Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 16, 2009

Backstrap Weaving: A Double Weave Project

I love double weave! I particularly like the clean solid designs this technique produces on a nice smooth background. The same design appears on the back of the textile with its colors reversed. There are, in fact, two layers being woven together.

The problem with double weave for beginners practicing with heavy yarns, is that it produces a thick textile. Now this is just what you want if you would like to make a belt or perhaps a strap for a bag or a  musical instrument.

A double woven strap for a Bolivian charango

But what about a small project for a beginner who would like to learn this technique? I always recommend that beginners start with heavier yarns and gradually work their way down to the finer ones as they gain more experience. So I have been trying to think of a useful small project made in a medium to heavy weight yarn (around 12 wpi) that a beginner could make once they have practiced the fundmentals of the technique on a sample band.

And this is what I came up with……………..MUG RUGS!!

South American and North African themed mug rugs

Woven in a 12wpi mercerized cotton, these are thick and firm-they really feel like mini rugs- and look great on the table. I guarantee that these will protect your good polished table from the hottest of mugs!

The black ones have adaptations of South American motifs from several countries. I got ideas for the designs on the  brown ones from a book on North African carpets that I have. I really had fun making these. With the 12 wpi yarn they weave up really fast. I have never been a fan of rolling up long warps as I find I get much better tension control on shorter ones so I wove  three mug rugs on a one-yard warp. I find warping for the backstrap loom a pleasure as there is no cutting or threading involved so making multiple warps for these two sets of mug rugs really wasn’t a problem for me.

Here they are as they come off the loom………..

I sewed over the last wefts and between the fringes with an ”invisible” nylon thread to finish these off while they were still under tension on the loom.

So, if you would like to learn how to make these you can find my tutorial for ONE-WEFT DOUBLE WEAVE in the Backstrap weaving Group at Weavolution. Weavolution is a free gathering place for handweavers. You will need to join Weavolution first and  then join the Backstrap Group so you can access the tutorial.

South American motif mug rugs on the loom

Here is a sample pattern chart for these mug rugs using forty-one warp pairs.

A South American motif pattern chart

Once you feel comfortable with this technique, you can move on to using finer yarns- on the right, 12 wpi; lower center, 35wpi; and upper center, plied sewing thread.

Double weave in various yarn weights


I learned this technique in Potosi in Bolivia in 1996. I weave it now on my backstrap loom and, in terms of comfort, this is like flying First Class compared to the way I was taught this weave on a staked-out ground loom!

Weaving on the staked-out ground loom in Potosi

Julia and her sister Hilda allowed me to come to their home  to learn to weave crouched over the loom in their yard for six hours a day during three weeks. You can see from the bandaids that the bone tool that is used to beat the weft into place was taking a toll on my soft gringa hands! That was about ten years ago. I doubt I could maintain that position  for long now.  Here I am making a four-selvedge piece in the lively colors favored by my teachers which I later turned into a shoulder bag. The piece has bands of patterned double weave on plain weave.

This technique is put to many different uses in various regions here  in Bolivia. It is used to make the belts which form part of the typical woman’s outfit in the highland province of Potosi. Woven with several brightly colored stripes and covered with little figures, these belts are very sturdy and are woven just long enough to encircle the waist once. The weavers put a lot of effort into beating the weft in firmly and the quality of a finished piece and the skill of the weaver is judged by the belt’s stiffness.  I was surprised to see when I went to Ecuador that these belts are now much sought after and prized by women in Otavalo, who are themselves skilled weavers, and are being used by many together with their typical Otavalan costume.

Belts made in one-weft double weave technique in Potosi

I’ll leave you here as it is time for morning tea-there it is below! Remember, if you have any questions or if you just liked this post, I would be delighted to hear from you. Please leave a comment 🙂 Laverne.


  1. Laverne,

    As usual, they are absolutely beautiful. I’m amazed at your talent and just what you can weave on a BS.

    Your amazing,

    • Thank you Alaa,
      I hope your loom arrives soon or you can find a well priced one to buy there. I imagine you must be frustrated not being able to weave. Well you know you can always try backstrap 🙂

      • Well, that may soon be a reality. I spoke to a lady here who I may partner with to teach weaving to some ladies. So, if I do, I’ll of course, stat with your beautiful bread cloths. Of course, we’ll be making back strap looms, since they are the most cost effective-and using your instructions. 🙂

        I’m also going to try and volunteer at a VTC, just to get my hands on a loom!!! I know, not very altruistic, but I’m DESPERATE!!! 🙂


  2. These are great! I hope to be ready to try something like this some time in 2010.

  3. do you mean you have weaved with simple sewing threads ??? but how many would you have to warp then ? 1000 for 10 cm ??

    I was wondering what king of music your gaucho play… and how stupid of me (Sherlock Holmes will never accept my help !) I didn’t guess it could be “indian/andean music” !… though there was a picture of panpipes on your flickr !!!… and guess what ? that was the only music I would listen to when I was a teenager ! and now, that’s not the only one, but I still love it so much !

    I think the idea of mug rug is excellent, and I think that many of my future gifts will be mug rugs !

    1 question among many future ones : how can we have more than 2 colours on the same warp column ?

    • Hi Michelle,
      Great that you want to try mug rugs. I know that you are already weaving this technique and making beautiful bands.
      My gaucho plays Andean music on the charango but his heart is not really in it. He loves Argentinean rock of the early 70’s. I would love for him to improve on the charango so he can play while my students and I weave! although the old Argentinean music is beautiful too.
      You can have more than 2 colors in double weave. I know how to use 3 but as for ”how”-there is no short answer for here!;-)

  4. lol, I meant “kind” of music !

  5. Oh wow – absolutely wonderful mug rugs. I really can’t wait for the holidays to be over.

    • Great Carolyn. Actually as I was reading your post, I was thinking that some of the designs on these avatars that WordPress uses would make cool mug rug designs.

  6. Beautiful. Is this a bit like doing pick-up on an Inkle loom? I’ll definitely have to give this a try when time allows.

    • Hi Connie,
      Aunt Janet has tried both so she could probably answer that better than me. The inkle pick up I have seen has used a supplementary warp whereas this is complementary but if you have done pick up on inkle bands I am sure you will find it very easy to transfer to this.

  7. Laverne, these are the prettiest mug rugs I’ve ever seen! I’m not usually a fan of mug rugs, but I really, really like yours 🙂

    • Thanks Jen,
      I would like to do a set with traditional Mexican designs too so perhaps I will call on you for some ideas from Tijuana!

  8. Laverne,

    Just jumped over here from the Online guild. These are fabulous!! I’ll be a regular on your site! You are an inspiration!


    • Hi Cyndy,
      Welcome and thanks so much for visiting.

  9. Those are really cute. Unfortunately I’m still light-years away from this (read: no woven Xmas gifts this year).

    I’ll just have to save this idea for later ;o)

    By the way, my blog is at

    • Well I can see from your blog, Filomena that you are busy with other fiber creations and that you have a beautiful new model for your knits! Thanks for the link. Hope to see a post about your backstrap loom soon 🙂

  10. Beautiful! I self-taught the basics of weaving to myself years ago and haven’t done it for over a year. I really enjoyed seeing your work and the fine patterns you have learned to create.

    • Thank you for visiting. I admire the fact that you are a self-taught weaver. I hope you see something here that will inspire you to take up your loom again.

  11. Your work and your site are beautiful! Thank you!


    • Glad you liked it. Thanks for dropping by. I hope you will be a frequent visitor.:-)

  12. Hi Laverne, I think we met back in ’07 at a reception of Art Workshops in Guatemala. If I’m right, we talked briefly about your experiences in Bolivia and my work with the backstrap weaver’s ergonomic bench project of Synergo Arts (
    Recently a member of our Board of Directors mentioned that she’d exchanged posts with you on Weavolution, and she gave me your blog address. I’d like to be able to correspond with you by email; would you please send me your address?
    Also, I’d like to invite you to use the link on the Synergo Arts website to join our e-newsletter list to get updates on the bench project and other things that Synergo Arts is doing to help artisans build their capacity for using ergonomics.
    I’m going to subscribe to your blog too! By the way, your backstrap weavings are gorgeous!
    Karen Piegorsch
    President, Synergo Arts

    • Hi Karen,
      Actually it was early last year that we met in Antigua. I am glad you like the blog, the weavings and have subscribed. I’ll send you my email address.

  13. […] to finish, a contribution from a blog reader. Sharon finished her first mug rug in one-weft double weave with her own butterfly […]

  14. Hola mucho gusto me meti en la pagina y me encato todo, me gustaria me digas como puedo adquirir el libro de tejido en telar y patrones todo lo que haces me interesa porque yo estoy tejiendo hace poco se hacer algunas cosas todo lo que voz hacer es hermoso te felicito atte Elbia espero una respuesta

  15. the mose problem im having is how much thread to use, for a belt, beating with a shuttle, do patterns tell you what colors to use for the warp threads, and what to use for the weft. i have crochet thread # 3, and the color i used for the weft covers over the warp, so i used 3 strands of warp, it a little better.i think i get how to read the patterns

    • Make lots of samples with the same yarn and you will soon see what woven length a given warp length will produce. The colors you use is up to you. I use the same weft as my warp generally the same color as the edge of the band. The warp should completely cover the weft.

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