Posted by: lavernewaddington | May 4, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Woo hoo! Going Wide!

Some people have noticed the lack of recent blog posts and commented with concern. Others know to expect a period of silence once I mention that I am about to travel. Some may even be relieved to perhaps have a chance to catch up on some older posts.

I took my new weird two-tone hair look out of the hat and boldly faced the public! I’ve had some twenty-something-year-olds tell me that it is a cool look. I would actually like to keep the two-tone look. It has taken nine months to get to this point and I quite like it! I have also had some weaving friends tell me that they have decided to join me in this cold turkey trip from dyed hair to natural grey.

There’s plenty to tell but I will limit this post to sharing with you what some of my particularly hard-core backstrapper friends did when we spent a weekend together.

We decided to try going wide together.

Everyone wove samples in preparation. Realistic expectations also needed to be set. This weekend was not going to be about weaving the super-wide project of our dreams. It would be about  warping, setting up and beginning a project that was significantly wider than the bands that we had previously been weaving together, yet not so wide as to take all weekend just to set up! The new skills could later be transferred to even wider pieces.

Some of the samples that were created before the gathering.

The samples were essential. From those we would take measurements and make calculations for the ”real” project. We had samples in the pick-up structure that we wanted to weave. All except Tracy went with complementary-warp pick-up. Tracy chose a structure that creates warp floats on only one face of the band so that she could replicate some beautiful patterns that are woven into yurt bands in Central Asia. Aunt Lydia’s size 10 and size 3 crochet cotton were the yarns of choice with a beautiful range of colors (there are a lot more colors in size 10 than in the thicker size 3). Tracy again was the exception in that she chose to weave with her hand spun wool. The other required sample was a piece in plain weave.

Tracy’s hand spun wool alongside one of Allen Berry’s gorgeous swords.

Nancy’s ”samples” were awesome in their own right! and enabled us to calculate the number of ends she would need for her project and plan layout.

Nancy was planning a woven cover for her daughter’s journal and it needed to be a precise width. We took measurements from her pebble weave and plain weave samples to calculate the number of ends she needed as well as the layout of the pick-up patterns and areas of plain weave.

Number-crunching with Tara for her wide project calculating warp requirements based on her samples. She planned a length of patterned fabric that could be folded into a box shape.

The wide warps were wound in sections as they were too wide for our warping stakes. I often choose to wind in sections as I don’t like having my warps climb too far up my warping stakes. I have found that even the sturdiest of stakes can lean when they are holding many bouts of yarn. Good, even tension on the warping stakes is critical. These warps will not be cut and threaded through heddles and then re-tensioned as they would be for floor and other kinds of looms. We are basically dressing the loom as we warp and the tension we create while doing so is what we must live with for the life of the project.

Ann removes one of sections from the stakes . She placed each section on loom beams and cross sticks that waited on the floor in another room…out of the way of feet and curious kitties!

Off comes one of Tracy’s sections. Each person decided how large they would make their sections depending on how far they trusted the sturdiness of the warping pegs under their particular warp tension. Some people wind tight warps, others not so much.

Nancy stops to check her count. Her notebook lies nearby with warping plan. There was much chatter and laughter which made me nervous. No one can come anywhere near me when I am warping and I need silence!

I stopped now and then to amuse myself with the cats and take pictures of the projects that the ladies had brought to share.

Above you can see the spindle bag that Tracy made using some of the beautiful pieces of fabric from the Bolivian co-op that we all support. Tracy covered the seams with cross-knit looping stitches and added a round base. On the table you can see a collection of spindles also made by the talented wood-working friend Allen Berry.

This is the band that Ann had been weaving the last time I saw her. She used my favorite leaf motif in spring-to-fall colors.

And here are some lanyards for name tags woven by Tara and Nancy. They combined patterns that had been woven into Bolivian bands that they own.

Lanyards in cotton and tencel made by Nancy and Tara.

Here are more amazing swords by Allen Berry. The ladies knew that they would need longer swords for their wide projects and Allen Berry created these. Each has its own unique pattern.  You can  view his products via his allenrberry Instagram account and make direct contact with him there.

Tracy was using this shoulder bag. I had last seen this as fabric on the loom made from Tracy’s own handspun wool a year ago. It was great to see the finished product with its eye-pattern tubular edging and strap. It feels gorgeous!

And, as I photographed all these beautiful projects and played with the cats, completed warps started appearing!

Phew! The warps are on the looms and they look great! Now to make heddles.

Tracy’s hand spun wool is even more stunning all stretched out like this!

Aunt Lydia’s size 10 crochet cotton has some bold and beautiful colors and Ann has combined them so nicely.

Stacy starts her heddles on a beautiful red, black and white piece for which she planned a knot-work pattern in pebble weave….

Some moments of hush while heddles are made. It’s funny because that is the part of the process when I can actually talk to people. These ladies, on the other hand, got very quiet during this part.

Tara’s warp with heddles in place. She included some sparkles in the warp which unfortunately don’t show up in the picture. This piece will be for her daughter. It is beautifully tensioned…so exciting to see a fresh warp on the loom!

Are we done yet? Getting there slowly with the heddles!

Woo hoo…time to start weaving!

Stuff happens when big projects like these are warped and set up. I won’t say that every warp came off the stakes ready to roll. Some threads had to be removed when the count was wrong. Some threads needed a little adjustment for uneven tension. That’s all to be expected. I remember sitting with my teacher in Ecuador and learning how to wind a dove-tailed warp for a hammock while her family watched. She made three errors in the warping and how she laughed and laughed when she discovered them. Everyone joined in! Maybe it’s not so funny when you are on your own but we were all there to help each other. With my Bolivian teacher we chatted as we rolled the balls of yarn back and forth to each other as we warped. Only when we finished we discovered that the stripes we had warped were totally asymmetric. Hilda laughed it off but I was determined to fix it!

Consulting with Nancy above as she throws her first passes of weft.

Tracy is counting out her first row of pick-up. The first row is critical as all other rows will be picked relative to that foundation. It’s always a relief to get that first row and in and confirm with subsequent rows that all is well.

Getting each and every warp end settled in its place at the very base of the warp is something I like to do.  Tara shares my feelings about this and is using a pointed stick to separate the ends and create as neat a start as possible. In some projects this selvedge will end up hidden in a seam and this much attention to neatness may not be necessary.

Tracy’s yurt band pattern takes shape.

Classic Andean hooks start to appear in Ann’s turquoise beauty … with another Allen Berry sword.

Nancy’s journal cover will include bee and hive motifs among others. She wove in her daughter’s initials in supplementary weft using lettering of her own design while I was there. You can just make out part of the lettering in progress below her right hand.

Margarite was not part of this group of friends but she did show me this weaving when I visited with her. She had started it back in the 1970’s when she was learning Guatemalan-style patterning. It had the two patterning sticks in place that I know well and we were able to set it up to finish off the motif she had started working on all those years ago. I was able to show her how to continue and put the pattern sticks to good use for creating other motifs. This is one of my favorite things to do…reviving a long forgotten warp that has been languishing in some dark corner unfinished. This one is between forty and fifty years old!

Let me leave you with an important announcement about Patternfish, home of my e-books….

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Some of you may have heard about the fact that that hosts my ebooks is planning on closing at the end of May. Patterns, e-books etc that you have bought along with any accompanying videos will be available for downloading and saving until the END OF JUNE and I urge you to do so. I will be making a separate blog post about this in the near future once I have investigated my options. In the meantime, if you have concerns about your ability to save your purchases, please contact me via a comment on this blog post or via private message on Facebook or Ravelry. I have an awesome team of customers who have been willing to provide technical help to those who may be having trouble downloading or finding places to store their purchases. Let’s work through this together. We have two months to get your purchases safely tucked away. It’s sad news. Patternfish has been a wonderful home for my ebooks but it’s time to move on and new things are coming!



  1. Hi Laverne,
    what a great post on an amazing tie together. The wide warps are beautiful, well done to all women there! Look forward to seeing next weeks photos.
    Cheers Anna

  2. How wonderful to wake up to read this inspiring post! I would love to have been present in this room and wander around and absorb some of this amazing knowledge and artistry! I am definintely going to have to have one of those amazing swords. And I would love to know more about this Bolivian coop/fabric you refer to?

    • Hi Cindy. I am glad you found Dorinda and were able to buy one of the beautiful pouches that are made by the ladies in the co-op. Thanks for your support.

  3. Love your hair. I stopped coloring mine years ago. Beautiful to see everyone’s project coming together. I would love the contact info for the swords please. Also Patternfish, a friend suggested Google Drive, and I put the pdfs there, and tried uploading one of the videos and seems to all be working so will upload the rest. Thank you, Ellen

    • Hi Ellen. I hope you were able to find Allan via the Instagram link. He doesn’t have a website nor does he do email. I am glad that you have been able to save your patternfish files.

  4. Love the hair! I’d be tempted to keep dyeing it for that look, if you’re not too tired of dyeing.

  5. Sorry I needed to miss that Go Wide class! But we *needed* to attend the WorldFest/Houston spontaneously when we heard about our award :-). You could do a blog post on your interview in the documentary! Dang, we were going to sit with you and watch the film while we were all together… Life happens.

    • One day I’ll get to see the whole film and my little part in it. Congrats on the well-deserved award. Hope to catch up next year.

  6. What a gorgeous portrait of you! The two tone look is very beautiful and stylish, and it will be equally so when it is all grey.

  7. Well done, getting a post written! 🙂
    Thanks for all the lovely documentation of our wide weaving – it was a great weekend. Gives me the urge to get moving on that piece again (another project has been taking all my time – the crazy big wedding blanket thing.)

    • I saw pictures of your beautiful wedding blanket. It looked like the couple loved it. What a great gift!

  8. Hi Laverne! I was looking back through my old notes from my weaving days in Bhutan, wondering how well I could still follow them. It got me thinking, how do other people take notes of this craft? And can they understand those notes after a long break from weaving? Would love to see a blog post someday dedicated to how people document their work on paper. Though I am hardly weaving these days, I still love following your work. Warm wishes from Oregon, Taylor

    • Good question, Taylor. I get the chance to see various people’s note-taking strategies during my workshops. When I take notes in a class, I try to test them out as soon as possible afterwards and then again 6 months down the track. I find that I often leave out things that at the time seemed too ridiculously obvious to bother writing down…and then I find that it is not so obvious later! Six months seems to be enough time to need the notes to get back into it but also not enough time to have completely forgotten that very obvious part which can then be added. I find that the morning of Day 2 is a good time to check one’s notes. The head is fuzzy first thing when you pick up your work again and then you can see where your notes may be lacking essential details. I think that when you go home after a workshop, you need to write all the notes out all over again.

  9. Wow! What a spectacular selection of wide warps. Can’t wait to see how they turn out. When your hair is long and all white, you will have a wonderful blank canvas and you could even dye just the ends a variety of colors like purple and blue if you want. I’ve seen it on the younger gals and it really looks pretty.

    • Thanks. Temporary color might be fun to play with. I also thought it could be cool to try to stencil something onto the white with a spray-on color!

  10. Transitioning “greycefully”, going wide and moving on to a new platform. She’s unstoppable!!!!

  11. How exciting – backstrap weaving “wide”! Gorgeous warps & project starts. I am very interested in getting one of Allen Berry’s fancy wider weaving swords. I looked at his Instagram – but could not figure out how to get in touch with him to order one. Can you send me the information to get in touch with Allen Berry, Laverne?

    • Apparently he doesn’t do email and so Instagram is the only way. Click on the little airplane icon on instagram which takes you to messages and then click on the pencil icon to compose a message. Type Allen’s Instagram name into the field.

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