Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 20, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Moody Blues and Greens

I have had a frustrating time trying to photograph my most recent ikat piece in a way that captures its true colors. I haven’t succeeded. The piece either looks a pale and washed-out green or takes on a blue resembling turquoise. So, you will see that the colors of my latest finished silk ikat project in the following pictures are ridiculously different. This piece has its moods!

This is the ikat warp that I dyed with a color called Teal by the manufacturer only to find that much of the blue component of the dye mixture simply would not take. The dye bath water turned a turquoise-ish blue at the end of the process and I had to rinse the yarn very well to stop it from continuing to release blue. What was left behind was a green that I ended up loving. I suppose this color could in fact be called teal. I have completely lost track now of the color my mind’s eye had been expecting.

Below, you can see the first band of patterning with supplementary weft and the ikat pattern stretching away in the distance. You can see the “holes”, or spaces,  that I left in the ikat pattern which I planned to fill with motifs using supplementary weft.

I scattered some more motifs using silk supplementary weft before reaching the start of the ikat section…

I used the same motif and designed an elongated version to fill the spaces I had left between the lines of ikat…

Here it is in a blue mood. It is off the loom before being washed and pressed and feeling rather stiff…not like silk at all. I know not to be disappointed by this. The wet-finishing process produces magical results!

I washed it and gave it the typical hard press so that the silk relaxed and shone…Now it’s in a green mood on the black background.

A different background, a different mood…(I love this version!: the colors are pretty true for the motifs but that’s not the real color of the warp).

One of the things I like about this particular technique of patterning using supplementary weft is that the motif does not show on the back of the cloth. Instead, you see a sort of “reverse embossing” (my made-up name for it!). If you look closely you can make out the diamond shapes and even the pattern that sits within the diamonds.

You can read more, if you like, about this single-face technique in a basic tutorial that I wrote some time ago. It includes some pattern charts.

As for the true color, I guess the closest shot would be the one with the black background. The real color is a richer version of that. I did the wet-finishing before dealing with the fringe as I wasn’t sure to what use this piece would be put. One end is a selvedge so there was nothing to bother with there. I wanted to avoid having the unwoven warp ends collapse into a tangled mess in the wash and so, while at the loom, I stopped weaving and then inserted a piece of cardboard in a shed that was the width of the warp and about three inches long. Then I wove another inch and cut the piece off the loom and removed the cardboard. That was enough to keep the unwoven warp ends in good shape until I decided what to do with them.

I had been planning to move onward from this project to a balanced weave in which the ikat pattern is in the weft or perhaps in both warp and weft. However, I can see from the samples that I have woven with the 30/2 silk in balanced plain-weave that I need more experience with getting a consistent beat and achieving the desired number of picks per inch.

I haven’t quite settled into that yet and I think I need to have developed a good rhythm before I attempt tying and dyeing and trying to get dyed threads to align. I did weave another balanced-weave sample in 30/2 silk using a finer bamboo reed that I have….28epi this time instead of 24epi and am much happier with this sample.

So, next up is an ikat project with 60/2 silk. I have been scratching around all week trying to come up with a pattern in which I can combine several of the elements I have been working with so far….creating shapes with a bit more curve (with limited success), dyeing with multiple colors (two, so far) and folding the warp to create an instant repeat when I wrap it with tape. This time I am going to fold the warp to halve its width rather than its length and tie the pattern on those two layers of threads at once.

I’ve decided to try having four colors in the pattern after looking at gorgeous pieces from Indonesia that have been dyed with morinda and indigo. The patterns include a very dark blue-black, a paler blue from the first dipping in indigo, morinda-red and the raw white original color of the cotton warp. Hopefully, I am not pushing this too far in my limited experience!

I’ll leave you here with my best wishes for a joyful Christmas and all the best for whichever holidays you celebrate at this time of year. I added a few more Andean Pebble Weave Christmas tree ornaments to my collection because I was itching to do some pick-up. All these colors are true! 






  1. Seeing all the different shades of green/teal/blue in your photo I am really curious to see the piece “in real life” – it is lovely in every picture though, well done!

  2. Gorgeous!

  3. Stunning work once again Laverne, those motifs are a wonderful complement to the stepped ikat pattern. Now from 30/2 silk to 60/2 silk…you have so much patience and courage!

  4. Thank you. Your ideas & weaving are inspirational. And Merry Christmas to you. Raga.

  5. This piece is spectacular, Laverne, in all its moods, colors, and designs! Think of all you have learned! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and new year.

  6. Happy Holidays Laverne!!

  7. Happy Holidays Laverne! The Ikat Weaving explorations are beautiful.

  8. The silk piece is just gorgeous. Merry Christmas!

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