Posted by: lavernewaddington | April 30, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Meanwhile….

I haven’t been at my loom at my large projects for some time but I have been doing some weaving here and there on narrow bands with friends.

Meanwhile, my online weaving friends around the world have been sending me news of progress on their various projects. Not all of them are woven on backstrap looms but they are warp-faced projects using patterning techniques that they have learned via tutorials on my blog.

Adem in Turkey, for example, has been using a vertical loom to weave a poncho for his 1-year old niece. Can you imagine how adorable this will be when finished? It’s a birthday gift for his niece which needs to be ready by July 1st.

Here is one stage of the warping process. He`has already inserted the pattern sticks that he will use to weave a motif….

adem warpingAnd here is the complete warp with the various motifs underway including a large butterfly in the center…

adem poncho (2) A few weeks ago, I posted a video that Adem made showing how he uses pattern sticks to create motifs comprising warp floats on one face of the fabric. I’ll post it again here for you to see….

Another way to go about this would be to enclose the threads held on the pattern sticks within string heddles and this looks like the method Adem has chosen for this poncho.

Further progress…
adem poncho (3)Now Adem has switched to a pattern that I have seen on Central Asian yurt bands and which I teach in this tutorial.If you are thinking that the pattern looks like multiple columns of the Andean tanka ch’oro pattern, you are not mistaken. It is not exactly the same, as the structure used to weave the tanka ch’oro is double faced., that is, there are warp floats on both faces of the fabric. When it is woven, as Adem has done, using the method practiced in Central Asia, the floats are only created on one face.

Four versions of the yurt band border design

Four versions of the yurt band border design with pattern only on one face.

Tanka ch'oro and Andean hook patterns.

Tanka ch’oro and Andean hook patterns which are double faced.

A lighter fabric is created when the floats sit on only one of the two faces.

Meanwhile… Nigeria, Roli has started piecing together some of the finished panels for the traditional cloak that she has been commissioned to weave…

roli pieced cloak (2)She has been weaving panels to create hats, bags and cloaks which form the traditional clothing of people from her husband’s ethnic group in Nigeria. I showed you pictures of her finished cloaks, hats and bags in a previous post. Roli uses a frame  with adjustable tension as her loom. It sits in her lap and leans against a table. She used the instructions in my lettering tutorial to weave the letter O , which I believe represents the name of the person for whom this textile is being woven.

A weaving friend with whom I am currently staying, has an extensive collection of textile books which includes this one…

book on Nigerian textilesI hope to learn some more about the textiles in Roli’s Nigeria.

Meanwhile… in the Netherlands, Gerbelien Cocx-Wilschut has been doodling in plain weave on her inkle loom and creating beautiful original patterns using my warp-faced double weave tutorial.

gerbelien cocx-wilschut

When she sent me the picture, she wrote…

I read all the stuff you wrote down and learned from it. A week ago this was Chinese for me, but thanks to you I understand how to do it and I wrote my own pattern. this is my second band. I like to let you see the whole pattern. Now I am going to repeat it.

Some weeks ago, I wrote a post on Doodling which included a  small tutorial on creating and charting patterns for the double weave structure. Gerbelien’s website shows more of what she has been doing.

Meanwhile….in Taiwan,

hungyingyu taiwanHungyingyu blew me away with this large piece that she wove on backstrap loom and which she patterned with the simple warp-float structure…beautiful!

And while all this has been going on, I have been poring over textile collections, visiting museums and hiking and weaving with friends. After spending a few days weaving with me and other friends, Mary sent me a picture of her finished Andean Pebble Weave band which cleverly includes her initials.

mary seattle

The conversation bounced from South-east Asia to the Middle East and on to South America when long-time online weaving friend Tracy got together with Marilyn- another textile  kindred spirit- and me. What  lovely evenings we had on the floor examining pieces that Tracy had collected while living in Qatar and India…

tracy hudson textile collectionYou can see a couple of amazing Bedouin pieces with motifs woven in the warp substitution structure. I have written a couple of tutorials on the warp substitution structure and the al’ouerjan pattern in particular. The warp substitution structure creates patterns on one face of the cloth with long warp floats on the back. Some of the floats are amazingly long!…

long floats on back of Bedouin textile

If you read through my tutorial, you will see a way to pin down those floats in a tidier way. We saw that weavers in Syria were using this method to possibly make the textiles more appealing to a non-Bedouin clientele. In order to eliminate the floats all together and create a double faced textile, you can add a couple more steps and make the piece a double weave.

Marilyn pulled out pieces that she had collected in her travels through Laos and, as Tracy had spent time there on an internship, there was much to share and discuss and I learned a lot about the intricately patterned Laotian textiles with their incredible combination of supplementary-warp, supplementary-weft and ikat techniques all in the one piece of cloth.

Tracy brought a backstrap weaving she has been working on that is still on the loom. She is using complementary-warp pick-up to create the motifs and the warp s her own handspun wool. She is using wool from Serbia that has a lighter twist as weft. I had seen this piece in the online forums and it was wonderful to be able to touch it.

tracy and marilyn

tracy handspun backstrap

Marilyn’s birthday was celebrated at the top of this…

seattle space needleand a wave of 80+ degree weather was celebrated with a hike in the woods on a neighboring mountain with Marilyn and her husband, Rainer ….

We rewarded all that exercise with a German dish, Kaiserschmarrn, for dinner, prepared by Rainer. My sweet tooth appreciated this…super light pancakes with rum-soaked raisins and a dusting of icing sugar!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnfortunately, the wave of heat also brought a definite end to the tulip season. Marilyn’s outdoor meal setting looked pretty surrounded by colorful tulips but they were just a little bit past their prime after the hot days…

 We wove ñawi awapa tubular bands. Here’s Tracy’s first one…

tracy nawi awapa

marilyn weaving nawi awapaThat’s Marilyn with her colorful Turkish socks, pretty huipil and Laotian bangle with a patterned tubular band underway on her simple body-tensioned loom.

tracy nawi awapa sewn to clothThis is Tracy’s ñawi awapa woven and sewn to the edge of a piece of Bolivian handwoven cloth and here she is weaving and sewing it…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Stacy folded her cloth into a pouch and decorated it with the tubular band and some cross knit looped stitching….

stacy pouch with nawi awapa

Marilyn had a meeting the next day. Meanwhile, I squeezed in a visit to the Asian Art Museum with its Mood Indigo exhibit…

 I was treated to rooms full of indigo-dyed kimonos…


I especially liked the pieces with Sashiko stitching as my weaving friend, Julia, has lately been adapting traditional Sashiko patterns to weaving using the Andean Pebble Weave structure….


Other rooms held indigo-dyed textiles from around the world. The following pieces are from New Mexico, USA, Guatemala and Nigeria…

international indigo pieces

I liked this fun quote that was displayed on one of the walls:

indigo indigoing indigone

In another group of weaving friends we wove some complementary-warp pick-up bands using one of the classic Andean hook patterns…

andean hook patterns

Ravelry buddy, Cindy, was there. We last wove together in 2013  and she brought along a project that she started back then and which she has, of course, since finished….

She took a piece if handwoven cloth that I had brought with me from Bolivia and made a small zippered pouch. It’s adorable! She has edged it with a ñawi awapa and added tassels along the bottom. The pouch is lined and beautifully finished. The fabric is made from wool yarn that was handspun and naturally dyed by ladies in the Bolivian co-op that my teacher Maxima runs.

Cindy also brought a large pouch that she had found in the USA in some kind of thrift store. What a great find. It has tiny Andean Pebble Weave motifs, tassels and a ñawi awapa edging.

pebble weave pouchShe also showed us some nice mercerized cotton knitting yarn…Scheepjes Catona  she had found that I think would work well in warp-faced weaving. Websites label it as sportweight. It may have a tendency to fluff in inexperienced hands but I think that the softer twist will make bands that have quite a different look to those made with crochet cotton.. It comes in 69 colors in 125m and 62.5m balls.

scheepjes catona

I may not have time to blog regularly as I visit with my friends here in the USA but I have included lots of links to my tutorials in this post. So, meanwhile, as I make my way here and there… can try some of the woven structures I have posted about here and maybe even send me some pictures of what you have been doing.
















  1. Thanks for all the love, Laverne! That was a fun-filled couple of days.
    I wanted to clarify that I didn’t spin the weft in my backstrap piece – it was brought to me from Serbia 😉
    I was so happy to see that in the Andes, they use a thicker, less tightly spun weft as well, as you showed me with that alpaca weft yarn. Good to know I chose mine well!

    • Oh yes, now I recall your mentioning the weft. Thanks, Tracy.

  2. So nice to see the lovely weavings from around the world! As always, thanks, Laverne!

  3. I’m still on baby steps, but here is a piece I’m working on… My selvedges are still ragged, but I’m working on them!

    • I can’t see any image, Ann. I’ll email you so you can send it to me.

  4. As feared, the Catona cotton does fuzz up in the heddles. I’m using Aunt Lydia’s crochet cotton 3 for the string heddles, if I had any tatting thread in a 3 I’d try that. At the moment I’m weaving keyfobs, so it doesn’t build up too much in that short length of weaving, and I’m not having any trouble opening the sheds.
    Having lots of fun with the colors.

  5. Hi Laverne,
    since I found your blog I am really learning so much and I just love it. Just what I always wanted to learn, but I could never find how to.
    First I made a backstrap. I would like to show it but I don’t know how to do that. I love to learn everything that you teach, but I go one step at a time. I love weaving one weft double weave and now I would like to weave the four lovely lama’s. I would like to spin some alpaca for that project. Can you please advise me on how best to spin the alpaca to get the best result?
    Thank you for all your inspiring and interesting articles.

    Dawn from the Netherlands

    • Hi Dawn,

      Thanks so much for your comments. I am glad you are enjoying the blog and tutorials. I will also send you an email reply so that you can send me pictures of what you have made.

      I have woven with my own handspun llama and alpaca yarn. The problem is that I really can’t explain to you how much twist you need to use and in the singles and the ply. I just know when my yarn feels right. I have never spun for knitting or any other kind of weaving and so I cannot even give you a comparison for how yarn should be spun for warp-faced weaving as opposed to other kinds of weaving or fiber crafts.

      My advice to you would be to try weaving your double weave with any wool that you have available. First you need to understand the challenges that wool presents especially in double weave where you are using doubled threads. It is very dense and you are working with the twice the number of warp ends that you would usually have. When I want to use wool, I know that if the yarn is strong and won’t break due to all the friction and abrasion, I will be able to use it for backstrap weaving. Opening the sheds cleanly can be challenging but there are ways to deal with that. I am fine with all that struggle as long as I know that my yarn won’t break. For that reason I have been able to successfully use wool straight off the skein without having to add extra twist.

      However, the one and only time I used handspun for double weave, I was using tightly twisted llama fiber that I just happened to have. I had not spun it specially for that project. It might be a shame to put hard twist in your alpaca yarn.The band I wove feels quite coarse.

      I think that once you experience and understand the challenges of using wool, you will know more or less how you should spin your fiber and will need to experiment. You could just spin a small amount and test it. That is the beauty of backstrap weaving…you can make really small warps if need be. You might want to try your alpaca fiber on another technique first, rather than on double weave.

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