Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 25, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – A Basketful of Bands and Memories

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has bought my new e-book, Complementary-warp Pick-up, since it was released last Sunday evening. I am looking forward to seeing how you use the technique and patterns. And, thanks also to the many people who wrote to me to give such kind personal comments on it.

And now, after having completed my third instructional manual, I am working on a big book of both large and small patterns for Andean Pebble Weave. I am really excited about it and have many samples to weave and photograph. These are patterns that I have been collecting for years! It is, after all, five years since I published my last book with Andean Pebble Weave patterns and much has happened since then.

Just some of the bands that I wove for my second book.

What I now find myself with, after all this weaving of samples, is a rather large basket of bands. Some of them are from my books and some were woven just for fun.

Band weavers will know that it is quite okay to weave bands just for the pure joy of it. They don’t need to have a purpose! A few of the bands in my basket were woven when I ran some weave-alongs on Ravelry a few years ago.  By the way, I am planning to run another weave-along in January on cuffs and bracelets after all the madness of Christmas, New Year and end-of-year activities has passed. Northern hemisphere folk will be sitting by cozy fires. I’ll be in my Fortress of Solitude with the air conditioner blowing cooling air, no doubt! Good times for a weave-along, right?

Each and every one of the bands in my basket holds a memory and I remember very clearly where I was in my weaving adventure at the time that I wove them.


For example, I remember weaving a few bands like the two in the center, above, in sewing thread shortly before heading off to visit my friend Janet in California back in early 2011. One of the sewing-thread bands is still the fob for her car keys. Two of them were made into bookmarks that my brother still uses. These two remain. The upper one is in warp-faced double weave and the other in complementary-warp pick-up. In fact, I included the chart for that pattern in my second book.

Here’s another band in sewing thread…this one uses the Andean Pebble Weave structure. I might recover this one from the cover of my journal and make a bracelet from it.

Now the brown sewing-thread bands have become bracelets by adding ribbon clamps, braids and buttons. One of my favorite things to do when I am traveling is visit yarn, fabric and button stores to find interesting buttons for these pieces of jewelry. I usually find a button that is a good match for an existing band, but there have also been times when I have woven a band just to match a cool button!

The black and red band in the top part of the photo of the sewing-thread bands has beads along the edge which I had threaded on the weft. That one is a leftover band from a key fob weave-along I ran on Ravelry some years ago.  That weave-along was a lot of fun. The band  never got used as a fob and now it will be a bracelet.

These silk bands were woven specially to be made into wrist cuffs.  One end of the bands has a selvedge (which is one of the many nice things about using a backstrap loom….a third selvedge can be easily created) which means that one of the ends doesn’t have to be turned and hemmed. I create that third selvedge  on narrow bands by placing a metal knitting needle through the warp ends and lashing it to the backstrap beam. That way, I can start weaving at the very end of the warp. I have all kinds of needles…some super fine ones too for when I weave with yarn like 60/2 silk.

Using a fine knitting needle at the start of the band and finishing by removing the needle and then passing the starting tail of the first weft shot on a tapestry needle to fill the gap.

I can sew simple snaps to the ends that have selvedges as well as to those that have sewn hems. And, there are some really cool snaps available these days (thank you to Susan in Canada for telling me about them, and for even sending me some). The usual types that I have always known and used are those classic bulky metal ones. Now there are some lovely flat ones that come in black, white and clear plastic that you can see in the photo of the silk cuffs.. I remember Google-searching like mad for these and getting frustrated as I simply did not know what to call the little things. It turns out that they are pretty easy to find in craft and sewing stores.

Those silk cuffs remind me of shopping trips with people with whom I have woven in my travels. Sue in the U.K took me to the Handweavers Studio in London back in 2012 where I bought lots of tiny leftover spools of 60/2 silk. The little tree pendant that looks so nice on the silk neck ribbon was bought on an outing with Christine in Arizona a couple of years ago. The colors on the silk neck ribbon were modeled on a hand-dyed and hand-painted silk warp that Sara Lamb gave me some years ago. All great memories! 🙂

The bands for my bracelets and cuffs that you see above are woven in various materials…mercerized cotton, worsted spun wool, fingering weight knitting yarn and naturally dyed silk. The pattern on the first band on the left is in my first book. The next one was a sampler for my second book. It remains to be seen how ”pilly” the one made from the knitting yarn gets after a lot of wear. That one was woven for my newest book and reminds me of the last trip I made to the highlands. Maxima and the other weavers up there fell in love with that pattern and I ended up teaching it to them. There are many fond memories tied to that trip.

Adviana learning to weave the new pattern.

The naturally-dyed silk band with the leaves reminds me of warm and generous friends in Grass Valley, California. While visiting with them, I was given a bunch of little naturally-dyed silk skeins which enabled me to weave beautiful bands and pieces of cloth for book covers.

Generally, if my band has a selvedge at one end, I will sew a button to that end. I then use a ribbon clamp to cover and protect the raw edge at the other end. I can braid some yarn and thread it through the loop in the ribbon clamp, knot it together and use that to loop over the button. That is also a good solution if the band in my basket is not long enough to allow me to use the more traditional jewelry findings, like rings and a lobster-claw clasp. The longer bands get the traditional findings (although I have to say that I am no expert at applying the tiny split rings even though I have the tools! I get crazy when those little rings slip out of my grasp and  ”ping” across the room!).

If I have two raw ends, I use ribbon clamps at both ends. Sometimes I sew a button on top of the ribbon clamp just for decoration, or because I have a particular button that happens to match the band well. It is very easy putting the bracelet on and slipping a braided loop over the button.

Depending on the kind of yarn, I sometimes paint some diluted PVA glue or Fray Check on the raw ends before putting them into the ribbon clamp. This helps to tame stray warp ends that can sometimes flare out at the sides of the clamps.

The red and black band with the beads is kind of an odd one. It is a very short band  that was meant to be a key fob. I had worked the unwoven warp ends into a bunch of tiny braids. I applied the ribbon clamp to the braids and I think it looks pretty good, if somewhat unusual.

So, I hope I have given you some ideas for maybe making some jewelry from your own band stash, or perhaps weaving some bands specially for that purpose. I think the bracelet/wrist cuff weave-along in January will be fun and very productive. If you would like to participate, you will have plenty of time to look for buttons and findings.

I want to leave you with a piece of exciting news about my video Operating a Backstrap Loom. The dvd went touring with me on my recent trip to Australia. It was very interesting talking to people who are interested in the video and who do not live in the USA. I listened to their thoughts on buying streamed content as opposed to physical dvds.

Operating a Backstrap Loom on tour in beautiful Australia.

And so, I am so happy to tell you that Taproot Video is now offering LIFETIME STREAMING of the video as well as the usual option of buying the dvd. Those people who bought the original 30-day streaming option will have heard by now that they have been automatically upgraded to lifetime streaming  at no extra cost.

Thank you to everyone who has bought the dvd or streamed option so far.

Oh, and one more thing… my “Sunrise, Sunset” piece is off the loom. This is the piece that I set up so that Marilyn and Rainer could film me for a documentary they are creating. It was a little stressful as I usually dither over new projects and need to ponder them for days, if not weeks. I am usually planning the next project as I sit at my loom half-way though another. In this case, I just had to grab yarn (10/2 mercerized cotton), wind a warp and go for it. I chose berry colors…ones that I like to think of now as the soft tones of sunrises and sunsets…dusty pinks and purples bathed in the golden rays of the sun.

I am going to sew it into a tool pouch for Marilyn, whose yarn I used. Maybe I will dress it up with a tubular edging too.

Until next time….






  1. I always get a little boost reading your blog posts, Laverne. Love all the little bands and the ideas for jewelry from them! I have yet to weave with wool or silk. I guess it scares me a little, given the ease (in my mind) of cotton. But I hope to do so one day. I am in awe of your sewing thread bands. :-O Incredible and so beautiful! Awesome that Taproot is offering your course in streaming. It really is the way to go since so many of us only have tablets or chromebooks! Looking forward to adding that to my files, too, since one can never have too much backup instruction. Love this post!

    • Thanks, Jennifer! Cotton is indeed lovely to weave with and the cotton bands make lovely bracelets and cuffs too. Yes, I am hoping that the lifetime streaming for my video will make it much more accessible to people far and away or for those who simply don’t have the equipment to play a dvd anymore. I hope you enjoy it.

  2. Thank you for such a great blog. Your work is inspirational, i can’t wait for your ravelry weave i. january. So much info so beautiful braids. What a joy to behold.

    • Thanks, Karen. The weave-alongs have always been so much fun and incredibly inspiring. People come along with all kinds of unique ideas. I think the next one on bracelets and cuffs will be the best ever!

  3. Thanks, Laverne. Your posts are always so inspiring and informative. Think I am off to make some jewelry from my basket of bands.

    • Send me pictures if you do, Connie. Would love to see what you make.

  4. Your work is amazing! Makes me want to start sorting through my
    “scrab” basket—after all the holidays are just around the corner. I love you blog, it’s always inspiring.

    • Great! I would love to see lots of bracelets appearing on the arms of those wonderfully creative hands!

  5. Thank you Laverne for keeping us posted on your up and coming book. Looking forward to it’s completion. All your patterns are amazing and your instructions are easy to follow. Not sure if I will be able to try them all in my life time, but I am going to give it a try!! Sampler Bookmarks!

    Your blog is so much fun, it’s always a joy to read and see what you are up to!! Thanks again.

    • Hi Pam. It’s so nice to hear from you and know that you are still trying this kind of weaving. I hope we get to weave together again some day soon.

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