Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 27, 2014

Backstrap Weaving – The Boomerang Effect

I am supposed to be in Miami airport right now awaiting my flight back to Bolivia. I have had a wonderful month in Australia and it is time to go to my home (the real home in Bolivia).

Off I went to Sydney airport yesterday to get my flight to the US. I put on a brave face after sad goodbyes to family. But here I sit today back in my brother’s Sydney home…it’s a long story!!

Orange banksia give a warm glow to the bush in mid-winter.

Orange banksia give a warm glow to the bush in mid-winter.

The Boomerang Effect! It is common in Australia when lending someone something, to hand the item over while emphasising that it is “a boomerang”. That is to say, it is expected that the item will return to its owner in the same way that a properly thrown boomerang will.

Well, I am feeling rather boomerang-ish today having bounced from home to airport and back again.

Looking on the bright side, this unexpected turn of events means that I can spend more time with my nephew as well as write a blog post today.

It also means that I can go back to the Blue Mountains tomorrow for the gathering of weavers at Helen’s place in Springwood. Yay! All her floor loom weaving friends will be there in the morning for Show and Tell.. I wasn’t expecting to see any of these weavers again on his trip, yet here I am boomerang-ing back there!

I love the Blue Mountains! I got to spend even more time up there this last week exploring 4wd back roads and doing a bit of hiking through the beautiful Australian bush.

The banksias that we saw that day make me think of the little ridged baubles that I learned to make with a Guild friend the last time I was here in Sydney…


We walked to lookouts with lovely over Lake Burragorang.

blue mountains sydney

Perched on the end of that rock, I felt like I was sitting in the tree tops…

bush walking in the blue mountainsThe real winter suddenly set in and it was cold!

Last weekend it was still warm enough to take things outside for a bit of warping. I had a group over to my brother’s home for two days of Andean Pebble Weave. We enjoyed the chance to stretch our legs in the fresh air while winding some more warps for sampling and designing.

warping for backsrap weaving sydney


Kelcie gets a new band started with palin pebble weave.

Kelcie gets a new band started with plain pebble weave.

fr-kyriakos-pebble-weaveThe group comprised Kelcie and Jen, who had woven with me last November, Pam, whom I have known online for years and who had come over from southern New Zealand (Sydney weather was relatively balmy for her!) and father Kyriakos who came up from the monastery in Bombala.

We wove together for two days.

Father Kyriakos, as you may know from having seen his work in previous blog posts, had more than just dabbled in Andean Pebble Weave and has been designing and weaving his own pebble weave patterns. I am so glad he came. We have been corresponding for some time and I really wanted to meet him as well as see his projects “in person”. He said that…While your videos have always been a big help and enabled me to do as much as I have so far, having personal demonstrations and answers to my own questions has already helped me to be more efficient and have more understanding of what this weaving is about.

Above,you can see his partly woven backstrap from a photo that he sent me some time ago. The design is one that Julia had created and father Kyriakos added his own elements to it at start and finish. He brought the finished piece along to Sydney to show along with narrower and samples and examples of his own “sotis” work of East Timor that he had studied on floor looms with Australian weaver Kay Faulkner.

???????????????????????????????Kelcie had brought examples of East Timorese weaving when we had woven together last year…

???????????????????????????????Father Kyriakos also brought a Latvian belt, woven using a supplemental-warp technique, that a friend had bought in Latvia and brought back for him. I have seen plenty of pictures of these but never one “in person”…

latvian beltJen brought in pieces that she had bought on a trip to Peru where she had studied tapestry techniques with Maximo Laura. This is a striking embroidered belt that had been made for the tourist market in Arequipa…

embroidered belt from arequipa peruI love the color ideas that these pieces give…I would never think to combine those colors!

Father Kyriakos has been working on and refining a kangaroo motif using the Andean Pebble Weave structure for some time. He also brought along his progress with that to share and I thought that it would make a nice project as a souvenir of my Australian vsit.
One of the tasks that I had set myself for this trip was to investigate the kind of cotton that is available in Sydney stores that would be suitable for warp-faced weaving on backstrap looms. I bought what is labeled as “4-ply” thread at Lincraft. I was told that the name 4-ply in Australia actually refers to the size of the thread rather than to the number of plied strands. In the USA any weight of yarn could comprise four plied strands. It’s a little confusing! I also bought 8-ply versions of this cotton thread at Spotlight and I will give report on this and other available thread in future blog posts.
So, here is the “Kyriakos Kangaroo” woven by me using the Lincraft 4-ply…


barefoot warping for backstrap weavingFather Kyriakos says that he still has some refinements in mind. I played around a bit with the mountains under the kangaroo. They made me think of the southern highlands…the “Australian Alps”…where I had lived and worked for many years.Kangaroos could be spotted now and then on the drive up to the ski fields.

The Lincraft thread is not mercerized but is fairly tightly twisted. It will pill if the heddles are wrenched about and needs to be handled with care. I really like the way it feels. Lincraft has a pretty good range of colors on its shelves.

I set this band up in a very “barefoot” manner.I had already packed all my backstrap weaving gear away and did not feel like fishing out my warping stakes and loom bars.

I warped around my index finger and big toe as my Bolivan weaving teacher, Maxima, does. This is probably the widest thing I have warped this way and, as the threads piled up around my finger, I figured that I was bound to have some tension issues. As it turns out, I didn’t!

When it came time to weave,  you can see, I only got out my sword and used pencils for cross sticks and loom bars. A piece of string is my backstrap. The front beam is a pen onto which I attached rubber bands so that the “backstrap” would not slip off. It was pretty comfortable!

Normally, I would use heddles spread along a stick for a piece of this width but I chose to just tie them in a bunch rather than to search for more pencils.

barefoot backstrap weavingSomeone else who is getting into barefoot weaving is my student, Emerald. You may remember that I stayed with Emerald in her home in Ultimo a couple of weeks ago and wove with her. One of the things we did was the intermesh technique and, although she has a nice set up for backstrap weaving in her living room, she decided to try to include her entire body in the loom…

emerald backstrap weavingThere are chopsticks and a pencil in her set-up. She also finished off a short and narrow pebble weave band barefoot. This was an exercise in weaving without a chart.

emerald (2)In the meantime, in other parts of the world, Diane, one of the ladies who wove with me when I visited Yale university, was inspired enough to apply for a grant to go and weave in Guatemala during her summer break. My friend Barbara, who is in contact with her, sent me this picture of something Diane wove with her Guatemalan teachers…

diane yale guatemalan weavingCheryl, who wove with me last spring, is sampling for a camera strap project…
cheryl pebble weave backstrap


And now… a wee favor to ask of all of you. You may have noticed that I have sometimes mentioned my nephew here in past blog posts and the fact that he is a triathlete. I am staying with him now in Sydney and get to watch his rigorous training schedule. He is up and out and swimming laps or biking and then getting home before I can even get out of bed.

During the Ravellenic Games that ran alongside the Winter Olympics this year, I wove one of his favorite inspirational sports quotes into a silk bookmark for him..

??????????????????????I guess that I haven’t had much of a chance to be a big part of his life. After seeing him a few times in his very early months and years, I headed off to live in South America. I returned for a visit when he was 3 during which I watched Jurassic Park with him and he offered to sit by me in case I got scared. I didn’t see him again until he was 12. He wrote to me when he was 8 to ask me if I lived in a hut in the jungle. Fortunately, I visited Australia more often when he was in his teens and the internet kept us in good touch. He taught me to juggle and we did a great trip,  just the two of us, to Ayers Rock in 2006.

1531560_610507969021654_2085106992_nNow he is a traithlete studying to be a teacher (like me!) and will be representing Australia in the ITU World Championships in Weihai, China in September. He took part in ITU World Championships in the USA and Spain winning the silver medal in his age group in both. It was quite a blow when he was injured for the championships in France last year. So…he is going for gold this time…his last amateur event before turning pro.

His trip to China, as with all the other trips to the World Championships, must be self- funded and he is looking for sponsors. What I would ask you to do for me, as a big favor, please…. is simply to go over to Facebook and “like” his page. More “likes” will show potential sponsors  that he has the loyalty of a good-sized audience and could make all the difference.

I haven’t told him I am doing this and would love to surprise him with a small boost to his fan page tomorrow. I hope that you can take a moment to help out.


And now to see if I can make it on a flight out soon….wish me luck!


  1. That Latvian belt is our symbol to whole country 🙂 Its a Belt from Lielvarde city. Beautiful and mysterious.
    Some info is there:

  2. Good luck to your nephew!

  3. Wished I’d braved the wind and rain to watch the race in cairns/port Douglas…feel so wussy now! Really looking forward to your feedback on Australian thread as I just don’t seem to find any appropriate ones here 😦 love your post as always. Safe journey home, julia

  4. What a beautiful craft! Father Kyriakos is my brother and I appreciate seeing pictures of him, (especially doing something he loves to do) and his beautiful handiwork as well as yours. Love the Kyriakos kangaroo! You all have such a great talent. Thank you again for sharing.

    • Hi Kathy, it’s nice to meet you. I am glad you enjoyed the pictures of our gathering in Sydney.It is always great to meet someone like you brother with whom I have been corresponding via the internet. I hope to go back to Australia next year and hope that we can get together again to weave.

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