Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 13, 2017

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

Where in the world am I?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We all adopted different sitting positions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s the sweet band underway…

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

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

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

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

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

Place a second dowel underneath…

Roll the two sticks together as shown for one turn…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 25, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – A Basketful of Bands and Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adviana learning to weave the new pattern.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Operating a Backstrap Loom on tour in beautiful Australia.

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

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

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

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

Until next time….

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 26, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – Windows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of Launceston’s cathedrals…

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a very happy reunion seven years later!

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

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

And here are her first steps in double weave…

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

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

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

Anna pointed out the convict-made bricks to me…

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

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

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

There’s that elusive summit….at last!

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

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

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

She plans to make bracelets with I-Ching hexagrams.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 4, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – In the Bush

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

…colors that inspire projects on my backstrap loom…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The Gallery and workshop of Aboriginal artist Merryn Apma.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the loom that Doug built for Delma…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double-pocket saddle bag.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read more here.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 20, 2017

Backstrap Weaver – Vistas

I like to think that the colors in latest piece on which I am working were inspired by early morning and late evening skies that I have been lucky to see in my travels. Maybe last year while I sat watching the snows of Mt Rainier glow gold and rose in the setting sun and its rocky outcrops cast deepening purple shadows, these colors made some kind of imprint in the creative corners of my mind.

Sunset on Mt Rainier during the Braids 2016 conference in Tacoma.

A Vermont sunset seen from Mt Philo during my visit a few years ago.

Sunrise at the Florida Tropical Weavers Conference that I attended a couple of years ago.

Sunsets over the Pacific.

California sunsets around the Sierra foothills.

And, most recently, while traveling after the ANWG 2017 conference, I watched Mt Hood starting to pull on its evening shroud of rose, purple and gold.

So, I am working with purple, rose, copper, gold and blue. The linked diamond patterns have been fun to weave. I have enough room left on this warp to repeat the first pattern section and then I will figure out what to make of this piece of fabric for Marilyn. I can’t wait to wash and press it. The fact that there is a lot of supplemental weft sitting between the layers of warp has made the cloth quite stiff. It is hard at this stage to imagine it having any kind of appealing hand. However, I am sure that it will soften and relax after the wet-finishing process.

Purples, roses and golds….I had quite an extraordinary view of a sunrise on my recent flight to Australia. QANTAS airlines has a camera installed on the tail of the plane which transmits video to each passenger’s personal video screen. We took off from Los Angeles at around 11 pm and I waited many hours through the night for there to be enough daylight to enjoy the view from the tail camera just before we landed in the early hours of the morning two days later (we crossed the international date line along the way). Unfortunately, just when it gets really interesting and we start losing altitude to circle Sydney harbor and the city, we are required to put away the video screens. In any case, it was really amazing sitting there in the cabin and seeing the view from the tail as we sped along.

And, I was able to experience yet another extraordinary view before leaving the USA when our backstrap weaving party in Oregon was visited by a friendly drone which took photos and video of us from way up high.

Can you spot the ring of happy backstrap weavers down there?

Here’s a closer view…

I love this shot because you can see the shadow of the drone in the upper right-hand corner. People have asked me to what we have attached our warps. It is a basket on a pole that is used for Frisbee golf.

The days were long, gorgeous, hot and sunny and we didn’t last too long out there. We soon found ourselves back under the pop-ups where it was cooler and more comfortable.

Weaving outdoors is always my dream but not so comfortable in Santa Cruz, Bolivia where I live…too hot and too many bugs to swat.

Nine-year old Wendy, one of Maxima’s granddaughters, learns to weave figures on a band while Emily watches the herd. Photo from Dorinda Dutcher.

The day-time weather in the central highlands, where my friends Dorinda, Maxima and the ladies of the Huancarani co-op live, is often described as ”eternal spring”.

I think everyone sets up their leaning vertical looms outside in a covered area of their patio or they weave with warps hooked to their big toes while sitting outside on the grass as 9-year old Wendy is doing at left.

Dorinda recently posted to her PAZA blog and I was excited to see  a picture of Beatris using the demo loom at Dorinda’s place to weave some patterns from my book.

I had left a copy of my book for the group when I visited last January. I taught Maxima to read the charts and promised to send another copy of the book just for herself which Dorinda was able to deliver recently. I was hoping that Maxima would teach some of the new patterns to other ladies that showed interest and it looks like she has been doing a great job.

Maxima and I had woven together using patterns in my book on my visit earlier this year.

I can see two patterns from my book on Beatris’s band in wonderful red, black and white. I am intrigued by her sword/beater as I have never seen one shaped like that. I can see that shape being very useful when one wants to beat with a rocking motion. I hope I get to meet Beatris on my next visit at the end of the year. It’s been a busy year for me travel-wise and I can hardly believe that almost a year will have passed when I next get to visit these ladies in the highlands.

More vistas and looms with a view…

Halyna Shepko showed us this picture of the backstrap loom she set up under the pier on her family beach holiday. That’s quite a view she has. Doesn’t that look idyllic?!

Meanwhile, my current view is one of the backyard at my brother’s home in Sydney where fourteen cheeky sulphur-crested cockatoos are perched on the roof and in the trees. They are beautiful but terribly destructive. As I sit here I hear the ”crack-crack” as they chew their way through branches and toss them to the ground below for no other reason, it seems, than to make their temporary perch more comfortable.

It’s winter here in Australia and it is hard to get used to the early darkness after the long summer days in the Pacific northwest that I just experienced. Weaving conferences, fiber festivals and reenactment events are in full swing in the USA and I wanted to show you this picture of my weaving friend Tracy at an event called West/An Tir War. You might remember that I  showed pictures of my backstrap buddies Janet and Tracy during a visit last spring. They had recently taken a sprang braiding class with Carol James and were busy putting their new skills to work. Here’s Tracy putting together one of several sprang frames made from bent willow branches for events at which she teaches.

And here she is in her beautiful historical garb…

She is wearing a sprang coif on her head that was made by Carol James and a sprang pouch at her waist that she made herself. I find those pouches simply adorable! The bands on her dress are Estonian checkered bands. There is so much beautiful handwork here.

Let’s keep the superlatives rolling…

This just takes my breath away. Katrin Kozevnikov MacLean designed and wove this on an inkle loom using a supplementary warp on the kind of ground weave used in Estonian and Baltic band weaving. She worked hard to design the leaves so that her warp floats did not span more than seven shots of weft and she has done a brilliant job. I would normally choose to weave something complex and  irregular like this in double weave which does not have warp floats to consider. However, having warp-floats gives the leaves so much more texture and interest. And, the colors are spectacular together! She has opened my mind to many possibilities!

Lynne, with whom I wove in Portland, sent me a picture of the pouch she finished after our gathering. We used cloth woven by my Bolivian friends to make pouches and then applied various decorative finishes. I like how Lynne has added woven tubular bands in two colors which meet in the center in a tassel. The motif she chose for her pebble weave strap closely resembles that used by the Bolivian weavers in their cloth. It is interesting how she has placed the hooks within blocks along the length of the strap.

I wove with Mary in Alabama last spring and she has been finishing the samples we started together as well as creating her own warps to try new patterns. This band makes a lovely fob.

Alison, who took my three-day workshop at ANWG, has set up to continue her backstrap weaving on her porch. Her backstrap is a red scarf. She tells me about the wildlife ”traffic” that accompanies her while she is weaving out there in that serene space…the sight and sound of a doe with twin fawns, a family of California quail, a rabbit and a trio of racoons. Imagine!

And, the north west backstrap weaving study group met again to gather around Marilyn’s ”village tree”…

Another Marilyn, this one in Alaska, has been studying my free Basic warping for Backstrap Looms video in which I show how to wind warps to create vertical or horizontal stripes. She has combined the two methods in this piece to experiment with various arrangements of stripes and bars and plans to make a few pouches with the fabric.

Susan wove with me in two sessions at the ANWG conference and has gone home to finish her samples. I am so pleased to see this. She has three lovely complementary-warp pick-up bands completed as well as a ñawi awapa tubular band.

And speaking of marvelous things that have been happening since the ANWG workshops, you may remember that I showed you in my last post the bamboo reed that Tracy made in her workshop with Bryan Whitehead. She put in the hours to get her reed finished during her stay and I am excited to tell you that it is already dancing on cottolin warp and helping her create beautiful balanced cloth using her own hand spun cotton wool weft.

Tracy describes the cottolin warp as having ”rustic calm”. I think this entire project exudes rustic calm. I can imagine the serene rhythm of creating plain-weave cloth with these clean and simple materials.

And now for some final vistas from a day out with my brother in the serene Australian bush and Blue Mountains…

Waist-deep in lush ferns surrounded by the dramatic rock walls that are so typical of this area.

Further on at Maiyingu Marragu, which was a meeting place for Aboriginal tribes, we saw Aboriginal hand prints on the rock walls which are noted as dating from 500 to 1600 years ago. The hand prints are said to be stamps of ownership of the six clans that used the area….

And we enjoyed the views over the Wolgan Valley…

I will leave you as I sit here looking out at the lengthening shadows in the back garden. It’s a serene view but the screeching cockatoos and squealing lorikeets certainly break the silence. Those are happy sounds. Maybe a kookaburra or two will start up in the distance as the sun sinks lower.

I start my backstrap weaving travels along the coast of New South Wales on Friday. I hope to be able to pause and report along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 8, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – Many welcomes

Weavers from various fiber guilds that belong to the north west association (ANWG) made great efforts to welcome us to their 2017 conference on the UVIC campus in Victoria B.C with two lovely banners. The conference theme was Treadle Lightly which meant that conference materials, guild booths and displays tended to focus on the use of natural, recycled, low impact and re-purposed materials….tread lightly on this earth.

Our conference neck pouches, which were created by my weaving friend Alison Irwin, were cleverly woven in strips of re purposed paper. Alison taught a class on this technique at the conference and created a wonderful piece in woven paper for the Instructors’ Exhibit which you can see later in this post.

 

I photographed Terri’s conference pouch when I dropped by to see her Saori weaving class….”Saori Weaving – Adventures in Weaving and Cloth Design”. I was happy to meet the famous Salt Spring saori artist about whom I had heard so much. All the instructors were extremely welcoming. We all offered an open house during the lunch break on Day 2 of the pre-conference workshops and several of my students volunteered not only to stay in the room to welcome visitors but also to weave on their backstrap looms so that people could learn a little about how they work.

The conference tote bag was really special. It was made from an old sail….that task must have required a lot of sail cloth as I heard that conference attendance exceeded 600! The bags were very practical and beautifully constructed. They contained a travel mug for water to reduce plastic water-bottle waste on the campus.

This first banner welcomed us and helped us easily locate the main meeting area and check-in building. It was created using local fleece from Parry Bay Sheep Farm in Metchosin, BC by a spinning/fibre group of the Victoria Handweavers and Spinners Guild.

Once inside the check-in area, this second colorful banner greeted us…

Rosie Kerschbaumer & Toby Smith wove it along with the other members of the GVWSG Block Study Group.

And then there was the First People’s House on the campus of UVIC building with its interesting Welcome Pole carvings…

The First People’s House sits on traditional territories of the Coast Salish and Strait Salish peoples. The site was once a village and holds great cultural and historical significance. The Welcome Post sculptures were created from red cedar by Coast Salish artisan Doug LaFortune. This Welcome Post is titled traditional Coast Salish Wife/Mother. My picture shows the child in the mother’s arms.

This second Welcome Post by the same artisan depicts the Traditional Coast Salish Man…

Victoria Harbor was set up for a warm welcome with pavilions in place to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary. I loved seeing the tiny water taxis zipping about. There was certainly a festive feel as our ferry pulled up at the dock.

The trip up from southern Washington state was long (on top of a 28-hour journey up from Bolivia!) but, who could complain with such scenery along the way?

It was an intense conference….aren’t they all?! I taught for four and a half days and finished with a half day free to cover ground and explore as much as I could of the campus. I wanted to see the totem poles, the conference exhibits, the guild booths and vendor hall. Of course, I had made several hasty and brief visits to the vendor hall whenever I had had the chance where the good people of Redfish Dye Works, Ellfe and Sandy, were happy to re-supply me with more of their luscious 60/2 silk for my next backstrap loom project. Somehow during the nights my ideas for the next project would evolve and I would find myself back at Redfish, maybe to exchange a color or pick out others. I hope to get this on the loom when I return to Bolivia in late August.

This conference had the most extraordinary variety of classes. My good backstrap weaving buddy, Yonat, selected some classes that best represented the local peoples, the local area and the natural materials that it has to offer. She posted a nice picture on Facebook of the various things that she learned. Can you imagine creating all this in the space of one conference? This was her class work but she also attended a seminar on research into a Salish textile. And, there was a class with John Mullarkey too. Cedar bark basketry, Salish color knit work and ply-split braiding!Here’s Yonat in the cedar bark basketry class she took with Joan Carrigan…

And all this in beautiful Victoria B.C with its mountain views and ”Canada 150” celebrations in full swing down at the harbor. We had six days of stunningly gorgeous weather with just the hint of an approaching change as we sailed out of the harbor on our way back to the USA.

There comes the ferry for our scenic 90-minute crossing. Whales were spotted on the return trip….not by me, though.On the trip over to Canada, one of my backstrap weaving buddies, Tracy spotted me on the ferry as I wandered about. She was arriving with another backstrap weaving friend of ours from Arizona, Kristin, with whom we had only had contact online.

You may remember that I showed Kristin’s silk piece in my last blog post.

Tracy and I have woven together before but this was the first time that we were meeting Kristin. There they were sitting together on the ferry spinning.

Those two were inseparable for the rest of the conference and I regret not being able to hang out more with them. They only stayed for a pre conference workshop, the class on making a traditional Japanese bamboo reed with instructor Bryan Whitehead, a Canadian, who has been living in Japan for decades.

Another backstrap weaving buddy from Arizona, Christine, with whom I manage to weave every fall, also took that class. I can’t imagine three people who were more suited to that reed-making class. Bryan Whitehead must have been so happy to have three such enthusiastic students. Of course, I am sure that all his students were just as deeply interested in learning that ancient skill.

I was lucky to be passing by Carol and Sharon’s dorm-room one evening. They heard my voice and called me in. While Sharon worked on the tablet weaving she was learning in John Mullarkey’s class, Carol worked on her bamboo reed and I was so pleased to be able to watch some of the process. Not that I will ever be able to do something like this on my own! I own some fine bamboo reeds and I now have an even greater appreciation for how they were made after watching Carol work and hearing from Tracy, Kristin, Christine and others about the tremendous amount of preparation Bryan put into this class. He cut and shaped hundreds, if not thousands, of slivers of bamboo…just amazing!

The slivers of bamboo are placed within the frame and cord is hitched around the posts to keep them in place. The cord also maintains even spacing between each sliver. Students could choose various epi-s for the reed from 15 to 24, I believe. The size of the cord they used determined the resulting spacing of the bamboo pieces. Each bamboo piece was placed and locked into position with the hitched cord. Then it would be gently tapped with the hammer you see on Carol’s table.

Here is one of the old Japanese reeds that Bryan brought to show to the class. Kristin was able to show it to me one day.

And here is Tracy’s finished reed. From what I could tell from watching the process, it really took some dedication to finish that in the three-day class!

This is an heirloom! There is no reason why this should not be still around and being used by a weaver two hundred years from now. That thought makes my hair stand on end. I can’t wait to pick up the old reeds I have at home (I got mine from a lady who sells textiles and implements from Chinese minorities) and examine them and think about the person who painstakingly prepared and put all those little pieces of bamboo in place. Imagine if they knew that the reed would end up in Bolivia. I will certainly take good care of them and use them. I already have a project in mind that will require the use of one of the reeds. It has been inspired by the conference.

THIS!…

This piece was part of the Instructors’ Exhibit and was woven by instructor Marilyn Robert. I ran into one of her students on the way back to my room. There on her loom was a gorgeous indigo-dyed strip of cloth with a lovely white cross of double ikat. I have dabbled in warp ikat and I think that if I ever have the courage to try double ikat, then these kinds of patterns might be a good place to start. Of course I won’t have the benefit of Marilyn’s knowledge, experience and instruction and I won’t use indigo, but I feel very inspired to try something like this. I will get to use my bamboo reeds to create the necessary balanced structure on my backstrap loom.

While I am showing you things from the exhibits, let me show you the piece that Carol James brought…an awesome sprang garment that just takes your breath away. It is draped with one of Carol’s finger-woven pieces. She taught both skills at the conference.

And look at the beautiful work her students were creating…

And here is the promised picture of Alison Irwin’s unique paper-woven chess pieces posed on her handwoven chess board…brilliant!

I was pleased to be able to see my friend Yonat’s weft-twined piece in the juried show. She showed it once on Facebook and it had blown me away. We had a group of very enthusiastic weft twiners sitting together at breakfast one morning and the idea of having our own little twining study retreat was born. I hope it happens! I love this piece by Yonat…

Alison Irwin took my 3-day pre-conference class on complementary-warp pick-up. She was also my volunteer helper. It was so nice to connect with her again after meeting her at Braids 2016 in Tacoma WA. We had a shared interest in the warp-faced double weave structure that is used in Bolivia and I was happy to be able to introduce her now to complementary-warp pick-up. And, it was nice to be able to inject some backstrap loom enthusiasm into my group of weavers from Canada, the USA and even New Zealand! It was great group of people.

If anyone needed more ideas on what to do with their woven patterned bands, Alison brought along a  pouch that she had made from a band she wove on her inkle loom and which I believe was recently included in an issue of Handwoven. This and her matching paper bracelet are gorgeous. The pouch uses a supplementary-warp technique. Both pieces are so elegantly finished and very inspiring. I love how the pattern on the folded flap so cleverly aligns with that on the body of the bag…all so clean and crisp!

I also taught a one-day class on the ñawi awapa tubular band and then a half-day backstrap loom ”taster”. In this half-day class I teach how to use the body to operate the sheds on a narrow warp and we then learn the basics of complementary-warp pick-up. We had a lovely pattern well underway by lunch time and everyone took home charts for at least five more. I have to say that this particular group was very vocal when I showed them how easy it is to open a clean heddle shed when you know how to move your body. It’s very rewarding and exciting for a teacher when you get reactions like that. I felt like I had pulled a rabbit out of hat or something! Well, yes, it is something like magic when you learn how to ”be the loom”!

I enjoyed my teaching…can you tell? My students are very focused here as they take their first steps in one of the more complex 16-thread patterns. Day 3 of the class has them almost unconsciously and automatically adjusting their body positions to operate the loom smoothly. They have become the loom. They are better able to spot mistakes quickly and deal with them and have developed good strategies for following charted patterns with long repeats.

I was happy to have Jen with her delightful Scottish accent in my class. We had met at the banquet at ANWG 2013. Who knew that we would meet again like this?

This picture is from the ANWG 2017 blog.

Quite a few classes were being held in the building in which I was teaching and on my floor and so I got to poke my head into several rooms on the way to the bathroom but that was just the tiniest fraction of all the conference had to offer. I actually didn’t get to see everything on my floor. I was so impressed that one of the conference organizers, Anita Salmon, with whom I had been corresponding for months before the conference, managed to pop her head inside my classroom every day to check if all was okay. She must have covered some ground! She even brought me a bag of Peruvian textiles that she had collected in the time she lived in Peru in the 1960’s and 70’s so that I could show them to my students…and enjoy them myself!

As always, Robyn Spady’s class was buzzing with energy as weavers took part in a round robin of ”Pictures, Piles, Potpourris and Perplexing Curiosities”. It was amazing for me to see corduroy being produced and it was fun to run from loom to loom and appreciate the tremendous variety of techniques and structures that were being covered in this class. Yes, I had to virtually trot as there was so little time and so much to see in all those classrooms. My eye was attracted to the following piece as it reminds me of the patterning on some pre-columbian fabrics I have seen in books…

Rebecca Mezoff’s classroom was very eye-catching as you were immediately met by a scrumptious display of colorful tapestry yarn.

Her topic, ”Predicting the Unpredictable. Color in Tapestry” sounded fascinating.

My friend Betty, with whom I traveled to ANWG, took a paper and book-making class from Velma Bolyard called ”Fiber, Paper, Textile, Book, Spirit”. Participants created a book using beautiful paper that they decorated with inks. Betty had the idea of the filling her book with the various book-binding and paper-making samples that she created in the class. Participants spun paper into thread and wove four-selvedge ”pages” on tiny pin looms they had made themselves. With the paper weft on a needle, the warp ends were picked up one by one…over, under, over, under… Betty immediately came up with the idea of using the coffee stirring stick that was part of her materials kit as a shed rod. That meant that only every second shed needed to be picked up with the needle. Betty has the Certificate of Excellence in weaving but it was her experience with primitive loom technologies that paid off this time. 🙂

Having seen Betty’s work with spun paper from her class, I am wondering if this has anything to do with the way Sandra Brooks from New Zealand created her extraordinary woven book which was part of the juried exhibit. This four-selvedge woven sheet was folded into pages which were full of interesting textured images and even words. I was really taken with this and I wish I could have done a better job of photographing it. I was happy to be able to spend a little time with Sandra as she had been a participant in my three-day workshop.

Sandra won one of the beautiful handwoven award ribbons for this piece…

My silk piece in the Instructors’ Exhibit made it onto the table next to the lovely cedar bark basketry of Polly Adams Sutton (at the back) and Joan Carrigan.

The guild booth displays were interesting and so varied with themes that closely followed the overall conference theme of ”Treadle Lightly”. The booths were judged by Jacquetta Nisbet and I was disappointed not to have been able to meet her. We exchanged some emails a few years ago and I would have loved to have met her in person.

The friends with whom I traveled to Victoria are from the Portland OR guild and I was pleased to see their booth receive several awards. Their pieces were based on the theme of recycling and my favorite part of their display was the fact that each piece had a card with a personal and entertaining story behind its loving creation. Apart from the visual appeal, those stories really drew me in and helped me get a sense of the people and personalities behind the work.

Here is Eugene Weavers Guild’s booth to show you just one example. Again, TIME!!…so little of it and so much to see!

The fashion show was wonderful. I have misplaced my program and so I can’t tell you how many pieces there were but the show lasted close to ninety minutes  and moved along at a good pace with several injections of good humor which included a troupe of hot male bods modeling what looked like colorful knitted boxer shorts. I do hope the creator of those eye-catching pieces will forgive my inadequate description. We were all somewhat distracted by the models!

Again, I will turn to the ANWG blog for a picture…

And then there was the great Shuttle Race which I caught by accident…yay! There was a nice pot of race entry fees at stake for the winner. I am again taking a picture of the entire field of entrants from the ANWG blog…

Competition was fierce with a number of very close finishes and one dead heat. I think I managed to capture some of the fun and energy in this shot.I believe the viking shuttle was the overall winner. Mindy Swamy, who was the race caller and time keeper, did a wonderful job and gave us all lots to laugh and smile about. She was just as highly energized in my half-day class and I really enjoyed meeting her.

On the final evening, key note speaker Charlotte Kwon of Maiwa Handprints Ltd took us on a journey to India via her superb videos so we could learn all about the concept of ”slow cloth”.

I hope that others write blogs about their ANWG 2017 experience as I feel that I have covered so little! If you do happen to run across other accounts, please let me know so that I can link to them from this post. Look for more pictures on the ANWG 2017 blog. Laura Fry was at ANWG as an instructor but she was also there to present the official invitation to ANWG 2019 in Prince George B.C. Many thanks to the conference organizers and all those wonderful volunteers who made this a conference of ”many welcomes”.

I will leave you with this picture of one of the poles that I found on the campus. It was designed and carved by Charles W Elliott, Coast Salish, and  is a ”History Pole” that depicts the Salish S’YEWE story.

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 23, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – A Job Worth Doing….

I wonder if you recognize this….

If you don’t, it’s because the last time I showed you this warp, it looked like this…

I had put this warp together very quickly so that I could be filmed weaving it for a documentary that friends Marilyn and Rainer are making. Marilyn offered me yarn from her stash and, between other weaving activities with a group of backstrap weaving friends, I quickly chose colors, wound the warp and wove off as much as I could before filming.

It’s 10/2 perle cotton with embroidery floss as supplementary weft. There wasn’t time to sample which broke my Golden Rule and, for that reason, the weaving gradually widens as it goes along. I hadn’t discovered through sampling the ”sweet spot”…that is, the width at which this particular number of ends in this 10/2 cotton wanted to settle.

I didn’t weave a sample when I used this Harrisville Shetland wool as I was in a hurry to get this band made. Nevertheless, I managed to hit that sweet spot straight away….just got lucky that time!

Once I have found that sweet spot, I never have to worry about the weaving width again. The width will stay consistent without constantly having to measure and control it. It is a lovely place to be. I let the yarn tell me where it wants to be.

Another clue to the fact that the warp ends were pushed too close together at the start was the fact that I had to beat extra hard –  too hard –  to get the picks per inch that I needed to make the supplementary weft pattern look right. By looking ”right”, I mean that the shapes have a nice solid look rather than having gaps between the weft floats from one pick to the next (although, having gaps between the picks is a certain effect that works well in some cases. It’s a matter of personal preference).

Once I got home and finished my big silk project, I decided I really needed to finish Marilyn’s cotton piece before venturing into something new. I pushed all the new ideas that I have competing for space in my head to back and pulled out the warp with its lovely pinks and purples.

However, I found that I just couldn’t face it with its width difference. Even the fell was beginning to slope as it seems that the warp ends were pushed closer together on one side than the other.

I took a deep breath and un-wove it so that I could start over with my new measurements in mind. Boy, did that feel good! So, the piece with the leaf pattern turned out to be the sample that I should have made in the first place. You know the old adage…A job worth doing…..

Now it is rolling along nicely and quite effortlessly. I am using motifs that I created for my silk piece and it is weird weaving them in this much thicker yarn. The cotton is so much more forgiving. I found when using the 60/2 silk that if I pulled too hard on any one warp end as I was doing the pick-up, the end would magically lengthen and not want to go back into place! Of course, it’s much easier to work with, let alone see, these strands of 10/2 cotton!

While I work on this piece I am planning my next silk one. I have a nice collection of colors in 120/2 silk that I would like to somehow combine in one piece….lots of lovely berry tones with some golds.

There you can see the black silk wrap that I recently finished rolled up in plastic ready to be taken to Canada. It will be in one of the Exhibits at ANWG this year. Quite a few of my backstrap weaving buddies will be there and I am looking forward to seeing Tracy and Yonat again and meeting Kristin, who also recently finished a silk weaving on her backstrap loom using a Japanese reed and her own handspun and naturally dyed thread. She has labeled this piece ”naturally dyed striped silk tsumugi” and it is stunning. She will be bringing it to ANWG where I will get to see and touch it.

I love how the colors in this post are going so well together! Here’s another finished backstrap loom project from weaving friend Wendy. She wove a hatband for her fisherman husband’s hat…

Marilyn and the backstrap weaving group in the northwest got together to encourage each other and weave some bands…

I love how these backstrap weaving study groups are sprouting up! Marilyn has a nice wooden post which she calls the ”village tree”around which the weavers gather.

I met Cindy at ANWG 2013 and do hope that she will be able to come to ANWG this year too. This is something she has been working on recently…a nice Andean Pebble Weave pattern from my second book. I love her arrangement of stripes in the borders.

Rosemary sent me this picture of the lovely backstrap weaving set-up that she has in her yard. She told me that she refers to my second book there alongside on her tablet. I love that my book sits there in excellent company with the Cahlander and Cason classic publication.

Jean, who recently got back from Guatemala where she had weaving lessons, sent me this picture of a prepared warp that she bought to take back to the USA. She knows that I like to use bicycle and umbrella spokes and other bits of wire and needles to secure my warps to the beams and she was tickled to see some Guatemalan weavers using such things in their warps as well. It seems that the spoke is tied in place to stop the warp ends from falling off the beam while Jean packs and transports the loom. I am looking forward to seeing what she weaves with this lovely cotton warp. I believe the cotton has been dyed with plants.

Dorinda, who works with the weavers in Cochabamba, is back after her visit to the USA. I had been hoping to travel to the highlands this month for a quick visit with her and Maxima and the young ladies who were having their first weaving lessons back in January but I just couldn’t find the time. I will have to leave that for the end of the year. One of the young ladies, 11-year old Nelva, has been weaving and also drawing and Dorinda sent me this picture she has drawn based on a photo of some of the Huancarani ladies strolling and spinning yarn. I guess the lady on the back of the card is collecting dye plants.

Dorinda keeps them all busy with various art and craft projects. She always arrives from the USA with new craft supplies and ideas for activities.

To finish, I will leave you with the good news that the second volume of Rodrick Owen and Terry Newhouse Flynn’s work on Andean sling braids is coming out this November. I am excited that the sling pictured at left that I made with my teacher in Peru back in 1997, makes an appearance. I made this one with the braid pattern that my teacher called the ‘‘palma’‘.  After finishing my sling, he taught me another pattern called ”margarita”.

This new book teaches 50 beautiful patterns as well as how to create and embellish an entire sling.

Here is the blurb from the Schiffer catalog…

Sling Braiding Traditions and Techniques: From Peru, Bolivia, and Around the World

Rodrick Owen & Terry Newhouse Flynn

Available November 2017 $39.99

This comprehensive, full-color guide features dozens of images of slings from various cultures, both ancient and contemporary. Slings had great significance in many cultures, particularly in the Andes, and were often used as both prehistoric weapons and herding tools. The book shows novice and experienced braiders how to make 50 designs, from 8 to 32 strands, on a braiding card or with a braiding stand and bobbins. Learn step by step how to make an authentic Andean-style sling with braided cords and a tapestry-woven cradle. A range of techniques useful for beginning, ending, and embellishing slings are included, and can enhance a wide variety of other items, like jewelry, garments, and accessories. This book is a key resource for historians, ethnologists, textile artists, weapons experts, and others to learn the practical skills for understanding sling braids’ structure. Includes braiding card and plans to make core stand.

Size: 8 1/2″ x 11″ | 457 color photos, charts/drawings, and weaving diagrams | 176 pp
ISBN13: 9780764354304 | Binding: hard cover

Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 9, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – Simply Silk

All I can talk about this week is that I finished THE silk piece…hooray, hooray! and that I learned more about ”hard” pressing.

I started this long project last (Bolivian) summer having brought back lots of lovely 60/2 silk from my trip away. I got home energized after having just filmed my Operating a Backstrap Loom dvd. I then filmed my Basic Warping for Backstrap Looms video in Bolivia, wove a wool band as a warm-up project (I had been away from any real weaving on my loom for about 2 months) and proceeded to launch myself into what I knew would be a long project both in terms of physical length and time.

I knew that I wanted to do some three-color pebble weave with all three colors interacting on both faces of the cloth at the same time but I also knew that it would take far too long to finish if I used that kind of structure along the whole length of the piece. So, I limited this more complex structure to just the very start of the piece. Of course, I knew that I would need to repeat it at the very end…..but that was months away!

After that initial band of three colors, I wove the rest using the same three-color pebble weave but with only two colors interacting on each face at any one time…gold and brown on one face and red and brown on the other. It is still quite time-consuming weaving this way but less so than having all three colors on both faces at the same time. The pattern theme for the piece is ”interlocking diamonds” and I enjoyed creating motifs in both pebble weave and supplementary-weft inlay to suit the theme.

The main motif in the three-color section is charted in my second book….More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns. Some of the other motifs in two colors are also in that book while I invented others just for this piece.

One of the best parts, as always, is feeling and seeing the transformation in the wet-finishing process. I have wet-finished a couple of 60/2 silk pieces before and was really excited to see how the silk cloth relaxed and shone as the iron lifted the moisture away. However, I was aware that the finished cloth wasn’t quite as stable as I had hoped it to be. So, I asked my online weaving contacts for suggestions and was lucky to get replies from those who have had a lot of experience working with silk and with wet-finishing in particular. Laura Fry has written a book called ”Magic in the Water”  which is on the wet-finishing process and how it affects different structures and fiber.

This piece finished up with beautiful sheen but not quite as stable as I had hoped.

I learned that I should probably be a bit more vigorous in the washing part of the process…not the nervous, gentle hand-washing that I usually do.  I used warm water this time instead of cool. But, one of the most important changes to be made was in the ”hard” press.

I always iron on the floor as I don’t have a board….not that I do much ironing. It is mostly about my finished woven pieces rather than clothes. Now, this is a good thing when it comes to hard pressing as I recall having read stories of people having broken their ironing boards while trying to give their cloth a good hard press. Terry told us that the combination of heat, pressure and hard surface were ”perfect for imparting smoothness to a fibrous surface”. This, we were told, also applies to the paper-making process where it is called ”calendering”. Laura had said that compressing the threads is really important as a flatter surface reflects more light.

Okay. So, how hard is ”hard”? Who knows… but when I am given instructions like this, I usually take them to extremes to the best of my physical ability. It reminds me of the time my weaving teacher in Peru told me to pull the weft really tight when weaving tubular bands. I sliced up my hand with the weft thread as I had it wrapped about my hand in order to pull it really hard.My bandaid-covered digits in the picture above show the result of having been told to grip the llama bone hard and beat firmly. With my teacher hovering and constantly reminding me to beat hard, I turned out cloth that was incredibly firm…a characteristic that is much admired by highland weavers. I was possibly gripping and beating too hard…hence the torn up hand…but I was pleased with the compliments I got from the weavers.

As for the hard pressing, I placed a thin towel on my ceramic tile floor and put as much body weight as I could manage onto the iron. It was almost like doing push-ups with only my toes remaining in contact with the floor! Sara had reminded me that the cloth should still be damp when pressing or else wrinkles will be permanent. It was quite a work-out!

Anyway, I got a nice shiny polished surface and I am happy with how the web has transformed into stable cloth. Now it surprises me to see how lifeless the piece looked while it was still on the loom.

I’ll be pressing that teal bandanna again…hard… to see the difference that makes.

What’s next? More silk, I think, but on a much smaller scale. Perhaps I’ll make some silk bands for my new hat in three-color pebble weave. I’d also like to start another wool conference neck pouch like this one…

…but with a different patterning structure and a different style of tubular band. And then, there’s jewelry…three-color pebble weave wrist cuffs and neck ribbons for various pendants I have been picking up along the way. There’s always something to keep me busy at the loom!

To finish, let me show you an old photo I recently uncovered while tidying . This was taken back in 1996 before I came a backstrap weaver. It is possibly my first ever encounter with a backstrap weaver and this took place in the plaza of Cusco, Peru. I asked the weaver if she would weave for me and promised to buy the little loom I have in my hands if she would. She was more than happy to do so. A few weeks later, I met a weaver from Ayacucho who was able to teach me.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lavernewaddington | May 26, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – Over the Hump

I am back home and over the hump. Normally I don’t have a hump to get over because, as soon as I return, I simply jump into a new exciting project at the loom that has been slowly developing in my head during my travels.

This time, however, I did what I normally consider a ”no-no”. I left a major project unfinished on the loom before I traveled. I have found in the past that it is quite difficult to pick up an unfinished project like this, especially when I have been away from it for two months. The flow has been interrupted. I can see on other projects that have been interrupted in this way precisely where I had stopped and then started again. Something changes…perhaps tension or beat…something.

This is the silk project I had left behind unfinished…

There are a mere five inches of patterning to go to match the start but these five inches will be very intense.

I had started the piece with a 3-color pebble weave when I had a beautifully-tensioned, happy rolled-up warp and I now need to match that patterning at the other end. Now that I am approaching the end, the warp is being a bit beastly as variations in tension of the fine silk strands become increasingly apparent. I know how to deal with these variations but when you are working with hundreds of strands of 60/2 silk it can become quite tedious. So, that was the hump that had to be overcome. I needed to sit down and take up the slack on the looser ends and get everything back into that happy place I had so enjoyed for the first eighty inches or so.

Now it is done and I am on my way! Over the hump I go!

I sit down on a cushion on the floor in my weaving space. I can’t see out the window. My view is of the side of the bed.

A question was asked in one of the online groups about how people felt about their weaving space…how inspiring it is and what they would do to improve it. I gave that some thought and concluded that my weaving space is not one bit inspiring. But, I also concluded that it doesn’t need to be. It’s simply cluttered and chaotic!

It seems that I am completely absorbed with what I am doing and living inside my head when I am sitting at my backstrap loom. Sometimes I pause and imagine what I might see outside my window if my room were to be suddenly picked up and deposited elsewhere. I can hear the palm trees rustling outside. Just for a change, rather than a busy, noisy and sometimes smelly street market, perhaps there’s a beach just down the street and the movement of air from my ceiling fan is a nice cooling coastal breeze. I have to admit though that I do love that chaotic street market!

Even though the kind of pick-up patterning I do requires a lot of concentration, I can still pause and let my mind travel. I recall some of the lovely things I experienced on my latest trip away. Like the gorgeous views from the plane as I traveled from place to place…

There was a glorious parade of snow-capped peaks on the way up to Portland. Here Mt Shasta looks like it is floating with the clouds above the blue-tinged landscape.

The beautiful farm and barn in which I weave with my friends in Petaluma. Northern California looked so green, fresh and luscious after all the rain. It looked like a land in the process of healing.

Stunning views of the city of Seattle as we come in to land. As the Space Needle passes by I remember having dinner there with Tracy to celebrate Marilyn’s birthday as well as enjoying the Folk Life Festival with the Space Needle soaring above us.

Enjoying a peaceful lunch with birdsong and the view looking out toward Yosemite at Anne’s place on top of the hill.

Winding warps for my trip to Australia while taking in the view of Betty’s blueberry crop and lovely forested property.

I missed Marilyn’s birthday on this visit to Seattle and I was too early for Folk Life. We found something else fun to do instead.

I was lucky to arrive just in time for the annual Kyoto Sale.

I had never heard of this event before but Marilyn is a frequent visitor. She told me of being able to buy short kimonos for as little as $10 and showed me some exquisite double ikat examples that she had purchased in previous years.

I envisioned having to dig through racks and racks of expensive garments to find the one or two super low-priced items, but no! every kimono on the rack was $10 or $15!

After attending the Seattle guild’s meeting, a group of us set off with flashlights to explore the dark warehouse stuffed with Japanese clothing, lanterns, baskets, chests and ornaments.

And, when our weaving group got together the next day and we told of our purchases at the Kyoto sale, guess where a few of the ladies rushed off to at the end of the day. They appeared wearing kimonos for our second day of weaving.

Here’s my $10 score which looks surprisingly good over jeans…

And there were these…a basketful of obijime…

I caught up with many old weaving friends on this trip and met several new ones. I got to spend time with 7-year old Lily once again when I wove with Lori and the group in northern California. Lily had lost several teeth and experienced an incredible growth spurt since I saw her just six months ago. She also spent the entire day weaving with us when all she could sit still for last time were two or three picks on her pebble weave warp before bouncing away to pick flowers and enjoy the farm.

On this visit we wove a traditional patterned tubular band of the Peruvian and Bolivian highlands. We then wove and sewed a band to the edges of handwoven cloth using the weft as the sewing thread. I bring pieces of cloth that were woven by my weaving friends in the central Bolivian highlands. The handspun wool is dyed using local plants as well as cochineal. The colors and the way the weavers combine them are stunning.

The cloth can be edged with patterned tubular bands…

or, a plain-weave tubular band can be used instead. The piece can be further embellished with various decorative stitches…

The mouth of Ashli’s small pouch is decorated with cross-knit looping…

Here’s Lily sewing a band to her piece of cloth. Tiny hands had to manage the cloth, the needle and operating the backstrap loom all at once. She is wearing one of my woven silk bracelets.

Here is Narciza, one of my Bolivian weaving friends, attaching a patterned tubular band to the edge of a woven bag. At first you wish you had a third hand to help but you soon get the hang of it.

Lily’s activity soon attracted a friend. Oliver took some time out from tearing about the farm on his bike to come and watch…

And, there was still energy at the end of the day for some tether ball…

I got to see the wide project that Lori started last time we got together. Lori plans to make this into a pouch. She finished it on this visit. Like me, me she wants to ponder the finished piece for a while before cutting and shaping and sewing it into the finished product. She then plans to add edgings and decorative stitches.

Lori showed me a beautiful Huichol bag that she had bought. I have seen woven bags in her collection on past visits, woven in the balanced double-weave structure with pick-up patterns that is typically used by the Huichol people. This one is different in that the peyote and deer motifs are embroidered. The entire surface of this bag is embroidered in cross stitch.

The strap is decorated using the same single-faced supplementary-weft technique that I learned here in Bolivia.

It is so wonderful seeing youngsters like Lily being attracted by weaving and I adore this Mothers Day picture taken of my backstrap weaving friend Janet delighting her granddaughter and great nephew with her spinning…

I got to head to far northern California to visit with Janet on this trip too. The ladies up there were still buzzing after having had workshops in sprang braiding with Carol James. Tracy, who often weaves with me on these visits, has been busy making pouches using various sprang techniques.

I fell in love with the second one from the left and so Tracy and I arranged a swap….I’ll weave one of my silk ribbon necklaces in exchange for a pouch.

Janet has taken off in a different direction with her sprang. She is making garments and using her handspun cotton (of course!)…

This sprang tunic is gorgeous. As the sprang structure stretches, this is truly a one-size-fits-all piece. The typical one-size garments that are sometimes sold always make me crazy. They never fit me. Here’s what the back looks like. Unfortunately we didn’t notice that one of the fringe bundles was tucked under…

Janet is using the Ecuadorian-style vertical loom that she constructed after her visit to coastal Ecuador a couple of years ago as her sprang frame…

She has a new piece ready to go in her handspun cotton…

Here’s Tracy working with the frame that Carol James uses with her students…

And, Tracy took advantage of the fact that there are lots of willow sticks at Janet’s to gather some and bend them into shape to make nifty sprang frames.

Ta-da!…

While Tracy and Janet did some carding,

Alli came over with her bub to do some Andean Pebble Weave with me…

She was very comfortable standing to weave with her sleeping baby on her back…so sweet! She could tie the warp to the strap of the carrier.

In Portland at the guild meeting, I got to see my Braids Conference companions Barbara Walker and Linda Hendrickson. Linda gave us a brief run down of her recent trip to Myanmar for her continuing studies of the tablet woven sagzigyo (Burmese manuscript binding tapes). She promises to give a more comprehensive description in a program to the guild later this year.

While on the road, I did a little bit of weaving and study. Marilyn and her husband Rainer are filming a documentary called Interlacements and wanted some footage of me weaving on my backstrap loom. As I hadn’t brought anything with me, I was invited by Marilyn to choose yarn from her stash and create a warp. Just grabbing yarn and creating a large-ish project without much thought or planning is completely foreign to me! But, we had limited time and I set to it. I decided to weave something that I would later give to Marilyn but, at the same time, I wanted it to look like ”me” for the documentary. So, of course, I included what I have come to see as one of my signature patterns…the leaves in supplementary weft. I used Marilyn’s stash of 10/2 perle cotton and embroidery floss for the leaves.You can see the result of not having woven a sample first from which to take my measurements. There wasn’t time for that! I (almost) ALWAYS sample! I didn’t quite get it right when judging the width and so the piece had widened slightly. I will take advantage of that and use the narrower beginning as part of a shaped flap for the bag I will create.

The other thing I had time to play with was trying to find a way to neatly finish off tubular bands when they are woven and  sewn around the perimeter of a flat piece of cloth. When attaching tubular bands to pouches, there all sorts of clever ways to deal with and hide the 20 warp-ends that remain once you have finished weaving the band. It’s not so easy to do that when you place the tubular edging around the perimeter of a flat piece of cloth. Thee is nowhere to hide the ends! You can see the two wrist cuffs that I wove and edged with patterned tubular bands…

On the one on the right, you can see the kind of ugly join where the tubular band starts and finishes (look just above the bottom left hand corner). On the one on the right I got smart and hid the (ugly) join under the button 🙂 The Andean weavers are able to join the two ends of the tubular bands in a way that makes the join barely noticeable. One advantage is that generally the tubular band is dwarfed by the large pieces of cloth to which the are attached and the eye is drawn more to the patterning on the beautiful cloth than the edging band. But, even so, the join is beautifully done.

I decided to work on creating a neater start and finish to my tubular bands when I use them to edge a flat piece of cloth. I needed to figure out a way to hide those twenty warp ends.

The example below is in heavy wool yarn. The join really jumps out at me on this piece but it is a much neater finish than I have been able to achieve so far. I am confident that if I keep playing with this and use increasingly fine yarn, I will be able to eventually create a quite acceptable join. I am really pleased with this! You will see some measurements written down for those who have ever wondered how much warp to measure to edge a piece. These measurements ensure that you have a comfortable amount of space in which to operate the loom right until the end of the band. My general rule is to add 50% to the perimeter measurement but my warping pegs just happened to spaced at 39” (rather than 36”) so I just went with that! 36” would have worked just fine. I have a tutorial on weaving and sewing these kinds of edging bands here.

Lastly, I would like to show you a backstrap that Mary, whom I met and wove with in Alabama on this recent trip, has woven since I saw her.

How gorgeous is that! This was woven using Peaches and Cream cotton. Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog will know that I emphatically steer people away from that kind of cotton when one is a beginner. I always recommend a mercerized cotton for starting out as it is smooth and more resistant to pilling. Un-mercerized, soft, loosely-twisted cotton, like Peaches and Cream, used for warp-faced weaving on a backstrap loom will shed, fluff and pill dreadfully in unskilled hands. Any scraping of the heddles will cause the warp threads to fray and the heddles will start sticking together.

However, when a weaver understands how to use the body to operate the loom, as Mary clearly does, abrasion is reduced to a minimum.

Result: a stunning, thick, cushy strap!

Backstrap weavers use their bodies to relax and increase tension on the warp at will and it is these constant adjustments of the body position that enable them to open clean and clear sheds without having to struggle with or scrape heddles or over-handle the warp threads.

Once these coordinated body movements have been mastered, a backstrap weaver does not have to be limited to only the smoothest, friendliest, mercerized cotton.

These coordinated movements are precisely what I teach in my Operating a Backstrap Loom dvd on Taproot Video. I finally watched it having brought back a copy to Bolivia 🙂

I was thrilled to be present when people responded to my last blog post and ordered the dvd while I happened to be at Taproot Video in Seattle. It was fun being able to sign copies and go along with Marilyn to mail them. Thank you so much! Of course, Marilyn and Rainer at Taproot Video continue to sell and ship my dvds along with Joan Ruane’s, Kris Leet’s, Marilyn Romtaka’s and Linda Hendrickson’s.

I will show you more projects from my online backstrap weaving friends next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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