Posted by: lavernewaddington | April 25, 2020

Backstrap Weaving – The View from my Window


My makeshift photo/video studio at my living room window.

For those who visit my blog to see weaving, there is some in this post, but there’s also a bit of rambling. Forgive me. These are strange times! If you just want to see weaving, and there’s some great eye candy to be enjoyed, you should scroll on for a little bit.

Since I set up my little “video studio”  to shoot the clips for my book on double weave, I have become much more aware of the view I have from my windows. I usually have blinds on these windows and they are always drawn in an attempt to keep out the heat and dust. Now, with everything wide open I see that a good quarantine activity might be washing windows! While hunched over the camera, I feel a little like James Stewart in the Hitchcock movie “Rear Window”. I see little slices of  life through the various windows in the condo. Then again, I wonder who in turn might be observing me and wondering “What is the gringa up to now?”

Filming has been interesting. I have to straddle the tripod, sort of semi-squat, lean to one side to see, and reach around and weave all while trying to keep my head near the camera and in good range of the microphone. My leg muscles start to scream! So, when you buy my book and watch the videos, you will see that one of the clips has an ant merrily making its way in and out of shot. I did many, many takes for many reasons but I decided that the ant could stay. It amused me. I can say that no ants were disturbed or harmed in the making of my movies! 😉

I now know that  one of the neighbors on the second floor in the next building has a Tonkinese cat. Mine now lives with a friend. I had to re-home her because I was traveling so much. She turned 17 on April 1st! I usually visit her twice a week but visits are off for now. Now my friend sweetly sends me videos of her. I see the neighbor’s cat sitting on the window ledge. Like many of us, I suppose it’s wishing it could go out and wander around. I see other neighbors sweeping, cleaning, shaking their table cloths out the window and putting me to shame. I have been wholly devoted to the book these last weeks…heck, months! Everything could do with a good cleaning.

In my last post I remarked on the absence of familiar sounds during the current lock-down. Now there is a new sound of which I had not previously been aware…the rustling of fallen leaves. I live in the tropics. There is no apparent change from summer to fall. We have a sort of winter with slightly milder temperatures but that is all. We have a wet season. All remains lush and green. Today we sit at 93 degrees. However, now I am aware that there are some trees that actually lose their leaves in what is our fall season. The cleaners aren’t coming in every day to sweep up the leaves and they blow about and rustle along the cobbles.

Certain smells are absent too…the “interesting” aromas from the big street market down the road that the wind sometimes blows over is happily missing. The market has been shut down. And that most typical Santa Cruz fragrance…the churrasco! (barbecue) which seemed to be in the air at almost any time, even at 11pm when I would go out sometimes to enjoy the cool air, is no longer around. However, a new aroma is in the air. I noticed talk in one of the Santa Cruz Facebook groups of the disinfecting effect of burning eucalyptus leaves. Someone here burns them every afternoon. I can close my eyes and imagine I am back in Australia on cool autumn evening when people in the neighborhood would rake eucalyptus leaves into piles and burn them.

Because this is what I actually see from my bedroom window, I often play a little mind game when I am seated at my loom. I sit on a firm foam cushion on the floor with my loom attached to the base of my bed. From there I can’t see out my window.

While sitting there, I imagine that I could be anywhere in the world. It wouldn’t matter where I was, because at that moment I have chosen to sit on the floor and be completely focused on my weaving. The foothills of the Himalayas could be outside my window. The Mediterranean Sea could be out there sparkling in the sun. Or it could be the Straits of Magellan stretching away to Tierra del Fuego in the magical low, soft light that is so peculiar to that far end of the world… or any number of fantastic scenes that I have been lucky enough to experience in the places I have chosen to live and travel. I once woke up to this magical scene of snow on a train trip from San Jose to Seattle. I was lucky to be in the last carriage to get this view. It’s a bit harder imagining this to be outside my bedroom window because it is so darn hot!

Depending on the time of year, the evening golden moment has the light of the setting sun bouncing off one of the building’s terracotta walls and filling my room with a warm glow as I weave. In winter when the sun is in a certain position, soft late afternoon rays skim the surface of the fabric on my loom.

I have been missing my backstrap loom and my little spot on my bedroom floor! Yes, I have been weaving, but on an inkle loom because the title of my new book is Warp-faced Double Weave on Inkle Looms. The book is finished! But there is still work to be done. One file has gone to the printer for the making of the spiral-bound books. The other has gone to Taproot Video so that it can be uploaded to the website. All that takes time and I will let you all know as soon as the book is ready for purchase. As usual, it will be offered as a PDF as well as a book.

I am now ready to return to what might be an over-ambitious plan for my next ikat experiment. I have to put the cochineal aside for another day as I was never able to get hold of the alum. I still have synthetic dyes that I can use with my silk but that part of the process is still a long way off. I now have to figure out how to go about tying the pattern that I have sketched into a silk warp.

I have been weaving a lot of double-weave samples lately. Here’s one of the double-weave patterns from the new book which was created by Marilyn Romatka in one of my workshops. It’s amazing how this figure which is undeniably a llama, and a very elegant one at that, has been designed with so few threads. It is stunning in its simplicity and I am so happy that Marilyn allowed me to include it in the book…

I am left with a large box full of the woven samples for the book. I often just wove one figure, photographed it for the book and moved on. This means I have a lot of small pieces that could be used as key fobs and bracelets. The llama band will be a key fob.

Here’s another example of a very simple pattern. Both bands were woven using the same thread for warp. The one on the right uses a finer material for weft and I wove it with a much heavier beat. There is also quite a difference in feel and visible texture between the two. The one on the left has been washed and pressed while the one on the right is fresh off the loom. Both will become bracelets. There is a nice section in my book on different ways to finish double-weave bands depending on their intended use.

There is one thing to be said for deadlines…they force you to come to a halt! Although there is no real deadline in self-publishing, I would always have the trips away from home in the spring and the fall… the trips I called my “weaving safaris”… that would bring my weaving and writing projects to a necessary halt. This year has been different…no travel… and I have had to really force myself to stop the book project! How many times can I fiddle and adjust and enhance?! When do the changes I make stop being improvements and actually start to muddy things up? So, yes, it’s done…the files are in other hands and I am beyond the point of no return! Phew!

I will finish by showing you what my weaving friends around the word have been creating. I don’t step out to see the world. The world comes to me 🙂 These projects bring me so much joy!

My friend Emerald in Sydney has had her job put on hold and has not wasted any time getting back into her backstrap weaving. She has woven one of the two weaving figures from my Complementary-warp Pattern Book. The figure was first designed by Maja Bürger in Germany and she allowed me to make some changes so that I could have two versions in the book. This is how Emerald has her backstrap loom set up at home… When I stayed and wove with her in Australia, she was a sit-on-the-floor weaver but has now created a different set-up sitting in a chair.

Nora Dereli is welcoming spring with my Garden set of patterns from the same book linked above. This set includes, birds, blooms and butterflies and there’s another set which has bee patterns. Nora uses the Windhaven Accordion loom.

And, here’s yet another Andean Pebble Weave/ complementary-warp project and a different kind of loom with patterns from the same book, Complementary-warp Pattern Book….Gonit Porat teaches weaving in her studio in Israel. This is the work of one of her students, Michal. The warp is tensioned on the frame of a rigid heddle loom. There are four lovely horse figures in the Animals set which were designed and contributed by my friend Deanna Johnson.

This band is from Linda who is enjoying using 5/2 cotton on her inkle loom. The pattern is from my More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns book.

Maria Leticia Galve in Buenos Aires, Argentina sent me this picture of her work. I am particularly happy to see the patterns on the left which are from my very first book, Andean Pebble Weave, that I published ten years ago! The other beautiful knot-work pattern is in More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns. That book has several knot-work patterns, some of which I adapted from Louise Ström’s tablet-woven designs.Deanna, who designed the horses that you see in Michal’s work, has been test-driving a new band loom and wove this beautiful piece using a pattern from my Complementary-warp Pick-up book. This book has instructions as well as 42 pattern charts.

Facebook keeps reminding me of where I was and what I was doing at this time last year. Here I am at Deanna’s with Yan having so much fun with both of them as I sit at Yan’s foot-tensioned loom. My grey-hair transformation was in full swing and I was getting used to the odd looks people were giving me.

And here we are in April 2020. I have a lot of awesome places, people and experiences to ponder as I gaze out of my bedroom window (and get some Vitamin D at the same time!). News of the book release will be coming soon.












  1. You are BEAUTIFUL! I love your hair – natural and gorgeous! Happy quarantine…Charlotte in Texas


    • Thanks so much, Charlotte. I am in a going-grey group on Facebook and membership is booming during this lock-down!

  2. It is wonderful to hear about the making of your next book and video, and I am eager to get a copy of the book. I’m particularly tickled to see the view from your window! I’ve tried to imagine where you live from your past descriptions, but this really helps. I confess, I’ve snatched your most recent photo for my “family and friends” album so that I can enjoy seeing your familiar face surrounded by all silver. I’m sure it helps in your solitude to realize that you could literally be anywhere with your back to the window as you focus on your weaving!

    • Hi Lausanne. Was it really a year ago that we were out digging up potatoes in your yard? I am a city gal and that was big fun for me. And, all those lovely walks, the sunsets…..and now I pay Quiddler online every day! Thanks as always for your support. Did we weave double weave together? I don’t remember. If so, you will find that I do things a little differently on the inkle loom. Are you and your weaving group having Zoom get-togethers?

  3. I enjoy reading your “ramblings”, the descriptions of places is vivid and I feel as if I could see them. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Lucy. I have never felt safe taking my big camera out with me when I go out to the markets and other colorful places here. But, I have my little Ipod now which I can easily and quickly tuck away and I should try to capture more scenes to share with everyone. I am glad that my words are doing the trick in the meantime.

  4. I love the view out of your bedroom window of the buildings opposite – so many patterns and textures, plus the shapes and angles lend themselves to the idea of a tapestry design. It also takes me back to my visit to Peru and the workshop of Maximo Laura – the view from the top of his house of ‘incomplete’ buildings in Lima.

    • Well that’s an interesting way to see that view. I’ll be looking at it with new eyes now. I can see how a tapestry artist will spot and appreciate texture and pattern in all manner of things. Your time with Maximo Laura must have been amazing. I can imagine the kind of view you are describing in Lima.

  5. Good to hear from you Laverne, STAY SAFE and HEALTHY down in Bolivia!

    • Hi Kelli! Yep, staying safe and healthy down here. I hope you and yours are safe too.Here’s hoping there’ll be more fun dorm stays, pajama-weaving evenings and poached-egg breakfasts at RSG some day.

  6. Ah, Laverne, it is always so nice to “hear” your voice. I look forward to your next book and video. Thank you for posting all the work you have inspired. Makes me want to get something on “the loom” but other hobbies keep me busy at the moment. I too loved seeing the view out your window and will imagine your contortions while I watch the video. Stay well, Lynne

    • You know, I was thinking about you, Lynne, and wondering if you might be lighthouse keeping again some place in your own version of physical distancing. I am curious about your other hobbies! Stay well.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts
    And weaving, especially enjoy the trip around the world, with weaving friends and

    • Thank you for leaving me a comment! Having people from all over the world contact me and show me what they have been weaving is so uplifting for me. We are all lucky to be safe and in our weaving spaces doing something we enjoy.

  8. I loved this post. It was lovely catching up with you. I’ve been doing a lot of weaving while staying home. It’s spring allergy season and I haven’t even been able to get outside very much. I’ve been on a weaving binge for some weeks now. I’ve warped my inkle loom twice and woven all the samples in your book for 8 and 12 thread warps. So much fun! I’m turning the samples into bookmarks to give to friends from church who are also locked in. Stay well!

    • Hi Becki. I am so pleased to know that the pebble weave patterns have been keeping you challenged and entertained. 8 and 12-thread patterns are a good size for bookmarks. You can maybe combine some of them and make wider pieces soon. I hope the allergy season is over for you soon. I suppose even leaning out our window as I do is not pleasant. Happy weaving!

  9. Gorgeous new self portrait at the end Laverne ( although hard to figure out the logistics of the photo out the window). I suspect many of us have followed you or studied with you for years and don’t know anything about your life in Bolivia so this was really fun to read. This is inward, introspective time for all of us so this is a perfect blog. I can just see you making your life and playing your mind games to entertain yourself. Your new book will be gorgeous and yes, there’s a time to say a HECHO!! Love and hugs from California

    • Hi Kate! You make me think of those gorgeous sunny afternoons on the farm weaving together with Lily Irish dancing to entertain us after lunch…sigh! As for the picture…thank you…the secret is: selfie stick…one arm stuck out the window, Ipod at far end of stick. My nephew took a picture of himself recently swimming across a lake that had me baffled for ages until I realized that he was swimming freestyle using just one arm. The camera was held out in front with the other arm, possibly on a stick.

  10. What a fun blog post from you, Laverne! I too have wondered about what you see in today’s world as you shelter in place. I am excited to be able to buy your new book! I have to talk to Taproot… For some reason I cannot get their shopping cart program to accept the state that I live in when I tried to order your last book. But, that’s a problem for them. I have been sewing masks, so not a lot of weaving here. But, after this next batch I am taking a break to get into my studio and WEAVE something! Oh, we just brought a new puppy Windsprite into the family, Lizzy. So, keeping busy! oxox Ginny

    • Hi Ginny out there in the desert. Fish and chips on the jetty must be a distant memory for you as much as it is for me. Outdoor weaving at your place…such fun. That was one of the only places I ever managed to do that. I hope you get the Taproot problem sorted. Maybe somehow the system still has you down as a CA resident? Things must be lively with the new pup. Did your dragons make the move too?

      • Yes, those were special workshops. We got lucky with great weather.
        Sadly, no lizards made the trip to NV. Elliot died one day. No clue what happened! When we knew we were moving for sure I rehomed Marlene. Her new Dad was so excited! New Mom was a little doubtful of the bugs that went with Marlene… lol gd

  11. Loved your letter to all of us out here!
    This has been a good time to reconnect with weaving
    Thanks for sharing
    Look forward to your new book!

    • Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I am glad that this situation is giving you a chance to get back into your weaving. I am looking forward to taking up my backstrap loom again and am busily sketching and figuring out my next ikat experiment. The planning is also one of the fun parts for me. The weaving part is a long way off yet.

  12. Can’t wait for your new book! Congratulations on completing it!
    And I love the idea that when focused on your weaving, you could truly imagine you are anywhere. You probably have lots of memories to choose from for locations.

    • Thank you, Deanna! I have been enjoying seeing the pictures of the painted rocks that you have been finding on your walks and sharing with us all online.

  13. Laverne: I love your new hairdo. Very flattering. I’m also doing the go natural, go grey, but yours looks way better than mine.


    • Hi Berna. Thank you! I want to keep it at chin length from now on but I may get a chance to see if I like it long again if we are shut in for some time! I imagine your transition has been relatively gentle as your hair was quite light to begin with. Freedom from the chemicals is great, isn’t it?!

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