Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 22, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Musical Bands and a Bunch of Looms

My patient piano-playing friend will be waiting for his music-themed bookmark. He’ll have to wait a bit longer. What I have ended up with is a band that is too long to be a bookmark but not long enough to be anything else. It will go on my table of samples next time I teach a workshop on warp-faced double weave. It was a lot of fun to weave and I would really like to weave more music notation with more complex figures while aiming to create something a bit more useful.

The piano keys wove up quickly and the whole process was made easier with the use of four sets of string heddles and some thread markers. Using markers helped me to quickly pick up the right number of threads for the black keys without having to do any counting or rely on eye-balling. I have used marker threads before in other projects. I just tie a colored thread around the heddles that raise certain warp threads in that shed or around the threads themselves if they happen to be in the other shed.

In my last blog post I had just finished the piano keys and started on the bass clef and key signature. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fit a treble clef in the space in which I was working.

I chose a simple piece of music written for “easy piano”. I wasn’t sure about being able to represent rests well and so I chose something that didn’t include them.

Charting out the notes was fun. Because I was weaving with 60/2 silk, I had a lot of threads to work with in a small space and could produce  quite a good impression of curves.

But then, I started running out of room and I wasn’t sure if I could squeeze in the last measure. I had, after all, only measured out enough warp to be able to comfortably weave a bookmark.

But, I did manage to squeeze it all in…phew…enough to be make the melody recognizable. Do you know it?

While still in “band mode”, I decided to resurrect an old project that had never been properly finished. This was one of two lap blankets that I had woven two years ago. The brown one has been completed. The two panels were first aligned, ready to sew together…

The patterned edging band was woven. About 110 inches were needed…

Then the band was hand-sewn to the perimeter…

The other lap blanket, the purple one, has been on standby awaiting is edging band. The problem is that the lap blanket is just as warm to use without its edging. It was not the weaving of the band that had me procrastinating. It was the hand-sewing to the edge of the blanket that had me pushing it to the bottom of my “to-do” list.

I set up a warp to weave the 110 inches of band with a very simple pattern in the center. The blanket itself is quite busy with pattern and so I wanted the edging band to be relatively quiet. It was a pattern that could be set up with four sets of string heddles. Rather than just have the four heddles in the center for the pattern, I set them up all the way across the band. I find that sometimes little bunches of heddles in the middle of a piece can get sort of swallowed up by and entangled in the rest of the warp threads. Then they are just annoying rather than helpful.

Here’s the band as I approach the end. The last sheet of paper has just rolled off the end beam.

Now I need to wash and press it before sewing it along the edge. Luckily we are having cooler temperatures in what passes for a winter here in the Bolivian lowlands and it will be pleasant having the blanket on my lap as I sew.

And then, another sort of music-related project came to mind. I had woven a zippered pouch for my iPod and charger and decided that I really needed a neck pouch for only the iPod when I want to carry it around to use as a camera. I should mention that I don’t have a single piece of music on this iPod. I bought it for taking photos and for being able to access Instagram.

The need for a neck pouch was apparent when I took the Maid of the Mist boat trip at Niagara Falls on my last visit to the USA. I wasn’t able to get to my pockets under the big plastic poncho that we were given and I was fearful the whole time that my wet hands would drop the iPod overboard. It would have been nice to have been able to pull out a neck pouch and deposit the iPod, which I was using as a camera, safely within.

I set up an Andean Pebble Weave warp in 20/2 wool with plain-weave borders. I added the yellow wraps to the tiny heddles to keep help stop them from getting swallowed and messed up by the neighboring warp threads, as I mentioned earlier. They worked beautifully. It is an idea I got from looking at a picture I took in Peru of a warp with several bunches of heddles that controlled various patterning structures within the one warp.

Bunches of string heddles control the colored layers of warps on the horizontal loom of Taquile Island, Peru.

I used the Weaver 2 pattern from my latest book of patterns, Complementary-warp Pattern Book. It can be woven by doing pick-up using two basic sheds…one that holds all the dark threads and one that holds all the light ones. This makes the method ideal for inkle looms, rigid heddles and other kinds of band looms. Or, it can be woven using additional sets of string heddles as I have done here.

Maja in Germany had designed the patterned called Weaver 1 and contributed it to my book. She allowed me to make small changes to her original pattern to make a new Weaver 2 pattern so that I could include two options in the book.

I had never woven the pattern in wool. All my samples for the book had been woven with cotton. The figure on my sample warp came out more elongated than I had expected.

Well, that’s the purpose of sampling and I was able to adjust my beat for the real project in purple and teal 20/2 wool. I also widened the pebble area and reduced the width of the border.

I swapped the plain-weave border structure for the ”thick border” that I teach in my Andean Pebble Weave book. I felt that the pouch needed that kind of sturdiness across its width. However, I have to confess that now I am just confused and am not sure which of the two motifs I prefer…the long one or the more squat one.The band has a selvedge at its start which will be at the mouth of the pouch. I will leave you with some pictures of bands that were woven on other kinds of looms by online friends using the instructions and patterns from my Complementary-warp Pick-up book

From Mog using her Gilmore Mini Wave loom. I like the way she has woven the border and main patterns in the same colors.

From Marsha, also using a Gilmore Mini Wave loom in cotton and tencel.

From Nancy who used the Better Loom pictured below…

Alison Roddham is using what she tells me is a reproduction of a Medieval box loom with a rigid heddle.

Kathy Amabile used her Louet Erica, a sweet table loom, to weave this band for a camera strap.

Kathy (aka drygardening) wove this band on her Schacht inkle loom. She tells me that she alreday had a warp on the loom when she got my book and used it to weave some smaller patterns on half the warp. I like the effect of the horizontal stripes next to the motifs.

Penelope is using a Jonathon Seidel card loom to weave her first ever complementary-warp pick-up band using a rigid heddle.

And, of course, there are backstrap weavers too. Sonja has been learning to do complementary-warp pick-up and use a backstrap loom while making a series of key fobs as gifts…

Tracy has multiple backstrap looms set up on her deck.

It’s nice to see the patterns on Tracy’s black warps that now feel like “old friends” to me, published way back in 2010…two of three of a set of original patterns I created for my Andean Pebble Weave book.

Martina has been doing some striking plain weave using a backstrap loom to make her own backstrap using the instructions in the WeaveZine article I wrote that dates back even farther than my Andean Pebble Weave book…all the way back to 2009.

It’s so interesting to see all the different kind of looms and set-ups people are using to enjoy creating patterns in the complementary-warp structure.

I am heading back to my backstrap loom now to weave the other face of my iPod neck pouch. The patterns have a sort of weaving theme. The other face will have cats and balls of yarn which seem to be a fairly common theme among weavers. 🙂

Until next time….








Posted by: lavernewaddington | June 8, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – ”Big” Projects

Paule Bernard Roussel

I decided some time ago that I wanted to devote myself more to ”big” projects on my backstrap loom….longer and wider and with a greater number of ends.

But, as I put my latest big one aside, I felt that it would be fun to play around with some smaller ones for little while, something like a pouch for my iPod, for example.

However, after several days of searching through books and web pages, finding ideas for patterns, adapting them and charting, erasing and re-charting, I have come to the conclusion that even the projects that are small in physical terms are, in fact, ”big”….and that’s why I like them. I like putting in the time to search and sample. I could do without the do-overs that are sometimes necessary but that is all part of the process.

It’s nice to look back at the first steps towards the weaving of my most recent project…the silk paisley scarf…  and then look at the finished scarf lying on my bed. I think that perhaps the first thoughts about tones of blue sitting next to crisp, clean white entered my head when I came across the image of the Roussel painting, above.

Gathering colors…three tones of blue, white and assorted colors.

Deciding on the first shape to chart.

Other first steps involved sampling, lots of it. I have three small abandoned paisley samples which I am now willing to throw away plus a chart that is well-worn from all the erasing and adjusting.

There’s the memory of this first warp which got put back on the warping stakes and unwound back to zero. One of my stakes had shifted on the first attempt and the tension was off.

I have a tangle of blue 60/2 silk…the one part that didn’t survive my attempt to unwind and re-warp. I tell myself I’ll sit down one day with a good movie and untangle it, but I doubt it!

And now the scarf is done…washed and pressed and showing off its lovely sheen. Until the iron started pressing and lifting the dampness from the fabric, it was refusing to look or behave like silk at all. I am really happy with it.

Now what should go next on my loom from the list of ideas I have?

I have been carrying my iPod around in a sweet sprang bag that Tracy made for me but I decided that it really needed a woven bag of its own…a bag big enough to carry the iPod as well as its charger.

I had seen some photos of pre-Columbian textile fragments online and a particular motif had caught my eye. I charted something based on that and added a border pattern with the idea of weaving it with supplementary weft on a ground of 30/2 cotton I had bought way back in 2013 from Mayan hands.

It’s the same cotton I had used for the journal covers I  wove some time ago so I knew how it behaved. I had all the figures in my notebook from those projects and so I didn’t need to sample. I just needed to figure out the width I wanted and calculate the number of ends.

How do you like that bright pink tatting thread for the heddles?

I installed a coil rod because the cotton base structure would be plain weave.

Of the number of ways that I know of preventing the ”corrugated” look that my plain-weave cotton fabric sometimes gets, the coil rod is my (current) favorite. I much prefer it to another method which would involve turning the loom around and weaving an inch or so at the other end.

This cotton is not mercerized. There was a kind of tearing sound as I opened the sheds as the threads clung and scraped past each other but there were no breaks despite all the strumming I needed to do and everything stood up well.

Cindy and I bought this cotton at ANWG 2013. I bought a bag of this color labeled ”champagne” and Cindy bought the indigo. We shared the two colors.

Here’s the finished motif…

I was content to have a motif on just one face of the pouch and so I finished it off with plain weave, doubling the weft so that the rest of the fabric would have the same weight as that which included the supplemental weft.

And here’s the finished pouch…hand sewn. I was glad that I hadn’t forgotten how to put in a zip.

This project was supposed to give me a small break before launching into another ”big” one….but then I got distracted by a post in one of the online groups about the ”turned Krokbragd” that many people are weaving on their inkle looms and it reminded me that I had always wanted to weave a music-themed bookmark for a piano-playing friend of mine.

I chose to do it in warp-faced double weave using 60/2 silk so it would be fine enough to make a good bookmark. I set up my warp with four sets of string heddles, something I only do when weaving double weave if the thread is particularly fine or if there are a lot of ends.

I didn’t need to sample as I knew how the silk behaved in double weave, thanks to various woven samples and the notes in my notebook. Of course, I didn’t feel that I needed to chart the piano keys. However, I got a little cocky and tried to eyeball the length of the black keys rather than count threads and paid the price for that in the first two attempts.

Placing a marker on the 55th black thread made picking the colors for those black keys much faster. After a couple of repeats of piano keys, I got bored! Then I decided that it would be fun to weave a couple of bars of music. And now, of course, the ”project’ has turned into a ”sample”. My piano-playing friend will have to wait for his bookmark because weaving in those bars of music will make this piece much longer than any bookmark needs to be. Once my curiosity has been sparked, I need to follow through. The ”small” project has suddenly become big as the charting paper comes out.

Making a start on what I have charted so far…the key signature with the time signature soon to follow…

Once I have charted the notes and woven them, I guess I will go back to the beginning and figure out how to place all of this in a bookmark that is not ridiculously long!

Hopefully, I will be able to show the finished sample in the next post and we will see if you can recognize the melody I chose.






Posted by: lavernewaddington | May 25, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Success

The trusty flip phone that has traveled many years with me alongside one of the pouches I wove for it from my handpsun alpaca yarn.

When looking back on my long trips away, it is always good to contemplate what went well and what could be improved. There are different ways of looking at success. One success for me on this trip was managing to ”Keep Calm and Weave on” when I arrived at a destination to weave with a group only to find that Amtrak had managed to lose both my pieces of luggage in two entirely different ways. One piece ended up in Alabama and the other in Virginia and it was almost 48 hours before I saw them again. That’s when you find out just how resourceful you and others around you can be.

Another successful ”Keep Calm” moment came when I found myself on a Greyhound bus heading north when I was supposed to be going south. I was dumped off. It’s quite shocking standing there with close to 100lbs of luggage watching the bus drive off with the words ”Sorry for the inconvenience” ringing in your ears! There were connections to be made. Needless to say, I didn’t make them. I was reminded of how helpless one can be these days if you don’t have a Smart phone. The load of luggage didn’t help. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. A college kid, who was one of many strangers to help me out, looked in wonder at my little Verizon flip phone and said ”Lady, it’s time to upgrade”.

Other measures of success are more tangible, such as photos sent to me from my weaving companions on this trip who are clearly enjoying all they learned.

Jennifer has been making cuffs using the sample bands we wove together as well as warping and creating her own combinations of patterns. She is using the sweet wooden bracelet findings from Purl and Loop. I ordered six pairs of them for myself and can’t wait to use them.

Here’s what Ann has moved on with after weaving Andean Pebble Weave with me. She has jumped into patterns from my second book, More Adventures with warp-faced Pick-up Patterns

Here are examples of both the supplementary-weft and double weave techniques that Tracy and I wove together. The bigger success here is that Tracy is already designing her own patterns in double weave.

Michelle and Kathleen got together to make their own backstraps. Kathleen wove with me last year and got Michelle interested and brought her along this year to join our group on Big Hill…

They used plain weave following the instructions in my Backstrap Basics article and fancied it up a little by adding horizontal bars and variegated yarn in the center. This is Plymouth Yarn’s Fantasy Natural, the yarn I recommend for a backstrap being a nice weight for a sturdy strap as well as being mercerized.

This is what Nancy has been up to since she wove Andean Pebble Weave with me last month…

Mary Alice S finished one of her double weave bands and included her initials…

Here’s Lori’s stunning black and red Andean Pebble Weave band. She also put the finishing touches on an Andean Pebble Weave pouch that she started during one of my previous visits. She sewed a neat finish of cross-knit looping along the edge of the flap…

And, even though Lori’s 8-year old daughter Lily has woven tubular bands, Andean Pebble Weave and double weave with me, she still likes to go back to simpler ways now and then and hook a narrow warp to her big toe to weave…

Karen refreshed her memory on the moves for weaving the ñawi awapa tubular band and Lolita joined us for the first time in the barn.

Folks happily warping, happily weaving….!!! That’s Michelle and Jen, below, who joined me on opposite sides of the country. You can see that the weather was becoming more spring-like by the time I got to the north east…no more long sleeves.

there you can see Kelli and Denise weaving into the evening with chocolate and wine! A successful combination. The results were good….

It is also heart-warming to be sent pictures of backstrap weavers happily at it after I leave them whether it be in solitude or with the support of a group…

Groups from Washington and Alabama form study groups and support and encourage each other.

Anne weaves out on the deck while Mary Alice takes her backstrap loom on the road.

And, it’s always great to meet people face-to-face who have been using my books and tutorials to learn the various weaving structures. Kathy is enjoying the backstrap loom and just needed a couple of pointers to better manage her wide warp.

She was struggling to open the sheds and a few tips on strumming, tension and sett as well as making her aware of the fact that she can use her coil rod to help open a cleaner heddle shed helped her enjoy weaving this piece a lot more.  She is using Knit Picks Curio cotton and the pattern is one from Tinkipaya, Bolivia which is included in my second book…

A couple of different ways to set up a backstrap loom.

There are a couple of things that people are often not aware of when they venture into wider warps. It is common to underestimate just how wide a piece is going to be. Having the warp threads pushed too close together makes for a very dense fabric and makes opening the sheds quite difficult.  And, it’s important to keep in mind that a certain number of ends in plain weave will produce a wider width than the same number of ends in a warp-float structure. Sampling is the answer!

Another thing that is often underestimated is the amount of tension that needs to be added to the warp when raising the threads in the un-heddled shed. This becomes greater the wider the warp or the heavier the thread. A pvc pipe, like you can see in Kathy’s warp above, is a great favorite among some indigenous weavers as it makes raising the threads in the unheddled shed through the heddles easier without adding the weight of a large wooden rod to the set-up. The draw-back is that it makes raising the heddled threads just that little bit harder. I generally prefer using a something smaller and using a sword to raise the unheddled threads instead. This gives me an easier time with the heddled shed. But then, it depends on the width I am weaving, the structure I am weaving and the kind of thread I am using. There are many variables and it is nice to have options for the ways I set up my loom. I show a few of them in my video Operating a Backstrap Loom. But, each weaver will have their way.

While staying at Kathy’s I got to play on her Chinese braiding stand using Jacquie Carey’s book for instruction. The bamboo bobbins were made by Kathy and they tinkle and clink together in the sweetest way as you create the braid. The little twigs that naturally extend from the bamboo shafts act perfectly to hold the thread on the bobbin and stop it from unraveling. The braiding hand movements are particularly calm and pretty. Here’s Kathy showing me the moves….

Part of the fun for me is getting to learn new things. That is part of a successful trip for me.

People showed me their favorite ways to mark their pattern charts as they weave and it is always interesting to see what kinds of things people find helpful….cute sliding magnet markers for one. Color coding was a new one for me which I found particularly interesting. I’ll be using it!

I can then pass on those tips to others….more success!

A successful trip is one in which I don’t have to spend more than one night in an airport before a horribly early departure.

This one night was really quite comfortable as I found a rather nice place to sleep (pictured above) in an airport that was music-free and relatively free of those annoying security announcements.It’s fun meeting someone with whom I have been corresponding online. Maxine brought along these awesome examples of bands she has been weaving on her inkle loom. She has patterns from various sets in my latest book, Complementary-warp pattern Book, in the band on the right and many figures from the Rivers and Oceans set from the same book in the other one. Her color combinations are gorgeous! She was keen to weave with me on a backstrap loom so she can choose to use either that or her inkle loom in future projects.

Denise has already used ideas from the tubular bands we wove together to add some nice spiral plain-weave tubes to the bag she made from double-weave fabric she wove and shaped on her floor loom.


Marsha’s horse band with figures from my latest book Complementary-warp Pattern Book has gone onto her husband’s hat.

A successful trip is also one in which I have some down time to enjoy the scenery…..this time it ranged from the thundering Niagara Falls (the Maid of the Mist trip was awesome!) to the stark desert of southern California, to tranquil rural spring scenes, to stunning views over the mountains towards Yosemite….

Thanks to everyone who made this trip away so much fun and so successful for me. Here is the last get together at Red Stone Glen just before I left to come home…

Success? Yes! People I met and wove with now know what it feels like to ”be the loom”. Many have a better appreciation of what goes into creating all those beautiful backstrap woven textiles of the South American highlands. New backstrap weavers have been born and are using their new skills. Others who were already backstrap weavers have gone home with tips on how to improve or work more efficiently. And, I have come home with plenty of new ideas.

I still have plenty to show you as lots of things have been happening in backstrap weaving among my online friends. But, for now, I’ll show just this one picture from Carole in Israel. It’s a set of key fobs she made using patterns from my 2nd and 3rd books….

I can’t wait to show you what Tracy, Kristen and Sobahime have been weaving using reeds on their backstrap looms. Until next time….I must get back to finishing my paisley scarf.











Posted by: lavernewaddington | April 21, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Warm Smiles and Color in the Lingering Winter

While a majestic Mt Rainier in a grey landscape welcomes me to the chilly Pacific Northwest…

and snow continues to blot out color in the northeast, the time that I spent weaving with fellow backstrap loom enthusiasts has been all about color and warm smiles with lovely work by Ann Lynn, Tracy and  Mary Alice…

We have been weaving Andean Pebble weave, supplementary-weft, double weave and complementary-warp pick-up structures. The results have been wonderful and I have been particularly pleased with the designs that the double-weave band-weavers have been creating themselves, from Star Trek symbols to patterns inspired by Turkomen rug motifs. And, there is still some patterned tubular band weaving to be done along with sewn embellishments.

We made a new weaver. Bethany wove her very first piece ever…a plain-weave warp-faced band….

And now she is already into double weave pick-up following pattern charts. She has found a comfortable way to set up at home.

And, more experienced hands, like Stacy, below, dove right in and started winging it and designing their very own patterns in double weave pick-up…

Tracy also got very comfortable with the technique very quickly and was soon adding her own original patterns to the collection of pattern charts with which we were working. I love how people react when they see how effortlessly and automatically the lower layer of the double weave appears. It really is a little piece of magic!

I know that Tracy will come up with awesome patterns and color combinations in supplementary weft too. That’s what she is working on below and her pattern ideas come from the various places she has lived around the world and the various textile cultures in which she has moved. I will tell you more about that in my next blog post.  Now Tracy knows two techniques that I like to call ”doodling on plain weave”: double weave and supplementary-weft patterning. There are almost no rules and the pattern charts for one technique can also be used for the other.

Jennifer was weaving patterns in complementary-warp pick-up and is already making jewelry from her finished bands. Her 7-year old daughter, Tabitha, also keen to try this band-weaving stuff…

Kathryn finished off her woven woven backstrap using the instructions in my article on Backstrap Basics...

And, it is always very pleasing to see what people have created since the last time we all had a chance to weave together…

Kathryn moved on with her Andean Pebble Weave skills and wove this fine band in 10/2 cotton using motifs from my second book…

Tracy used the handwoven cloth I brought from Bolivia last year and her tubular edging skills to construct this great cylindrical bag with its drawstring lining. The top and bottom is edged with a ñawi awapa tubular band.

So, these have been the just some of the colorful results of the face-to-face interactions I have had with my backstrap weaving friends in my recent travels. There’s been lots of color to brighten up the lingering wintry days. I got dressed in a splash of color while looking over the awesome ikat robes that my friend Marilyn brought back from her trip to Uzbekistan last year. The one I picked to try on is in one of my favorite combinations of color, as you will know if you have been following my blog. She has prepared a presentation of images and video in which she has documented the entire ikat process and we had time to watch it together. If your guild is interested in seeing this as part of a program, I can put you in touch with her.

 Apart from all this face-to-face interaction and time spent sitting by and backstrap weaving with friends, there has been lost of online interaction and long-distance trouble-shooting and guidance as new weaving friends all over the world take an interest in the wonderful backstrap loom.

There is always a certain amount of frustration knowing that if I could only be by someone’s side I could set them along the right path in moments. This usually comes from not being able to communicate in writing how a certain part of the process should feel…how much tension should be applied to warp, how hard should the beat be, how does one ”be the loom”. I want to somehow be able to dive through the computer screen but it is amazing what can be achieved with the right amount of tenacity!

I made my video class on Operating the Backstrap Loom to help communicate those concepts to those with whom I don’t have the chance to weave side by side. I want to help people understand how it feels to be part of the loom itself. The video class is not quite like having me by your side but so many people have commented that it is pretty darn close and that pleases me no end!

I got to visit the home of my video class, Taproot Video, on this trip. It was fun seeing both my and John Mullarkey’s dvds going out to a customer in the one package. John Mullarkey is the latest instructor to join the Taproot Video co-op and his tablet-weaving class is on Egyptian Diagonals. These and all the Taproot Video classes are also available for lifetime streaming.

My interaction with my online weaving friends has involved more cuffs, among other things. Just as I was about to archive our Cuff and Bracelet Weave-along thread in the Ravelry group, I got to see this…

Tracy and I went along to see an exhibit of the private collection of Leslie Grace in Seattle. It included this fabulous example of the woven and twined cuffs made on simple looms by the Mayoruna people of tropical lowland Peru. Check out the two sweet dangling shuttles. Some months ago, I posted on this blog about the way the weavers close the cuffs by threading the braids through the header cord. Jan had brought this to our attention and used the technique to finish her cuffs. She is even using the dangling braids as a wrist distaff for her spinning.

The Mayoruna cuffs have subtle patterning in relief. If you look closely you will see a diamond pattern. Certain warp threads are twined while others are not. The twined threads stand out in relief against the others. I had tried this some years ago using twine for the warp threads as I had wanted to weave border panels to accompany my Shipibo-inspired wall hanging. I chose twine because I thought that it might resemble the kind of fiber used by the Mayoruna people. I thought that using a lowland technique would be very suitable. However, the pattern simply didn’t show up enough in the twine. I think that something even stiffer is needed to make it work and I didn’t want stiff panels for my hanging.

That’s my sample in red twine above closest to the black-and-white panel. You can see the red-on-red cotton warp-float technique I decided to go with instead on its right. You can see pattern in my twine sample but it wasn’t showing up as well as I had hoped. (Actually, now I am looking at this picture and wondering why I had rejected that band. The pattern seems to be very clear to me now!) In any case, it gave me the opportunity to explore the technique and understand better what was going on. Next to my cotton panel is a lovely white-on-white Mexican example of a simple warp-float pattern.

Here’s the finished cuff from Leslie Grace’s collection.

Of course, there are plenty more things to show you from that collection. My adventures with dear Tracy in Seattle at this exhibit and in her home in magical Port Townsend will be coming in another blog post as well as pictures of some of the amazing textiles and bands that Marilyn brought back from Uzbekistan.

And then, something else came into my hands to pour some more energy and interest into the Cuff weave-along (which officially finished at the end of February but which may never really end!)…

Here are some sweet wooden ends for woven bracelets that come in four different kinds of wood. I have already ordered some maple and walnut ones and look forward to using them with my bands. I do have, after all, a whole bunch of woven sample bands from my last two books that can be made into bracelets or cuffs.

Indigomargo made another cuff since I last wrote a blog post…I love seeing this pattern which is one of the ones I created myself for my first book way back in 2010.And speaking of those books, I have been receiving the sweetest feedback of all…pictures of things people are weaving using the patterns and techniques!

My friend Emerald in Australia wove this belt using a backstrap loom. There’s probably a pattern from each of the four books in this piece. The viscacha is in the latest book.

These ones come from Alexandra (top left), Maxine, Nancy and Maxine again who has just started on the various ”River and Ocean”-themed motifs. All three weavers are using inkle looms. The complementary-warp pick-up technique is well suited to inkle looms and any other kind of loom that can give you two sheds and allow you to weave warp-faced fabric. My third book teaches the technique and provides 42 patterns for band weavers. The fourth book has an additional 100 patterns using the technique for bands and beyond.

Marsha on Ravelry is weaving a hatband in 20/2 silk using the horse motifs, ”Eldy’s Mustangs”, designed by my friend Deanna. Now she is playing with lots of different patterns in the left-over warp from the various themed sets in the latest book of 100 patterns…

I will leave you here. I simply must. I’ll be weaving double weave tomorrow with friends old and new and I have been experimenting with a new way of arranging the edge threads and need to get my head straight on that. Of course, I have learned a couple of different ways of handling the edges from my indigenous teachers and I am using a bit of this and that to create something a little bit different.

But, I must show you something that just arrived in my inbox as I was writing this post. Dorinda sent me pictures of Maribel’s very first faja.

I have written about Maribel quite a few times. I met her last January when I went up to the highlands to meet with the weavers in Huancarani. She was 19 years old at the time and she was alone waiting for us in the football field with her toddler Daniel when we drove up…waiting patiently long before any of the other ladies arrived.

She was keen and determined to be a weaver, join the co-op and produce things to supplement her family’s income. She was the first in the group to ask to learn the new pattern I had brought to show and she fast became my favorite. Since then, she has produced some of the bands that get made into yoga mat straps using the pattern I taught her as well as the traditional patterns of her community. Her husband has been really supportive and sometimes helps her wind the warps.

Here’s the first yoga mat strap she made with the pattern I taught her. It has its little swing tag with her name on it. I imagine she was very proud of it. However, it is a slower pattern to weave because threads need to be picked up by hand in every single shed. The traditional patterns of the area are in a technique that can be partly loom controlled and, therefore, just that little bit faster to weave.

I adore this picture of her proudly showing her first faja with a variety of local patterns! What a way to end a post that began with the awesome yet somber and snowy Mt Rainier :-)… with color and a warm smile!






Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 30, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Feedback in Words and Cloth

I’m back at the loom again after all that pattern-drawing and book lay-out work!

I am way beyond the halfway hump now on my silk scarf project and am weaving the small paisley-like motifs between expanses of plain weave. There will be one more section of intensive patterning to match the beginning before I finish.

I love sailing along through the plain-weave sections and I finally managed to do something I have been meaning to do all along, that is, make a short video of myself weaving a plain-weave section.

I stopped myself just in time before I could finish one of the last plain-weave sections on this piece and took a short video.

In the fuzzy screen shot at left, you will see that my cross sticks have caught up with my coil rod. When that happens it’s a message to me to unroll more unwoven warp from the far beam, roll the coil rod away, shift the cross sticks and heddles further away from the weaving line and continue. I did all that after filming. So it is a slightly cramped scene you will be seeing. Mind you, this is exactly how I will be forced to weave when I finally get to the end of the warp. The amount of working space I have will be greatly reduced. There is a lot of extra wood clacking sound just because everything is so close together.

The black and white mess of string on the far beam are the loops I tied around all the individual warp sections as they came off the warping board. They serve no purpose there. I just haven’t bothered to cut them off.

It is kind of amusing and interesting to watch video of myself weaving. I do some things so automatically and unconsciously…like the one-handed shuttle twirl that I do a couple of times at the start to release some thread from the shuttle. I had no idea I did that! And I think it’s funny how my strumming stick seems to be glued to my hand. I never put it down! It’s like a handy, extra pointy finger.


I hope the video shows you a little about some of the possible movements I use to operate the loom and open those two basic sheds. Different sizes and textures of thread and yarn will behave in very different ways and I modify my moves accordingly. You can learn much more about these moves and set-ups and the way I use them to operate my loom in my video Operating a Backstrap Loom.  It’s on dvd or available for lifetime streaming on Taproot Video.

I have to give a million thanks to everyone who has bought my new pattern book so far and especially those who have sent me so much wonderful positive feedback. It’s heart-warming seeing it go out to so many places around the world like Taiwan, Slovenia and Israel. I feel that this new book completes a set. It is the natural companion to the instructional book, below left, that I published last September….

Here are some of the looms that I used to weave the samples and that other weavers have used to learn the technique and weave the patterns…

The wooden rigid heddle is a sweet little one that the folks at Vavstuga gave me when I first visited some years ago. That’s my tiny Ashford Inklette which surprised me by comfortably taking on 72 ends of #3 crochet cotton. I know you won’t be surprised to hear that I favor the backstrap set-up in the lower left picture. And that’s Julie’s Gilmore Mini Wave loom on the right, a loom that seems to be growing rapidly in popularity!

Speaking of the Mini Wave loom, here is Marsha’s project on one  in luscious tencel using a pattern from my instructional book, Complementary-warp Pick-up.

I have loads of 8/2 tencel and have only used it once as warp. Marsha’s project reminds me that I must do something with it. The colors are so deep and rich..

Bonnie used a band she wove using another pattern from the instructional book to decorate a bill fold for her husband..

Claire had this fun and original idea to use her bands to secure the comfy pads for her spinning wheel. She made these bands in one of my classes and, yes, those patterns are in ”the book” too!

Kathy packed up looms, sticks and tools to travel and escape the snow for a while and wove these gorgeous pieces.  (You know where to find the patterns if you like them :-)). I love this earthy combination of colors. She uses Knitpicks Curio cotton combining some of their colors with some that she dyes herself. I like the Curio cotton because it is 2-ply but I agree that it could do with the addition of some richer colors.

More from Kathy…

This is one of the Central Asian patterns that appears in the book alongside a nice border pattern that I like to call the ”cajitas” (little boxes).

This beauty uses a pattern from my second book, More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns.  I am not the only one who finds cable ties super handy!

Diane is weaving this band to match and hang alongside the Mola on her wall. Isn’t it a great match? There is something very tribal about this combination of colors. She is weaving it more like a warp-dominant than a warp-faced piece and I like the way the dark weft looks in the places where it is slightly exposed.It has taken on such a different appearance that I didn’t recognize it at first as one of the patterns in my book. The fact that her weft is somewhat finer than the warp gives it a more compressed look too. It’s wonderful.

A couple of posts ago I showed you Jan’s cuff with its exotic long twisted fringe. She has come up with a really cool use for that fringe!

Marilyn spends half the year in Alaska and the other half in Mexico. I love that her backstrap gear and my books travel so well with her across all those latitudes. Here’s her latest Andean Pebble Weave band.

Indigomargo has been piecing together various patterns to create her own original combinations and contribute to the Cuffs and Bracelets Weave-along on Ravelry which is still happily receiving new projects. She has her own neat ideas for adding button loops to her bands.

Here’s another gorgeous one…

  Brittany has just joined us in bracelet-making too.

Maja has been giving me exciting glimpses of this large wool project for some time. The patterns are from my second book. She has woven it with four selvedges and you can see her small terminal area toward the bottom where she had to close the gap between the two ends of weaving. She is currently experimenting with different structures to use to close the gap rather than using plain weave.

And, I am really excited to show you what my weaving friends up in the highlands have been doing with the copy of my second book that I left up there on my last visit. These pictures were sent to me by Dorinda. Antonia wove a band of various patterns. She copies them from the photos in my book. The ladies love these brighter colors and it leaves me wondering why I don’t weave orange and pink together with a green border. It looks spectacular!

Maxima has woven one too. You will all know Max well if you follow my blog. That’s her on the left.

The other lady is Beatris. I didn’t get to meet and weave with her on my last visit as she lives in another community much further away. Dorinda tells me that she particularly enjoyed learning new patterns and is the only one who can read the patterns from the charts rather than from the photos. We all love learning new patterns!

Thank you so much everyone for all your feedback in the form of words and clicks of ”like” and ”love” buttons on the various social media sites and especially for all the messages I get with pictures of your beautiful weaving!

I can’t wait to get the first messages with pictures of things made using my latest book.

And, the instructional companion book is now also available in German!






Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 17, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – My New E-book of Patterns!

My new e-book of pattern charts, Complementary-warp Pattern Book, is now available from!

This is what has kept me really busy and excited for many months. When I missed out on my trip to Bali last year, I had time on my hands to get down and weave and weave and weave and add to the big basketful of sample bands I had started for this book. Then came the long process of creating the charts and laying out the book…not quite as much fun. I hope you will enjoy  the result!

A slight technical hitch and a large case of jitters prevented me from having it online yesterday in time for my Thursday night blog post. Some sleep was lost. But, here it is, just one day late and I am so pleased! 🙂

It’s a book of patterns…one hundred of them!…for beautiful double-faced bands and other larger projects that can be woven using the complementary-warp pick-up technique that I teach in my earlier books. This collection of motifs consists of pebbly-type patterns, the ones that I like to call Andean Pebble Weave.

Weaving pebble patterns using two sets of heddles is just one option.

If you learned the “two-heddle method” in my first book, Andean Pebble Weave or the “picking cross method” in my second and third books, More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns and Complementary-warp Pick-up, you will be able to weave all the patterns in this new book of charts!

Using a temporary picking cross is another option for creating pick-up patterns.


I am proud to say that many of the motifs in this book have been created by my students and weaving friends around the world who have either taken my classes or used my books. I am constantly astounded by what their imaginations have produced and grateful that they have all been more than willing to allow me to include their designs in this book for your own personal use.

Inspired by all of you, I, too, have managed to climb out of my “Andean box’’ and have enjoyed creating some sweet patterns of my own… a collection of playful kitties (a row of which you can see at the bottom of the cover picture), leaves and flowers, sheep and snowflakes, to name a few. The patterns are arranged in themes such as Rivers and Oceans, Garden, and Andean Animals.

I am very grateful to my brother and sister-in-law who not only put up with me sitting on their floor and weaving all day every day for weeks and weeks last year, but also gave me valuable feedback on my new patterns.

Starting the collection of sample bands.

I have included a collection of patterns found on contemporary as well as pre-Columbian South American textiles and, in a few examples of these, I have given my own twist to some classic shapes used in Andean weaving. I give thanks to my weaving teachers in Bolivia who enjoy learning new patterns and using them in their projects just as much as you and I do.

Bands with border patterns.

The motifs are charted on the same block-style charts that I use in my other books. For those of you who have used my second book, More Adventures with Warp-faced Pick-up Patterns, in which you learn to use the spotted-style charts, I have included all the patterns on that style of chart in the Appendix. I know that each charting system has its own group of fans and so I have provided both.

Tutorials are included to show you how to plan the layout of your project. You will be able to adjust the charts to any width so that you can combine motifs of various sizes from different themed collections into one project. I am really looking forward to seeing how you combine the various motifs and border patterns in your weaving!

And, most of all, I hope that you feel inspired to create some patterns of your own.

You can find my e-book COMPLEMENTARY-WARP PATTERN BOOK at Patternfish, the home of all my pattern books and instructional manuals.

By the way, if you would like to weave these patterns but you haven’t learned the pick-up technique yet, I recommend buying my last book, Complementary-warp Pick-up, which has step-by-step instructions and forty-two pattern charts suitable for bands. You will learn all you need to know to be able to enjoy the patterns in my newest book.

The patterns in this new book range in size from eight to eighty threads. Some of the wider patterns may not be suitable for inkle looms. Weavers who use inkle looms and who learned the pick-up technique in my last book, Complementary-warp Pick-up, will know that the largest pattern in that book has only twenty threads in each of the open and heddled sheds.

About two-thirds of the patterns in this new pattern book have from eight to forty threads, a quarter have from forty-four to sixty threads and the rest have from sixty-four to eighty threads.

Much will depend on the thread size that you like to use and the size of your inkle loom. To give you an idea, I wove a band with size 3 crochet cotton (24 wraps per inch/2.5cm) with thirty-six threads in each of my heddled and open sheds (pictured above). I feel this is the widest I can comfortably weave using my tiny Ashford Inklette . Of course,  I could fit in many more warp ends and weave larger patterns if I used finer thread. The Inklette is a pretty small loom.

I know that a lot of people are using the Gilmore range of Wave looms  to weave pick-up patterns. Julie in the Ravelry group often shows pictures of her latest wide projects combining many patterns from my various books. She uses the Mini Wave which she tells me can accommodate up to four inches of woven width and she uses it to combine many patterns from my various books.

After all the editing and proof-reading I am not sure I can look at another red-and-white block chart for a while! I close my eyes and see a blurry scroll of red and white figures! Thanks go to Sharon with all her speedy and accurate help with the charting. Fortunately, my current paisley pattern is charted in pencil on oval cells and will give my eyes a nice change.

I had to leave the silk scarf project aside for some time just as I got over the halfway hump so that I could focus on putting the finishing touches on the e-book. I’ll be happy to get back down on the floor to weave again. I will certainly get a good night’s sleep tonight after a long day of preparing to launch my new Complementary-warp Pattern Book.

Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 2, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – A Few Steps Back and Many Steps Forward

I don’t have a whole lot to say in this post except that I have made what feels like a whole lot of progress on my scarf with its paisley-like patterns. It has been fun planning and weaving the smaller simpler motifs along the length of the scarf after all the busy-ness at the start. I am slowly adding spots and dots to the smaller motifs building up to another splash of busy pattern in the center.

I love the stretches of plain weave between the motifs when I can get into that lovely shed-beat-weft-shed-beat-weft rhythm, leaning forward to relax the tension on the warp threads to lift the heddles for one shed and sitting back and strumming for the other.

I am using five strands of 120/2 silk for the supplementary weft in three different colors. It is interesting to see how different the motifs can look depending on how the light hits them and which color happens to dominate. I change the mix for each motif. I have deep reds, reddish-purples, blue-ish purples, purples, blues and green-ish blues, some of which you can see below (beautiful Redfish Dyeworks thread given to me by my friend Ginny)…

This warp started off as a circular one but, once I started weaving, I noticed a significant difference in tension from one side to the other which I couldn’t explain. And then I saw the cause…..urgh! The shelf to which one of my warping stakes was clamped had slid out of its bracket. I don’t usually wind circular warps and so I had needed to alter my normal set-up. This sliding must have been happening gradually as I wound the warp and I hadn’t noticed. I really didn’t feel like battling this tension difference for the entire project. That would not be fun. There would be no rhythm and a lot of fiddling and adjusting. And so I had to take some steps back before I could move forward once again.

I had wound the warp in lots of small sections and so I carefully placed a section back around the warping stakes, untied the knot and wound the thread back into a ball before moving on to the next section. I had my heart in my mouth the whole time but I only had to ditch one section of blue that got hopelessly tangled.

Then I set my clamps a different way to more reliable surfaces and wound an end-to-end warp. That meant that I had to roll up much of the warp around paper so that it could fit in my weaving space but I have done that before and it works just fine.

I am at the half-way point repeating the large motif in the middle….

I am enjoying using the unusual shuttle that I bought at the Braids conference, unusual in that it had been soaked in an indigo dye bath. It carries the supplementary weft and is a nice size for this project.

It’s great to see this project finally moving along after starting out many weeks ago with just my paper cut-out paisley shape, blank charting paper and a confusing array of paisley-pattern ideas from online searches…

I have had other largely off-loom activities going on as well. Here’s the tease picture again for the new pattern book on which I have also been spending a lot of time…

Most of the steps I have been taking while preparing this have been forward. I have around 75 patterns so far. Occasionally there is a blip where I have to take a step back to fix a chart and weave one of the designs again. Doing that is often a nice break from the 60/2 silk project. Suddenly #10 thread feels so heavy and it’s so easy to see! If all goes well and there aren’t any major steps backward, I plan to have this new book out this month.

The Cuff and Bracelet Weave-along officially ended yesterday but I am sure that we will continue to see more contributions. I, for one, have yet to finish the cuff I planned with my handspun wool (in fact, I am still plying!). Maja showed us the lovely bracelet she made with her own handspun alpaca fiber. She threaded beads on the weft and added them to the edges along the way…

Now that Marilyn has finished weaving her own backstrap….

…she has joined us in the weave-along and has been weaving a band in plain weave for a cuff and playing with color…

Katherine is always full of cool ideas and placed three narrow bands together to make this one wider bracelet…

Rosemary wove with embroidery floss for her latest bracelets and told us how much she loved using it. She mentioned how nice and tightly it packs, how smoothly sheds open and how easy it is to see. I have never used it as warp myself.And so, it’s back to the silk weaving, the book lay-out and plying for me. It so nice to be doing rather than just planning and hopefully there won’t be too many backward steps along the way to finishing all three projects.











Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 16, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Paisley Progress

The bands I ordered from the co-op in Cochabamba arrived. That’s always so exciting. I had been able to take a sneak peek at them when Dorinda sent me a picture of them laid out in her yard but there is nothing like seeing the true richness of the colors, smelling the natural dyestuff in the handspun wool and feeling the firmness of the cloth.

I love being able to put faces to most of the names on the tags after having met many of the weavers on my visit last year. We spent a day weaving together. The tags on the bands tell of the work of Maxima, my teacher, and her sister Narciza, the go-getter, (pictured below) who chose one of the largest patterns and kept begging me to show her with ”just one more row” so that she could fully grasp it before I left.

There’s young Eulalia whom I remember as being the quickest to pick up one of my woven samples and start copying the pattern.

Justina’s name is there. As head of the Huancarani weaving group, she represented her weaving friends and Bolivia when she traveled to the Tinkuy in Peru last November. Antonia contributed a band too. She and her daughter wove with me at Dorinda’s place during my visit.

And then there are Felicidad and Casimira as well as a new name I haven’t seen before –  Cerila. Her band has a lighter touch and I wonder if she is one of the much older ladies.

As for my own weaving, I drew and erased and wove and un-wove, drew and erased and wove some more. I like sampling and I almost always make something useful from the samples. That was not so much the case this time as I kind of lost the plot along the way and some of the samples are already in the trash. I told you about that in my last blog post.

Sometimes I would go to bed completely dissatisfied with what I had created only to wake up the next morning to be almost completely happy with it. I decided that I needed some feedback and so I put a picture on Instagram. The response was favorable and very supportive and confirmed that I was headed in the right direction…thank you, guys… and so I felt that I was at the point where I could tackle the ”real” project and put the sampling aside.

This is warp-faced double weave in 60/2 silk. My paisley-like shapes don’t have the curled tails that you often see in classic Paisley shapes. That is a further challenge that I will leave for another time!

This is the one sample that I will continue to weave and keep so that I can make it into one of my little conference neck pouches. But for now, I am putting it aside while I return to my chart. I need to convert it so that it is suitable for the supplementary-weft technique that I want to use for my silk scarf project. Here is my blank palette awaiting its pattern…

The parts of the pattern in my sample that have long horizontal stretches of solid white won’t work if they are woven using supplemental weft. They will result in exceedingly long weft-floats. Floats of that length are impractical. They can easily get caught on things and pulled. I needed to break up the long white solid sections into smaller ones. For example, look at the solid white paisley shape that sits within the larger one at the bottom left of the design on my sample. I would need to fill that shape with circles and spots to break up the long horizontal lines of white into shorter floats.

So, here is the scarf warp underway. The start and end of the scarf will have its busy pattern and I will keep things much simpler along its length. I might double the large design for the center of the scarf or I might even repeat it at every quarter. We’ll see how it goes. I used multiple strands of 120/2 silk in three different colors for the supplementary weft….a deep red and two tones of purple. What’s fun is that the colors of the pattern look quite different depending on how the light hits the cloth.

Now I think I will pick up my drop spindle and finish plying the wool I spun for the Tour de Fleece many years ago. It has just been sitting there and I would like to use it to weave just one more cuff for our Bracelets and Cuff Weave-along on Ravelry. I might be able to squeeze this in before the end of the month. This is yarn I spun from a bag of random fiber that I won in a little Ashford online competition and I think the colors might go well enough together for a cuff project. The blue, red and white are wool. Both the red and blue are variegated but you can hardly tell. The red fiber was a weird red and brown combination that I didn’t like at all. But the spun thread looks quite nice.

The cuff in the picture is one I wove from my handspun llama fiber a few years ago. It’s one of my favorites. I used spearmint leaves and cochineal (for the beige and red) as dye. I want to weave something similar with this new batch of handspun and add a tubular edging.

Here’s a nice collage of some of the weave-along bands. I am really happy to see how people are using the patterns and technique from my latest book on complementary-warp pick-up.

Katherine’s latest one looks lovely on her backstrap loom…

I provide quite a few very narrow patterns in my book and it is great to see them being used as borders alongside larger ones as Katherine has done. I love brown and indigo blue together as well as a buttery yellow and blue combination. She also turned the blue bands I showed in my last blog post into bracelets…

The bars that she has at the ends of her band are really pretty. Three small metal loops are sewn to the edge of the band. You can see it better in this next shot of her pink band on which she has added a safety chain…

One thing that KEOG discovered when she added a safety chain to her bracelet is that if the clasp is magnetic it is better to find a chain that won’t be attracted to it. That hadn’t even occurred to me. If you are considering this kind of closure for a bracelet, you should keep that in mind. I have a couple of cheap clasps that came with chains and it just so happens that they are not attracted to magnets.

Rosemary got four bracelets out of the circular warp she put on her backstrap loom. She was also kind enough to show us several pictures of her set-up. When you use a circular warp, you need to clamp the warp in such a way that it doesn’t just slide around the end beams every time you beat. I was taught to clamp it at the end closest to my body. Then I have to un-clamp and un-roll each time I need to advance the warp. Rosemary has come up with an ingenious way of securing it at the far end which allows her to advance the warp without touching anything…

In her own words….

…..”when I apply tension and beat with my beater, the band does not move. However, if I release tension, just a bit, and put the beater in the shed, and pull towards myself, then the whole warp shifts forward. In this way, I never have to rearrange anything – I keep the fell about two inches beyond the bar at my belly, and I can weave and weave and weave, without having to stop and rearrange, and this fills me with joy.”

I love it!

Katycat placed her crimps and clasps on her finished band to create her bracelet…


This is Julie B’s work using a complementary-warp pattern from my second book, the one I like to call the Rolling River. I love seeing how people use various kinds of looms to enjoy these techniques and patterns.

I will finish this post here with a celebration of Taproot Video’s one-year anniversary. I am one of the founding-year members of the cooperative and we celebrated the anniversary via email recently. I won’t be seeing the other members until April when we’ll be able to clink mugs and celebrate again.

What is even more meaningful to me personally, is that Taproot’s launch also marked the release of my first ever instructional video. It was a scary trip at first, but it has been fun and heart-warming seeing my dvd make its way to countries all over the world and receiving such favorable feedback.

The video can be purchased as a dvd or you can buy lifetime streaming.

People very often ask me if it is hard to learn backstrap weaving on one’s own. Most often this question is more about the weaving techniques rather than about the loom itself. The kind of weaving I do on my backstrap loom can be done on many other kinds of looms and I have written tutorials and books about these techniques and plan to keep adding to those with more books, photo tutorials and dvds. My new pattern book is coming along nicely.

What about learning to use the loom? That is a little trickier because the weaver’s body movements are so much a part of the smooth operation of the loom and that can sometimes be hard to understand on your own. It is a lot about ”feel” and that is something that I wanted to be be able to convey via my video class. Many people have told me that they feel that I am in the room with them as they watch the video class. That is exactly what I was hoping to achieve! Even those who were already up and running and using a backstrap loom speak of having had several ”aha” moments while watching.

It has been a great first year with Taproot and I would like to thank everyone who has bought the video so far. There will be more video classes coming.

See you next time with, hopefully, a whole lot more to tell about the paisley progress.













Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 2, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Bands to Bracelets

My contribution to the Cuff and Bracelet WAL.

February is here and we are still weaving along in the Cuff and Bracelet Weave-along on Ravelry. I had initially proposed closing it at the end of January but I think that folks are just getting warmed up! I have to hang my head in guilt as, since finishing the first cuff, I have allowed myself to be completely captivated by my paisley project.

Yes, I am still sampling paisley shapes! I took my own advice from my tutorial on Designing for Double Weave in which I say that once you have traced your pattern onto the charting paper, you should put the original drawing away because you will never be able to exactly replicate it and you will, therefore, always be comparing and feeling that the shape you have charted is not good enough. The problem is that I changed my traced shape and re-drew and reshaped and changed it again and again to the point where I had completely altered it. It no longer looked like the classic paisley shape and looked like more like a large comma….a large circle with a tail. I had to get the original drawing out to remind myself of the original idea and start all over.

Now I am working on all the little spots and dots that fill in the spaces within and around the paisley shapes and am finding that there is a very fine line between a well-balanced layout and total chaos! I learned the value of a good pencil and eraser….love my palomino Blackwing 602…thanks, Lori for putting me onto those.

Here’s the latest sample warp. I seem to be in a blue phase…such a nice cooling color in this summer heat. The heddles are made with tatting thread which is a similar girth to the 60/2 silk. They work pretty well together. I am using four heddles simply because my warp thread is so fine and because there are so many ends…360 in the pattern area. Normally when I do double weave, I keep it simple and reduce the clutter by just operating with two sheds. On narrow bands I work much faster that way with just two basic sheds.

Participants in the Ravelry Weave-along have been producing some gorgeous things.

KEOG’S bracelet is so elegant with its magnet closure. She said that she was not sure about how well the magnet would hold and I agree that the bracelet could well snag on something which might pull the two magnets apart. I think that she could add a fine safety chain to the loops on the ribbon clamps so that the bracelet could be opened wide enough to slip over her hand. Then she could close it with the magnet. I imagine that the dangling safety chain would look elegant too.

Here is Katherine’s first weave-along band cut into two for two potential bracelets. They came out a little too wide for her hardware and so we will see if she comes up with another idea for transforming these bands into bracelets. She used the Andean Pebble Weave structure to create her patterns.

I love the way Jan posed her cuff for this picture. She wove a pattern in a supplementary-warp structure. She used a technique for the closure which is used by the Mayoruna people of Peru as described in this issue of The Weaver’s Journal.

Aphelocairos is weaving the above piece on her inkle loom using a pattern and instructions from my Complementary-warp Pick-up book and has joined the weave-along so that she can make a bracelets with her bands. Any loom that allows you to create warp-faced fabric can be used for this pick-up technique which requires just two basic sheds.

I might use this now as an excuse in this New Year to remind you of my latest e-book which is available from….A an edition in German is under construction.

It is aimed at ”experienced” band weavers by which I mean that you need to know how to warp and set up your loom of choice and weave warp-faced plain-weave bands. It’s as simple as that!

Below, you can see Rosemary’s band. She is working from my book too and is using a combination of linen and cotton.

She’s working on a backstrap loom, has wound a long warp, and hopes to get several bracelets from it.

While Katy-cat awaits the arrival of her jewelry findings and ribbon clamps, she wove a pretty plain-weave band and made her first bracelet. She is not crazy about the lobster-claw clasp. Admittedly, it takes some practice connecting bracelets with those kinds of clasps with just one hand. I have it down now. 🙂

Here’s Kathrine’s next warp…so soft and pretty…

Ooh and I just spotted some progress on this warp…this is Knit Picks Curio cotton, by the way…

Wendy’s variegated yarn warp in jewel colors came out beautifully with its Andean Pebble Weave pattern…

Janet has been learning complementary-warp pick-up from my book. She is not actually participating in the weave-along but perhaps she will decide to make this band into a bracelet or two when she is done. I love this pattern which is included in the book. My weaving teachers here in Bolivia always weave it in black and white, as have I. It is great to see it in other colors.

Janet is using a Gilmore Wave loom and her second band, using another pattern from my book, is even more striking than the first….

My inbox brought me some lovely work by Janneke with star patterns from my second book…

My inbox also brought news from Dorinda. She lives up in the highlands of Cochabamba and works with Maxima and the other weavers in the co-operative that she helped establish. Firstly, she told me that she had mailed my latest order of long bands that the ladies make with their handspun naturally dyed wool. I always order a mix of bands…half with cochineal red and half without….

Then she showed me a picture of what Maxima has been weaving using my second book. I left a copy of the book with the ladies when I visited last year. Maxima can weave the patterns by simply looking at the photos of my samples. Other ladies in the co-op say that they read the charts. Each person has their own way of seeing things. The problem for Maxima is that not every single pattern has a pictured woven sample. Here is a band which Max wove working from the pictures in my book. This puts a big smile on my face!

Dionicia, who is the oldest member of the co-op at 86 years of age, looked at one of Max’s other sample bands when she was in town. It was another band that Max had woven using patterns from my book. Dionicia then went back to her community and wove the pattern from memory. An NGO in town has given synthetic yarn to the ladies and encouraged them to weave tapa bancas (bench seat coversto be sold at the local market. Dionicia has made her first one and included the pattern she had glimpsed on Max’s band. Yes, each person has their own way of learning new patterns!

Here is Dionicia studying and attempting to replicate the fish pattern on a band, which you can see on her lap, that I had taken to show on my visit last year…

She was more than willing to help younger ladies to get on their way when we all got together to weave last year and she was the one who generously lent her hat for me to wear in the sun…

Julia Tate in the Ravelry group has been working a large projects. First, she recently finished this stunning piece patterned with supplementary weft which she plans to make into a pillow cover…

And now she is using a rigid heddle with her backstrap loom to create this…

Carlos wove this elegant cotton piece. It is such a gorgeous combination of subtle color and pattern…

And here is one of his latest projects. I love seeing other people’s set-ups. I see a nice coil rod in place there.

Winding wide warps with perfectly even tension is always a challenge. I have my way which involves warping in sections. I don’t allow the threads to climb up too high on the warping stakes so that I don’t risk having the stakes lean in. Carlos is experimenting with different ways and is interested in a set-up that he has seen in videos on warping in Mexico, a system which is also used in some communities in Guatemala. My teachers in Guatemala used a system of spaced vertical stakes. He showed a screen shot of the warping board and is interested in building one of his own….

And here I will leave you to make some more progress on my spots and dots and swirling paisleys….hoping not to fall over the edge into chaos!







Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 19, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Curves

It’s been all about charting these last couple of weeks. I have been drawing and sampling those Paisley shapes that I mentioned in my last post. It hasn’t been as straightforward as most things that I chart as Paisley patterns are all about curves. It is helpful that I will be using very fine thread. I have found that the finer the thread and the higher the number of ends, the closer I can get to creating patterns that look less angular and more curvy in warp-faced double weave. I love double weave so much I have made it the topic of my next instructional dvd.

In the piece above, I had originally wanted all the lines to be curvy but simply couldn’t get the thicker outlines to look good in the 20/2 cotton. So, I settled on heavy, hard angular lines enclosing fine curves and was really happy with the result. But, it took a lot of time with paper and pencil and several woven test pieces to get there.

Warp-faced double weave is so versatile. I can create hard angular designs with varying degrees of diagonals as well as softer more curvaceous ones.

This was my very first experiment with curves many years ago. I wove this sample in a #10 crochet cotton and I know that it will look much nicer in finer thread. It is calling out to me to be woven.

I guess the only limitation on freedom of patterning in warp-faced double weave is the fact that it is not ideal to leave large areas of open space. In open spaces the two layers of the double weave do not connect and that can sometimes lead to a sort of ballooning effect between motifs. I don’t think I will have any problem with open space in my Paisley pattern. They are such dazzlingly busy designs!

In my last post I showed you the warp that I had wound for a 60/2 silk wrist cuff. It was a sample for a larger scarf project that I had in mind in warp-faced double weave decorated with the Paisely motifs that I have been charting.

I finished the cuff and it gave me the measurements I needed to plan the wider project. I am particularly happy with the way the border turned out with the three tones of blue. I wanted it to have a washed-out uneven-indigo-dye look. It was hard to tell if that would work or if it would just end up looking like stripes.

The two ends of the band overlap and I used clear plastic snaps to secure them. I placed a button at the overlap purely for decoration. I like wearing it with the wool ñawi awapa tubular band that I wove as a necklace some time ago. I prefer wearing that as a tripled bracelet and the colors match the new silk cuff nicely.

The sample taught me two things about my scarf project….warp-faced double weave fabric, even in fine thread like 60/2 silk, does not have enough drape to make a nice scarf. The other thing, that was more reinforced than learned, was that the density of the warp-faced double weave structure creates more abrasion than usual on the threads on my backstrap loom. Some of the colors I used were doubled strands of 120/2 silk and I simply could not see those threads standing up to the abrasion of double weave along the length of a scarf project, even if they were doubled.

So, I have gone another way with the scarf project.

First, I will weave a shorter, simpler piece in the 60/2 silk with my double weave Paisley motifs. Then, I will adapt the Paisley charts to a supplementary weft technique for a plain-weave silk scarf. Paisley is such a busy kind of pattern….lots of swirls and spots and circles and dots…that I am sure that I will be able to break up excessively long weft floats with added design elements. In fact, I got quite overwhelmed looking at the busy patterns online. Some of them were so over-the-top! I struggled with the lack of symmetry and the lack of repeats but I was finally able to lay out something that I liked. And, I have managed to make it repeat.

I wound and set up the scarf warp. I am still loving the way those blues look together! However, I will put this warp aside until I have thoroughly sampled the motifs in double weave.

I have made it a circular warp so that it will fit in my bedroom.

I am so used to weaving from end to end that circular warps always feel strange to me at first. I could have used an end-to-end warp and then simply rolled up the excess warp at the far end of the loom so that it would fit in my weaving space as I often done in the past. You can see my long yellow scarf warp rolled up below.

However, I decided that I’d like to get more used to the ins and outs of circular warps as I look forward to doing longer projects in the future. One thing about the circular warp set-up that I use is that the circle is not open. The warp stretches out like a long flat loop. Here’s my Vietnamese weaving teacher’s warp followed by one of my own…

Sometimes all the unwoven warp that lies under the top layer on which I am working feels like it is getting in my way especially when the warp is wider. That’s why I was very interested when watching a video of a backstrap weaver in India who is using a circular warp. I could see what she does with all the unwoven warp below her work space. Here’s a screen shot from the video. She has tied off the lower layer and has what I am guessing is a weighted bag dangling from it. That is the first time I have seen that. I am not sure if I will try it…we will see.

Band weavers in Salasaca, Ecuador set up their circular warps in a triangular shape. These allow long pieces to occupy even less room and keeps the unwoven warp well out of the way. You can see how my teacher Felipe, below, can fit his long warp on his narrow porch.

Before I go, I’d like to tell you about some interesting web pages that I have been looking at lately.

  • The Kindcraft Brief describes itself as being for people who care about how things are made. Subscribe and you will receive a twice-monthly newsletter with articles on such topics as Indigo-dyed Washi Paper, the process behind Miao pleated skirts and the Handmade Textiles of Bangladesh.
  • Asian Textile Studies: Asian Textile Studies is a new website written by David and Sue Richardson. It is aimed at people with a serious interest in traditional hand-woven textiles from Asia, especially those from Eastern Indonesia.It will initially cover the foundation subjects, such as fibres, natural dyes, production techniques and the origins and history of the Austronesian people. We will later add pages focusing on specific regions and islands. Please contact us if you would like to be notified when new material is added.

    The website already contains pages and pages of detailed information on natural dye sources and techniques as well as weaving techniques of various regions of Indonesia, all accompanied by stunning photographs. You can get happily lost in that site for days and will find yourself returning again and again.

  • Threads of Life: Threads of Life is a fair trade business that works with culture and conservation to alleviate poverty in rural Indonesia. The heirloom-quality textiles and baskets we commission are made with local materials and natural dyes to an exquisite standard usually only seen in museums.

    We work directly with over 1,000 women on 11 islands across Indonesia, helping weavers to form independent cooperatives, to recover the skills of their ancestors, to manage their resources sustainably, and to express their culture identity while building their financial security.

     Threads of Life recently started offering workshops in batik, natural dyeing and weaving. You can find their 2018 schedule on the website. Sign up for their newsletter.


Here are a couple of projects from weaving friends…

Elinor finished an Andean Pebble Weave belt for her husband using a pattern from my second book.

Chris is ready to get back into some backstrap weaving now that she has woven her own beautifully finished backstrap in rep weave on her floor loom. What a great idea for nice sturdy strap…

I am saving the cuff projects of our Ravelry Weave-Along-ers for next time.

Now it’s back to the charting paper and the warping board and some more head-spinning Paisley patterns.

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