Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 17, 2021

Backstrap Weaving – A Resonance of Emerald

I have a short blog post today just to show you the latest book cover that I have finished.

I had planned to have a break between book covers to experiment with cross-knit looping and the little hummingbird figures that I showed you in my last blog post. You can see my initial experiment with tail feathers in very heavy cotton here. I was able to track down Sue Prior via the backstrap weaving grapevine and she was kind enough to send me some good resource material on creating three-dimensional figures in this structure. Irina also told me about another source. In a future blog post I’ll list them but for now, if you scroll down my RESOURCES page, you’ll find a link to an article by Lila O’Neale. (I just noticed that a few of the links on that page no longer work. I must go through and tidy it up).

The break was supposed to give me time to mull over the design and colors for the next book cover but as it turned out, the idea came to me very quickly. Some time ago, I found a nice collection of hummingbird poems online and decided to go back and read through them once again. Two lines from an untitled poem by Emily Dickinson (often referred to as “The Hummingbird”) sprang out at me:

A resonance of emerald,

A rush of cochineal

Rucker’s Hermit Hummingbird by John Gould, 1861. 

Color! My new book would be A Dyer’s Notebook. I had written in my last blog post about how horrifyingly unscientific I am about dyeing. Maybe having a nice book in which I can keep notes will motivate me to be more organized.

I only had natural white in the 30/2 silk that I would use as warp and so I mixed my dyes to create purple and green. My color choices are dictated by what I have left in the 60/2 silk that I use as supplementary weft to make the patterns. I don’t have any really light colors left. Gold is the lightest in any decent quantity. I over-dyed the small amount of pale blue that I have to a light shade of green for the leaf patterns. That left me with gold for everything else. I would have preferred a pale buttery yellow but I used up all of that on these!

Another possibility would have been to dye the natural white 30/2 warp thread a pale color which would have given me lots of choices for the patterns from my range of dark colors in 60/2 silk. However, I wanted the colors for this piece to be deep and rich.

It would have been nice to have found a way to include a little cochineal and emerald in the hummingbird figure. I tried a few different things but none of them worked well enough. And so my little hummingbird figure is showing a furnace glow of gold in this moment of its flight. From a poem by Alexander Wilson:

Each rapid movement gives a different dye,

Like scales of burnish’d gold they dazzling show,

Now to sink to shade—now like a furnace glow!

The dark green stripe is placed to wrap around the spine. I knew that I was going to wet-finish the cloth and that it would shrink in width and length just like the cloth for my Weaver’s Journal did but I didn’t add extra warp ends to this piece to account for that. You may remember that I fixed that loss of width on the last cloth by adding narrow woven strips in 60/2 silk. I decided that fixing cloth that is too narrow is possible but adding more warp ends and possibly having then to deal with cloth that ends up being too wide would be a problem.

I wove narrow strips in 60/2 teal silk to account for the loss of width and added strips to other parts of the cover for balance.

For the new book, I extended the width with a narrow strip of the green spine color only on the back cover.

So, I am thinking maybe one more book…perhaps A Traveler’s Diary? That might create some magic and get me back on the road. In the meantime I’ll chew over whether to spell traveler with one or two l’s.

I’ll leave you with some Christmas decorations that I made a couple of years ago if you are looking for some ideas for uses for odds and ends of band. I don’t think these necessarily need to have Christmas-themed patterns. The metal ends are called ribbon crimps and come in various sizes. They clamp onto and protect a cut edge. I add a bit of weft twining to other end just above the fringe to stop the band from unraveling. You could use the same color as one of your warp colors or a different color all together.

All these patterns come from the two patterns books that I wrote to follow up my instructional books on Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms and Complementary-warp Pick-up. Either one of those instructional books will give you the skills to weave all the patterns in the pattern books (although some of the motifs might be too wide for a standard inkle loom). The pattern books are Complementary-warp Pattern Book and More Andean Pebble Weave Patterns.

And I have a free tutorial on weft-twining here. It starts with a little cultural context and then you’ll eventually get to the tutorial part with its video clips.

My friend Dorinda recently got back from the highlands where she had been visiting my teacher Maxima and the other ladies in the weaving co-op. The last time I was up there, the ladies were interested in the woven sample bands I had brought which had patterns that they had never seen before. They wanted to learn them and because I was only able to leave a couple of samples behind, I left behind one of my pattern books. Before I could leave, Maxima had already set up a warp and was copying one of them. On her recent trip, Dorinda took this photo of the ladies examining more patterns in the book. Just like us, they love to learn new ones.

And just for fun, here’s a compilation of patterns for a Christmas card for all those experiencing the annual battle of Christmas tree and cat…(these patterns are from the Complementary-warp Pattern Book). I am going to buy myself a new tripod for Christmas so that I can start using my good camera again.

Enjoy your end-of-year celebrations, stay safe and see you next time.


  1. These are great! You just keep coming up with more beautiful works!

    • Thank you, Janet. Mutual admiration club…your hand spun cotton and the cloth you are weaving from it are stunning!

  2. Beautiful book covers Laverne! I did finish my warp sample from the Andeay n Pebble Weave virtual class. Next step is to read through and try Method 3.
    Happy Holidays and you stay Healthy and Safe as well!

    • Thanks, Kelli. ❤
      I heard from Leslie and she's finished hers as well. I will check in and see how the others are going I hope you'll send me pictures some time.

  3. What treasures! And what amazing combinations of magic and beauty!

    • Thank you, Deanna! I am still enjoying the 30/2 silk from our swap. I hope you have a lovely Christmas.

  4. The books are glorious! And the beauty of the language too… this exploration of hummingbirds has been such a lush and fruitful path for you! It makes me happy to see your work thriving in its complexity.

    • It’s so lovely to hear from you, Tracy, and thank you so much for your kind words.

  5. Those book covers are spectacular Laverne!! Glad you linked up with Sue over the cross knit looping. She is so good at it.
    Happy Christmas from me and all of us in Cambridge.

    • Frankie, it’s lovely to hear from you. I love that we can still be in touch via this blog after all these years Happy Christmas and all the best for the coming new year.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing with our Banditos study group your hummingbird weavings and marvelous bookcovers. Best wishes for the new year!
    Keith Pierce
    Weavers Guild of Minnesota
    Banditos Study Group coordinator

    • My pleasure, Keith. Thank you so much for hosting the Zoom meetings and making it possible for all of us to spend that fun and educational time together. . I am looking forward to our first one in the new year.

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