Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 16, 2020

Backstrap Weaving – A Bit of This and That

I’ve been spending a couple of weeks finishing things off, sampling, researching, soaking up some online inspiration and planning while I build up to getting into some meatier projects.

First I added the loops to my cuffs so that I could call them well and truly finished. I made simple three-strand braids from some of my hand spun wool, threaded them through the bands and knotted them on the other side. These slip over the buttons that have been sewn to the other end and secure the cuffs nicely around my wrist.

Next, I decided that I really needed to add a Finnweave cuff to the collection. It was fun planning and weaving this small Finnweave project after the larger one that I had recently completed. I used rows of curl patterns that are often found on Huichol double weave pieces and designed a pattern that I thought had a Mexican flavor to sit between them.

You can see the difference in the gold color in my Finnweave cuff and the cowl on the left. So much of the gold color came out when I wet-finished the fabric for the cowl! Not a bit of black came out and my Color Catcher cloth turned a deep gold color, almost orange. The cuff fabric in 20/2 cotton was light enough to allow me to turn a hem at the two ends without adding too much bulk. I used two black plastic snaps to secure it.

Apparently there is some golden yellow inspiration out on the streets these last weeks. I haven’t been out to see them, but the Bolivia 360 page on Facebook tells me that the yellow tajibos have been blooming. This is one of their photos…

So all three of the latest cuffs are finished and are ready for an outing one of these days!

I would love to also make a cuff from my three-color pebble weave sample in 8/2 tencel on the left but it is just that little bit too wide for any of my ribbon crimps and too thick to hem. It can sit in the sample drawer until I come up with an idea for it.

Next on the list was a return to something I had been playing around with back in early 2015. Back then, I was in one of my ikat phases and wanted to create shapes in ikat and fill them with pick-up patterns. I was heading in the direction of creating curved shapes in ikat to fill with pick-up and was working with 8/2 cotton at the time. I wove a wall hanging with angular shapes…two bird figures that I had seen in a book on a large piece of pre-columbian cloth…I ended up making three pieces in this series of birds. They currently live in my closet. Hopefully one day they will hang on my walls.

That project of angular shapes was followed by ikat circles which I also wanted to fill with pebble weave pick-up. It was successful except for the fact that I had forgotten to account for take-up. when I first tied the shapes into the warp. When I wove the cloth, I ended up with shapes that were certainly curved, but not quite circles. 

Now I am taking the same idea to my 60/2 silk and starting off once again with the somewhat safer angular shapes in order to ease myself back into this. But, I am not making anything nearly as large as a wall hanging! In fact, I thought that I might make this practice piece into a wrist cuff at first but decided that something a bit wider would be more helpful as a sample for future projects.

I used some red silk as the base color, tied it with ikat tape and dyed it black. I really shouldn’t take photos late at night as they are always pretty awful, but I wanted to get a quick picture of this so that it could go into the tub to soak overnight and be ready for dyeing the following afternoon.

I should mention that tying red warp with pink ikat tape is not fun! The colors are too similar and it was very hard to tell if the tape was reaching all the way to the margins of the pattern.

The pattern is a very simple one…horizontal and vertical bars that are supposed to look as if they are interwoven as warp and weft. I may have mentioned in other posts about ikat that I find creating straight horizontal lines particularly challenging. My bundles were pretty small. I find it much easier to wrap a thick bundle rather than a thin one.

Here it is on the loom with some of the shapes filled with Andean Pebble Weave pick-up….

I had by-passed my folders of charts and gone straight to the shelf and taken down my own pattern books to leaf through and choose a pattern.  I used one from one of my pattern books after having modified it to suit these small strips of weaving. I wanted a fairly busy Andean Pebble Weave pattern but not one  that had horizontal lines because I didn’t feel like fussing with the necessary modifications while weaving with this fine silk.

So far, the threads are behaving quite well. I think the interwoven effect would be more pronounced if there was less space between the vertical and horizontal bars. I was concerned that if I left too little space and if the shapes blurred along their upper and lower edges, one shape might end up merging with the next. You watch….next time I’ll leave less space and that is precisely what will happen!

I don’t often look at my own books because I have folders and folders of pattern charts with all the patterns that are found in my books along with so many  more that haven’t yet been published. And so, it was kind of fun looking through my Complementary-warp Pattern Book and remembering the time when I was putting this book together. I spent something like six weeks at my brother’s home in Australia drawing charts and weaving the samples. That visit to Australia was supposed to be about visiting family and then popping over to Bali to take a workshop on weft ikat. You may remember my tale about being five hours into the six-hour flight to Denpasar when a volcano on the island of Bali erupted. That forced us to turn back and all flights from Australia to Bali got canceled for a week or so after that. Of course, the workshop went ahead without me.

And so I  stayed in Sydney with my family instead and  work on the book continued.

Starting the collection of sample bands.

The book was finished something like four months later and it has been wonderful seeing these patterns being woven around the world ever since….

By Gonit Poratin Israel (right) using a backstrap loom and one of her students using the frame of a rigid heddle loom.

Frances Lewis used the fish charts from the Rivers and Oceans set to weave a band of fish, but using tablets instead of heddles. She filled in some of the fish outlines with her own pattern ideas.

Julie B liked the set of four cats in the animal section. I love weaving these too and wove them into a silk wrist cuff along with some of the paw prints that are also charted in this book. There are three different kinds of paw prints in the book.

Wendy made this beautiful hat band for her fisherman husband using the fish and other watery patterns from the Oceans and Rivers set…

Bees get a section all of their own in the book as there are four of them to choose from. Here is Carlos’ backstrap-woven bee piece…

Carlos was one of the designers who made a contribution to this  book. You can see his own bee design (below) flanked by some of the patterns from the Borders and Dividers set.

Original patterns contributed by Maja Burger, Laura McCarty and Carlos Vargas.

Nora included one of the bees and its hive in her band of patterns from the Garden-themed set…

I chose some patterns from this book (along with a couple from another one of my books) for the Christmas tree hangers that I made last year…

Could this be my favorite among my books? I’m not sure. I certainly had fun sitting down and looking through it while planning my latest ikat experiment and there are certainly some nice memories associated with weaving the samples (despite the disappointment of the failed Bali trip).

I guess one of the things I like the most about this book is the fact that there were so many contributions from people who had bought my earlier instructional books and then gone on to create their own awesome original patterns. Within the book itself, it’s impossible to pick favorites from the one hundred options. Julia transferred Sashiko sewing patterns to the Andean Pebble Weave structure. I love those. They are charted in the Geometric set.

I have woven my slightly adapted version of Maja’s weaving woman quite a few times. Yes, she might be my  favorite….my current favorite in any case! She appears on the cover of the book. The cheeky viscachas (Andean chinchilla-like animals) also appear on the cover. I charted this pattern from a pre-columbian textile fragment. 

I hope that if you own this book, you may now feel inspired to take it out and browse through the patterns as I have done. And, if you don’t yet own it, perhaps you will put it on your Christmas Wish List. Complementary-warp Pattern Book. And, if you haven’t learned how to weave Andean Pebble Weave yet, both my Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms and Complementary-warp Pick-up (for inkle and any other kind of loom that allows you to weave warp-faced bands) books show you how.

Our national election here in Bolivia is this Sunday. I hope it passes peacefully. I have re-stocked my pantry in case it doesn’t but let’s hope that there isn’t a repeat of last year’s upheaval.

Take care and stay safe, please.



  1. I am confident that once you have woven further, the spaces between the bars will work well. I can already see on the lower left that the visual effect of the wider spacing is to make the woven effect of the bars appear to have much deeper undulations. Think tunnels and bridges rather than ribbons. I expect it to look amazing.

    • Thank you, Jacquie. I have almost finished the patterned part of this piece now and you are right. I am pleased with the way it looks.Thanks for your support!

  2. The visuals are wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment and for your support over the years 🙂

  3. Gracias por compartir tan maravilloso trabajo ,felicitaciones por la constancia y dedicación , amor con que realiza el arte de tejer. Tengo varios libro suyos esperando a tener el tiempo y tranquilidad para tejer.

  4. All these small items that you have made are so fun to admire! I have not had any time to weave for quite awhile, as we sold our house in June and have moved twice since then. We are currently in a temporary place (still in Alaska) for the winter, since we may not be able to go to Oaxaca as usual. This apartment has a lot of adjoining space, so I will be able to get back to weaving what I started in May! Seeing the smaller weaving that you and others have made is inspiring and will give me a needed boost!

    • Hi Marilyn. It’s nice to hear from you. I had been wondering about folks like you who spend part of their year in other places. I hope your Alaskan winter won’t be too harsh and that you get set up to be able to weave soon.

  5. I’m so inspired with your works, and look forward to seeing your books.

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