Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 24, 2015

Backstrap Weaving – Circles

circle 1I just learned how to cut out circles in my simple drawing program and have been messing around with that with some photos of my weaving.

The pattern at left is one I used for a new necklace idea. This time I wove the actual pendant rather than just the cord or band on which pendants hang. It’s 60/2 silk and the pattern is an adpatation of the one that appears on a scrap of belt fabric that I bought in Cusco in 1996.

I wove this and will weave others as something to give me a bit of a change of pace as I sit for hours and hours applying ikat tape for my latest big project. I am hoping to make this ikat project a ”two-fer” ….a chance to practice creating circles and, if it is successful, a piece of fabric that can be made into a travel cover for my new laptop.

Making the photo circles in the drawing program was easy enough. If only it were that easy to create smooth curves and circles in warp-faced weaving. Choosing the right structure and using fine enough yarn does play a large role.

silk cuffs front and backIn the band in the center, I was trying to replicate the pattern on a button I had bought. It took a few attempts before I could get the proportions right and create a somewhat circular motif.

Here are the necklaces that I have made so far. The latest one with the pattern I placed in the round photo above is in the middle…
woven necklaces backstrap weavingThe cord is a cotton 4-strand braid. It was challenging putting that bit of weft twining along the bottom of the pendant using the 60/2 silk. It came out very sweetly.

Before settling down to tearing strips of plastic and wrap, wrap, wrapping for the ikat project, I made a bag with the wool fabric I showed you last week.

backstrap weaving woolI wanted to decorate the sides of the bag with a tubular band and planned something that would complement the twill lines in the main motif.

tubular band on wool bagI am fond of cutting bag flaps into curves and edging them with tubular bands but I decided to leave this one uncut and edge it with coil stiches instead. They are little coil-wrapped circles, or rings, that extend from the upper surface of the flap over the edge and to the inside. These decorative stitches are sometimes used by weavers here in Bolivia along the bottom edges of their woven ch’uspas…the small pouches in which they carry coca leaves. It’s a bit of a fiddly business.

I wove a simple, brown strap and used orange weft to liven it up a little and better match the bag. And this is where circles came into play again. I planned a 75-inch warp to be on the safe side and, as I simply do not have the room to stretch out a 75-inch warp in my room and am not a fan of rolling up the far end of the warp, I wound a circular warp instead.

circular warpingI ended up with 67 inches of woven band and 3 1/2 inches of unwoven warp. I didn’t really have to change my sitting position to scoot closer and closer to the back beam as the weaving rapidly progressed. That is one of the nice things about the circular warp. The distance the weavers sits from the end beam barely changes at all and so, something against which to brace one’s feet can be easily set up. Being so very narrow and in plain weave, the band was very quick to weave. It was fun watching the band turning over the front beam and growing below, then stretching itself out toward the back of the loom, turning up over the back beam and then inching its way back towards me to make a full circle.

Here is the finished bag…

I really like the look of the tubular band along those edges. The pattern reminds me of the carved wooden columns that are used here in Santa Cruz in the centuries-old Jesuit mission churches. They have thick jungly vines encircling their length. The piece was an exercise in several things which included creating a new tubular band pattern and applying coils stitches with very fine wool

This can now join the rather small collection of items I have woven using industrially-spun wool. Each time I have used wool, it has been with more than one goal in mind. The two pieces below were woven with the same kind of wool. I wanted to see how it would stand up to string heddles and warp-faced weaving as well as practice the discontinuous-warp technique that I had studied in Peru.

wool backstrap weaving discontinuous warpThis next wool piece was a chance to practice creating a fourth selvedge and use wool supplementary weft with wool warp…

This last one is an old piece that I wove back in 1997 just after I came back to my home in Chile from Peru where I had studied a supplemental-warp technique for the second time as well as the creation of four selvedges. I had also recently visited a sheep station in southern Argentina where the owners showed me a belt that the Mapuche wife of one of their former farmhands had woven and this had inspired the patterns and colors…

mapuche-bag-front-and-backSo, I haven’t done a whole lot with store-bought wool. Living in the tropics where wool cannot be bought just might have something to do with it.

I have more pendants in mind to weave this week and, if things go well, I will get to dye the ikat project.

Let me leave you here with some projects from friends and online weaving buddies Cheryl, Jan and Jane…three of the weavers who are taking part in a guild group project to create a bag for their county fair. Each weaver is to create a band of specified dimensions in red, black and white which will be put together to make a bag.  Jan’s (on the left) and Jane’s (on the right) bands were woven using backstrap looms and the Andean Pebble Weave structure. The patterns are in my books. Cheryl’s tablet-woven piece, with her own pattern, was created using a loom with weighted warps.

jan jane cherylHere’s the finished bag which, after the fair, will be raffled off amongst the contributing weavers. It was really hard for me to imagine how this bag was going to turn out. I think it’s amazing!11742664_10206985393054367_1959968408212876236_n

pick-up within an ikat circleAnd so, for me, it’s back to the ikat frame and those circles. I successfully created a nice small circle in ikat in my very first attempt some time ago. However, I am not entirely convinced that this was not just a fluke.  I’ll let you know how it goes.








  1. Bello, bello, bello, como siempre, Laverne!
    Mi admiración desde Córdoba.

  2. I really love your work! The designs are wonderful.

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