Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 21, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – A Leafy Retreat

Anyone who is familiar with my work will know that I like weaving leaves….creeping leaf-laden vines, fallen leaves lying among berries or on the snow, shadowy leaves floating on a background of translucent cloth.

I have used them in a variety of structures: using supplemental weft on a warp-faced plain-weave ground, in intermesh, in double weave, in Andean Pebble Weave, and, more recently, with supplemental weft on an open mesh-like ground. I like to consider them my signature patterns.


Leaves on the snow and leaves among the berries in silk.

Leaf patterns in two very different cotton projects that both use supplemental weft threads to create the motifs.

A band with a leafy pattern is the one I chose to be my ”reward” weaving whenever I decided to take a break from writing my latest book. Right after I wrote my blog post ”Taking My Own Advice” in which I talked about the importance to me of having these little rewards, I set about choosing thread and planning a small project. I wanted a wrist cuff but one that was a fair bit wider than others I have woven. I also wanted one in black and white to go with a necklace that I often wear. I have a lot of DMC #12 perle cotton and decided to go with that. It is silky smooth and strong in contrast with the sticky wool and delicate hand-spun cotton singles that I have been weaving with lately. Oh my, how those sheds just pop open with the lightest touch!

I chose my pattern, one that I included in my latest book of 100 patterns…Complementary-warp Pattern Book…….leaves, of course, this time in pebble weave.

I had first created this pattern for a piece that became the cover for a journal in which I combined colors using small skeins of naturally-dyed silk that I had been given. This pattern of leaves is included in the Garden set of patterns in the latest book. The garden set includes various flower motifs, a butterfly, a humming bird and of course the leaves with a flower bud. And, there is whole other set that is made up of just bees.

I made my heddles on my wrist-cuff warp and then, there the warp sat for two weeks, tied to the bottom of my bed and stretched out across the floor. I can’t say that it sat there untouched because I stepped on it, tripped over it, and even got things tangled in it as I sat on the floor next to it, tapping away at my computer keys, writing my book and studying my samples. My bedroom floor is my weaving studio and my desk! I am afraid that I was a little impatient with that warp and would just shove it aside. The thing that had become entangled in it would be favored over the fine threads in the warp. I was almost convinced that I had abused it so much that it would be beyond recovery for weaving. I was so absorbed in writing the book and taking photos that I guess I just didn’t need time out for ”reward” weaving. The book itself required a certain amount of weaving and I guess those projects alone gave me enough loom time to keep me very happy. I would often be typing with the sample I was currently weaving still attached to my waist!

Now I am in a period between two major parts of the book-writing project and I decided to take a break and enjoy my little leaf pattern. A little leafy retreat. As you can see, the abused warp survived and I was able to weave enough band to make a cuff. The fineness of the thread allowed me to weave two columns of the pattern and I enjoy the mental gymnastics of flipping the pattern in my head as I pick my way across the threads.

As for the book on which I am currently working, you might be wondering what it s about…well, I like surprises…and I’ll let you know soon!

This is what Kristin has on her loom. She is making cloth for a bag project using her own hand-spun alpaca yarn and using the pattern from a piece I wove many years ago and photographed for my very first book. Seeing her project made me fondly remember that old wool weaving of mine. I turned it into a pencil case for a friend. It was tragic when one of his pens leaked ink onto it! Kristin is an awesome spinner of all kinds of fiber and she is handling what must be a sticky and tricky piece on her backstrap loom with two sets of string heddles holding her precious hand-spun thread. Her photo has me admiring her yarn as much as the weaving.

Maria Leticia Galve in Argentina sent me a picture of the band she wove using one of the six cat patterns that are charted in my latest pattern book. It is heart- warming seeing these patterns being enjoyed by people around the world. I love the colors and the way she has flipped the cats back and forth.

The cats are just one part of the Animal set of patterns in my book.

Katrina Michaels is using one of the smaller patterns from my instructional book, Complementary-warp Pick-up, to create a guitar strap. That’s a lovely set of tools that she has there on her inkle loom. Her swords are placed within the picking cross ready to help her select threads for the next row of pattern. This is a technique favored by many who don’t want to fiddle with extra sets of heddles or whose looms don’t have enough space for them. This picking cross method is the one I teach in the Complementary-warp Pick-up book. Kristen, on the other hand, is using the two-heddle method, as am I, for the leaf pattern on my cuff. Each weaver decides on the method they prefer, or choose the one which best suits the pattern they are weaving and/or the equipment they are using.

The fabric for my new cuff is off the loom. I see that I have enough length for the two ends to overlap. I can use simple snaps to close it. But now I want to edge it with a patterned tubular band. This is weaving and sewing combined, and I find it so relaxing.

You can see that I have just started the tubular edging on the upper right. I get a kick out of turning corners when I do this sewing!

I wont have a button under which to hide the start and finish ends of the tubular band. I can, however, hide the join beneath the part where the two ends of the cuff overlap. But, let’s see how neatly I can manage to connect the two ends together. I have been trying this with increasing levels of success with heavy-ish wool. I don’t know what my chances are of achieving neatness with this DMC #12, though! I’ll keep you posted.

As I said earlier, if you are a follower of my blog, you will know my love of leaf patterns. You will also quite likely know that I don’t really do Christmas. However, I had fun last year at my brother’s place designing a bunch of Christmas-themed patterns in pebble weave. The feedback from my sister-in-law as I wove and re-wove them, making little adjustments along the way, was very helpful.

I loved the way they turned out. Then I put them aside to await their publication in my pattern book in March this year. It has been a long wait since then to pull them out for Christmas this year. I think they do look very jolly and, with these, I will wish you all a joyous and peaceful time whatever you choose to do this holiday season.











  1. These angels are just delightful Laverne!

    • Thank you, Jenny. They were fun to design. I wish you all the best for Christmas and the new year ahead. I really appreciate your taking the time to write me a message on almost every post.

  2. I love your alternating pattern on your new wrist band.

    • Thank you, Elinor. You know how I love weaving leaves.

  3. Thank you for a wonderful Christmas gift – glimpses of loveliness from Laverne!

  4. Inspirational and seasonal! Maybe this year
    I can send a picture of something woven!

  5. Beautiful weavings. I’m trying a band for a bag I wove. Its supposed to be 124 inches. I just took the warp off of the pegs. I am trying to rool/wrap the extra warp around the rod furtherist from me. I can’t get it to wrap evenly. Should I use paper to wrap it in?

    • Thank you. Oh, yes, absolutely….use paper as you roll up the warp.

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