Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 15, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Inundated with Ikat Ideas

Now that I feel that I have a bit more of a grip on a technique for creating warp-ikat patterns, I find that this newly-acquired level of confidence leaves me awash with ideas for future experiments. I am just about to start ikat experiment #6 but have so many ideas for experiments beyond this that I am almost losing interest in #6. However, #6 definitely has its purpose as the things I learn from this experiment will hopefully be applied to future projects. It remains to be seen if the lessons I learn will be more about do’s or more about don’t’s.

So, what became of experiments #4 (the cowl) and #5?

My idea had been to connect the two ends of the result of my fourth ikat experiment to make a cowl. I wanted to use buttons along one edge of the fabric with braided loops on the other end. I did that and it didn’t work. It was clumsy and fiddly and the buttons were too heavy for the light silk fabric. I had to cut it all out and start over. You can see that I ended up with several snaps along the edge and I used fabric to reinforce the ends. The snaps are super easy to fasten and un-fasten and don’t add too much weight to the cloth. This works really well!

Above the black cowl you can see the result of the fifth ikat experiment as well as a small piece of balanced plain-weave fabric that I wove using my bamboo reed. The balanced-weave piece is an experiment so that I can plan a possible double ikat piece, in which both the warp and weft are tied and dyed, some time in the future.

Ikat experiment #5 was about testing how well I could manage 30/2 silk in this technique. I also wanted to experiment with folding the warp in half so that I could tie the ikat tape around two layers of warp at once and create a repeat. The third thing on which I wanted to focus was dyeing with two colors.

I placed the ikat tape, then dyed the warp red. Then I removed some of the tape and dyed the warp orange. Actually, the orange color was not what I was expecting from a dye color that was called “dingo”but the orange color grew on me.

Here’s the warp after the first red dye bath and with some of the tape removed ready for the second color. The warp is folded in half around the metal bar you can just see between the warp threads at the bottom of the picture. 

What I learned: The warp threads got super compressed inside the tape and were stuck together when the tape was removed. I separated the threads here and there but realized later that I needed to be more thorough about that. If I wanted to dye with a second color, I needed to separate the threads in each and every bundle and make especially sure that I pulled them well apart at the point where they re-entered the wraps of ikat tape. I had figured that the 18-hour pre-dye soak that I give the warp would be enough to enable the threads to bloom and separate and recover from the compression. Apparently they didn’t do that entirely. This meant that I didn’t get  even penetration with the second dye color.

Here’s the warp stretched out on the loom after its second dye bath.. I needed to add string heddles and then I would be ready to weave. You can see how the second dye bath with the orange-y so-called dingo color brightened and “gladdened” the red. I wasn’t expecting that and it was a pleasant surprise.

It’s exciting seeing the pattern emerge. There’s always a sigh of relief when I see that the threads are not going to shift so much as to ruin the pattern.

Here it is off the loom before being washed and pressed…

I was really pleased with it! It could be another cowl, if I really wanted it to be more than just an experiment. I also thought it might be interesting to somehow join the two patterns together side by side to make a square. Maybe it could be one side of a cover for a small pillow.

Here’s a close-up after wet-finishing.

I felt pretty comfortable working with the 30/2 silk and would call this experiment a success (ah, but was it just a fluke?!) and I’ll use the same 30/2 silk for experiment #6. The next experiment will be about combining ikat with motifs in supplementary weft. I have done this before in ikat projects using cotton. 

There’s always time to do lots of thinking while I sit here tying the warp with strips of tape. I will use that time to think about what would be a good pattern for a first attempt at double ikat. Perhaps I should just start out with a weft ikat piece and slowly work my way up to double ikat. But that idea has to wait in line. I still have ideas for moving on to using 60/2 silk for ikat projects. I have been reading that some ikat artists fold the warp both horizontally and vertically to create a side-by-side mirror image of a pattern as well as a mirror-image repeat along the length of the warp. I don’t feel ready for that yet!

From my inbox:

Olyweaver wove a band with a pattern that is found on yurt bands in Central Asia. In this structure, floats in the two warp colors form the pattern on one face of the band. Irina spent a lot of time studying a picture of this pattern on my blog so that she could chart the figures herself. She said that this exercise gave her a much better understanding of the structure before she could start weaving. She also said…. the design was small enough with internal mirror repeats that by the end I could anticipate the next step without counting chart squares, but I did need the chart for guidance. I looked at how the design evolved in each colored area as opposed to what the chart said line by line. 

Llunallama wove a beautiful band of running horses in complementary-warp pick-up (Andean Pebble Weave structure). She calls the piece “Flight” and says that it might be used as a hatband. My friend Deanna created the four horse motifs and contributed them to my Complementary-warp Pattern Book.

That book and all my publications in English are now available as either PDFs or as spiral-bound printed books from Taproot Video.

Here are four of the seven titles that are now available as spiral-bound printed books…

The seventh title, More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns, is one that was published just last week. It is a book of 132 Andean Pebble Weave patterns that can be used by all those who have learned the pick-up methods from my books on complementary-warp pick-up and/or Andean Pebble Weave. Read the full product description and look at sample pages here.

If you don’t own any of my books and would like to get started in weaving bands with pick-up patterns, I recommend starting with Complementary-warp Pick-up.  (which includes some Andean Pebble Weave patterns). Note that none of my books are aimed at those who have never woven anything before. You should already be able to set up your loom of choice and weave a warp-faced band in plain weave before approaching these patterning techniques.

And, if you like Irina’s band with the pattern from the yurt band, I have a tutorial on this structure here on this blog. The pattern I use is a sweet S-hook motif that I saw on a yurt band in a friend’s collection. Depending on your level of experience, the tutorial page will tell you where to find instructions to get started.

I send many thanks to everyone who has bought my latest book so far. Your support is very much appreciated.









Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 8, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – A New Book of Patterns and more!

I have three bits of exciting news to share with you in this post 🙂

I have been promising a new book of patterns for the last few weeks and am pleased to announce that it is now available at

The second part of this exciting announcement is that this is the first time that I am releasing a new publication as a PDF as well as a printed book! Both are available at Taproot Video.

It’s called More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns. It contains the pebble patterns from my 2012 publication More Adventures with warp-faced Pick-up Patterns, plus six brand new ones. The Pebble weave patterns in the 2012 publication were drawn on charts that are made up of spots and lines. In my new book the same patterns have been drawn on the more classic block-style of charts that I use in all my other books.

The new book is aimed at two groups of weavers:

  1. All those who are fans of creating patterns using complementary-warp pick-up and/or Andean Pebble Weave and who don’t already own my 2012 publication, More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns. If you fit this group, you will have 132 new patterns to use in your bands and other projects.  
  2. All those who do own my 2012 publication, More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns, but who are not really in love with the spotted charting system that I introduced in that book. I have found that many people have overlooked those patterns in favor of those that are charted on the more classic block style of chart that I use in my other publications. I fear that they may never get to enjoy those patterns. So, in this new book, I present all 126 of those patterns again using the block-style charting system. Plus, there are 6 new patterns.

The new patterns….The new set of patterns that are included in this book came about because I became interested in the sweet dragon pattern, that you can see above, when ladies on Ravelry were talking about it in a tablet-weaving discussion. You can see an awesome hat created by Penelope Hemingway with nalbinding using Oslo stitch. She felted it down to size and edged it with a band she wove on her inkle loom using a chart I drew for her.  The motif is based on one from a tablet-woven band from a 10th century Viking find in Dublin. The pattern is often called “Little Dragons”. I have seen it online in pictures where it has been woven in several tablet-woven structures. I was able to easily adapt it so a version of it could be woven in Andean Pebble Weave, a complementary-warp structure.

Online searches showed me several sweet patterns woven with tablets that use the head of the little dragons and I adapted them for my latest book. Five of the six new patterns in the book use the little dragon heads. 

The other patterns include snake and star motifs that appear in various forms on textiles from the Bolivian lowlands, knot-work and historical patterns adapted from tablet-woven bands, motifs from belts of Russian origin, adaptations of motifs used in Komi knitwear, Kuba cloth of Central Africa, storage bags from Baluchistan and textiles of Central Asia as well as contemporary figures found in Andean textiles.

Snake pattern.

Star pattern with various filler designs.

Pattern adapted from a Central Asian textile.

Motif from a belt of Russian origin.

The printed book is spiral-bound and has 85 pages. You can read more about this latest publication, in both PDF and print form, as well as take a look at sample pages at

The third piece of exciting news involves all my other English-language e-books that can be found in PDF form at Taproot Video.

They are all now available as printed books at Taproot Video! (Note: The complete version of the tubular band book is available in print form but not the abridged version).

You can see the full list of titles here. If you are unsure about which book best suits your level of experience, learning style and preferred loom, information on a page that I wrote here on my blog, may help you decide…or just drop me a line via a comment. I’ll be happy to advise.

A lot has been going on with my ikat experiments too. Experiment #5 is well underway in the finer 30/2 silk and I am really pleased with it. There’ll be more about that in my next post or, in the meantime, you just might catch a glimpse of it showing up on my Facebook or Instagram pages.

Happy weaving and a million thanks to all those who bought my new book following my announcement on Facebook a few days ago. THANK YOU!






Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 25, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – From Experiment to Project

Just when I am at the point when I feel that I have learned enough about the behavior of the naturally-dyed silk that I was given to be able to move on to real projects rather than experiments and samples, I find that I don’t really have enough of this yarn left to be able to make anything decent!

These are the skeins of silk that had been used in natural dye experiments and given to me. I have used them to weave journal covers using a variety of warp-faced pick-up structures and, more recently, to experiment with ikat. If you have been following my most recent posts you will have seen and read a lot about my experiments in which I use multi-colored base warps for ikat. I wrap the warp in ikat tape to create a pattern. The taped areas resist the color in a dye bath and, when the tape is removed, a multi-colored pattern is revealed ready to weave.

Sadly, I am almost at the end of my supply of this naturally-dyed silk. There is just about enough to make one more small warp but I think that it is time to move on and try out the 30/2 silk that I got from my weaving friend Deanna in a swap.

The fourth in my recent ikat experiments with the multi-colored silk has happily changed its role from  experiment to project. I warped up a wider and slightly longer piece and decided not to create stripes of random color and width this time. All the stripes were twelve ends wide and I used symmetry in the arrangement of the colors.

I divided the groups of warp threads to be wrapped in tape into twelve-end sections. This was going to be a very orderly warp. I didn’t challenge myself to creating the impression of curves or to create nice even horizontal lines. I went with bold diagonals instead.

Here it is out of the black dye bath and almost dry enough to place on my backstrap loom beams.

As soon as the first few inches I had been woven, I knew that this one was going to be my favorite so far.

A little further along and feeling really pleased with it :-).

And, finally, off the loom…a close-up.

One more picture (can you tell I am loving this one?!)

How would it behave once wet finished? I had high hopes that this would work as a cowl. I had used 60/2 silk as weft. Would it have enough drape? I love the wet-finishing part of working with silk. The fabric relaxes and almost oozes under the iron as I give it a good hard press.

I am trying to show the sheen after wet finishing in this next picture. It was really hard to capture.

And, yes! It works as a cowl. I am so happy that I can wear this piece! (This is what fifteen months of cold turkey grey-hair grow-out looks like, by the way).


It is just draped around my neck in this picture. I have yet to finish it. I have three selvedges and need only deal with one raw edge. I’ll cover that edge with fabric and use three buttons and loops to close the cowl. I need to make the closure decorative as I am pretty sure that the cowl will swivel at will around my neck as I wear it. The buttons could end up in any position and they need to be pretty. Once again, I’ll have to put my meager sewing skills to the test.

Another project that got almost finished is the silk ribbon that I made for my Koru pendant:

I have washed some of the 30/2 silk so that it can be dyed. The first ikat project with this new material will be a narrow one while I get acquainted with the way it behaves. I want to focus on a much longer warp which will be folded in two on the ikat frame. In that way I can tie the ikat tape in multiple layers at the same time and achieve a repeat.

My weaving friend Pam shared pictures with me of her visit to Uzbekistan many years ago in which you can see a warp of many meters length folded and placed on the ikat frame where the young ladies sit ready to tie the pattern. The  beams that hold the warp under tension are tied to bolts in the floor.

I am absolutely in love with this piece below from Timor. Kinga Lauren who collected the piece, kindly allowed me to show it here in my blog post.

I love those curvy irregular patterns. You can see how the irregularities in the pattern in the lower half of the fabric are perfectly replicated in the upper half. The warp was obviously folded with ikat tape wrapped around both layers at once. 

A close-up of part of the ikat section and the fringe shows the number of beautiful subtle colors that were used in the stripes. This is naturally-dyed cotton.

Wrapping multiple layers will be one new challenge for me. The other will be attempting to dye with more than one color. I tried a very simple version of this many years ago on a rather carelessly tied pattern. I really liked the effect and was able to use the piece as a book cover. I had some mishaps with this cotton warp. This was back in the days when I was using cassette tape for wrapping cotton warp. I made one of the dye solutions too hot and the cassette tape simply did not deal well with the heat.

So, on the heels of my happy cowl project/ikat experiment, let’s see what kind of mess (or success) I can make with 30/2 silk!

To finish, I have some nice work to show you from my inbox from new and old online weaving friends…

Shilpa Nagarkar Rao is weaving Andean Pebble Weave patterns using my Complementary-warp Pattern Book (after having learned the technique in my Complementary-warp Pick-up book). She uses an inkle loom to weave bands and then combines them to make beautiful bags. (See her Facebook page).

Bag made from several bands woven on an inkle loom by Shilpa Nagarkar Rao

Cynthia has been working with supplementary weft creating motifs in several colors along the length of the band. This ability to change color at will is one of the many nice things about this technique and is why Guatemalan clothing can be so colorful.

I love how Vanessa De Columna made what I believe to be her very first Andean Pebble Weave band into a headband.

In book news, my latest pattern book, which ended up with 132 charted patterns, is in the hands of Taproot Video and I am just waiting for it to go live on the website. The Taproot folk are currently busy shooting a new spinning class with Joan Ruane…exciting news!




Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 11, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Mess or Success

I feel like I am back at square one with my ikat experiments in terms of not being able to predict what the end result will be…..Mess or Success??… 

But then, I suppose it depends on how you define success. My experiments have been about trying to create images using the ikat technique with little or no shift in the warps threads to blur the image. I know that many people consider blurring the very characteristic that makes ikat so attractive. Quite often you can’t even notice the blurring unless you are examining the images closely. It is the overall effect that is important…the bird’s eye view rather than the ant’s view. Other times the blurring is very noticeable as if that was the very thing at which the weaver was aiming. One example of this is the fabric that you can see below from Uzbekistan. Soft blurred edges are what make these patterns so attractive.

Ikat fabric from Uzbekistan at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

My most recent experiments have been with silk. The first one, which you can see and read about in past posts, gave me images with barely any shift at all. I was so pleased! The silk I used was given to me and I have no idea of its origin. It was something like 5/2 cotton in size and somewhat “hairy”. That kind of smooth well-defined motif was what I had been after. I wanted something sharp and crisp like the the bold geometric patterns seen on ponchos woven by the Mapuche people of central Argentina and Chile. You can see an example of a Mapuche poncho below.

For my second experiment I followed exactly the same procedures, the only difference being that I used a finer and more slick kind of silk…I am guessing that it was something like 8/2 cotton in size. I got slightly more shift but have no real idea about how to account for that. I can only guess that the finer slicker silk made the difference.

Now to experiment number 3….same silk, same procedure, different kind of dye. I started with a multi-color warp in tones, of green, blue, grey and gold.

Here’s the warp stretched on the makeshift frame that I use when I wrap the warp threads with ikat tape. I have a small table with shelves that is made up of open bars. There are no solid surfaces and it turns out that it makes a very nice frame on which to hold my warp under tension while I do the wrapping.

My tools are a charcoal pencil with which I draw the pattern onto the warp threads, a paint brush with stiff bristles that I use to erase mistakes in my drawing, scissors to cut the tape and to remove incorrectly placed wrapping, a sharpener and of course the ikat tape itself.

My pattern has a kind of yin-yang thing going on in the center although the colors will not reflect the yin-yang concept. I was hoping for an illusion of slight “curviness” but I don’t think I managed to pull that off.

After a the blue dye bath, this is what I had. I looked carefully at the pink wrappings searching for dark spots which tell me that the dye leaked under the tape. I didn’t find any….not  that anything can be done at this point if the dye had in fact managed to get in.  I think my wrapping technique is getting pretty good!

Here is the warp back under tension on my backstrap loom. The scissors sit nearby ready to be used to cut off some of the wrappings. What I notice is that I need to work on getting my lines straight. You can see that the vertical line that is made up of ten separate wraps at the far right of the pattern is quite straight. The matching one on the far left certainly is not! How did I not see that? Those were the last wraps that went on and possibly I was tired and careless at that point. I have found that I need to take lots of breaks when I am doing this kind of work because it is indeed easy to get a bit careless when you are not feeling fresh any more. Oh well, nothing can be done about that at this stage.

Here is the woven motif. You can see that the warp threads shifted more than I would have liked them to. For me, calling this a success would mean being able to account for the fact that the threads shifted more in this experiment than they had in my second experiment.The only thing different about this project was the brand of dye and I hardly think that that could have had any effect. Standing back and looking at it with the eye of a bird in the sky, I  have to admit that I am very pleased with it. The ant’s eye view is less pleasing to me 🙂

I decided that there was enough fabric to be able to fold the piece in half and make a pouch. So I decided to play with the amount of unwoven warp that was left and add some figures using supplementary weft. I changed to a finer ground weft so that I could add a second supplemental weft without thickening the fabric.  I added a couple of the little paisley motifs that I had designed to use on a silk scarf some time ago. That scarf had been woven in 60/2 silk and the paisley motifs had been fine and delicate. How different the motifs look on this heavier silk! I wanted them to sort of match the shapes in the center of the ikat image. And then I designed a swirl for the small amount of space that remained.

My paisley patterns in supplementary weft on a silk scarf I wove in 60/2 silk.

I did end up folding the fabric and sewing it into a pouch. I even remembered to put in a lining before sewing the pouch. Lining always seems to come to me as an afterthought. I have yet to decide on whether I should edge it with a plain blue tubular band. That would hide the turns of pale blue supplementary weft that can be seen on the selvedges. And, I need to add a zipper.

I am heading towards using finer silk for my next ikat experiments. I have a cone of 30/2 silk that a friend gave me. It is not ready-to-dye and needs to go through a process of preparation. Thank goodness for my online weaving friends who are always willing to help when I need information and tips for such things. I have ready-to-dye 60/2 silk but I don’t feel ready to leap into that kind of fineness for ikat yet!

So, the 30/2 silk needs to be skeined and prepared.

While thinking about all that, I decided to slip in a small project…a silk ribbon on which to hang the awesome macrame seahorse that a talented young macrame artist in Australia made.

She is on Instagram as one_mile_smile_creations if you would like to check out her work. I think my little seahorse is actually her profile picture. I thought that the seahorse was a nice piece to buy from her as I was at that time visiting a part of Australia where she lives that is known as the Sapphire Coast. 

The silk ribbon has various fish and ocean motifs with seaweed, currents, ripples and bubbles. These patterns are charted in my Complementary-warp Pattern Book and several of them were contributed by my online weaving friends.

Perhaps I am just trying to put off winding those skeins of 30/2 silk and fiddling around with the preparation process…I don’t know…but I saw that still had enough of the multi-color naturally dyed silk that I have been using in these recent ikat projects to squeeze out one more project. This time I decided to create a slightly longer warp and weave it using very fine silk as the weft in the hope that the resulting fabric might have just enough drape to allow me to use it as a cowl. I won’t know until it is done and wet finished. It might stand up like a piece of cardboard!

So, here is the warp I wound with the scraps of silk that remain….

Instead of winding stripes of random widths, I wove twelve-end sections in each color. I have been wrapping sections of twelve ends in ikat tape so far and so it will be interesting to see how this warp will look with each ikat section being a solid color rather than a mix of various tones.

Here it is out of ts black dye bath. I didn’t challenge myself with curves or horizontal lines this time but I did create a pattern that is quite a bit bigger than the other three experiments. I think it will make a really nice cowl if it works out. If it doesn’t, oh well, I get another pouch! If the fabric does turn out to have enough drape, I will need to come up with a way to secure it at the back once it is around my neck. I have plenty of time to figure that out. I don’t see any dark spots under the tape on first examination. I think my wrapping was successful.

The big unwrapping ceremony is on standby while I finish another tiny tape on my backstrap loom. This time I am making a silk ribbon on which to hang the Koru pendant that I got in New Zealand. I chose a a pattern of curls to match the Koru curls that represent the unfurling leaves of the New Zealand silver fern. The pendant is one-and-a-half inches across at its widest point. The silk ribbon is tiny! 

I will leave you here with a picture from Gonit Porat in Israel. Gonit learned to do Andean Pebble Weave using the instructional and pattern e-books (PDFs) that I sell on Taproot Video.  I love being able to make connections like this with weavers on the other side of the world via my books. Gonit does amazing and inspiring work using eco dyeing and tablet weaving techniques as well as pick-up by hand. She teaches in her studio in Israel and this is the work of one of her students, Tal. This Andean Pebble Weave warp is tensioned on the frame of a rigid heddle loom. 

For me, this picture represents a little piece of heaven. Thank you, Gonit, for allowing me to show it here and for providing me with a beautiful image with which to finish my blog post. (If you are interested in buying one of my instructional ebooks but unsure about where to start, please read this page which gives you information on each book in terms of the audience, kind of loom and skill level at which it is aimed.)




Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 27, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Stepping into Curves

I have been at my loom these past two weeks but also at my laptop keyboard as I move ahead with the new Andean Pebble Weave pattern book I am preparing. The new book has grown from 127 charts to 132…Help!…I can’t seem to stop! Give it one more week and I think I will be done. I am very excited about it. It has been fun weaving the new patterns into samples to be photographed for the book. Each block chart has its own photographed sample.

Between bouts of charting and weaving samples I wove the Silver Fern leaf pattern that I showed you in progress in my last post. Maori Koru motifs represent the curly yet-to-be fully unfurled fern leaves and I wanted to draw, chart and weave a representation of my own as a joyful reminder of my recent visit to New Zealand.

My first sample of the shape was a little too flat along its bottom edge and so I made a few adjustments in an attempt to create a bit more of an impression of “curviness’ and then set about weaving a narrow band for a book mark in 60/2 silk.

This is really just a test-run of my charted pattern but it is nice that it can be turned into something useful like a book mark.

The sample will help me see if the proportions are to my liking and if the figure looks too flat or is indeed quite curvy as I have hoped it to be. It will also help me to experiment with the ideal width.

My sample started out too narrow but the figure started to settle and look nicely rounded as I allowed the band to widen. I attempted to let the band go even wider hoping for even better proportions and curves but might have overdone it at the end as I could see a little  bit of red weft exposed in the black areas.

I am pleased with the result and may end up using this motif in a larger project at some point.

In Maori culture, the Koru is said to represent renewal and hope for the future. As there have been some quite significant changes going on in my life recently, these concepts are particularly meaningful to me right now. 

Next on the loom will be a silk neck ribbon for a brilliant little macrame seahorse that I bought from a talented artisan in Australia. I think I am going to use some of the patterns in the Rivers and Oceans set that I published in my Complementary-warp Pattern Book. That set is made up of some of my patterns as well those contributed by my weaving friends Julia and Kristin….a variety fish, sea creatures and watery swirls and eddies. Those watery patterns should make a very pretty band for the seahorse.

A few of the fish and water-themed motifs from my Complementary-warp Pattern Book.

Something else that is underway right now is another ikat piece using the tiny balls of naturally-dyed silk that I was given a few years ago. I combined a lot of the colors in two ikat warps earlier this year. They were very colorful base warps that I proceeded to wrap in ikat tape and then dye jet black. The areas wrapped with tape resisted the dye and gave me a warp of multi-color figures with stepped diagonals on a solid black background which I could then weave into cloth.

My latest warp is much more subdued as I am using a collection of paler more subtle colors…mostly the green, grey and blue-ish tones with a smattering of gold. I plan to dye this one blue with some powders that my friend Mog gave me when I was visiting in Australia. It involves mixing two lots of powder to get the blue I want. Mog gave me very clear instructions. I just hope I get it right!

As far as the pattern goes, I am still using figures with stepped sides but I am making the steps a lot smaller in the hope of creating something slightly more curvy….stepping my way slowly into curves, you might say. Even if I fail on the attempt at curves, I think the pattern will be quite nice…that is, IF I tie the ikat tape tight enough to avoid leaks and IF the threads don’t shift too much as I weave and IF I get the right tone of blue when I dye….so many things to consider when doing ikat!

And, I have this idea of adding some plain weave in a pale tone of blue to the sides when the time comes to weave the piece. I might weave some motifs into that part using supplementary weft. Yes, I can feel very confident about this plan at this point as the actual weaving part of this project is still a long way off!

Here’s the warp stretched on my ”ikat frame” with some ikat ties in place.  I have already decided that the first shape on the left is not quite right and so I will most likely be cutting those ties off, adjusting my pattern and re-tying. So, I see days and days of tying plastic strips on this warp… measuring, adjusting, cutting, starting again! Call me crazy but it is actually very satisfying. It provides a nice ”relax” time away from the keyboard and the book. In the same way, the book gives me nice breaks from tying ikat. It’s all good!

I will leave you with a reminder that all my e-books (PDFs) are now available at Taproot Video. It has been impossible to change every single old link on my blog over the last nine to ten years from Patternfish to the books’ new home at Taproot Video (I am, however, still trying to!) I see via my blog stats that a few people still click on the old Patternfish links now and then. I do hope that you somehow find your way to the Taproot Video website eventually.

If you are curious and/or excited about my up-coming new book of Andean Pebble Weave patterns but have not yet learned how to do complementary-warp pick-up or Andean Pebble Weave, my e-books(PDFs) on Complementary-warp Pick-up and Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms will show you how. The Complementary-warp Pick-up book teaches you a method that can be used on any kind of loom. The only experience you need is the ability to warp your loom and weave a plain-weave warp-faced band. The method enables you to weave Andean Pebble Weave and any other kind of complementary-warp structure.

The Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms book teaches methods that are particularly suitable for those who use a standard inkle loom. Those who are already weaving plain-weave bands on their loom will have all the skills necessary to continue with this book. Support in the form of video clips is also provided.

I hope to show you a lovely ikat warp on the loom and ready weave the next time I see you here. And maybe I will announce the release of the new pattern book and show you my seahorse pendant on its silk band. Thank you all for your continued support. Now it’s back to work!








Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 13, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – In the Pursuit of Curls

I am once again in the pursuit of curls, curves, circles and spirals as I attempt to draw a chart for a figure inspired by Maori Koru. The Koru is a spiral shape that represents the unfurling of a frond of New Zealand’s silver fern.

Image from the website of

The challenge is to figure out how to make the lines that I can naturally create in my weaving somehow all work together to give the impression of a curve. In my tool box of natural lines are wavy verticals, smooth horizontals, smooth diagonals and stepped diagonals at various angles. In my experience, the more ends I have to work with, the easier it is to create something curve-like. However, it’s amazing how when weaving a band with only nine ends per shed, a figure can appear to be curved. Below you can see an Andean figure that so many people have told me reminds them of Maori Koru, including my weaving friends in New Zealand itself.

I have read a few different descriptions of what the Koru means in Maori culture. One description names it as a symbol of creation. Another says that it represents new life, growth and peace. The spiral shapes are the kinds of things I had in mind when I first started studying how to create curves in ikat and I collected images of Maori kowhaiwhai scroll patterns so that I could attempt to create something similar in ikat. That was all very well until I sat in front of a fresh white warp with ikat tape in hand and realized how difficult it was going to be! I first needed to see if I could create just one simple curve before I could even think about creating something as complex as a kowhaiwhai pattern.

Image from the website of

I decided that I needed to step back a bit and start out slowly with large simple curves and then perhaps think about trying a more intricate kowhaiwhai pattern after I had had several years of experience with much simpler shapes! So, I just went with circles and I was pretty pleased with those….

…except that I forgot to consider take-up and my nice circles ended up flattened once they were woven into cloth. Another part of this particular experiment was to create pick-up patterns within my ikat circles. It is a quirky piece of work which has made a nice slip cover for my laptop.

I remember when I was living in Chile and just starting out experimenting with weaving on a trial-and-error basis somewhere around 1994. I had knocked together a simple wooden frame with nails at two ends to hold warp threads. I had no idea how the warp threads should be spaced.  All I knew is that the weft yarn had to go over one and under one. Because of the way I had spaced the warp threads, I was ending up with weft-faced cloth and that was fine. Of course at that time, I didn’t even know that there was a choice.

After weaving a couple of small pieces that had the shape of hour glasses, (I finally figured out how to lay in the weft correctly to stop that kind of draw-in) I found that by adding and changing colors I could create little patterns on one face of the cloth with a whole mess of ends hanging out on the back.

From there, what I really wanted to do was to create images. However, I had little at my disposal for ideas in terms of books or magazines. This CD cover by the band Split Enz provided inspiration instead and I remember weaving a very simple version of one of these patterns into a piece using acrylic yarn that became a cover for a very small pillow. Sadly the piece never got photographed and is one of many things that had to be left behind when I moved to Bolivia. 

It’s funny that after all these years I have come around full circle to once again have a strong desire to weave these kinds of patterns.

So, which structure should I use to try to create my Koru-like pattern? I quite like using warp-faced double weave for this kind of thing. I can create shapes that are very angular, as in the pattern below left, as well as ones that appear quite curvy, below right. The finished piece, if successful, will be called a book mark but it really will be just a sample for perhaps something bigger later. Double weave in fine silk will give me a piece that is not too thick for a book mark. 

Double weave is also the structure I used for my Shipibo-inspired piece in which I wove fine curvy lines within a frame of bold angular lines…

Using supplementary weft for patterns on a base of warp-faced plain weave has also enabled me to create the impression of curves. I designed some paisley figures for both warp-faced double weave and plain weave with supplementary weft. The process started with a paper paisley cut-out which I traced onto my charting paper….

It was very sweet in warp-faced double weave but, as I was wanting weave the patterns into a scarf, I decided that double weave would be too heavy. I went with using supplementary-weft to make the patterns on a warp-faced plain-weave base….

When I look back at these patterns, I start to think that maybe a Koru-like pattern won’t be so hard to design after all. I have actually already made a preliminary sketch on my charting paper and now just need to iron out all the kinks. The double weave warp with the paisley pattern I showed above still exists. I can use that same warp to test my first attempt at charting the Koru. I use four sets of heddles when I do warp-faced double weave with fine thread like 60/2 silk and it will be nice to be able to weave this sample with a warp that has been already set up. Now I just have to dig around and find it!

I had a de-clutter frenzy when I got back from my latest trip away and I am hoping that I didn’t toss it out. I came home feeling stifled by stuff. Once I get into one of my de-cluttering moods, I can get pretty carried away!

If the book mark pattern works, I’ll make a silk ribbon with curvy design on which to hang my Koru pendant. I also have a lovely seahorse pendant that was made by a talented macrame artisan that I met when in Australia which needs a patterned silk ribbon…something wave-like to represent the ocean…more curves! Hopefully, I’ll have some progress to show you soon.

In the meantime, I am putting the finishing touches on a book of one hundred and twenty-seven Andean Pebble Weave patterns.

Another one??

Well, I have to admit that this is not exactly a new book. Back in 2012 I published More Adventures with warp-faced Pick-up Patterns, a book of patterns inspired by ethnic textiles from around the world. In that book I introduce weavers to the “spotted chart” for all the patterns in the first half of the book. In all my other books, my patterns are charted on the more conventional style of chart which is made up of stacked rectangular blocks.

My idea for using the spotted charts in 2012 was based on opening up and promoting the possibility of readers designing their own motifs. The spotted charts make designing so easy. And, many of the readers did just that! I was happy to then be able to make roughly 25% of the Complementary-warp Pattern Book that I published in early 2018 about original patterns contributed by devoted fans of the spotted chart.

Above: Original patterns contributed by Maja Bürger (spindle), Laura McCarty (dog chasing squirrel) and Carlos Vargas (bee) to the Complementary-warp Pattern Book published in 2018.

However, I know that many weavers have not had the time to study that spotted charting system and have by-passed all the awesome Andean Pebble Weave patterns (Celtic knot-work patterns, Guaraní stars, motifs inspired by Central Asian textiles, to name just a few!) in the front half of my More Adventures book in favor of the other kinds of patterns charted on block-style charts in the second half of the book. 

So, I have now had all those spotted charts transformed into block-style charts. There are 127 of them and that is what I am about to publish.

Having said all that, my ”new” book will be aimed at two audiences. It can act as a supplement for those who own my previously published More Adventures book and who have not had the time or inclination to get into the spotted charts, or it can be a completely new book of patterns for those of you who have woven using my Complementary-warp Pick-up or  my Andean Pebble Weave or Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms books.

See you with more news about the ”new” book soon!












Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 26, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Flying Visits

Flying visits…I’ve been zipping here and there in the southern hemisphere starting with a three-stop visit in Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud, followed by stops on both the east and west coasts of that other great southern land, Australia.

It all started with a flying visit to Santiago, Chile where I was happy to run into Mapuche textiles in a store in the airport during my three-hour wait for the flight to New Zealand. Being in the airport and hearing the Chilean accents was enough to have me feeling a tug on the old heart strings. I had lived in the far south of Chile in the Chilean Patagonia for five years before I moved to Bolivia in 1998.

I loved seeing this heavy wool Mapuche poncho in one of the stores with its very precise ikat pattern. It is these incredibly precise patterns that are created by the Mapuche weavers with little or no shift in the warp threads that inspired my own recent ikat experiments in silk.


The pieces on display in the store included pillow covers with patterning in complementary-warp pick-up as well as belts in double weave. The balls of hand-spun wool were tempting but the yarn was far too heavy for the kind of work that I like to do and the climate in which I live.

I met lots of backstrap weavers in New Zealand. This is a group of friends in Auckland forming a huddle.

The weavers settled very quickly into the rhythm and there were even occasions when they could pause for a smile between sessions of silent concentration.

A little to the south, in beautiful Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty I wove with even more budding backstrap weavers and was taken by Colleen and Lynne to visit the famous Mount and other picturesque places along the shore.

On a drive out to visit the folk at Majacraft, one of New Zealand’s makers of spinning wheels and fibre tools, I was taken with the sight of a Maori pouwhenua – a carved land post that marks Maori territorial boundaries or places of significance. Between the fields of kiwifruit surrounded by thick high hedges protecting them from the wind, an open untouched green field suddenly appeared. It seemed strangely out of place, open to the elements and vulnerable next to all the other fields with their thick protective walls of hedges. This field was, however, guarded in one corner by a stately but raw and rather weather-beaten wooden pouwhenua. I was told that this one most likely stands to watch over the site of a battle.

A series of seven beautiful pouwhenua stand on the shore near the Mount. They represent Te Kahui Matariki (the Pleiades cluster of stars, or the Seven Sisters) and are much photographed and visited. But I have to say that I much preferred the weather-beaten but powerful single powhenua standing alone in the corner of that wind-swept field in the country.

I got a scarf with Koru motif in the super-soft possum-merino blend for which New Zealand has become known as well as a Maori Koru pendant which will soon swing from a silk neck ribbon that I plan to weave. The Koru is a Maori spiral-shaped motif that is based on the appearance of an unfurling frond of the silver fern.

Air New Zealand aircraft sport an image of the silver fern and  Koru motif…

I flew over snowy peaks (it’s winter at this end of the world) on the way down from Tauranga to Wellington, the last stop on this visit to New Zealand…

Wellington is a gorgeous city. I have been to New Zealand three times before, the last time being thirty years ago. On all three visits we simply drove through Wellington to take the ferry over to the south island. I was so happy to be able to stop and stay this time and enjoy, thanks to my friends Fiona and Sandra, the views across the Cook Strait (see below) and from the top of Mount Victoria, a stay in one of the many homes that cling to the steep Wellington hill sides and a visit to the Te Papa museum with objects from not only Maori but many other Pacific island cultures.

Onward to Australia and the far south coast of NSW where my old backstrap weaving friends gathered once again for a few days of weaving fun. Driving down the final descent to the fishing club where we always gather to weave, a kangaroo nonchalantly hopped across the road. Yes, I am Australian, but I can still get excited about kangaroos.

Once again we enjoyed the pretty view of the ocean with its changing moods right from the door of our weaving venue. We usually step outside in the winter sun to wind warps on the table outside. This time I found it occupied by a group of kookaburras all fluffed up with the cold. Yes, I get excited by kookaburras too! The mural of Spirit Dancers painted on the side of a local water tank is one of several in the area.

At home with my friend, Mog, I found her weaving these beautiful golf towels with lettering and golf ball motif that she designed herself. I don’t think I have heard of anyone weaving golf towels before. It might become a ”thing”.

Then it was off to Western Australia where I met with weavers in Perth city, the Perth hills, and then later up north in Geraldton. I got to spend an evening with weaver Wendy Garrity. If you have been a long-time follower of my blog you will know that Wendy and I first met online via her blog on Bhutanese weaving techniques. We then met up in our travels in Bolivia and Santa Fe in the USA and have maintained a correspondence over the years since then. It was nice to see her this time in her home city. That day just happened to be my birthday and Wendy made sure it was celebrated with dinner at a Perth beach with its beautiful fine white sands to watch an Indian Ocean sunset, a tour around the city and gelato complete with birthday candle. Thank you, Wendy!

Brenda, provided me with crumpets for breakfast and other Australian treats that I often miss when in Bolivia. This picture is for all the Americans to whom I have ever tried in vain to describe a crumpet!

Brenda’s husband, Geoff, made me a bunch of beautiful swords in Western Australian jarrah, also known as, Swan River mahogany. The card that accompanied the gift shows the numbat, a termite-eating marsupial that is native to Western Australia.

In the Perth hills I stayed with Maggie and husband Peter. It was lovely  to get outside and stretch with a stroll around in the bush in the low evening sun spotting tiny native orchids. Peter just happens to be an expert in them.

In Geraldton, I visited Lynne and Max who offered me a bedroom right on the Indian Ocean. I was treated to a glorious sunset almost every evening. That was the view from my bedroom.

And weren’t we spoiled for lunch?! Geraldton, apart from lying in the wheat belt of Western Australia, is also the center of the rock lobster industry. Lynne’s husband Max provided a lunch of luscious lobster from his own catch.

Now I have time to spend with my brother and sister-in-law in their new home on the mid north coast of NSW. They have been taking me around the local beaches and lookouts…

…and into the bush.

Protests in the main square of Santa Cruz city. (Picture from The Bohemian Diaries).

See you next time back at home in Bolivia. My home province of Santa Cruz has been in the news lately in connection with the fires in the Brazilian and eastern Bolivian jungles. September is typically the month when farmers burn-off in preparation for the new planting season. It’s usually a smoky and unpleasant time of year. Smoke descends in the cooler evening temperatures and still air and is thick and fog-like in the streets at night. Apparently, this year, many of the fires are burning out of control and destroying vast areas of jungle. I’ll reserve further comment until I get home and see for myself what is happening.






Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 22, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – The In-box

I thought I had best clear out the In-box of all the images of wonderful woven projects from  friends and acquaintances that I have been accumulating to show here on my blog. Some of them are emailed to me, some of them I photographed myself when I visited friends and others have come to me as I prowl about in the online groups.

My friend Diane recently went on a long campervan trip to Alaska and entertained herself during those long hours of daylight in the northern evenings by weaving a new band for her fisherman husband’s hat…

She combined various fish and geometric patterns from my Complementary-warp Pattern Book and used a backstrap loom.

Victoria Kusch Erker was also attracted to the cute fish motifs and you can see one that she is weaving into band on her inkle loom. There are four of these cuties in my pattern book. I adapted them to pebble weave from a band of tablet-woven fish.

Victoria then went on to weave a band with the cheeky viscachas that also appear in my pattern book. It’s hard to believe that this pattern came from a fragment of pre-Columbian cloth. It looks so contemporary.The owner of the fragment shared pictures with me so that I could study and chart the pattern. It’s adorable. The band includes a cat figure that is also seen on pre-Columbian pieces as well as some geometric patterns which are all charted in my book.

Kathy King gathered motifs from Bedouin textiles to create this beautiful band. The Bedouin weavers pick patterns for only one face of their cloth which leaves very long warp floats on the back. However, one simple additional step allows the weaver to avoid those floats and create two bonded layers of cloth. This is what we do when we weave warp-faced double weave. I have a tutorial on this structure here on this blog.

Kathy also quickly moved on to creating patterns of her own. Her backstrap loom goes with her when she travels to escape low winter temperatures.

Jane Milner showed me what she has been doing in Andean Pebble Weave…

Motifs that are woven in certain structures in tablet-weaving can be very easily adapted to Andean Pebble Weave and this is what Jane has done. I adapted, with permission, some tablet-woven motifs by Louise Ström for publication in my second book and I believe that Jane used some of Louise’s patterns as well.

Terry and Jennifer made jewelry from the eye-pattern tubular band aka ñawi awapa:

I teach this in one of my latest books, The Eye-pattern Tubular Band and Other Decorative Finishing Techniques in which I show how the band can be woven without any loom at all (that is, with the warp stretched between your waist and a fixed object), or if you prefer, on an inkle loom. The ebook includes the support of video clips.

Lynn wove the tubular band while sewing it to the edge of a pouch. This is actually the traditional use of these kinds of bands…as an edging. She used a piece of fabric which was woven by my Bolivian weaving teachers in the co-op that they run in Cochabamba. My friend Dorinda, who lived with and supported the weavers in their establishment of the co-op over many years, has lengths of these beautiful pieces of cloth for sale if you are interested. You can contact me via this blog or you can contact Dorinda via the PAZA Bolivia blog if you would like to buy them and help support the weavers. The yarn is hand spun and dyed with natural substances.

Lynn has a very interesting life style…she caretakes lighthouses around the world! and always takes some weaving and sewing projects along with her when she is doing a stint of lighthouse watching.

Here’s a picture of my new weaving friend Jan who was bitten by the backstrap bug during my visit. She has a nice comfy set-up in her living room…

On the foot-rest you can see one of the lined zippered pouches that the ladies in the Bolivian weaving co-op also make to sell. The natural dye colors are so beautiful!

Hand spun wool yarn, natural dye substances and weavers skilled in producing beautiful cloth on simple looms.

Jennifer, who wove the tubular band necklace with the star pendant I showed above, has also been making gorgeous wrist cuffs. using patterns from my Complementary-warp Pick-up e-book. This book teaches the technique and includes 42 pattern charts.

Jennifer is using the wooden ends from Purl and Loop which come with metal clasps ready to ”install”. I have bought a few sets of these for myself but have yet to use them.

And, here’s a picture of the efforts of several of my friends who are weaving patterns with supplementary weft…

I love how this technique allows color changes when ever you feel like it. It can be as colorful or as subdued as you like.  The set-up is very simple as it only requires two basic sheds. You are weaving patterns into a base of plain weave. This means that this technique can be easily woven using an inkle loom.

This technique is the topic of one of the three books that I currently have underway. Until then, if you are curious, I wrote a very basic tutorial on it many years ago.

Ann wove my leaf pattern at left in beautiful autumn tones.

Since I last visited Mary and wove double weave with her, I invented a little song to remember the moves. It can be quite an ear worm but Mary believes that it really helps and she really took off with her double weave when I saw her recently.

She put together a cool stand for her inkle loom which can be dismantled and easily carried around.

I got to see Deanna’s double weave Iching hexagrams in person on my last visit. They are so striking! Deanna uses a backstrap loom for her double weave.

Patricia Stern Mulcahy  wove some bands for key fobs. The hardware she used for these allows you to clamp them directly onto raw edges. There is no need to bother with turning a hem. The bands are folded with both raw edges clamped. There are those adorable viscachas again. She wove some of the individual geometric patterns from my book as continuous ones and I really like the effect.

Nancy uses her inkle loom for her pebble weave and tells me that she has become accustomed to the spotted charts that I use in my second book. They do require time and little patience to get used to but I can tell you that they are a great aid to moving on to designing your own patterns. About a quarter of the patterns in my Complementary-warp Pattern book were created by my students or readers who use the spotted charts to sketch out their ideas. These knot-work patterns, woven by Nancy, come from the second book…More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns.

Martina in Germany wove some pebble weave paw prints and river-themed patterns into key fobs too. The heart-shaped hardware is unique. I had never seen them before.

Theresa Cariello uses the  popular Mini Wave loom for her complementary-warp work. I love the way she used the horizontal bars on the border of her pick-up pattern…such a striking effect! Her band is so crisp.

And, to finish, I’ll show you what became of my latest ikat project. The idea was to see how the finer, slicker silk thread behaved. I abandoned all my fancy ideas about adding panels to the sides and weaving supplementary-weft patterns in them. That will come later. I decided to concentrate on doing everything in exactly the same way so that I could see the effect of using the finer thread. It did shift more in this project than in the first one.

Here it is out of the dye bath and almost dry. And now, on the loom with a pile of cut and unwrapped ikat tape nearby. I unwrap gradually as I weave.

There is just enough shift in the warp threads to make it immediately recognizable as ikat but not so much that the pattern is spoiled. I know that many people like the blurring. I don’t want too much of it. Below you can see it off the loom before I wet and then pressed it. I really like the way the colors darkened when it was wet.

Here it is pressed and finished with a bit of sheen that would be expected from silk.

I don’t have any real plans for this. It is part of the experiments as I work my way to finer and finer silk and longer and wider pieces. I have one more multi-color base-warp experiment that I would like to do with all the shades of blues and green that I have left from my little skeins of naturally dyed silk yarn but that will have to wait until I return.






Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 12, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Tying and Stitching

I have been enjoying some stretches of quiet time in which I have been sewing and tying tape onto a new ikat warp.

The sewing part of my reward time was about converting the long strip of cloth that I recently wove on the Karen backstrap loom into a table square. I cut the strip into five pieces so that they could be joined side-by-side into an almost-square piece of cloth, roughly 24″ x 24″. I think that it is something I can use on tables to display my workshop samples.

I wanted to lay the strips side by side and join them edge to edge using one of the decorative stitches that Bolivian weavers use when they join their woven panels. There are many varieties of these joining stitches and I chose one of the simplest one. The needle and thread follow a basic figure-eight path. The needle emerges from bottom to top a certain distance away from the edge of panel A. Then it dives down in the gap between the two edges of the panels and emerges from bottom to top the same distance away from the edge of panel B. Then it once again dives down in the gap between the edges of the two panels and starts again from the beginning.

I used this joining stitch a couple of times before when I connected wool panels to make lap blankets. Here’s one of the two panels of the purple blanket on the loom…

And, here it is connected to its partner with the decorative stitching…

I took care of raw edges by eventually covering the perimeter of the blanket with the woven band you can see below…

The red and brown blanket got the same treatment. Above you can see the two panels sitting side by side before I sewed them together.I used a contrast color for the join which made the stitching practical as well as decorative. This blanket also had its perimeter covered and raw edges protected with a woven band.

I guess the hardest part is making sure that the needle always pierces the cloth the same distance away from the edge. Cotton seems to demand a higher level of accuracy and I wasn’t confident enough to go with a contrast color for the stitching.  I matched the color of the sewing thread to the cloth and the little inaccuracies give my stitching a fairly ”rustic” look.

Stitching in progress. There were four joins to cover.

A close-up of the joins.

I covered the two raw edges with cross-knit-loop stitches and left the two selvedges uncovered….

I kept the cross-knit-loop stitches as close together as possible. This gave good coverage and meant that I could just turn the raw edge over once and feel confident that the stitching would cover and protect it.

My other non-weaving activity was time  spent tying a new pattern into my next ikat project. It’s another short warp as I am still at the stage where all I am hoping to do is learn and improve my skills before I launch into a ”real” project.

The base colors show against black in the last silk ikat project.

I again used the naturally dyed silk sample skeins that I had been given.

This warp is made of a different kind of silk to that which I used in my last ikat project. It is different in that it is finer, more slick and has a higher twist. I guess it more closely resembles the silk that I eventually hope to use in the real project, whatever that might be.

A major difference is that this kind of silk absorbed the natural dyes in a very different way too. The colors in my last warp were more muted and “sad” I suppose you could say. These colors are brighter and clearer….almost too bright for my liking and I might over dye the project later to sadden the colors if the contrast against the black dye is too high.

It’s the differences in this thread that are of interest to me. Will the fact that it is finer and slicker make it more difficult for me to achieve good firm ties when I apply the ikat tape? Will the black dye bleed under the ikat ties? Will the threads shift more freely out of alignment when I weave because they are more slick than those I have tried in other experiments?


To make it all a bit different to the last ikat experiment, I plan to add two panels to either side of this piece when the time comes to weave it. I hope to be able to weave motifs with supplementary weft in those two panels that resemble the ones I have created with the ikat tape.

When I posted pictures of my last experiment in online forums, questions arose about the tape I am using. It was given to me years ago by my weaving friend Betty. You can see a roll of it at left.

I don’t know where she got it from but the only place that I have seen selling anything that seems to be specifically designed for ikat is Maiwa in Canada.

I used cassette tape with some success before I was given the ikat tape. It worked very well when I was using cold water dyes on cotton. It failed in hot water, though. It held knots well but you had to be careful when pulling knots tight as it could snap. The ikat tape has never snapped.

Others in the forums have mentioned using flagging tape and cut strips of plastic grocery store bags when they have taken ikat workshops. One of the features I like a lot about the ikat tape is that it can be split and torn vertically into strips as fine as you like. I am not sure if that is a good thing if you are trying to use the entire width of the tape to wrap a very large area. I think it in that case that it may have a tendency to split when you don’t want it to.

This is probably one of the last ikat experiments that I did using cassette tape….

I know that you probably can’t make out anything here but this is the pattern that I am currently tying. I  mark the pattern with a charcoal pencil and I use a paint brush with stiff bristles to “erase” mistakes in my marking.

I am finding straight horizontal lines the hardest thing. I tie each bundle separately and just hope that the plastic wraps line up well enough to give a smooth horizontal. I have been tempted to put several bundles together and bind them all at once but I know that if I were to grab my bangs in a bunch and cut straight across, I wouldn’t end up with a straight line.

The other thing I did in my reward time was to cover the journal with the last ikat piece and add it to the collection of little books with hand woven covers.

I was pleased that the three motifs in the middle ended up nicely seated on the spine of the book.

I have actually finished all the tying part of the latest ikat project. Now I just need to carefully inspect it and make sure that I didn’t forget any parts. You can see in an old experiment in the picture below that the top left motif is missing one wrap on its extreme left. It went into the dye bath like that. So, I will be looking very closely over my current pattern to make sure it is complete!

It will go into the dye bath tomorrow. Fingers crossed that all goes well!







Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 27, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Something from Scraps

I was motivated by the announcement that the summer 2019 weave-along (WAL) in one of the weaving groups on Ravelry would be “Weaving with Hand-dyed or Painted Yarns”. The WAL for the last couple of summers has been about band weaving and although I happily participated in those, this newest topic is much more interesting and challenging for me.

I decided that it was a good time to try ikat using silk for warp and started scratching around in my silk stash which includes cones and skeins of 30/2, 60/2 and 140/2 thread. I figured I would be wise to start with the heaviest 30/2 thread even though that still seemed very intimidating. I have mostly used cotton for my ikat experiments in the past, the finest being this one with 20/2s.

I was able to turn this experiment into something useful…a nice draw-string bag for my Kindle…

I had been using cold water dyes for these cotton experiments. Now was the time to take out the lovely Landscape and Jacquard brand dyes that I had bought a few years ago in the hope of dyeing wool and silk for some of my projects. I had all I needed: the ikat tape, the right dyes and a selection of silk from which to choose, but I still hesitated.

Ikat projects are such a big undertaking. There’s all the time spent designing and then tying a pattern, not to mention all the measuring and care to make sure that the pattern gets tied on straight. My eyes always seem to to tell me something completely different to what the ruler is indicating. Then you can never really be sure if you have wrapped the yarn well or tightly enough. There’s always a chance the dye will seep into the wrapped yarn and spoil the motif. And, finally, even if the initial tying and dyeing stages have been successful, you can never know just how much the threads will shift on the loom to possibly blur the pattern out of recognition.

The fineness of my silk in my stash was intimidating. So, I was quite relieved to discover in my scratching around that I still had scraps of naturally dyed silk left over from other projects. This silk is much heavier and seemed like it would be much more manageable for my very first ikat experiments with silk. I had been offered all these tiny dyed skeins of silk by a guild when the guild member who had created them had passed away. No one else had seen a use for them, but I knew that I could use them for small projects on my backstrap loom. This was what I was able to bring back home with me to Bolivia….

You may remember that some time ago I used them to weave four pieces which became covers for journals…

These are the remaining scraps I found in my closet…

Ikat Cat by Budi Satria Kwan

There are two quite different kinds of silk rolled up in these tiny balls. I opted for the heavier of the two for my ikat project and decided to wind a crazy multi-colored warp. I wanted to weave a piece that would cover a journal that I had left over from the other project. The warp only needed to be nineteen inches long to give me enough fabric for the cover as well as a comfortable amount of working space on my backstrap loom.

I was inspired by a picture of some fabric I had seen on the internet many years ago of the silhouette of a multi-color cat sitting on a dark background. I had saved it and kept it in the back of my mind. I wasn’t feeling brave enough to go for such an ambitious shape right now and decided to stick with some basic straight lines for this experiment. I had done some experiments with creating curved shapes in ikat some years ago too. They were quite successful but would have been even better if I had remembered to account for take-up when I tied the shapes. My circles had come out a little flattened!

I really liked the simple idea of having the multi-colored shape appearing on the black background.

Here’s the warp I created.

Next, I extended the warp on a frame so that I could start tying in the design. A friend lent me a small table that made a perfect frame for this.

Those light pieces of thread you can see in the picture are enclosing the sections of threads that will be tied. Most bundles were made up of twelve ends with a few evenly distributed ones that held fourteen ends so that I could cover the total of 270 ends across the width of the warp.

I wrapped the thread in ikat tape in several short sessions over three days. The frequent breaks are necessary as I tend to get sloppy with my measurements when I get tired.

Here you can see the warp off the frame and ready to be soaked before going into the dye pot.

Here it is after being rinsed and left to dry overnight…

And now on the backstrap loom, heddles in place, first section unwrapped and with weaving underway…

Rather than remove all the ikat wraps at once, I like to slowly unwrap as the weaving progresses.  I feel that leaving some of the wraps in place helps reduce the amount of shift in the threads which gives a crisper design. I know that the shifting and blurring can be attractive but I have found that it is less so when the motifs have blunt horizontal edges as mine do. Shifting in motifs like these can sometimes create spots and/or lines of color that are totally disconnected from the main motif. The practice of not removing all the ties at once gives me a relatively small space in which to weave and operate the loom. I use fine swords and wrap my weft around a stick rather than the regular shaped shuttle that I prefer. I can slide the stick with the weft into a very small shed. I keep weaving until I absolutely can’t continue due to the lack of space and then I remove the next ikat ties to free up some space to continue.

Almost there…

I am hoping that I have planned this well enough so that the black squares in the middle of the center row of three motifs sit right in the middle of the spine of the journal.


I am very pleased (and relieved!).

Ikat projects are always a big unknown for me. They can end up being a mess or a success. I’ll call this one a success.

It does seems a bit weird over-dyeing naturally dyed silk with chemical dye, but there really wasn’t a whole lot more I could do with the scraps of silk that were left in my closet except perhaps make some wrist cuffs.  I already made the cuff you can see at left when I was sampling for the first set of book covers.

I am glad that this project still shows off the beauty of the natural dye colors.

There is probably enough of the other kind of silk that I was given to do some further ikat experiments. It is finer and slicker. Maybe I will make an ikat cuff or two. The more experience the better if I am ever to move on to my finer 30/2s and 60/2s silk thread!

I could have produced a very similar effect in warp-faced double weave without all the mess and risk. I was thinking about that. Double weave would have given me a thicker fabric for a start, which I didn’t want. Plus the two layers of cloth would not have connected in the areas of solid black. That can sometimes create a sort of ballooning effect between the areas where the layers are in fact connected. In any case, the more ikat I do the more confident I will feel about eventually reaching my goal of creating complex curved shapes…the kinds I wouldn’t be able to achieve in double weave or the other patterning structures that I use.

Now all that remains to be done is to look for some pretty paper to use on the inside of the front and back covers of the journal.

Between bouts of ikat wrapping, I started sewing together strips of the green cloth from my Karen backstrap loom project to make a table square that will be approximately twenty-five inches square. It will be another piece on which I can display my samples at my workshops. I’ll show you my progress on that in the next post.

And, this will be my last chance to remind you to make sure you have downloaded all your purchases from Patternfish. You have until the end of the month to do so.







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