My favorite ”on the road” project is weaving bookmarks. Many times I find myself at night in a deserted hostel in some small town with no internet access and nothing to do so I entertain myself by weaving bookmarks. There always seems to be a bed rail or something to tie my loom up to. I make bookmarks, key fobs and sometimes small coin purses to give away to fellow travelers and weavers that I meet along the way. Often I swap coin purses with weavers and spinners for interesting spindle whorls, small tools or other bits and pieces. I take all my loom rods with me in my backpack as well as a nifty little warping board that I made which was inspired by my very first weaving teacher in Huancayo, Peru. My teacher, Margarita and her daughter used to come into town everyday with their little warping board to teach me.
My warping board is even smaller than this one. It is basically a flat narrow stick about the thickness of a ruler and I use long screws in place of nails as I can secure them to the board with the nut-no leaning warping stakes. It gives me a warp just long enough to make one bookmark or two key fobs. I use two or three widths of warp from this board to make a coin purse.
I like to start my woven pieces with a smooth edge-that means one less hem, braid or fringe to worry about- and I achieve this by threading a steel needle through the warp ends and lashing that to the loom bar. You need to lash it firmly so it won’t bend when you put tension on the warp. Once off the loom, the needle is removed and I pass the first weft tail through the end loops back and forth two or three times on a large sewing needle. Then I braid the other end or sew over the end and leave a fringe. The book mark sits within the pages of the book with fringe or braids protruding.
For a nice thin bookmark that is not too bulky within a book, I use a 35wpi crochet cotton and recently used it to make a double woven bookmark with a cute llama motif. I made this one with a plain weave border in two-weft double weave but it could just as easily be made in one-weft double weave.
The llama is a much loved symbol of Bolivia and Peru but you certainly don’t need to be trekking down to South America to see this lovely animal anymore. There seem to be more than enough of them being successfully raised in many other countries around the world. I saw many on the outskirts of the city on my last visit to Sydney. There was even a llama festival on at the time.
Here in Bolivia and Peru the llamas have many uses. They are used as pack animals for transporting grains in sacks, often woven from their own fiber, from villages to markets. Their fiber is woven into blankets, coca bags , belts and other accessories as well as braided into slings and ropes.
Their dung is used as a fuel for cooking fires and their meat is often enjoyed as charque-dried meat similar to jerky. The bone from a llama’s lower leg is shaped into a pick up tool and beater-the wichuna-part of a weaver’s basic tool kit. Enterprising locals pose with their beautiful animals for tourists and they are irresistable!
Dried llama fetuses are sold at the market stalls that sell homemade remedies. The llama fetus is buried at the cornerstone of a new house as an offering to PachaMama in the hope that she will bring prosperity to the home owners.
As there are no llamas here in lowland Bolivia where I live, I bought bags and bags of their fiber many years ago when I was in the highlands-enough to keep me occupied spinning and weaving for many years to come. I am no spinning expert and just do as I was taught here. The fiber needs to be spun very firmly to stand up to the weaving of warp faced textiles on the backstrap loom. All the weavers that I have studied with weave with a two-ply yarn and all spinning and plying is done on drop spindles.
I thought that you may like to have the pattern charts for the four llama motifs on my double weave bookmark.
You could use these motifs in any project-not only in a bookmark. If you are not ready to try fine yarns yet, you could use a heavier yarn and weave them into a shoulder bag, for example. Don’t forget that you can access my free tutorial on one-weft double weave by joining Weavolution and the Backstrap Weaving Group.
Finally, I would like to share with you all a spectacular web site with hundreds of beautiful drawings like the one above.. This is the offiicial site of the chronicles of Guaman Poma de Ayala, an indigenous Peruvian of a noble family who became disillusioned with the treatment of the native peoples of the Andes by the Spanish after the Conquest.
His nearly 1200-page chronicle, written between 1600 and 1615, is addressed to King Philip III of Spain and outlines the injustices of colonial rule. The 398 pages of drawings capture many aspects of daily life in pre and post Conquest Peru-festivals, costume, weaving, spinning, agricultural cycles, Inca royalty, government……..
You can view digital facsimiles of all the pictures in this chronicle here.
An apology to subcribers to my blog who may have received multiple notifications. I have been doing some house cleaning and have moved pages around. One of the pages had to be republished which means that you would have gotten an automatic email notification for something that you had already seen. Sorry!
Thank you for all your comments!