I had quite recently seen images online of Mexican Huave textiles decorated with supplementary wefts and used a butterfly motif from one of them on a warp-faced sampler of inlaid brocade patterns.
I am interested in seeing the variations that Erica de Ruiter has developed using the Huave textiles as her inspiration.
It will be fun to play with more than three sheds on my backstrap loom and, to get into the swing of things, I set up my loom for a four-shed weave this week using three sets of string heddles, a shed rod and my lovely bamboo reed.
Finally this bamboo reed gets to do some real weaving with its new owner. I got two reeds like this at a stand selling textiles and weaving implements of Chinese minority groups at Convergence last year. My mind wanders off thinking about who may have been the previous owner/s of these reeds, what kinds of warp thread passed through their slots, what kind of weft they beat into place and the fabric they were used to produce.
I made a tiny sample a few weeks ago to see how suitable my thread was for the spacing of the slots and since then have been dithering over what kind of weaving I want to do. This reed is 23 dpi and I am using my #10 crochet cotton. I guess I am working backwards as one usually chooses their yarn, figures the sett for the desired technique and then uses the appropriate reed. I, on the other hand, have the reed and am figuring the rest out with that as my starting point.
I went ahead with a four-shaft, four-treadle shadow weave using a draft I found online. I made string heddles for the threads on the shafts for each of the treadles…three sets of continuous string heddles with threads for the fourth treadle held on a shed rod. So the threads for shafts 2 and 4 (treadle 1) went all together in one heddle and so on.
Of course the whole business is a lot more stable with this width. When I wove the tiny sample it was very awkward handling the wide reed on the narrow warp. The reed sits up nicely on this wider piece and it is really quite a comfortable set-up.
I don’t care for the edges and have yet to find a good way to turn the two wefts. I warped two ends of double- stranded black thinking that that might make a good edge…well, not so much!
This has been all about the process so I had no thoughts at all in the planning stage about what this piece might end up being. I only wound a one-yard warp and now I am thinking that I might use it as lining for a bag.
It is odd for me having to wait to wet-finish this piece to see what it will really look like. In the kind of warp-faced weaving that I do, what you see on the loom is what you get. I am really impatient to get this off the loom, wash it and see the final product but, at the same time I am really enjoying weaving it…just raising heddles and passing wefts…such a change not doing any pick-up!
The other weaving I did this week did involve pick-up. I made a set of mug rugs in double weave to match the patterns on the four place mats I recently finished.
The “Worldwide Weaving Web” has brought all these wonderful patterns into my home which I have seen mostly in images online. A wonderful book on Tejido Huave has come my way as a result of internet wanderings and a box of goodies arrived just today from an online weaving friend.
During the Tour de Fleece on Ravelry our Backstrap Weaving Group organized a fiber gift exchange and here is what I got from Bobbie…some suri alpaca fiber to spin…so soft!! and four balls of cotton for my backstrap weaving. The colors were dyed by Bobbie herself. After having met Bobbie online I actually did get to meet her in person when I was in Portland last May.
The rigid heddle segment was not in this box from Bobbie but came to me from another online friend who I haven’t had the chance to meet yet in person…Sharon in Florida.
I have taken this heddle out in preparation for the Weave-Along that we are planning for the Backstrap Group starting at the beginning of September. (Read more about this in last week’s post.) It is a plain-weave Weave-Along in warp-faced or balanced-weave and some participants are going to use these bought plastic rigid heddle segments while others are making their own from sushi mats, popsicle sticks and plastic folders. Others are planning ikat designs, colorful stripes and horizontal bars for their warp-faced pieces.
We have found some good sources online for the heddle segments for those who would like to do narrow weavings. Some people are going to use the heddles that came with their rigid heddle looms. Janet is planning a 24″ wide shawl.
The segments can be found here and here (this link was provided by Traudi) and Joanne from Glimakra gave us information about all the heddles that they have available including some beautiful traditional-style wooden ones for band weaving with handles.
And if these gifts aren’t enough from the “Worldwide Weaving Web”, a real live person arrived from the other side of the world…all the way from Doha, Qatar! Fellow Ravelry member Berta aka mountainbird is traveling across South America on her vacation away from the temperatures in the high forties (Celcius) that are typical in her part of the world at this time of year. She is Canadian but has been living in Qatar teaching English for eleven years.
Berta is friends with Tracy who is a Backstrap Weaving Group member and who has been learning to weave Bedouin-style textiles in Qatar and sharing her findings with us in the group. She sent me this wonderful piece of Bedouin weaving with Berta…
This fabric is part of a tent divider which has been cut up to make a bag. The black and white pattern has been woven using warp substitution technique as has the grey and orange “molar” design. You can also see small segments of weft twining which is what brought me to study these textiles in the first place.
I had learned weft twining with the Montagnard (Vietnamese hilltribe) weavers in North Carolina and google searches on the subject led me to fantastic images of Bedouin weaving which I was able to reproduce being already familiar with the warp substitution and twining techniques.
And now many months down the track I am holding a genuine piece of this weaving, a beautiful gift from Tracy all the way from Qatar…what a thrill. I was aware that the yarn used in the traditional pieces is quite heavy but didn’t appreciate how thick it actually is until now. I can now imagine just how terribly heavy a full tent divider must be in this yarn.
There is something so very wonderful about the coarseness and chunkiness of this piece not to mention the gorgeous wool aroma…definitely constructed to withstand some harsh elements
My reproduction piece below in the #10 cotton just doesn’t seem right at all!!
She is overlanding from Lima to Buenos Aires…many many bus hours in which to knit!
We spent August 6th together and invited an Australian girl from Berta’s hostel (home of Simon the toucan) to join us so we had an Argentinean, two Australians and a Canadian celebrating Bolivian Independence Day in a Brazilian restaurant!
Now she is on her way to Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina.
To finish this week, I have put together some pictures and video for what will be the start of a new page on intermediate-level techniques and I wanted to start with a short explanation of what is meant by “complementary warp pick-up”. You will probably run into this term when you read about warp-faced backstrap weaving. Andean pebble weave is just one of the techniques that falls into this category.
The idea here is not to teach you a specific weaving technique but simply to show you how the weavers pick up the warps to form their patterns when weaving a complementary warp method. Irene Emery defines complementary weaves as those where “two sets of elements play equivalent and reciprocal parts on opposite faces of the fabric,”….
This creates a double-faced fabric. The design on one face of the fabric is mirrored on the other face with its colors reversed as in the pebble weave example below.
When weaving a complementary warp technique, the warps are generally arranged in two sheds with the colors separated as seen above. The warps in one color will go into string heddles and the other color will be controlled by a shed rod. In the example above, each black warp has a red partner. One black warp together with its red partner is called a complementary pair. In the example, the black warp sits on the right of its red partner. I have separated two complementary pairs from the rest of the warps so you can see how they lie.
Weavings like these Jalq’a textiles above from Potolo, Bolivia have been woven in a complementary warp technique using red and black threads on a warp that would have looked like my examples above. You can see that the faces of the textiles show red figures on a black background. The back of the textile will show the same figures except that they will be black on a red background.
The pick-up is done with the aid of the cross. The cross keeps the warps in strict order so that the weaver knows which warps are complementary pairs. If the weaver wants black to show on the upper face of her weaving she will pick up the black and drop its red partner. The dropped red will show on the back of the textile.
The way weavers choose to form the cross and carry out the pick-up varies greatly from region to region. There is no one correct way to do it.
Above you can see two weavers from Potolo with their red and black weavings. The first weaver has created a ”picking cross” down at the weaving line. She has a stick under all the red warps and has opened up the shed with all the black warps. From this cross she will select the warps she needs for her pattern. When she picks a red she will drop its black partner and vice versa. Like this, she will create a shed of red and black warps through which she will pass the weft.
The weaver on the right is doing likewise except that she has inserted a stick under the black warps and has opened the shed with the reds. From this “picking cross” she will select the warps for her design.
Both weavers are using sticks to pick up the warps.
This weaver from Tinkipaya, Bolivia uses her hands to pick and drop the warps for her design. Her weaving has bands of many colors. She has a permanent cross in her warp. You can probably just make it out in the picture. Two cords are holding her cross rather than sticks. She is working her way across the warp picking the color from one side of the cross which she wants to have showing on the front of the weaving and dropping the complementary partner in the other color which will show on the back of the weaving.
This is the way I was taught to do pebble weave in one region of Peru….picking from a permanent cross with my hands. The pick-up method varies from region to region.
Here is a video that I made showing the theory of complementary warp pick-up. This is how I pick one pattern shed of red and black warps through which I will pass the weft to form my design.
Here are several video clips of Bolivian weavers from Potolo, Isoso, Tarabuco and Tinkipaya doing complementary warp pick-up. See the hundreds of threads they are working with and see how fast they go! The first weaver you will recognize from Potolo, followed by a Guaraní weaver from Isoso, a lady from Tarabuco and one from Tinkipaya.
The second weaver in this video is my Guaraní weaving teacher here in Santa Cruz. The Guaraní weavers have their own very special way of doing the pick-up and are the only ones I have seen who don’t pick from a cross when doing complementary warp pick-up. Angela has her two colors, brown and white, separated into two sets of string heddles and simply pulls on the appropriate heddle when she needs a color. Somehow she manages to keep her complementary pairs in order and doesn’t mix up or cross the threads!
Well, I hope that these videos and explanations have been interesting for you. Those who have my Andean Pebble Weave book may like to see the theory of the pick-up I am describing therein with step-by-step pictures, in action here in my video. Note that none of the weavers in these videos are doing pebble weave. Pebble weave is just one of several techniques that fall into this complementary warp category.
I am off to the highlands tomorrow for some weaving lessons and will be meeting up with my Tinkuy roomies Dorinda and Maxima and seeing a bit of the Virgen de Urkupiña festival. I’ll be back next week with some new weaving knowledge and hopefully lots of pictures to share.