Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 6, 2012

Backstrap weaving – Staying on Track

I have been trying to resist the urge to warp up for an al’ouerjan project and join in on the fun in the Ravelry group. You may remember that a couple of weeks ago, after having posted the warping tutorial for these traditional Bedouin patterns, Tracy suggested a weekend warp-along. Now we are seeing the increasingly large and impressive results of all that warping practice. Take a look at the bag strap that Tracy made at left.

But…I am staying on track which means that I am sticking to my chamanto-style leaf-patterned wall hanging (although I couldn’t resist throwing in a bit of weft twining). I finished the first pebble weave hanging in this set with weft twining and so I decided that, apart from the common color scheme, the weft twining would be another theme that would tie all my planned wall hangings together.

While I sit and pass the shuttle, strum the warps, beat and coax the sheds open I think about what will be next in this series. I have no problem whatsoever in coming up with ideas…the problem is that I want to weave them all at once!

I stand back and look at this piece and I still can’t get used to it.

It’s not quite like anything I have done before but I have to say that I am having fun with it especially adding in that twined section with the motif within. I had to stop for a bit to chart those smaller leaves on their vine, sample them etc…It took a while to get them right.

I think that all my planned red, black and white pieces will look pretty nice when hung all together. The question is….where? Although I have been doing some major cleaning out, I still haven’t managed to uncover any significant amount of wall space.

Next on the clean up list is my dear old Ashford traditional wheel. Yes, I have a spinning wheel…who knew? It has been sitting there so long unnoticed, dusty and in desperate need of oil…poor thing. It was born in New Zealand and made its way all the way over to the Falkland Islands before finding its way into my home in southern Chile. I left a lot of stuff behind in Chile but the spinning wheel came up to Bolivia where it has sat in the corner for almost 14 years…shameful! I won’t take a picture of it now in its pitiful state. I will clean it up and get it back into shape. I have room to use it now!

I only had it for four months before leaving Chile and just got into using it and being able to turn out something consistent. I did, however, spin enough yarn to construct a vest, knitting the natural colored front and weaving the dyed brown back. The edging has been worked in cross knit looping.

This, too, sits neglected here in this hot steamy climate. It is a souvenir at least of the Patagonian sheep.

But, back to the al’ouerjan and let’s see what else the Ravelers have been up to…

So, there’s the strap that I showed you earlier on the gorgeous bag that Tracy made. She will line the bag  to protect the warp floats on the inside. She used an additional weft to secure the floats on the strap. You can see details about how that is done here. One of Tracy’s other warp-along products is the pillow cover which includes some tapestry-style twining in  the lower left hand corner and a striking and beautifully executed joining stitch.

Aunt Janet’s piece above left is in her own handspun wool. She has three sets of al’ouerjan patterning and that blue looks amazing.

Traudi so loved Tracy’s piece that she got into the act too using brown instead of black which looks fantastic. She twined along the bottom of the piece too. We are seeing more and more twining in this group…cool. Here is the tutorial for basic weft twining.

Jennifer did some charting and planning for the shajarah patterns before warping a wide piece that also includes an al’ouerjan design.

The charting paper with ovals which is useful for double weave, warp substitution and supplementary weft patterns can be found here. A tutorial for weaving these kinds of warp substitution patterns is here.

So, January has gotten off to a great start in the Ravelry group! Pantoffels has been wrangling with what she calles an ancient inkle loom and still managed to make this pretty needle pouch with plain pebble weave patterning.

And then she got a new inkle loom under the Christmas tree and will now try the pebble weave patterns in my book Andean Pebble Weave.

While I have been weaving my “leaf” piece based on the Chilean ponch known as a chamanto, I have been getting out other pictures of ponchos that I have to study the design layout that weavers use on these large pieces.

I own one poncho which I bought in Calcha, Bolivia many years ago. It is made from very fine handspun wool which has been colored with natural dyestuffs. It is patterned with simple stripes, some very narrow and simple ikat bands as well as several very narrow strips of pebble weave.

It has been woven as two panels with four selvedges each and a woven band has been sewn around the four edges with an added fringe. Don’t you love that decorative stitch that has been used to join the panels?

There is definitely an art to stripes. You can see the clever placement of fine white stripes to break up some of the richer colors.

 An extremely fine and simply patterned manta from Chile. It is always interesting to see how the colors and stripes are distributed. As is typical, a broad band has been woven and sewn to the four edges of the piece and there is no fringe.

The typical poncho of Tarabuco and the smaller version known as unku can be seen above.

At a handcraft fair in Tarabuco I saw weavers making the long poncho panels. My friend, Anna, showed me the unku on the right that she had bought in Tarabuco when she came to visit me.

I spotted this gentleman in his much more subdued woolen poncho in a small plaza in Sucre. He was performing an offering to Pacha Mama in the early morning. How wonderfully simple and light the poncho looks although I am sure it is extremely warm and virtually waterproof.

And then you have the incredibly intricately patterned calf-length ponchos woven and worn by the men of Chahuaytire in the Cusco area of Peru.

From Argentina and Chile we have the Mapuche makuñ with its ikat patterning technique executed in such a way that there is virtually no blurring of the design. The popularization of the poncho, from what I have read, is generally attributed to the Mapuche who wove them for their own use as well as for barter. On the right you see the chamanto of the Chilean huaso, with its leaf, fruit and floral motifs, which are said to have both indigenous and Spanish roots.

I have  a few pictures from Ecuador too…scans of old prints…

This is the “jijon” poncho which is factory-made in Quito and worn by those men who can afford one in Otavalo. You can see it being worn with its grey plaid face showing by the gentlemen on the left and with its darker face outward on the right. These men were wearing their ponchos to the market on a regular day. Apparently there is a much more costly blue double-faced poncho which is woven on the backstrap loom made-to-order. The ownership of one of these special ponchos indicates wealth and high social status.

On Sunday, which was both market day and church day in Cañar, a very social time around the main square and surrounding streets, I saw quite a few ikat-patterned ponchos being worn.

And finally there’s Juan below, (my pebble weave student!) with his mother and neighbor. Juan put on his  narrow, black fringe-less poncho and felt hat especially for this picture. On another visit during a festival all the men were wearing their ponchos for the occasion.

You can see the backstrap looms on which I was teaching Juan and Natalia pebble weave tied to the pole. In exchange Anita introduced me to her cousin on my next visit and he taught me to weave the typical supplementary warp patterned belts of Salasaca.

Okay, so I promised you some double weave edge samples this week, right? I am sorry, I didn’t get those done. I was busy trying to stay on track and not get “dis-track-ted” by all the goings-on in the Ravelry group. I want to finish my leafy hanging. but I must say that I have a bowl of tencel calling to me wanting to be made into a scarf…

That blue ball is indigo-dyed Japanese silk…a fabulously thoughtful gift brought to me from Japan by one of my old teaching colleagues here.

Hopefully I will get the leaf piece off the loom this week, plan and warp the next hanging, play a little with my tencel, get the Ashford Traddy up and running and do those double weave samples for the tutorial too….phew!

Oh, and I have started a new page for RESOURCES. You will see the tab for that on the header and I am slowly extracting all the links to interesting sites, articles and products that I have linked to in my 105 posts so far. This is quite a job but I hope to add two or three links to the page every week. I hope you find it useful.



  1. Happy New Year My friend, sorry for not being on top of it, start knitting socks and got lost…. plus all the end of the year excitement. That new piece wit the leaves is absolutely stunning, must be double weave, and what about that section with white leaves on red?????
    totally impressed! what a start… wonder what you’ll be making by the end of the year.
    may your year be full of creative endeavors, with exciting learning and teaching. safe and wonderful travels .

  2. Laverne,

    It is all so beautiful! I have only recently found you and your amazing blog, and right away I followed your tutorial on the basics of back strap weaving! I have LOTS to learn. I am so inspired by your work! I was in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 1982, but was not a weaver yet.

    Maybe you could take “before and after” photos of your spinning wheel. It is always nice to see a rehabilitation.

    Thank you for sharing and I look forward to learning how to do some of these beautiful weavings.

  3. Those leaves are just gorgeous! Beautiful work. 🙂

  4. Please Laverne might put some tutorial on how to do inkle loom Tabajara in the patterns of your book, I would be very grateful greeting.

    • If you mean Tarahumara, Loli, I am planning to do this 🙂

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