Posted by: lavernewaddington | May 25, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Success

The trusty flip phone that has traveled many years with me alongside one of the pouches I wove for it from my handpsun alpaca yarn.

When looking back on my long trips away, it is always good to contemplate what went well and what could be improved. There are different ways of looking at success. One success for me on this trip was managing to ”Keep Calm and Weave on” when I arrived at a destination to weave with a group only to find that Amtrak had managed to lose both my pieces of luggage in two entirely different ways. One piece ended up in Alabama and the other in Virginia and it was almost 48 hours before I saw them again. That’s when you find out just how resourceful you and others around you can be.

Another successful ”Keep Calm” moment came when I found myself on a Greyhound bus heading north when I was supposed to be going south. I was dumped off. It’s quite shocking standing there with close to 100lbs of luggage watching the bus drive off with the words ”Sorry for the inconvenience” ringing in your ears! There were connections to be made. Needless to say, I didn’t make them. I was reminded of how helpless one can be these days if you don’t have a Smart phone. The load of luggage didn’t help. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. A college kid, who was one of many strangers to help me out, looked in wonder at my little Verizon flip phone and said ”Lady, it’s time to upgrade”.

Other measures of success are more tangible, such as photos sent to me from my weaving companions on this trip who are clearly enjoying all they learned.

Jennifer has been making cuffs using the sample bands we wove together as well as warping and creating her own combinations of patterns. She is using the sweet wooden bracelet findings from Purl and Loop. I ordered six pairs of them for myself and can’t wait to use them.

Here’s what Ann has moved on with after weaving Andean Pebble Weave with me. She has jumped into patterns from my second book, More Adventures with warp-faced Pick-up Patterns

Here are examples of both the supplementary-weft and double weave techniques that Tracy and I wove together. The bigger success here is that Tracy is already designing her own patterns in double weave.

Michelle and Kathleen got together to make their own backstraps. Kathleen wove with me last year and got Michelle interested and brought her along this year to join our group on Big Hill…

They used plain weave following the instructions in my Backstrap Basics article and fancied it up a little by adding horizontal bars and variegated yarn in the center. This is Plymouth Yarn’s Fantasy Natural, the yarn I recommend for a backstrap being a nice weight for a sturdy strap as well as being mercerized.

This is what Nancy has been up to since she wove Andean Pebble Weave with me last month…

Mary Alice S finished one of her double weave bands and included her initials…

Here’s Lori’s stunning black and red Andean Pebble Weave band. She also put the finishing touches on an Andean Pebble Weave pouch that she started during one of my previous visits. She sewed a neat finish of cross-knit looping along the edge of the flap…

And, even though Lori’s 8-year old daughter Lily has woven tubular bands, Andean Pebble Weave and double weave with me, she still likes to go back to simpler ways now and then and hook a narrow warp to her big toe to weave…

Karen refreshed her memory on the moves for weaving the ñawi awapa tubular band and Lolita joined us for the first time in the barn.

Folks happily warping, happily weaving….!!! That’s Michelle and Jen, below, who joined me on opposite sides of the country. You can see that the weather was becoming more spring-like by the time I got to the north east…no more long sleeves.

there you can see Kelli and Denise weaving into the evening with chocolate and wine! A successful combination. The results were good….

It is also heart-warming to be sent pictures of backstrap weavers happily at it after I leave them whether it be in solitude or with the support of a group…

Groups from Washington and Alabama form study groups and support and encourage each other.

Anne weaves out on the deck while Mary Alice takes her backstrap loom on the road.

And, it’s always great to meet people face-to-face who have been using my books and tutorials to learn the various weaving structures. Kathy is enjoying the backstrap loom and just needed a couple of pointers to better manage her wide warp.

She was struggling to open the sheds and a few tips on strumming, tension and sett as well as making her aware of the fact that she can use her coil rod to help open a cleaner heddle shed helped her enjoy weaving this piece a lot more.  She is using Knit Picks Curio cotton and the pattern is one from Tinkipaya, Bolivia which is included in my second book…

A couple of different ways to set up a backstrap loom.

There are a couple of things that people are often not aware of when they venture into wider warps. It is common to underestimate just how wide a piece is going to be. Having the warp threads pushed too close together makes for a very dense fabric and makes opening the sheds quite difficult.  And, it’s important to keep in mind that a certain number of ends in plain weave will produce a wider width than the same number of ends in a warp-float structure. Sampling is the answer!

Another thing that is often underestimated is the amount of tension that needs to be added to the warp when raising the threads in the un-heddled shed. This becomes greater the wider the warp or the heavier the thread. A pvc pipe, like you can see in Kathy’s warp above, is a great favorite among some indigenous weavers as it makes raising the threads in the unheddled shed through the heddles easier without adding the weight of a large wooden rod to the set-up. The draw-back is that it makes raising the heddled threads just that little bit harder. I generally prefer using a something smaller and using a sword to raise the unheddled threads instead. This gives me an easier time with the heddled shed. But then, it depends on the width I am weaving, the structure I am weaving and the kind of thread I am using. There are many variables and it is nice to have options for the ways I set up my loom. I show a few of them in my video Operating a Backstrap Loom. But, each weaver will have their way.

While staying at Kathy’s I got to play on her Chinese braiding stand using Jacquie Carey’s book for instruction. The bamboo bobbins were made by Kathy and they tinkle and clink together in the sweetest way as you create the braid. The little twigs that naturally extend from the bamboo shafts act perfectly to hold the thread on the bobbin and stop it from unraveling. The braiding hand movements are particularly calm and pretty. Here’s Kathy showing me the moves….

Part of the fun for me is getting to learn new things. That is part of a successful trip for me.

People showed me their favorite ways to mark their pattern charts as they weave and it is always interesting to see what kinds of things people find helpful….cute sliding magnet markers for one. Color coding was a new one for me which I found particularly interesting. I’ll be using it!

I can then pass on those tips to others….more success!

A successful trip is one in which I don’t have to spend more than one night in an airport before a horribly early departure.

This one night was really quite comfortable as I found a rather nice place to sleep (pictured above) in an airport that was music-free and relatively free of those annoying security announcements.It’s fun meeting someone with whom I have been corresponding online. Maxine brought along these awesome examples of bands she has been weaving on her inkle loom. She has patterns from various sets in my latest book, Complementary-warp pattern Book, in the band on the right and many figures from the Rivers and Oceans set from the same book in the other one. Her color combinations are gorgeous! She was keen to weave with me on a backstrap loom so she can choose to use either that or her inkle loom in future projects.

Denise has already used ideas from the tubular bands we wove together to add some nice spiral plain-weave tubes to the bag she made from double-weave fabric she wove and shaped on her floor loom.


Marsha’s horse band with figures from my latest book Complementary-warp Pattern Book has gone onto her husband’s hat.

A successful trip is also one in which I have some down time to enjoy the scenery…..this time it ranged from the thundering Niagara Falls (the Maid of the Mist trip was awesome!) to the stark desert of southern California, to tranquil rural spring scenes, to stunning views over the mountains towards Yosemite….

Thanks to everyone who made this trip away so much fun and so successful for me. Here is the last get together at Red Stone Glen just before I left to come home…

Success? Yes! People I met and wove with now know what it feels like to ”be the loom”. Many have a better appreciation of what goes into creating all those beautiful backstrap woven textiles of the South American highlands. New backstrap weavers have been born and are using their new skills. Others who were already backstrap weavers have gone home with tips on how to improve or work more efficiently. And, I have come home with plenty of new ideas.

I still have plenty to show you as lots of things have been happening in backstrap weaving among my online friends. But, for now, I’ll show just this one picture from Carole in Israel. It’s a set of key fobs she made using patterns from my 2nd and 3rd books….

I can’t wait to show you what Tracy, Kristen and Sobahime have been weaving using reeds on their backstrap looms. Until next time….I must get back to finishing my paisley scarf.












  1. You’re the best!

  2. It is wonderful having you as a teacher in person and on line. Looking forward to the classes in 2019!! Can’t wait to see your finished paisley project!!

  3. Wonderful! As always, it’s always great and inspiring to watch you spread the love of backstrap weaving.

  4. Laverne, So glad you had a good return trip. Thank you again for a wonderful workshop on decorating your backstrap weaving! Graceanne

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