Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 9, 2010

Backstrap Weaving-Hotpad and Heddles-more double weave

A Weavolution member recently introduced me to Teyacapan’s fabulous Flickr page which has hundreds of images of Mexican people with their crafts and weavings. Honestly, you can get lost in that site for hours! I was very much taken by a photo of a weaver doing gauze weave and hope to go to Mexico one day to study with the gauze weavers. Mexico is very high on my list of places to visit and, as I am planning to go to Guatemala again in March or April, it will be easy to duck over the border. If I can spend so long just looking at the images on Teyacapan’s site, imagine how long I will get caught up in Mexico!!

I am lucky to have some great books on Mexican weaving and have been inspired by the images in Joanne Hall’s marvellous book Mexican Tapestry Weaving, to make some more mug rugs with Mexican motifs. I was given this book by my Navajo weaving teacher back in 1995 and made a Navajo style tapestry based on one of the pictures. It is wonderful to see that all these years later, the images in the book are still fresh and inspiring.

So, I am happy to say that I have woven a set of four Mexican themed mug rugs in double weave and have come up with a new double weave project-a hotpad.

hotpad and matching mug rugs

So, it was Mexican all the way for lunch yesterday with spicy beans and tortillas. I think that the hotpad is another perfect double weave project using 12 wpi cotton-it makes a good thick piece to protect your table from hot dishes and casseroles. I wove it on my backstrap loom and is a good project for those of you who are thinking about venturing  into wider pieces. Practice on a mug rug set first and then add your matching hotpad.

hotpad and mug rug designs

Although I am very happy with the hotpad design, I think I will make a few changes in the patterns I drew for the mug rugs. Perhaps I will break up some of the large red areas with a bit of black-what do you think? Once I have tweaked the designs and woven another set, I will post the pattern charts here on my blog for you all. In the meantime, here is the chart for the hotpad. I am only posting half of it as it is huge!

double weave pattern chart for the hotpad

If you would like to learn this double weave technique, you can use my free tutorials in the Backstrap Weaving Group on Weavolution. The tutorials have step-by-step photos and links to videos on my Flickr page. Remember that you will need to first join Weavolution and the Backstrap Group to obtain access to them.

Well, as much as I love Mexican food, I don’t think I could manage it every day (although, if I am planning that trip to Mexico……..). Anyway, here is another fun use I found  for my new hot pad. It fits perfectly on my breakfast tray where it stops my plate from sliding about and certainly “spices” things up a bit!

spicy breakfast!

I loved designing and weaving this hotpad and I have a bunch of designs in my head for others so you can certainly expect to see more of these in the future. 🙂


I warped up a couple of weeks ago for another set of South American themed mug rugs and used that warp to put together a tutorial on making continuous string heddles. This process is shown on the videos in my WeaveZine article but I have heard from many people on dial-up who have not been able to access the videos. I spend half my time on dial-up as my wifi connection is pretty erratic so I certainly know how it is. I kept all my photo files small  for this and I do hope that dial-up folks will be able to enjoy this photo sequence.

I learned this way of making continuous string heddles from my very first weaving teacher, Gladys Miller who taught me Navajo style weaving way back in 1995. I have seen many different ways since then while studying with my indigenous weaving teachers but none have convinced me to change my ways.

First I’d like to show you some pictures of a few weavers I have met and worked with here in South America and Guatemala and how they make their heddles.

Zapote, Ecuador. This weaver is using her flat tenter stick as a spacer around which to wind the heddle string. This helps her to make all the heddles the same length.The spacer will later be removed.

San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Guatemala. Here the weaver wraps the heddle loops around her hand before passing them to a stick.

Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Hammock weavers' warps are so wide that they can't use a heddle stick. They just leave the heddle loops loose and pull them in small groups across the width of the warp to open the shed.


Larger and heavier versions of these tutorial photos can be seen here.

For double weave, your cross will look like this. Remember that in this technique you are using doubled warps. The all-black warps will form the black border. You have one white and one black warp in pairs in the area where you will weave your motif.

You will be putting each of the pairs of warps that are passing over stick B in a heddle. Open the shed and pass your heddle string through as shown.

Make a slip knot in the end of the heddle string and place it on you heddle stick. Leave a long tail as shown.

Reach down between warp pair 1 and 2 and pull up the heddle string as shown.

Put a twist in the loop.

Place the loop on the stick and anchor it with your left forefinger.

Put an extra twist in the heddle string forming a small loop.

Put the small loop on the stick and tighten it by pulling on the end of the heddle string.

You can now let go and see that your first warp pair is secured within its heddle.

Moving on.....heddles have been made around the 1st and 2nd warp pair and the heddle string is being pulled up to make the 3rd heddle.

Slip the loop on the heddle stick and adjust its length by pulling on the end of the heddle string. Once you have the length correctly adjusted, anchor the loop on the stick with your left forefinger before making your extra twist.

Continue like this, cut the heddle string and tie the start and end tails together. DONE!

I always use the same yarn that I am using for the warp for my string heddles.  A lot of my teachers use thin nylon thread or cord as it is less abrasive on the warps. I can’t stand using nylon but you should experiment and see which kind of heddle string suits you.

Here’s hoping you have found this useful. Maybe you know some rigid heddlers too who will be interested in seeing how to make string heddles so they can add another shed to their looms. Pass it on!

© Laverne Waddington and, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Laverne Waddington and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. That mexican art link is fantastic!

    Great hotpad to go with the mug rugs.

    Have a good day!

  2. another exelent tutorial! when i first tried to make my heddles this way i forgot the extra twist;i realised it after looking at your tutorial again and now i never forget how to make them and add the extra twist and it works very well.

  3. Awesome Laverne! LOVE the idea of using the stick as a spacer for the heddle strings. I had a hard time with that at first. Got better though.
    Just posted my first project on my blog. Can NOT thank you enough!

    • Thank you! I am heading to your blog now to check it out! I find that keeping the warps under tension on the loom and making sure that I am holding my heddle stick horizontal while I am making my heddles really helps keep them all the same length. Yes, that spacer is a nice idea though. She winds the heddle string in a figure-of-eight around the spacer and the stick. You should be able to see that the spacer also has a string attached so that when she is finished and pulls the spacer out, it pulls a string along behind it. I have a diagram of this in my journal which I will post in the backstrap group at Weavolution.

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