Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 14, 2011

Backstrap Weaving – A Little Product Amongst the Processes

I haven’t wandered off too much around the globe this week but people from around the world, via this blog, Facebook and my online weaving groups, did drop by to help me with my latest twining project…the strap for my proposed loom bag on which I am twining the word “weave” in different languages and fonts.

Here is where I am at so far…

And, if you are thinking that I haven’t advanced very far since last week, you are right! I am used to doing patterns on my backstrap woven pieces in pick up techniques…picking or dropping every single  thread across the width of my warp and I don’t find that slow. However, I have to tell you that twining is SLOW! Reeaaaly slow! But, as you know, I am a process driven gal and what keeps me going on this project is the varying fonts. It is interesting to chart one and then see how it works out on the band. I have, in fact, finished the last word shown above which is “away” or “aguay” (I have seen it spelled both ways) which is the Quechua word for “weave” here in Bolivia.

The next word will be the Gaelic one, sent to me from a Facebook friend in Ireland. I am designing my own lettering form for this one….a cursive hand…and am a bit unsure about how it will look.

Here are the words I have …

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed so far. I doubt that I will be able to fit all these in and so another project will have to be created. The next one will be in double weave and I will make it all my own lettering style. Double weave will be way faster. See how many languages you can identify. Someone remarked on Facebook that I could just use an online translator. True, but this is more fun. This way I will always remember the person who gave me the word and “carry” them around with me. 😉

While on this multi-lingual topic, I thought I would tell you that an online weaving friend in Germany took on the heavy task of translating my Andean Pebble Weave book to German. How cool is she, and how grateful am I?! I am in the process now of redoing the layout as it seems that German folk are more wordy than English speakers 😉 and hopefully that will be available soon as a pdf.

Amongst the processes, there are some real products emerging. The twined band above is going to be a strap for a loom bag which I am modeling on my camera tripod bag.

I discovered that this backstrap that I made ages ago with a 13wpi mercerized cotton, (the same stuff I used in the WeaveZine article), is exactly the right width for the front panel of the bag and so I was easily able to calculate how many warps I needed to get started on the body of the bag. I wanted to keep it relatively simple as the strap will be quite busy with all its woven words.

So, here it is…black with just a strip of pebble weave pattern down the middle. These are two of the 8-rev designs that I have in my Andean Pebble Weave book and they look gigantic in this 13wpi thread. What fun it was to weave this up in one sitting in this chunky-ish yarn!

A couple of shots on the loom…

I just managed to get the length I need from my standard 36″ warp. It is wonderful how little waste there is when using backstrap looms. I will make the other large panel and sides in plain black and will then edge it with a tubular band in black and white. There is also a zipper to go in.

Another product to show…yes this is something that I will keep and use myself…

I finished my double weave belt with the Bedouin designs. I had to get an extra wide buckle for it and there weren’t many choices. Fortunately there is a market stall, just down the street from where I live, called “Hebilandia” or, “Buckle Land”! (hebilla being the Spanish word for buckle). Who knew there were so many people out there in want of buckles! The three belts on the left and the one bottom right are patterned in pebble weave. The other one has a design in simple alternating warp floats.

And the final product and my favorite for the week is my cell phone pouch. Yes, my cell phone pouch –  not to be given away or traded.

I finally own a cell phone but it is not for use here in Bolivia. I am happier having my answering machine take the calls here. The cell phone was actually given to me by a friend in the US for use there. As I travel on standby tickets, I really need one in order to let folks know if I have gotten on my flight and am about to arrive. No more begging kind strangers for change for the pay phone or to use their cell phone.

I modeled my cell phone pouch on that made by Guarani weaver, Angela. I bought two of her pouches some time ago, gave one to a friend in the US, and am saving the other for my friend Lisa.

That’s mine above left modeled on Angela’s blue and black one. It is woven in the technique that the Guarnai weavers call Moisy which produces quite a dense fabric.

You may remember that this was the sample piece that I had made to see if I understood what Angela had shown me. I copied her designs with some adaptations, for example, I rounded the flower head and used one of her leaf designs as a butterfly. Angela’s patterns reflect the abundance of lush vegetation here in the Bolivian lowlands. The designs that the Guarani women use on their Moisy pieces are not like any you will see elsewhere in Bolivia. You can read more about my visits with Angela here and here.

Angela had finished her pouch with a plain band which she had woven and sewn simultaneously to the edges using the weft as the sewing thread. I did the same except I used this edging only around the flap. You can see the band with its heddles and shed loop above left. Then came the scary part…

I really loved the shaped flap that Angela had created but couldn’t bring myself to cut the fabric. I was imagining the whole thing fraying away in a jagged mess while I tried to sew on the band and that is precisely what started to happen.

So I sealed all the way around the cut with diluted white glue, waited for it to dry and that did the trick. I will never make a cell phone pouch with a square flap again! This was fun!

I also copied her idea of making a striped band for the sides and strap. A tab of velcro for the flap finished it off.

Something else that has made me smile this week has been following the Weave Along in the Backstrap Weaving Group on Ravelry. There is a lot of enthusiastic participation and sharing, cheers and, sometimes, commiserations. People have been having their successes and frustrations and I think that everyone pretty much agrees that “baby steps” are required…stay with the heavier and friendlier yarns and narrow projects until you really feel that you have the hang of it. There are so many things to think about and get under control before one is ready to move on to new challenges.

Here are a few works-in-progress and finished objects from, from left to right, Firecracker8 (who found that beating harder made her supplementary weft pattern look much nicer and her pebble motif less elongated), Jennifer (who found that size number 3 crochet cotton makes a pretty band and is easy to handle) and Marsha (who used a Gilmore Wave Loom for her first attempt at double weave). We are waiting to see pictures from other participants who can only weave on weekends. No hurry! We will be around 🙂

Lots of cool ideas have been appearing in the forum and I have some more warping options to show you from himalaya and wanderingskopos…

We just had a new member from the UK join the group and the Weave Along. He is a rope and canvas craftsman and net maker. Well, I was curious about this as I had no idea what that entailed and invited him to post pictures of some of his work and he totally blew us all away! I immediately checked out his website. I love the hammocks and rope mats.

In my inbox I found images from Julia who made a band with a bunch of pebble weave motifs using my book. I love the way she has hung it with all the loom parts in place. She did a good job weaving as close to the end as possible which is not easy with cross sticks and two sets of heddles.

I also asked Steve Pretty if I could show the frame loom on which he has been weaving warp faced bands and, most recently, an Andean pebble weave band using my book.

Steve got the idea for this frame loom with its nifty tensioning system from the web site of Dr Carol Ventura. This page on Toba weaving of Argentina on Carol Ventura’s site shows the loom and the technique to produce the band above left. The technique is similar to that which I call Simple Warp Floats.  On the right is Steve’s pebble weave band.

It really puts a big smile on my face to see people in the online groups jumping in enthusiastically to learn these techniques and weave stuff.

I have had the benefit of spending days and, most often, weeks at a time face-to-face with my weaving teachers here.  Not everyone reaches their weaving goals without having that personal contact with a teacher and besides, we all have our different learning styles.

So, I would like to tell you that there are still a few more places available in the Andean Backstrap Weaving class called “Beginning and Beyond” that Abby Franquemont is giving at Beth Smith’s The Spinning Loft in Howell, Michigan from January 28th to 30th, 2011.

Beth tells me that Abby Franquemont first went to Peru around the age of five and was there on and off throughout her teenage years travelling with her anthropologist parents Ed and Christine Franquemont.
She began spinning and weaving immediately upon arriving in the Cusco Region of Peru and, although she is best known as a spindle spinner in the US, she is also a fantastic weaver on the backstrap loom.


In the post box this week…some inspiration from Turkey. My brother went to Istanbul and got me this locally published book (in Turkish) on Hakkari Kilims. It has lots of luscious photos.

Now to figure out which word from the text is the one for “weave” to add to my band.

And what about those videos that were giving me grief last week?

In the end I had to whittle them down to under ninety seconds so I could load them to my Flickr page and link from there.

So, there is a short video showing warping for one-weft double weave and another on heddle making on the tutorial page.

Nothing new – they are just meant to give further clarification for those who might have doubts.  I also added a video on adding a second cross to stabilize your shed rod to this FAQ page.

What I am planning next for the tutorial pages here is a full project  – Making a Key fob in Double Weave – from start to finish with a few videos.

But for now…the products are done so it’s back to the process…



  1. Lavern, I am so very flattered that you used a picture of my bag project in your article today. As silly as it probably sounds, you made me feel special. I anxiously await each and every new article. I have printed every little bit of information that you have given and have two notebooks full. I love the internet, but for some reason, I retain information so much better when I have it on a printed page. I am one of your biggest fans. 🙂

    • You have made the weave along so much fun Bobbie with your enthusiastic participation and I am thrilled with your progress!

  2. Hey, I can see my warp in there! My chairs aren’t good for warping like himalaya does, so the new pegs were really needed.

    Those belts and cell phone pouches are beautiful (as always 😀 ), for some reason I particularly like weavings that are going to be in use. A bit of everyday luxury?

    I noticed you don’t have Finnish yet in your word collection – the word for “weave” is “kutoa” – you can both “kutoa kangasta” (weave fabric) and in certain parts of the country, “kutoa sukkaa/villapaitaa/pipoa” (knit a sock/sweater/woolly hat) – but officially you say “neuloa” to mean knitting specifically. As for me, I “weave” my socks 😉

    • Thanks for the word in Finnish! and the explanation. I remember you writing a long time ago about your not having success with the chair leg warping. I really love your new warping set up. I think it’s as good as it gets.

  3. I discovered you blog several days ago and bought your book in PDF. Thank you very much for it and for all the tutotials very clear and well explain. there is nothing in France about this weaving.

  4. How Do Laverne,

    Your site here is amazing, my eyes are sore from staring at the screen for sooo long the past few days. I really should get my warp together and start weaving 😉

    Thank you also for the very kind comments and mention about my rope work here, I am glad you liked it.

    Take care,
    Barry 😉

  5. Hi Laverne,
    I love reading your weaving and travel adventures. Always learning and exploring, and then you have time and energy to share it with us all.

    Twining seems to be tablet weaving on its side, almost identical structurally.
    Therefore you might find it helpful if you can get hold of a copy of
    Please Weave a Message: Instructions and Graphs for Tablet-Woven Calligraphy
    by Linda Hendrickson
    There are lots of typefaces already graphed out. No capital letters unfortunately, but I have used this book for various straps and personalised bookmarks and found it very good.

    • Great minds think alike Pamela! I have indeed been using Linda’s book and apologizing for munching her beautiful letters as I adapt them to the size of my band. In my post last week you will see a reference to her and a link to her site where people can see what her letters are supposed to look like when tablet woven.

  6. Forgot to tell you earlier, the Ladakhi (north India, bordering on Tibet) word for weaving is thag-ches (they have a different alphabet, but there’s the romnized version for now.)

    • Thanks Tracy. I have a few now that are written in non roman script….Hebrew, Arabic, Thai…and now Ladakhi.

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