have only been with wool and alpaca yarn and once with fine acrylic with the guidance of my teacher in Potosí. The difference is that the wool and acrylic are stretchy and that helps a lot when trying to squeeze in those last passes of weft.

A wool plain-weave runner with four selvedges that I decorated with supplemental-weft patterns.

A wool plain-weave runner with four selvedges that I decorated with supplemental-weft patterns.

I wove the red piece of cloth because I wanted to use it on display tables when I show people my smaller weaving…..a nice splash of color. I can pose all my small woven samples on it. A brown one won’t exactly provide the eye-catching spot of color that I want but, if I decorate it with supplemental-weft patterns and make the joining stitches bright and cheery, I think it will look very nice.finishing techniques backstrap weaving

I have tried one kind of decorative stitch to cover joins on some wool bands made by ladies in Maxima’s cooperative (see the example on the right). I will need much more practice before I will be able to have them as neat and beautifully even as Maxima’s.

Not all the weavers here are as precise in their stitching as Maxima. The piece below from Calcha, Bolivia is well used and the stitches are quite worn and the thread faded. In this picture you can also see the ”terminal area” of this four-selvedge piece where the weaver had to stop creating the warp-float pattern and use plain weave to finish. The last few sheds would have been created without the aid of heddles or sticks with every other warp thread picked up using the blunt end of a needle. The weaving, apart from being a little moth eaten, doesn’t show signs of wear. It looks like the long decorative stitches are the first things to break down on these pieces.

terminal-areasWell, it’s back to the loom for me to weave off that last inch or so and then plan the brown thread project. I will leave you here with pictures of my Facebook friend, Oscar Armando Vazquez in Mexico, weaving on his backstrap loom. He says that there aren’t any backstrap weavers where he lives and so, lacking a teacher, he has been studying techniques on my blog instead. Here he is doing warp-faced double weave using this tutorial and creating patterns of his own. Wonderful!

oscar backstrap weaving






Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 21, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – New Challenges

Laverne WaddingtonI guess I could say that I have a lot of experience with weaving warp-faced fabric on my backstrap loom. Years of practice have led to my having a certain consistent way of handling the weft, a certain amount of tension that I apply to the warp with my body and a certain beat (depending on the structure I am weaving). My weaving has settled.

Therefore, I can use a sample I wove a year ago to give me the reliable information I need for a new project in terms of the number of ends I must measure in order to achieve a certain width. This wasn’t so when I first started backstrap weaving when I would find that my weaving had dramatically changed within the space of a few months and that I couldn’t rely on old samples to give me the information I needed. My notes had to be constantly upated.

Sampling rep weave and various finishes for a larger project.

Sampling rep weave with various finishes for hemming before taking on the larger project.

I don’t depend on a wraps-per-inch type of calculation to tell me the width I can expect from a new yarn. Certainly, it would give me an idea, but there’s no getting away from the need to sample.

I can give an identical warp to eight weavers and each will weave a good warp-faced band of a different width to that woven by their companions. I can’t make a calculation for the yarn based on wraps-per-inch and then expect everyone’s band to turn out exactly the same. Some weavers have the warp threads rammed up tightly next to each other, others have them barely touching or with a hair’s width distance between. The weft will still be concealed and the resulting fabric will be warp-faced. The width achieved from one weaver to the next can vary considerably.

I tend to weave at the more relaxed end of the scale with my warp threads barely touching. The new challenge I am facing now is how to keep that sett consistent across the entire width of the warp when doing plain weave with fine cotton thread. This is what I am dealing with in my latest project.

Cotton from Guatemala.

One of the scarves I wove with cotton from Guatemala.

The other day, I uncovered some Guatemalan cotton in a basin on the shelf. I had dyed it from yellow to red a long time ago hoping I would get a nice deep tone similar to the dark-ish red I usually use in my wall hangings. It came out bright and happy rather than deep and somber. Oh well. It ended up on the shelf where I forgot about it and found some other yarn to use for my wall hanging.

After suddenly coming upon it, I see it with new eyes. Now I am in love with this shade of bright red and have decided to weave a square of cloth on which I can pose some of the small woven samples that I take to workshops and presentations. It will make a nice bright splash of color on the table.

I took measurements from two warp-faced scarves that I had woven with this same cotton some time ago and figured that 1472 ends would give me 40 cm, or about 15 3/4″.  That width would sit well on my loom bars and I had several swords of just the right length for it.

The leaf pattern

One version of the leaf pattern.

If I wove this piece in un-patterned plain weave, I know that slight variations in the spacing of this fine thread would not be noticeable. If I had chosen to weave a single narrow column of supplementary-weft figures say, down the center, I doubt that spacing variations would have been an issue either.

Of course, I had to make things difficult for myself by choosing to weave repeated supplementary-weft figures all the way across the bottom. And this is where the variations, at least to my eye as I sit at the loom focusing on picking up tiny threads, become obvious. I am weaving a leaf pattern which I now like to think of as one of my ”signature” ones and I can see the variation in leaf dimensions, ranging from robust to slender, across the width of the warp. Well, I suppose that is the way leaves come in Nature and I shouldn’t let it bother me too much!

supplementary weft leaf patterns I had been aware of this potential problem from other supplementary-weft pieces I have woven with heavier thread and I did try my hardest to have all the threads spread evenly…dragging the point of my pick-up stick across the threads in attempt to have them settle in place as my teacher in Guatemala had done. I even unwove and started again when the leaves on the right were too narrow. I  shall have to seek out a Master and try to capture the secret of getting all those very fine threads evenly distributed. I long for such an opportunity.

What I have woven so far is the bottom border. Only the pattern of three leaves on the far right and left will continue in a column, waving to and fro, until I  finish with a band of leaves across the top to match the bottom. In the space within this border of pattern, I plan to weave scattered leaves.

It will be relatively easy going from here onward as I only have to pick up threads on the two edges. I LOVE sitting in a backstrap loom and using almost the full length of the loom bars. I love picking up those big swords and guiding them through the sheds. I love having to put a little ”oooomph” into opening sheds of fine sticky cotton and beating. I am having a really good time with this project!

As for the ikat circles project that I wrote about in my last post…well, I have created a very unusual looking laptop slip cover with the resulting fabric.

ikat circles backstrap weavingI have mentioned before the fact that when you do pick-up patterning within ikat shapes, you don’t get the delightful fuzzy outlines that are typical of ikat in plain weave. Because warp floats are involved, the outlines of the shapes are broken, disjointed and a little messy…not what I would call attractive. I got creative and decided to edge the shapes with tubular bands in order to cover the irregular outline.

Ikat in plain weave. The motif I created has fuzzy edges due to the shifting of the warp threads while the piece was being woven.

Ikat in plain weave. The motif I created has fuzzy, yet attractive, edges due to the shifting of the warp threads while the piece was being woven.

ikat circleThis is the second circle. Once I had decided that I would use the tubular band edging, I planned a pattern for the second circle that would match the pattern on the ñawi awapa tubular band. I wish I had thought about that for the first circle as well.

ikat circles with pick-up patteringI had to fold the cloth through one of the circles so that it would fit the laptop….let’s call that ”quirky”. Yep, it’s a pretty quirky computer sleeve. I wove and sewed another ñawi awapa tubular band to the sides and around the opening.

Lessons learned….

ikat circles1. I need to create elongated shapes when I apply the ikat tape if I am going to use a warp-float structure. That way, the shapes will contract while weaving to take on the correct proportions. You can see that the woven circles have come out flattened.

2. I should put a bit more thought into the construction of the final product before applying the ikat tape if I seriously want to use the fabric for something in particular rather than just have it as a sample. That way, the ikat shapes will appear in the right place on the fabric.

After all that black and white, let’s finish this post with a splash of color. I have pictures, courtesy of Dorinda and PAZA Bolivia, of my weaving teacher Maxima’s new aguayo. I showed you the ch’uspa she was weaving for her husband, the new Mayor of Huancarani in a previous post. Unfortunately, Dorinda hasn’t shown the finished ch’uspa on the website. That piece was woven in plain weave with embedded columns of figures in double weave.

The aguayo has columns of double weave as well as pebble weave.intenseconcentration

The aguayo is the large cloth which women drape over their shoulders and back and tie at their chest. It is used to wrap and carry their babies and any other bundle that needs to be transported. It is woven in two identical pieces which are usually joined together with decorative stitches. You can see the first finished piece on the ground next to Maxima while she busies herself with the second.

Dorinda writes on the PAZA blog that Maxima took 2 weeks to weave the first panel. Before the weaving could begin, she had to use her drop spindle to add twist to the store-bought yarn to make it strong and smooth enough for warp-faced weaving. She commented that the cheerful colors made the naturally-dyed handspun wool that she has been using in the cooperative look dull and boring. Then she took a break from the high concentration required for the double weave pick-up and wove a plain-weave poncho in only four days. I can understand that need for a break!

MaxThe weavers in this region of Bolivia use leaning vertical looms for large pieces. Narrow bands are typically woven on a body-tensioned loom sometimes using just an index finger and a toe as the warp beams!

aguayocompleteAfter the ”poncho break”, Maxima immediately warped up for the second aguayo panel. The two pieces have been joined with the colorful decorative stitches. It s not quite finished as Dorinda says that Maxima plans on adding a crocheted edging. Please do visit the PAZA blog to read more about Maxima and the spinners and weavers of the Cochabamba region of Boliva.

As I sit happily weaving what I hope will be a red square of a mere 16” x 16”, I have something to which I can aspire in Maxima’s incredible work. One day I would also like to weave two large identical panels and join them. New challenges. I somehow suspect that each one will take me longer than 2 weeks to complete.

Oh, and I am not done with the curved ikat shapes filled with pick-up patterns. I am just taking a break from it, as Maxima did with the poncho, to weave something completely different. :-)








Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 7, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Forehead Slaps

handspun llama fiberI have a small zip lock bag full of left overs of my handpun llama fiber.

There’s less yarn in those balls than you might think as I remember having wound the thread around clay beads. What to do with them?

For me, combining them all into one project won’t work as I don’t feel I have enough dark colored thread to create a decent amount of contrast. Maybe I could darken some of the colors by over-dyeing with tea, or I could come up with some small projects to weave using just two or three colors.

And then I remembered the beautiful handwoven cuffs I had seen on the Peruvian Connection website…

peruvian connections

Aren’t these gorgeous?! When I first saw these pictures I longed to try making a cuff with my own handpsun and edging it with a tubular band. Then I got distracted and carried away with other projects. I did make cuffs in the end…several of them, in fact…but in silk without tubular edgings.

Now I could finally get around to trying this with my handspun. The reason I was looking for small projects like these is that I really needed frequent breaks from tying plastic strips around warp threads for my latest ikat experiment. I like to be able to weave every day. Even taking a whole day off from warp tying was most welcome…talk about tedious! So, it was very nice to be able to take a break and pick up a small project and weave away.

cuff with handspun yarnHere’s the second cuff I made which is the one with which I am most pleased. I used the Tinkipaya star pattern that I recently used on a wool bag project.

handspun cuffs and wool bagThat’s the first one I made on the right. It’s a little rough and I wish I had put more thought into the layout. The pick-up pattern in the center would have looked better if it hadn’t been bordered by red, I think. I guess I wasn’t very confident about it being a success and was a little careless as a result. Both are edged with tubular bands. The red one has an X and O pattern that I saw being used for a tubular band by a weaver in Pitumarca, Peru. The other has the eye pattern that I learned in Chinchero, Peru.

I didn’t manage to make any sweet yarn buttons like the Peruvian weavers have in their beautiful cuffs. I used buttons made from tagua nut that I had bought in Ecuador many years ago.

tagua nut buttonsOne end of the cuffs that I wove is a selvedge and the other end is raw. I turned the raw edge over, sewed it down and then stiffened it with diluted white glue. This enabled me to then securely apply the tubular edging. I wove and sewed it to the edge at the same time.

The tubular band does a pretty good job of covering that turned edge. As always with these tubular bands, you can start with a selvedge but then have to get creative with the finish where you are left with a bunch of unwoven warp ends to somehow hide away. When edging a bag, this is easy. All sorts of things can be hidden on the inside of a bag. You can see the place where the end of the tubular band meets the beginning in the picture above. Like I said, you just have to get creative. If you can’t see it, that means that I did a pretty good job ;-).

Of course, I had already woven three cuffs before I realized that it would have been wise to position and hide the join in the tubular band under the button! Forehead Slap #1.

tinkipaya design cuffA braid at one end of the cuff loops over the button to secure it around my wrist.

3 cuffs from handspunI made three and each is edged with a different tubular band. The third has the Chauaytire style of tubular edging. The pattern does not show up so well due to the lack of strong contrast in the colors.

The third one has a pattern that I adapted from a belt made by the Tarahumara weavers of Mexico.

3 cuffs with handspun yarnSo, the cuff weaving was a welcome distraction that got me through the tiresome process of applying ikat ties on my larger project. I have seen pictures of young ladies in Uzbekistan seated around a horizontal frame and tying bundles of warp together for ikat. It could be fun as a group activity. It doesn’t really require concentration if the design has been already marked on the warp threads.

ikat circlesI had originally intended having four circles on this warp….two on the front of what will hopefully be a slip cover for my laptop and two on the back. But, after two, I was done! I am still in the experimental stage and I figured I could learn plenty from just two circles…and indeed, I did. I already have new strategies planned for the next attempt.

ikat circle filled with pick-up patternOne of the big lessons…Forehead Slap #2…is that the original tied shape will contract considerably lengthwise if it is being filled with patterning. So, I have a squat circle underway. You can see my original cardboard template on the floor nearby. I hadn’t even noticed this happening when I wove the block-like patterns in my Bird ikat project. However, I don’t mind this squat circle too much.

But, one of the best things I learned this week was the value of having time to let my mind wander freely. This is probably why I seem to solve all my weaving problems when in the shower! When traveling, I have plenty of time to do that…all the airport waiting time and bus trips give me lots of opportunities to let my mind wander and I get my best ideas that way. Once I am home, I spend all my time implementing those ideas, very focused and concentrating on pick-up patterns….a wandering mind leads to mistakes.  All the time I spent standing at the ikat frame and a few hours spent sitting at the doctor’s office this week (where I was surprised to find that I was the only one without an electronic device) have allowed my wandering mind to bring me a whole new set of fresh ideas.

I am going to leave you this week with a couple of videos. The first is a 14-year old Peruvian girl singing Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel in Quechua. I love it! This was produced as an effort to promote young people’s pride in their native Quechua language. A word of warning…I have had this song in my head for the last three days.

This second video was produced in Argentina and the song is about Doña Ubenza who, according to this web page, is a shepherdess who spins while she tends her grazing sheep. Inspired by the spinning and sheep, the producer applies the fiber theme to stop motion animation with felt figures to tell the story. It is adorable as is the song itself. Unfortunately, Doña Ubenza is not spinning in the video but you can see here there with her sheep.







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….




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