Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 21, 2022

Backstrap Weaving – An Interesting Beginning

First of all, I will say that I am not superstitious. I jokingly wrote on this blog some time ago that getting bitten by a dog on a recent outing was a sign that perhaps I was getting too cocky in the range and frequency of my outings. And then I opened my big mouth in a Facebook post on December 29 with this: “I feel less locked-in now and more able to manage this situation we all find ourselves in.”

The universe responded: “Lol, that’s what you think.”

I strolled a block and a half to the bakery on Dec 31 and….bam! Five days later, Covid. Yes, sometimes you just get unlucky. I am well now, feeling back to normal and grateful that I had managed to get an AZ booster before this happened. First task now…find better masks. The chief medical officer in Australia is now coming straight out and saying that in the face of the more contagious Omicron, cloth masks (I am guessing he is talking about those home-made ones that we were all using) should not be used. I had been lining my two-layer cloth job with two disposable masks…still no good.

So, yes, the beginning of 2022 was “interesting”.

I had what I am calling Covid-head for a while which I would describe as feeling like particularly bad jet-lag. I dared not touch my weaving after losing the plot and destroying one of my PowerPoint presentations. This is what I had been working on before I got ill….

3-color reversible Andean Pebble Weave

This is 8/2 tencel and my attempt to get once more accustomed to the steps that I use to produce this 3-color reversible structure. My plan was to use the structure with my hand spun and I didn’t want to risk stressing my yarn with a whole lot of fussing about and unweaving while I got back into the swing of this technique. I wouldn’t call the way I do this efficient and I am waiting for that magical “aha” moment to come which will allow me to eliminate a step or two… or three. For now, I just plod along with it because I love the results.

Wrist cuff in 3-color reversible Andean Pebble Weave

During the pandemic I have been pulling out every bit of wool I can find in my closet and spinning it on my drop spindle during the various Zoom gatherings I have been attending. It has been slow going because I have only allowed myself to spin during these few gatherings. Goodness knows what I will do now that I have cleared out my closet and there is no more wool left to spin. Actually, there is a bunch of cotton to spin in there as well as alpaca…..

Part-way through the spinning project, I paused to try some of my yarn in two small wrist-cuff projects. I wanted to see if it would be able to stand up to the extra handling that it would experience in the 3-color method. They were just very short warps but I did feel confident after that test that my yarn would perform well even in much longer warps. I decided then that I would try to spin finer hoping that I could also produce finer yarn that would stand up well. That remains to be seen.

Applying an eye-pattern tubular band to a second 3-color pebble weave cuff in my hand spun.

I’ve been enjoying the tencel project. It’s just a mish-mash of various shapes and color combinations. And, yes, there are hummingbirds.

It has allowed me to play with swapping the outline and background colors and change the pebble spot colors at will. After sampling, I decided that a red outline with a green filler looks good against a yellow background while the same thing does not look good against a green background. The funny thing is that I had to walk away from this every now and then because the colors would suddenly start to get on my nerves! This never happens when I work with only two colors. So, I would go away and do something else and then return, look at the piece, and fall in love with it all over again.

Yesterday I knew for sure that I was fully recovered from Covid because instead of giving in to the post-lunch urge to nap, I was able to easily push it aside and go wind a warp.

These are the four colors I chose from my little stash of hand spun wool. Three will be part of the 3-color pebble and the one in the foreground will be the narrow border. I wanted to come up with a project that would allow both faces of the piece to be seen after going to all the trouble of using this reversible 3-color technique. I decided that a strap for a bag would be perfect….not very wide, but long enough to be able to play with patterns, and both sides would be seen. So, I am working completely backwards by first weaving a strap and then planning a bag to go with it. It’s not like I need a bag…I just like weaving and if I need an excuse and the piece simply MUST be something, then a bag strap it will be.

I know what you are thinking…that’s one ridiculously wide strap…but this will narrow considerably once I start weaving. My hand spun is finer than the 8/2 tencel and this warp has the same number of ends as that tencel sample. One of my concerns is that the blue is a tad thicker and hairier than the other two colors and may swallow them up. There’s only one way to find out, though.

I just really like this shot. It almost looks like ikat. This was right after I had made the heddles. I was testing my heddle-making by clearing the sheds. The three colors played together briefly as I raised one color layer above the others. It made for a pretty picture.

And so, I start 2022 with a weaving project that I find challenging and interesting, a collection of Covid anti-bodies (which of course won’t last forever), and the need to find something else to do during those Zoom gatherings. I find it impossible to just sit there. Maybe I will get back into learning about cotton spinning. I was playing around with cotton spinning a few years ago and even wove with some of the results, which you can see below, when I was studying the sheer cotton cloth with supplementary-weft inlay that is woven in some areas in Guatemala and Mexico. It’s the stuff of a beginner spinner but I was pretty pleased with it at the time

By Rodrick Owen

So, I just bought Joan Ruane’s video class on Cotton Spinning on the Takli from Taproot Video because I really need some guidance.

While on the subject of Taproot Video offerings, I should also let you know that Rodrick Owen’s beautiful book on braids that was published in 1995 and which is now out of print, has just become available for purchase as a PDF.

You can see that I am in some very fine company on the Taproot Video website! I hope that in this new year you might consider buying one of my books at Taproot Video if perhaps you have been thinking about it. We niche-craft authors need all the help we can get. Tell a friend, please! See you next time.


  1. Very glad you are feeling better, Laverne.

  2. Not only are you incredibly talented, Laverne, but you have an amazing sense of humor! I am so glad that you were able to get your full set of vaccines and were able to recover from COVID quickly!

  3. I am so glad that you came through covid with such resiliency! Your lovely evenly spun two-ply wool yarn is so fine I had to magnify the photograph of your warp to even see that it wasn’t a single plied yarn. Bravo! I am as eager as you to see the results of your labors of love. I wish I could send you a case of KN -95’s….what would happen if I did? Would they get delivered to your door?

    • Thank you, Lausanne. Your compliments on my hand spun make me blush because it really isn’t very even. Fortunately, warp-faced weaving is very forgiving and even flattering for hand spun when the threads are pressed close together. I did once get a mail delivery to my door. My friend Wendy in Australia sent me a care package of Australian candy and other goodies many years ago and it showed up! But the postal system has since been extremely unreliable for both in-coming and out-going and I don’t trust it any more. Thank you so much for the offer. A friend delivered some supposed KN95s to me while I was ill. The elastic popped off the first one before I could even get it on! He has since found me what look like better ones.

  4. I’m so fascinated with three color pebble weave, will you be teaching that technique sometime? I can’t wait to learn it!
    So glad you got through the ‘rona no worse for wear. Seems like there’s just no way to be totally safe but at least you had some protection!

  5. Hello Laverne,

    the tricolor Andean pebble weaving looks great! I like it very much! Is there a possibility that you upload a tutorial on Trapoot Video in which you explain the tricolor Andean pebble weaving technique? I would pay for it of course. Unfortunately, I am unable to teach myself! You would help me a lot with that!

    Best regards

    • Thanks, Skadi. I don’t have plans to do that at this time. I consider the method I use a work-in-progress which I will hopefully fine-tune a lot as I learn more about it by doing it. If you can be patient, one day it will come!

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