Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 6, 2010

Backstrap Weaving- Weavers in New Mexico and a new Mexican weaving

Convergence is now long over and I can’t believe I have left it so long to write up this blog post. You have no idea how hard it was to skip that first post having gotten into the habit of regular Friday posts. Then the next Friday slipped by….The danger with waiting too long to write is that you risk losing that special feeling that you had associated with the event and even forget some of the important details. So here I will try to recreate some of that and I do hope that I don’t leave anything out. I was surprised to have some people at Convergence ask me to please stop posting for a while so that they could have the chance to catch up! I have been relieved to see that readership has only slightly dropped off during these two weeks of madness. So I hope you have, in fact, had time to catch up on things and perhaps revisit some pages because…. here we go with a bunch of new stuff…


These are some of the colorful murals that decorate the outside walls of the Albuquerque Convention Center. These are probably all the “classic” New Mexico scenes you will see on this blog. Thankfully, this was my fourth visit to this beautiful state and so I was not overly concerned about not being able to get out and about. I glimpsed some hills on my shuttle ride in from the airport and then, as I was staying downtown 8 blocks from the Center, my only view on my walks to and fro were downtown buildings..



On my first day in town I did manage to get out to see a gallery of Joanne Moore’s double weave pieces downtown and I was fascinated by these wire dolls made by Ruth Morris.



This was my home sweet home for the duration of my stay…Route 66 Hostel…a backpacker style place where I had a wee closet-like room with free wifi and breakfast and a very laid back family atmosphere. The only other Convergence participant there was Jasmine Johnson-Kennedy who had come all the way from Fairbanks Alaska – possible as far north as Bolivia is south! Jasmine took the felting class and produced this gorgeous piece. It was fun meeting up with her at night and seeing her work grow. She had just started outlining her design in stitching to give it a raised three dimensional effect on her last day of classes. Of course I had to find a place to tie up my backstrap loom in my wee abode and, as I had wisely brought clamps, I was able to do so on a little shelf unit on the wall.



My goals for Convergence were to meet my online weaving friends and hang out and backstrap weave. I was sitting at the Weavolution booth between my wanderings just so that I could give Weavolution co-founder Alison Giachetti a break now and then. The booth was shared with SWA (Spinning and Weaving Association).


Here’s Madelyn van der Hoogt of Handwoven magazine visiting the Weavolution booth. You can see Madelyn above trying out a handwoven jacket she had seen on one of the stands. Tien Chu, one of Weavolution’s founders came by to show her latest project – a beautiful double weave shawl. Patty Graver of Interweave flew by to say hi and I was very happy to have a visit from John Mullarky of TWIST as we had met online at Weavolution while admiring each others’ bands on the Project Pages there.


Day One was short as the vendor hall was only open from midday to five pm but it was a nice introduction to the routine we would be following for the next few days. Sally Ogren kindly allowed us to use some of her pieces to decorate the Weavolution stand and I hung a few of mine. Here you can see Alison with a display of my keyfobs and Weavolution goodies.


Day Two started for me with a wonderful surprise visit from my very first dear weaving teacher, Gladys Miller. Gladys taught me Navajo style weaving back in 1995 and had also taken me on two wonderful roadtrips through the Four Corners area in 1995 and 1996. I blogged about this here. Over the years we had lost touch until Gladys saw my name on the Backstrap Basics article in WeaveZine and emailed me. She had not told me that she was planning to come to Convergence and so it was a complete surprise. She stayed a day and we caught up and then she headed to Santa Fe to see the Spanish market with her granddaughter.
I was free to weave, visit some booths and be a bit more helpful on the Weavolution stand. It was a hard decision where to go and be sometimes. All I had to do if I wanted to meet all the wonderful weavers in attendance was stay put at the Weavolution booth. They all came by to say hi. It seemed that every time I stepped away to see something I would miss someone.



Later Antonia was working on a discontinuous warp piece, something I had never seen before, and a technique she says the weavers of Pitumarca are now trying to revive. Jenny and Antonia had brought several bone beating and pick up tools, called wichunas or ruki, which sold out in a couple of days.



The CTTC (Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco) stand was a feast of colorful textiles….ponchos, cloths, bags, purses and woven belts still on their looms.



Meanwhile back at the Weavolution booth, we were being visited by Alice Schlein whom I had kind of met in “blog link land”, Daryl Lancaster who came to hang out and chat as well as to do a book signing, Linda Hendrickson, who thankfuly came back to visit several times ( I had gotten totally goofy on her first visit!) and dear Helene Bress.



We were privileged to have Inge Dam with us demonstrating her card weaving and selling some of her beautiful pieces.



Betty Davenport and I had connected online through my blog as Betty used to lead weaving trips to Bolivia in the 80s and 90s and enjoyed reading my tales about the places that she had visited and enjoyed. She has always been extremely supportive and especially helpful when I was first planning to write a book.  She brought the new reprint of her Textures and Patterns book.  It was wonderful to meet her in person. I got some impromptu ply split braiding tips from Betty’s roomie, Linda Hendrickson, and got to see some of the pieces she writes about in her up and coming book on the subject. She has certainly changed my mind about three dimensional pieces in this technique which had not previously attracted me although I must admit that the camel girths I have seen in ply split braiding are my favorite examples.


With Linda, I went along to the TWIST (tablet weavers) meeting as I recently joined this group. The TWIST newsletter was where I first read about the Hochdorf technique of tablet weaving which led me to weave Celtic knotwork in Andean pebble weave. I met Shirley Berlin of the Braid Society, another group of which, thanks to Rodrick Owen, I am now a member.


The TWIST meeting ended with a “show and tell”. John Mullarky showed some of his fine silk pieces and the piece above left and I loved the little purse made by Nancy Alegria using a design from one of Linda Hendrickson’s books.


And what about all those Weavolution folks?


Here are some of our members! Annie MacHale (aspinnerweaver) at her inkle loom meets Helene Bress soon to be followed by an encounter with Richard Ashford who had spotted Annie’s inklette. Annie and I had met at CNCH and wove side by side at the Education Booth there. It was wonderful to meet Kathe Todd-Hooker again after our first meeting at CNCH where we had spent a lovely evening looking at her collection of Old Believer sashes. Kathe’s new book, So Warped. Warping a Loom for Tapestry which she wrote with Pat Sparks is now out and she joined us for a signing. It was wonderful to see Kathe’s tapestry take first place in the Small Expressions juried exhibit.
Tapestry weaver Tommye Scanlin, who also had a piece in the galleries, visited on more than one occasion and that’s John Mullarky, wearing his own hand woven jacket, who started the tablet weaver’s group at Weavolution.


One of our many SWA companions was John Colony of Harrisville Designs. I couldn’t have  asked for a better booth mate as John is responsible for the Harrisville backstrap kit which I got to see for the first time. Not only that, he had also met and had classes from Ed Franquemont. Convergence offered what were called ArtSparks classes, one-hour introductory fiber classes, and John taught backstrap weaving to a group. The idea was to show adults how to to teach weaving on a  simple loom to kids. The kit comes with a small rigid heddle segment and is quick to warp and get going. John allowed me to visit his group and take pictures and a couple of the students soon found their way over to the Weavolution booth to watch my demo.


More cool people passing by and stopping for a chat… Annie attracted weavers with her inkle woven guitar straps. Anita Osterhaug from Handwoven magazine dropped by and Pam Engberg. a Weavolution Backstrap Group member brought a warped up loom along to get some tips from me. I had Navajo, Pueblo and Hopi weavers stop to look at my loom and work. These two Navajo guys are weavers and wove the bags they are carrying. They shopped for churro fleece to spin. Helene Bress signed a copy of her coverlet double book set for Alison.


The stand with antique Indonesian textiles, Dancing Threads, was a great favorite of mine…

The stand with weavings and silver ornaments crafted by Chinese minorities and run by Pam Najdowski was a treasure trove and is where I did my spending. Pam was such an interesting person and gave a slide show on the main stage on her many trips to China.


I have been looking for bamboo reeds in a good size for my backstrap loom and thinking about having them specially made in Bolivia. Now I have these two beauties bought from Pam’s Textile Treasures booth. I also got the pair of string heddles which I may use on my loom but which will most likely go on the wall. I just love them!


This backstrap loom, which the weaver tensions with her feet, blew me away. I had to go back and back again to see it. Below you can see the paddle-like pieces against which the weaver braces her feet. I would like to try this. Only once I tried tensioning the loom bar behind my toes but it wasn’t a position I could maintain for any length of time. The patterning on the woven piece was really quite simple and controlled by the several patterning sticks you can see there in the loom.

Another loom which Deb McClintock took me to see…

A warp weighted loom above…heard about them, read about them but had never seen one up close.

And one more curiosity at the Textile Treasure stand. I would love to have been able to see this one stretched out. Look at that beautiful reed!

I got some gifts! Kim Hamill of Weaving Southwest, who is also a backstrap weaver and teacher, gave me some yarn that she likes to use and which she dyed herself. Pam from the Textile Treasures stand, knowing my love of all things pebbly, gave me this belt which I am sure to have fun examining and reproducing when I get home. Betty Davenport gave me a crinkle weave warp that she got in Bolivia which I can finish weaving. I have never seen one of these before except in pictures. Above you can see how overspun the commercial yarns need to be before they can be used on a backstrap loom.

Then along came Martha Graham, an anthropologist who has been studying the belt weaves of the Tarahumara (Raramuri) weavers of Mexico. She spotted my display of my largely pebbled weavings and brought along, the next day, some Tarahumara belts that she just happened to have in her car! I got to photograph them and you can probably guess what is on the “to do” list for when I get home…reproductions and a comparison to Andean pebble weave. So this is the “new Mexican weave” that I refer to in the title to this blog post. I had never seen these belts before nor heard of the Tarahumara people and their weavings. Then lo and behold along came Annie MacHale the following day wearing one!! Hers is the one with the colored border above.

More Weavolutionaries!


Annie and Sally Ogren at the meet-up deep in discussion about charting software and inkle bands. Ruth (Ruthie99) from the Glimakra stand has bravely branched out into weaving with wool on her backstrap loom and brought it along for me to tame! She is displaying here on her shoulder some of the pebble weave bands she made following the intructions in my monograph. Craftin’ Susan (Susan Sarwinski) spun silk while helping out at the Weavolution booth and Tina Hilton stopped by for a chat.



At left, Ruth’s wool warp which she dyed with all natural substances, now under control and ready for pebble weave patterning. Look at the fabulous red she gets from cochineal. She shared her dyeing secrets with me. It is lovely wool that she didn’t respin and it behaves very nicely – Henry’s Attic Crown Colony 2 ply. She uses a Schacht sword, pictured there with the warp, which works beautifully (I took this warp back to my hostel and worked on it) and I think it is a great tool for backstrap weaving if you are looking for a sword. Pam Engberg also brought a warp that needed some attention. She is trying out Guatemalan brocading for the first time and so I helped her improve her heddles and insert a second patterning stick to vary her designs.


It really was a delight to meet our booth neighbors Hans and Sara Von Tresckow of  The Woolgatherers. I have “known” Sara for some time as a fellow member of Weavolution and she has shown two of her knotted pile projects on the site. It was amazing to be able to see one of them up close. I got to drive one of her big looms – first time ever for me! Quite a treat!


Other cool stuff….marvelous huipiles at the Red Corn stand. Annie’s friend Joanne showed me a carrying cloth in her collection and I was surprised to see a double weave band on it which suddenly changed to pebble weave. I have never seen these two weaves combined like that before. The weaving tools at the Chinese minorities booth had me constantly sneaking back for more. Jeffrey Appleby’s stand had an intriguing array of textiles, books and artifacts including this Turkish spindle and distaff. I bought his book “Traditional Textiles of the Andes” which he signed for me and which contains his personal collection.


I didn’t register for Convergence nor take any workshops but I learned so much! The experience of being in the Vendor Hall and meeting all these wonderful people exceeded my expectations. In a way I was sorry for the people who only had a brief lunch break in which to come into the hall and mingle. As it was, there never seemed to be enough hours in a day for me to weave, look at booths and chat. I only saw a third of the Vendor Hall after 5 days!

It was such a sharing experience.  Betty Davenport wove and gave  me a pebbe weave piece and I was delighted that she accepted my Mapuche purse in return.

Cally Booker, a fellow member of the Online Guild of  Weavers, Spinners and Dyers dropped by. It was great to meet Cally. And then there were the Ravelry folk…CoAlpine, Restless Knitter and Sherie all came to visit.

Meanwhile weavers have been warping up their four-shaft looms to try out Andean pebble weave using the instructions in my book...

Jeanne from Weavolution is on her way and hopefully we will see this completed band soon and then a wider project. You can buy both the download version or the hard copy of my book Andean Pebble Weave which include the draft and instructions for pebble weave on a four-shaft loom here.


Evelyn wove this little guy using one of the pattern charts in the book. This is a “viscacha”, a small Andean animal with a long tail that resembles a rabbit.


Would you believe I have four tiny video segments of Antonia weaving to post here? I think I will leave those for another time! I am in Maryland now with my friend Claudia where I am being treated like royalty! But sadly it is time to move on and tomorrow I take the train to my friend Lisa’s place in North Carolina. More about the Maryland weaving adventures next week! 🙂


  1. Wow! this weeks post makes me breathless. The pictures are a delight. Thank you for taking us to Convergence .

    • Glad you enjoyed it Jeannine. I still have so many pictures I could have posted!!

  2. Your description of Convergence is wonderful and you met so many great people. I am almost finished working through all the patterns in your monograph and loving this beautiful weave.

    • My you have been hard at it if you have already worked your way through all the patterns! Rumor has it that I may be coming out with another book with charting tutorials and more patterns as well as multi color techniques!

      • I hope that Rumor is true! Hi, Laverne! I’m almost finished with my pebble weave sampler. The short dowels for holding the weaving together will have to be switched to the metal rods (from an umbrella I sharpended on one end). The weaving is getting a little tight and I will like to weave it to the other end.

  3. Oh – and thank you for putting the photo of my beginning Andean Pebble weaving up!

    • No problem! It’s a beauty!! I can’t wait to see your other pieces.

  4. So much to see and do and so little time! Thank you for sharing it with us, and introducing so many well known internet ids!
    Your textile photos have so many interesting designs; I look forward to hearing about your adventures cracking the weaving techniques. The crinkle weave is covered in Bolivian Highland Weaving, and looks terrifying!

    • Yes, I have to admit I moved quickly on by when I saw the crinkle weave in the Cahlander book! Now is the time to try this out thanks to Betty. I am glad you enjoyed the tour 🙂

  5. Beautifull pictures and new inspirations!! This Ply-Spit-Basket is amazing! Thanks for letting us participate at the Convergence.

    • Yes, Linda had some amazing things there. Can’t wait for her book to come out. I had a look through her draft copy and it is so beautifully put together.

  6. Wow! I almost feel like I was there, too. What an experience, and what experienced people you met! That’s just wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Kim. I hope you will get back to your loom so I can show off your work here!

  7. Oh, that was SO much fun, wasn’t it? The Weavolution booth was a happening place! I really enjoyed all the time we spent together.I took classes, but the stuff I learned outside the classes and the people I met were the most special part, and I didn’t expect that. I hope to catch up on my blog this weekend and sort through all my photos. Anxious to hear about Maryland and North Carolina.

    • I totally agree. There was so much to learn outside the classroom…one may have been tempted to even skip a class or two…wink!

  8. I was so glad to briefly meet you. Thank you Thank you!!

    • Kim, you were the very first person I sought out at Weaving Southwest when I arrived. So glad we got to meet!

  9. Thanks for the loads of inspiration. sure made me feel sorry i wasn’t there. nice to have you back. those 2 weeks were lonely . can’t wait to hear about NC. love the pics. Safe travels!

    • Thank you Yonat. This post turned into an epic. I won’t stay away for two weeks ever again!

  10. Great blog post, and wonderful photos! Just wanted to let you know that the little purse from the TWIST meeting was mine. I made it using tencel & handpainted rayon with designs taken from Linda Hendrickson’s Double-Faced Tablet Weaving book.

    It was great meeting you!

    • Thanks Nancy! I will add that to the post..things got a little confusing at the TWIST meeting. Was the pen holder yours too?

      • Yes, it was – also the TARDIS (police box) bookmark.

        The TWIST meeting was great; it was fabulous meeting other TWISTers. I just wish it had been longer!


      • Ah yes, the Dr Who box. Too bad I didn’t get a picture of that. That was really cool.

  11. Now you have introduced me to Convergence too, and I’m amazed by the wonderful things you found there and the lovely people you have met, thanks for a super blog post I have enjoyed this very much.

  12. I’m shocked at how many pictures you took, it’s wonderful to see all the faces and work that everyone was doing. I must make it to the next Convergence it all sounds and looks fantastic.

  13. Wonderful story, thank you for sharing this convergence.

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