Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 1, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Winter Moods

It has been a couple of weeks since the last post and I started off weaving something in a woolly wintry mood. I guess the colors make it feel wintry to me…the blue and black alongside a greyish snow-like white. This is the piece that I was planning as the ”conference pouch” that I told you about in my last blog post. A few things changed along the way. I decided to weave it with four selvedges. It is a small piece and a nice opportunity to get in some more practice with finishing a weaving with four selvedges. For that reason, I decided not to include the little pocket that I had planned. One challenge at a time is enough for me! I would have my hands full laying in the last few shots of weft on a needle and didn’t need the additional  challenge of creating the pocket.

First, I wove a sample to see how the pattern I had chosen would look and to get an idea of how I should lay it out on the real project…

sample band for pouch projectI wove the sample with four selvedges too. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use the sample to give me one of the essential pieces of information as I had neglected to note an important detail…warp length. Normally, warp length is not an important issue to me. I generally wind one of my standard-size warps to try out a new pattern or material and decide when I am finished with the experiment what I would like the piece to be. I weave as far as I feel comfortable and then simply cut the piece off the loom. However, this time I was planning a specific product and had a specific size in mind for it. As I was planning to weave a piece with four selvedges, I needed to know what the take-up would be with the kind of wool I was using. That would tell me how long my warp would need to be to produce the 12cm long pouch that I had in mind. I wanted a ch’uspa-style pouch…one with an open mouth into which I could easily place and remove things without any fiddling about…so, no flap or closure.

Now I know that the amount of take-up is extremely small. It was very surprising information but it came too late. I over compensated for take-up and wound a warp that was too long and so my pouch now has a flap…oh well. A warp of 30.5cm ended up as 29.5cm of woven cloth which reduced to 29cm after washing and pressing.

Here is the project underway. I have started the weaving at both ends so that my piece can have four selvedges.

I wanted the ”terminal area” (the area where I have to stop weaving the pick-up pattern because the space between the two woven ends becomes too small to manage for pick-up), to be where I folded the cloth to form the pouch. This meant I had to do a bit of back-and-forth-ing from one end to the other to make sure the terminal area would be positioned just where I wanted it. I should point out that there was no need for this piece to have four selvedges. I have made cloth for many little bags by simple cutting the fabric off the loom and hemming the raw edge. I simply wanted to make this piece with four selvedges as interesting challenge.  I had never attempted it in wool this fine before.

closing the gap in four selvedge clothHere you can see the gap between the two ends of weaving getting smaller. I have changed to finer cross sticks and finer swords. I use the cross sticks to help open the heddle shed. I form a separate cross on two swords to do the pick-up. I wanted to keep doing the pick-up pattern for as long as I could. That involved a bit of awkward wrenching around with fingers stuffed into spaces that were too small and, as a result, the weft shots on one side got compressed more than those on the other meaning that the fell dipped at one edge. That made it hard to close the gap at that edge neatly.

wool piece with four selvedgesThe final needle-woven rows are a bit on the wide side.  I am, nevertheless, pleased with the result as a first attempt in this fine wool. I wanted a tiny terminal area and I wanted it to sit at the fold in the cloth…

pouch constructionThen came the construction of the pouch with all the fun embellishments…

coil stitches and pom pomsI edged the bottom of the pouch with coil stitches and added a couple of cute coiled pom poms.

nawi awapa edgingThe sides and flap are edged with a patterned tubular band called ñawi awapa.

nawi awapa and andean pebble weave strapI wove an Andean Pebble Weave pattern strap choosing a pattern that resembled the ñawi awapa and wove it without having to do pick-up by using 4 sets of string heddles.

Andean Pebble Weave strap with four sets of heddlesThe pouch is ready for my next conference…

conference pouchNext, the lovely pile of naturally-dyed silk samples that I told you about last week was calling to me….

While I thought long and hard about how I wanted to use these small samples, I spent some time sewing my two wool panels together…

joining stitch on wool panelsBoth this and the brown wool blanket stand by while I figure out how I would like to edge them.

As for the silk samples, I gathered up tiny skeins of similar sort of berry colors and wound them into balls. I wanted to create a warp with all the berry colors mixed. I decided not to go with any kind of stripe formula or planning and just wound a bit of this and a bit of that together. It is a random mish-mash of colors and I like it! Not all the silk is of the same weight and so there is yarn of varying girth all thrown in together here…silk dye sample warpBut first…. a sample…of course!

sample for silk natural dye projectThis may not look very wintry to you but it represents a different kind of winter mood to me. I love the way it looked as I sat at the loom with the soft low rays of winter sun falling across it.

I needed to sample to see what kind of width I could expect as well as figure out how many strands of embroidery floss were suitable for the supplementary weft. The sample gave me the ability to know approximately what width I could expect from the main project. It couldn’t be 100% accurate because of the mix of different weights of silk in the large project.

Random colors, random weights of silk and random placement of leaves…this is so not like me! But, I am really happy with it. I have used variegated tencel as supplementary weft to weave motifs on a single-color background in other projects. This project turns that idea around with solid-color motifs on a multi-color background. I like how the leaves change shape when they are placed on the areas of warp that comprise the finer silk warp threads.

Here’s the late afternoon winter sun illuminating the larger project…

winter sun on leaf projectI got the initial idea for this project from a piece by Mollie Freeman in which she stamped solid leaf motifs on one of her hand painted warps. I haven’t seen her piece woven yet.

I don’t have a product in mind for this. No doubt the cloth will end up being folded into some kind of pouch. It is a really fun project and I have lots more of the naturally dyed silk samples in other tones to play with. I am wondering how this will wash and hope I don’t lose too much color.

leaf project progressI am getting pretty close to the end here. I hope I can squeeze in a couple more leaves while I think about what I want to do with all those other gorgeous silk natural dye sample skeins.






















  1. Laverne- you are phenomenal. Your patience and artistry are just inspiring. Kate

  2. I love your new creations, very creative and innovative, looking forward to see you soon.

  3. Beautiful beyond words. Thank you for sharing your creativity, teaching us how to weave, and inspiring all of us!


    • You are welcome Amanda. Have missed seeing you and am wondering what you are up to.

  4. That little pouch is adorable…maybe it was suppose to have a flap because it looks really good with all the embellishments. The colors of the naturally dyed silk are spectacular.

    • Thanks, Kristin. I agree. The flap has grown on me and it now looks like it was meant to be there all along.


  6. Just Beautiful Laverne.

  7. Wonderfully inspirational, as always.Tracy

  8. Love the colors of the silk… love the little falling leaves… just wonderful!!

    Currently I am weaving my “sample” in cotton for my felted slipper laces. Some time this week I will start weaving with the yarn you helped me pick out. OF COURSE I will post photos on my FB page for you to see. 🙂

    • Those slippers will look fantastic with their woven laces, Ginny. I hope the sample came out well.

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