Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 5, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – The View from my iPod

I love the little pouch I made for my iPod. With it hanging around my neck, I can quickly and easily take pictures anywhere I go. And, it also gives me access to Instagram, which I love.

Backstrap weaving in Maine with camera at the ready. Oh yes, and there’s me going public with my new silver hair streak..

Using the iPod as a principal camera does have certain limitations, though. The battery life is pathetically short and the zoom is pretty useless. I will probably go back to also carting my larger camera around on my next trip away.

However, the iPod did enable me to take some nice shots during this two-and-a-half-month trip away and so I can now show and tell you that Ohio has the cutest story-book clouds….

And that I learned yet again on my second visit that Vermont has epic sunsets…

While Kentucky has awesome hiking trails and vistas…

And that strolling through Charlotte airport is like strolling though a park! Someone had the brilliant idea to plant trees and place rockers under them. That, with the natural light streaming in through the high glass walls creates a very unique airport experience…

It is so convenient to be able to grab my camera from its little pouch around my neck and snap a quick shot along my demonstration warp with the backstrap still in place around my hips…

You might recognize this warp from the cover of my dvd Operating a Backstrap Loom.

I had created it just for the cover shot and then put it away in a drawer. When I was asked to demonstrate backstrap weaving at the Fiber College of Maine event, it seemed like the perfect thing to use with its bright colors and small amount of pick-up. I have found that when there is a mix of weavers and non-weavers in the audience, most people are more interested in seeing how the loom works rather than watching a whole lot of pick-up. The tiny strip of pick-up in this piece was just enough to give people the idea while allowing things to move along at a captivating pace. Finding just the right spot outside is sometimes tricky and I found myself moving around this tree, like the hands of a clock, chasing the shade.

All ten of the people who came to weave with me were also able to comfortably enjoy weaving outdoors under a tent…

Each tent had its name and we were in the Laugh one among the woods at the Fiber College of Maine campground.

Over two days we wove bands with complementary-warp pick-up together enjoying being in the open air….

Other folks came to weave with me for just an afternoon. Young Mira added an extra bit of sunshine to my day when she showed up with a warp she had created from her own handspun and naturally dyed wool…

It had a few minor issues which we sorted out together. What fun! In the background you can see one of the porch hang-out spots where fiber enthusiasts gathered to weave, spin, knit and share stories.

After playing with the warp and making some adjustments, she  showed me the bark berry baskets she makes. She made this one into a backpack. It’s lined and she sewed on the leather trim herself. It’s gorgeous! On other baskets she has used tablet-woven trims.

There were so many cool people at the Fiber College of Maine. It truly is a special place. Check it out for next year if you are in the area in early September.

Knitting ”softwear” engineer Alisdair Post-Quinn was there. I got to hang out with him one morning on one of the porches while I wove a band with interlocking Andean hooks attached to my toe. Alisdair was starting a new piece in double knitting. He showed me the pattern he had created and it was also all about hooks in positive and negative space, looked very Central Asian and was absolutely stunning!

Later on, we all got to see one of Alisdair’s finished double-knitted pieces…whoa.

There are several relaxing ”hang-out” spots such as this throughout the campground which are great places to sit and practice your craft and talk to whomever happens to come by. There was even a convenient post for attaching a backstrap loom at this one.

There were folks making felted vessels, painting on silk, weaving rag rugs, making chain mail, doing Sashiko embroidery, double knitting, tapestry weaving, quilting, making long and short bows, plasma cutting, basket making, flute making…and these were just the activities that I managed to get around and see. There were a whole lot of other fiber and fiber-related things going on as well at this five-day event known as Fiber College of Maine. Classes ran for two days, one day and half days and there were several ”taster” activities offered by the hour. I was drawn to the pottery taster but knew that I wouldn’t be able to carry my creation home.

The entire campground is a wonderland of creativity from the plasma-cut fire places to the whimsical outhouses.

I was quite taken with the sleeping quarters for the artist-in-residence that stands within the weaving studio building…a tent structure within the building which has been covered with antique doilies. It was like a little fairy land inside.

From the seashore of Maine, I headed to Ohio to stay with weaving friend, Janie. We gathered a group to weave ñawi awapa tubular bands and play with various finishing techniques used by weavers in Peru and Bolivia.

Janie was busy preparing for a show of her tied and dyed silk scarves…

Between weaving and silk dyeing, we managed to have an awesome day out hiking in Kentucky in the Red River Gorge. It was a day of beautiful views and just enough challenge for me whose legs had not been hiking for a long, long time!

And then, I bounced over east again to Vermont to stay with Lausanne and Brian in their little cottage in the woods…

Fall was in the air and we harvested potatoes but I was just that little bit too early to see the leaf colors that I had enjoyed on the Columbus Day weekend on my last visit.

We wove, went to the Harvest Festival at which Lausanne performed on her fiddle, cruised thrift stores and did some short local hikes.

Lausanne wanted to refresh her Andean Pebble Weave skills and she put together a beautiful wool warp for her backstrap loom. Yes, wool has its challenges but working with it is so worth it. Once you get used to its hairiness and adapt your shed opening techniques to suit, it all becomes so much less intimidating.

She chose  figures from the aquatic set in my latest book of patterns Complementary-warp Pattern Book starting with some little fish in among the currents and progressing to one of the four larger fish that are charted in the book.

Carol, Peggy and Bradie came along to weave complementary-warp pick-up on their inkle looms. We used patterns from my Complementary-warp Pick-up book for those. That book has the instructions along with forty-two narrow patterns.

Online weaving friend, Lizze Ruffell, has been enjoying the book, too….

Bradie felt quite at home on the floor with her inkle loom and I may be mistaken but I have a feeling that she might try out a backstrap loom at some point…

Carol and Peggy worked at the table. Each person finds their own way to hold and work at the loom. Both Carol and Peggy took home unwoven warp and patterns on which to work.

Later, up at the table, Rosie found a warm lap on which to ride out the cold wet day…a good day to be indoors weaving. Bradie quickly picked up the technique and I know that she will go far with this!

  My last afternoon with Lausanne was spent taking a gentle walk on a perfect fall day to a lovely lookout spot where we could enjoy views of the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.

I then moved on and visited with my good friends Claudia, Janet and David in Maryland. It’s been nine years since we met online via Weavolution and there is always much to catch up on. It was tough having to limit the visit to just two days. But, we didn’t muck around. Claudia suggested reviving my limited knitting skills and I was all for it. Perhaps it was the encounter with Alisdair that reminded me of the amazing things that can be created with yarn and two simple pointed sticks. And so…I knitted! I learned the long-tail cast-on and used circular needles for the first time…exciting! Claudia sent me home with a whole kit of interchangeable needles and a half-finished simple cowl.

My warm-up sample.

I think that wearing colored cowls near my face will be nice way to brighten things up a bit when I complete my transition to silver hair. There’s still a loooong way to go on that! I also ordered silk so that I can weave some silk button-up ones too.

Last stop, North Carolina and the Yadkin Valley where we gathered weavers to try out some backstrap weaving and pick-up patterns. I stayed with Leslie and husband John on their property along with their alpacas, goats, donkeys, cats and dogs and enjoyed being back in North Carolina after a break of eight years.

Leslie had been to Convergence where she took my friend Marilyn’s class. I immediately recognized the bow-loom-woven double bracelet that Marilyn teaches people to weave. Marilyn also presents this class on dvd or via streaming on the Taproot Video website.

Here’s our happy group of backstrap weavers at the Fiber Center. A couple of the ladies are studying for the Master Weaver Certificate offered by Olds College. The Yadkin Valley Fiber Center partners with Olds College to offer all levels of the Master Spinning and Master Weaving courses. I have since seen on Facebook that Deb is enthusiastically continuing the samples we started together and I hope that the other ladies find time to do so too.

And, the other thing that the iPod has been good for is…. those dreadful selfies. They are too hard to do with my big camera and I would like to record my transition to silver hair. I promise I won’t bore you with these pictures in every blog post but I figure that if I put a picture or two ”out there” I am less likely to chicken out and go back to dyeing.

Now, I am back in Bolivia and giving myself a few days to clean house, do laundry and re-stock the fridge before jumping back in my loom. First, I will finish the demo warp that I took away. It’s going to be a backstrap for one of my students. And then, I will decide on whether I want to start with the silk cowls, some ikat, linked warp, or perhaps a light gauze cotton piece using some fine handspun cotton that I found in the closet. I think I bought it in Guatemala back in 2008. It has been doubled and rolled into a ball and I have been winding the singles back into separate balls.

I am wallowing in time before my next trip away…exciting! There’s lots of weaving to do and, of course, there is a book or two to work on as well.















  1. Thank you so very much for sharing you travels. I just found out you will be in Nashville, next year. I am so excited. I have been following you for years and have several items I purchased from you.
    Judy Anderson

    • Hi Judy. I recognize your name and know that we have been in touch online over the years. I look forward to finally meeting you.

  2. Laverne, it was so fun to read about your whole trip! And you are right, a backstrap loom is definitely in my future! Happy weaving and writing. 💕 Bradie

  3. wow, just wow…. such an inspiring pictures and stories ❤

    • Hey Yonat! Sure do miss all of you there in Santa Cruz CA.

  4. I love your little pouch too Laverne and all the great photos on your posts as they are so graphic. Your text is graphic also: when you say you jump INTO your loom I just laughed, but I know that that is what you do! Thanks for all this enjoyment and best wishes. Jenny Jackett, Brisbane

    • Thank you, Jenny. I must make the time to visit Queensland on my next trip to Australia.

  5. Thanks for another wonderful post full of color and weaving!

    (If you keep your iPod on airplane mode, the battery lasts a good long time)

    • You’re welcome. Thanks for visiting. I do keep my iPod on airplane mode. I am sure the battery lasts a good long time when you are listening to music with black screen. I don’t have any music on mine! I guess I am using it for something for which it was not really originally intended. If I am out and about taking a lot of photos at an exhibit or something like that, I find that the battery runs down surprisingly quickly.

  6. Great pics!! I find with my iPhone I get more impromptu photos. Re the battery issue- pick up a little power stick like pocket juice. They have bailed me out often when traveling

  7. Thanks for this amazing and beautiful post.

    • Thank you. I really appreciate your taking the time to comment.:-)

  8. I always love it when there’s a new post on your blog – they always feel like presents! And I love the beginnings of your halo. 🙂

    • Absolutely!

    • Thank you, Deanna. I did a half-up pony tail yesterday and it looked like I was wearing a silver tiara!

  9. I (we!) love your little ipod pouch too! What a wonderful event you attended – the people are so creative and skilled, and you all obviously had a great time together! Admiring all the inspiring projects is always one of the most enjoyable things about your blogs. I especially like the wool pieces since while in Alaska I do a lot of wool dyeing, and I hope this season in Oaxaca I can improve my weaving skills enough that I could weave with wool. I hope Mira sends you a photo of her completed project so we can see it.
    The beginnings of your silver hair look lovely! When it all grows out you can twine tiny colored braids within it!

    • Hi Marilyn. Mira’s piece was beautiful but a little troublesome. There was still a bit of grease in the wool so you can imagine how that made opening clean sheds all that more complicated. I do hope she gets the time to weave it. I wish you safe travels to Oaxaca.

  10. Lovely, Laverne. You were in two of my favorite states. Ohio is my home state and Kentucky is a state I lived in and love.

    • Thanks, Alaa. It was nice to be able to spend some time in Kentucky in that beautiful Red River Gorge.

  11. The wool piece that Lausanne is working on sure is inspiring. I love that you are growing out your hair. You will be such a vision of light and loveliness with your natural hair color!

    • Thanks, Kristin! Yes, Lausanne’s piece is gorgeous. I can’t wait to see it finished.

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