Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 15, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Inundated with Ikat Ideas

Now that I feel that I have a bit more of a grip on a technique for creating warp-ikat patterns, I find that this newly-acquired level of confidence leaves me awash with ideas for future experiments. I am just about to start ikat experiment #6 but have so many ideas for experiments beyond this that I am almost losing interest in #6. However, #6 definitely has its purpose as the things I learn from this experiment will hopefully be applied to future projects. It remains to be seen if the lessons I learn will be more about do’s or more about don’t’s.

So, what became of experiments #4 (the cowl) and #5?

My idea had been to connect the two ends of the result of my fourth ikat experiment to make a cowl. I wanted to use buttons along one edge of the fabric with braided loops on the other end. I did that and it didn’t work. It was clumsy and fiddly and the buttons were too heavy for the light silk fabric. I had to cut it all out and start over. You can see that I ended up with several snaps along the edge and I used fabric to reinforce the ends. The snaps are super easy to fasten and un-fasten and don’t add too much weight to the cloth. This works really well!

Above the black cowl you can see the result of the fifth ikat experiment as well as a small piece of balanced plain-weave fabric that I wove using my bamboo reed. The balanced-weave piece is an experiment so that I can plan a possible double ikat piece, in which both the warp and weft are tied and dyed, some time in the future.

Ikat experiment #5 was about testing how well I could manage 30/2 silk in this technique. I also wanted to experiment with folding the warp in half so that I could tie the ikat tape around two layers of warp at once and create a repeat. The third thing on which I wanted to focus was dyeing with two colors.

I placed the ikat tape, then dyed the warp red. Then I removed some of the tape and dyed the warp orange. Actually, the orange color was not what I was expecting from a dye color that was called “dingo”but the orange color grew on me.

Here’s the warp after the first red dye bath and with some of the tape removed ready for the second color. The warp is folded in half around the metal bar you can just see between the warp threads at the bottom of the picture. 

What I learned: The warp threads got super compressed inside the tape and were stuck together when the tape was removed. I separated the threads here and there but realized later that I needed to be more thorough about that. If I wanted to dye with a second color, I needed to separate the threads in each and every bundle and make especially sure that I pulled them well apart at the point where they re-entered the wraps of ikat tape. I had figured that the 18-hour pre-dye soak that I give the warp would be enough to enable the threads to bloom and separate and recover from the compression. Apparently they didn’t do that entirely. This meant that I didn’t get  even penetration with the second dye color.

Here’s the warp stretched out on the loom after its second dye bath.. I needed to add string heddles and then I would be ready to weave. You can see how the second dye bath with the orange-y so-called dingo color brightened and “gladdened” the red. I wasn’t expecting that and it was a pleasant surprise.

It’s exciting seeing the pattern emerge. There’s always a sigh of relief when I see that the threads are not going to shift so much as to ruin the pattern.

Here it is off the loom before being washed and pressed…

I was really pleased with it! It could be another cowl, if I really wanted it to be more than just an experiment. I also thought it might be interesting to somehow join the two patterns together side by side to make a square. Maybe it could be one side of a cover for a small pillow.

Here’s a close-up after wet-finishing.

I felt pretty comfortable working with the 30/2 silk and would call this experiment a success (ah, but was it just a fluke?!) and I’ll use the same 30/2 silk for experiment #6. The next experiment will be about combining ikat with motifs in supplementary weft. I have done this before in ikat projects using cotton. 

There’s always time to do lots of thinking while I sit here tying the warp with strips of tape. I will use that time to think about what would be a good pattern for a first attempt at double ikat. Perhaps I should just start out with a weft ikat piece and slowly work my way up to double ikat. But that idea has to wait in line. I still have ideas for moving on to using 60/2 silk for ikat projects. I have been reading that some ikat artists fold the warp both horizontally and vertically to create a side-by-side mirror image of a pattern as well as a mirror-image repeat along the length of the warp. I don’t feel ready for that yet!

From my inbox:

Olyweaver wove a band with a pattern that is found on yurt bands in Central Asia. In this structure, floats in the two warp colors form the pattern on one face of the band. Irina spent a lot of time studying a picture of this pattern on my blog so that she could chart the figures herself. She said that this exercise gave her a much better understanding of the structure before she could start weaving. She also said…. the design was small enough with internal mirror repeats that by the end I could anticipate the next step without counting chart squares, but I did need the chart for guidance. I looked at how the design evolved in each colored area as opposed to what the chart said line by line. 

Llunallama wove a beautiful band of running horses in complementary-warp pick-up (Andean Pebble Weave structure). She calls the piece “Flight” and says that it might be used as a hatband. My friend Deanna created the four horse motifs and contributed them to my Complementary-warp Pattern Book.

That book and all my publications in English are now available as either PDFs or as spiral-bound printed books from Taproot Video.

Here are four of the seven titles that are now available as spiral-bound printed books…

The seventh title, More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns, is one that was published just last week. It is a book of 132 Andean Pebble Weave patterns that can be used by all those who have learned the pick-up methods from my books on complementary-warp pick-up and/or Andean Pebble Weave. Read the full product description and look at sample pages here.

If you don’t own any of my books and would like to get started in weaving bands with pick-up patterns, I recommend starting with Complementary-warp Pick-up.  (which includes some Andean Pebble Weave patterns). Note that none of my books are aimed at those who have never woven anything before. You should already be able to set up your loom of choice and weave a warp-faced band in plain weave before approaching these patterning techniques.

And, if you like Irina’s band with the pattern from the yurt band, I have a tutorial on this structure here on this blog. The pattern I use is a sweet S-hook motif that I saw on a yurt band in a friend’s collection. Depending on your level of experience, the tutorial page will tell you where to find instructions to get started.

I send many thanks to everyone who has bought my latest book so far. Your support is very much appreciated.










  1. so exciting and beautiful, can’t wait to see what you will come up with ❤

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