Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 2, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – A Few Steps Back and Many Steps Forward

I don’t have a whole lot to say in this post except that I have made what feels like a whole lot of progress on my scarf with its paisley-like patterns. It has been fun planning and weaving the smaller simpler motifs along the length of the scarf after all the busy-ness at the start. I am slowly adding spots and dots to the smaller motifs building up to another splash of busy pattern in the center.

I love the stretches of plain weave between the motifs when I can get into that lovely shed-beat-weft-shed-beat-weft rhythm, leaning forward to relax the tension on the warp threads to lift the heddles for one shed and sitting back and strumming for the other.

I am using five strands of 120/2 silk for the supplementary weft in three different colors. It is interesting to see how different the motifs can look depending on how the light hits them and which color happens to dominate. I change the mix for each motif. I have deep reds, reddish-purples, blue-ish purples, purples, blues and green-ish blues, some of which you can see below (beautiful Redfish Dyeworks thread given to me by my friend Ginny)…

This warp started off as a circular one but, once I started weaving, I noticed a significant difference in tension from one side to the other which I couldn’t explain. And then I saw the cause…..urgh! The shelf to which one of my warping stakes was clamped had slid out of its bracket. I don’t usually wind circular warps and so I had needed to alter my normal set-up. This sliding must have been happening gradually as I wound the warp and I hadn’t noticed. I really didn’t feel like battling this tension difference for the entire project. That would not be fun. There would be no rhythm and a lot of fiddling and adjusting. And so I had to take some steps back before I could move forward once again.

I had wound the warp in lots of small sections and so I carefully placed a section back around the warping stakes, untied the knot and wound the thread back into a ball before moving on to the next section. I had my heart in my mouth the whole time but I only had to ditch one section of blue that got hopelessly tangled.

Then I set my clamps a different way to more reliable surfaces and wound an end-to-end warp. That meant that I had to roll up much of the warp around paper so that it could fit in my weaving space but I have done that before and it works just fine.

I am at the half-way point repeating the large motif in the middle….

I am enjoying using the unusual shuttle that I bought at the Braids conference, unusual in that it had been soaked in an indigo dye bath. It carries the supplementary weft and is a nice size for this project.

It’s great to see this project finally moving along after starting out many weeks ago with just my paper cut-out paisley shape, blank charting paper and a confusing array of paisley-pattern ideas from online searches…

I have had other largely off-loom activities going on as well. Here’s the tease picture again for the new pattern book on which I have also been spending a lot of time…

Most of the steps I have been taking while preparing this have been forward. I have around 75 patterns so far. Occasionally there is a blip where I have to take a step back to fix a chart and weave one of the designs again. Doing that is often a nice break from the 60/2 silk project. Suddenly #10 thread feels so heavy and it’s so easy to see! If all goes well and there aren’t any major steps backward, I plan to have this new book out this month.

The Cuff and Bracelet Weave-along officially ended yesterday but I am sure that we will continue to see more contributions. I, for one, have yet to finish the cuff I planned with my handspun wool (in fact, I am still plying!). Maja showed us the lovely bracelet she made with her own handspun alpaca fiber. She threaded beads on the weft and added them to the edges along the way…

Now that Marilyn has finished weaving her own backstrap….

…she has joined us in the weave-along and has been weaving a band in plain weave for a cuff and playing with color…

Katherine is always full of cool ideas and placed three narrow bands together to make this one wider bracelet…

Rosemary wove with embroidery floss for her latest bracelets and told us how much she loved using it. She mentioned how nice and tightly it packs, how smoothly sheds open and how easy it is to see. I have never used it as warp myself.And so, it’s back to the silk weaving, the book lay-out and plying for me. It so nice to be doing rather than just planning and hopefully there won’t be too many backward steps along the way to finishing all three projects.












  1. The scarf looks amazing. I can’t wait for your next book. I hope there is another video in the works too. Perhaps double weave!?!

  2. Beautiful work Laverne! I’d love to see a close-up of a motif to better appreciate the use of 5 different coloured strands of supplementary weft

  3. Wow, Laverne, your paisley scarf is gorgeous, and to think you re-did part of the warp, I secretly love that those kinds of things happen to you too! cuz then you can help us figure out what to do when we land in hiccups! I just bought your book from Diane, so thrilled to get started again, I’ve had to take a huge break from weaving while we moved! I know my next project is just around the corner ! Thank you for your blog, your wisdom and your human-ness! Happy Weaving!

  4. I just knew YOU were the perfect person to give that yummy Redfish thread to. Can’t wait to see what other beautiful things you do with it!! Ginny

  5. Your paisley scarf is stunning! I too would like to see some close ups of the motifs sometime in the future.
    My backstrap and cuff were fun to make and I am learning so much. It seems that every project is a lesson in problem solving!
    I just bought your book on Complementary-Warp Pick-Up, so am looking forward to the next challenge…
    It’s quite inspiring to see the creativity of all the weavers. Thanks for all you do!

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