Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 6, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Free Time

How did you all do surviving Black Friday and Cyber Monday? I didn’t buy anything but I have been doing my share of advertising for the fact that I published a new book of patterns last month and also the fact that all my publications in English are now available as spiral-bound books rather than just as PDFs. …a girl’s gotta make a living after all.

But, in this blog post today, I think it might be nice to take a step back, have some “free” time and also think about some free resources that I have made available on this blog over the years. They have been around for a long time but perhaps we all need to be reminded of them now and then.

The first free thing I would like to tell you about is my tutorial on a weft-twining technique that I used to finish the following project…

I recently made some Christmas tree ornaments using the metal ribbon crimps that I normally use to turn my woven bands into wrist cuffs. I found that they also make cute little hangers for bands to swing from the Christmas tree. These are’t for me. I don’t do Christmas with a tree and all that stuff. These will be gifts.

The ribbon crimps I used, (or ribbon clamps as they are sometimes called), are one-and-a-half inches long. They come in various sizes and metal colors. I used weft twining at the ends of the little band pieces to stop them from unraveling. The weft twining is a pretty and practical finishing technique. I have used weft twining on other projects in the past when I have wanted to prevent unraveling. Using it means that I don’t need to twist or braid fringe or sew a hem. Below, you can see the multiple rows of twining just before the fringe starts on the place mats that I wove.

In one of the weave-alongs that we ran on Ravelry, Julia used the technique to finish the bands that she made into key fobs. The technique that I used to finish my tree ornaments uses four strands of thread to twine two rows simultaneously. It is quick and easy and fun. I do it while the piece is still on the loom as I find it much easier to apply while the warp is under tension.

So, this is one of the free things on my blog about which I can remind you…my tutorial on basic weft twining. The tutorial has video clips which show simple twining with two strands and then the four-strand twining that I used for my ornaments. It also shows photos of other projects where I have twined little patterns and even words. The videos show how you can use strands of two colors to twine motifs.

I have been weaving three ornaments per twenty-inch warp. My backstrap loom allows me to work on short warps. Twenty inches gave me three pieces for ornaments while also giving me plenty of room in which to work comfortably. I designed a set of Christmas-themed patterns for the Complementary-warp Pattern Book that I published back in 2018. I used a few of those for my ornaments but then I decided that any pretty motif would look nice hanging from a tree. So, I used a hummingbird and a flower pattern that I also designed. I will be weaving more and will probably give a set of four in different colors to friends. Maybe I can add a couple of new ones each year.

Here’s a tip I can give you if you are planning on making some of these: I prefer to make the band slightly narrower than the ribbon crimp. That way, when I enclose the raw edge in the crimp, I don’t have to be concerned about the warp ends flaring and peeking out from the sides of the crimp. They can, however, be tamed and made to behave with a little glue before you apply the crimp, if you prefer.

As you can see, the complementary-warp structure (in this case Andean Pebble Weave) that I used produces bands with two structurally identical faces with colors reversed.

Olyweaver has been playing with simple warp floats, a technique she learned via the free tutorials on my blog. Her Schacht inkle loom is allowing her to weave a surprisingly wide band. I love the calm, cool colors she is using.

What I call the simple-warp-float structure, gives you pattern on one face of the band and a lot of texture. You can see how the green floats stand out above the flat background of green and purple plain-weave horizontal stripes. My free tutorial on this structure is here.

It’s a nice technique for those who feel they would like to go beyond the basics of plain weave and take some first steps in pick-up weaving.

From there, you can advance to a technique in which both colors are used to form floats and pattern at the same time. Olyweaver is only using the green threads in her warp to form the pattern. In my examples above I am only using one of the two available colors to create floats.

My free video shows you how to create a warp for a backstrap loom so that you can weave these kinds of pick-up patterns.

In the following beautiful piece woven by Tracy Hudson, in which she used her own hand spun yarn, both colors are used to form floats. In the center section, red floats form the motif while blue floats fill in the background. This was woven on a backstrap loom.

You may remember that I showed pictures of Tracy just starting this piece when I got together with her on a visit to the USA. It is exciting to see how it has progressed since then.

Tracy’s piece has patterns from Central Asian yurt bands as does the band that I showed in my last post made by Olyweaver…

The traditional yurt bands only show pattern on one of the two faces of the band. They use a technique that produces warp-floats in two colors on only one face and I have a few free tutorials on that technique on my blog. This is the same structure that I used to weave the place mats that I showed earlier on in this post. This structure is used in many regions around the world. My place mat pattern comes from textiles of the tropical lowlands of Peru.

Here is the free tutorial for the S pattern band that Esther wove below. This is a traditional yurt-band pattern.

In my Complementary-warp Pick-up book, I show how these same patterns can be woven with two identical faces.

You can browse all the topics of my free tutorials here. And, may I remind you that many of the items that I gathered on my RESOURCES page are also free downloads.

Let’s see what else has I have seen online and in my inbox…

I LOVE this cotton piece made by Nettina on her backstrap loom! It’s plain weave and gorgeous!

My favorite part is the way she finished the raw edges of the cloth. I showed you earlier in this post how you can use weft twining as a pretty finish alongside fringe. Nettina didn’t want fringe on her piece and carefully covered the raw edges with coil stitches. This looks fabulous.

She has carefully spaced her coils so that colors can match up perfectly with the arrangement of colors in her woven cloth…beautiful!

If you would like to learn the coil stitch and other decorative finishes, I teach them in my book The Eye-pattern Tubular Band and Other Decorative Finishing Techniques which you can buy as a spiral-bound book or PDF at Taproot Video. I use step-by-step photos, drawings and video clips in my instructions. Both the PDF and print book  allow you access to the instructional video clips.

Here you can see the little “pocket bag” I wove and later decorated with the decorative coil stitch. You can make the coils as a colorful contrast to the piece as I have done or have them blend in perfectly as Nettina has done.

Wendy made a hat band using a cute viscacha motif as well as one that she designed herself in Andean Pebble Weave…

And, while not weaving Christmas tree ornaments, I have been working on my latest ikat piece. Here it is on the frame while I was tying in the pattern with pink plastic ikat tape…

I dyed it using Jacquard brand acid dye in a color they call teal. The dye behaved strangely. When I have used this dye in the past, the color has been almost completely exhausted by the end of the process. The water is almost clear and I have to do very little rinsing. This time the water was very blue and I had to rinse a lot before the silk thread would stop releasing blue color. It seems to me that the blue part of this dye mixture simply did not take anywhere near as well as the other components. I ended up with a green that I am guessing is missing much of the blue tone that one would normally expect from teal.

I decided I liked it. It’s funny that I had very recently downloaded a photo that my friend in India had shared of herself with a friend.  I had fallen in love with the green sari her friend was wearing and the rich colors of its pattern. My warp ended up being a green color that reminded me of the sari and gave me the idea to use earthy colors for patterning.

The aim for this ikat project is to include patterning with supplementary weft, not only bordering the ikat section but also within it. I have to stop looking at that sari because my piece is not going to be anywhere near as pretty! 

I started with a row of supplementary weft motifs in various colors. The warp is 30/2 silk and I am using several strands of 60/2 and 120/2 silk as the supplementary weft. My friend Betty has textiles from Bhutan hanging on the wall of her weaving studio and I used a motif from one of them that I had photographed while visiting. When I get to the ikat section I will use that same motif s and add another to fit the blank spaces that I left between the lines of ikat pattern.

In these pictures the cloth is showing much more of a blue tone than it does in reality. After the first row of pattern, I scattered a few more motifs to fill the space before the start of the ikat section. Then I had to start cutting off some of the ikat tape in order to be able to advance the warp. I leave the tape on for as long as I can manage as I believe that it leaving it in place helps to stop the warp threads from shifting too much. 

So, I have this on my backstrap loom on which to continue. Every now and then I take a break and work on Christmas ornaments. 

December is the month in which I decided I need to go back to working on my next book. Let’s see if I can stick to the plan! A balanced-weave ikat project is calling to me….I need to work out a schedule where I can do both. I could happily weave all day every day, but as I said earlier, a living needs to be made too!

In my next post I hope to show you what I have learned from attempting to tie and dye weft for ikat.









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