Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 19, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Summery Cloth

With the temperature around 91 F and a broken air conditioner, it’s just as well that I have decided to weave something light and airy as my first big project for this season. I usually find myself at this hotter time of year weaving something totally inappropriate, like a wool lap blanket. Silk thread is not pleasant stuff either in sweaty fingers. I do, in fact, have plans for both wool and silk projects for the next few months but hopefully my a/c will be up and running again by the time I get around to them.

I threaded the reed for the project for which I am using some hand spun cotton that I picked up from this lady in Guatemala in 2008.

It was a little worrying while re-tying the cotton ends to have some of them untwist  and break as I attempted to pull and tighten the knot. Breakages?! I hadn’t even started weaving yet! I did not want to have to size this warp and I am glad I didn’t panic and do so as, so far, I have only had one thread break while weaving. This same thread has broken multiple times and so I guess and hope that it was just one section of this particular strand that was more loosely twisted than the rest.

Of course, I first wove a small sample for this open and airy balanced-weave that I want to do. You can just catch of glimpse of it at bottom right in the picture above.

I am trying to replicate the structure used by weavers in the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala…a base of open balanced weave into which they place patterns using supplementary weft. The thread they use is much much finer than the cotton singles that I have. I was told that in some communities in Chiapas, Mexico where this kind of cloth is also produced, some of the weavers divide 20/2 commercially-spun cotton into singles and use that as their warp threads. What a job! Not everyone can manage it and those who can’t will pay someone to convert a cone of thread into singles. In the Alta Verapaz region, some weavers use commercially-spun 20/1 cotton thread is used which perhaps explains why the thread in the sample piece that I bought at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe a few years ago is so incredibly white. This information comes from Kathleen Vitale. I also read that other weavers use a 30/2 mercerized cotton which isn’t split and which is available in local markets. The hand spun cotton that I am using is off-white (and much thicker!) as you can see below.

But, I am happy to have this piece of fabric from Guatemala and these balls of hand spun singles so that I can at least try this out and practice creating the patterns. The finer thread can come later!

Here’s a look at the little piece I bought in Santa Fe still on its loom. I would love to know how it changes after washing but I don’t want to cut it off its little loom. Or…did they somehow wash it in order to sell it?

Here’s my tiny sample on the loom, and then after washing (sitting on top of my latest knitted cowl…still very excited about picking up knitting again!)

The more open sett at the start of the sample is what I was aiming for but I unconsciously allowed the piece to narrow and deepened my beat which gave me consistent width and neater selvedges. However, in doing so, I almost lost the translucent quality that I had been wanting.

So, here is the large piece underway. I was so doubtful about the success of this project that I very uncharacteristically did not bother to plan out and chart a pattern. I just started winging it. So, I have to say that I am not entirely pleased with the layout of the figures. I am just practicing various basic lines and shapes. It’s another ”sample”, albeit a very large one!

I would call it successful because I have only broken one thread so far. That had been my biggest concern.

Un-weaving is quite the thing. The fluffy warp and weft threads meet and grab hold and do not want to let go! However, it is this ”gripping”quality that seems to allow the Guatemalan weavers to simply cut off the start and end tails of supplementary weft right at the edges of the pattern rather than leave some length and make an attempt to bury the ends within the pattern. I am guessing that washing the fabric will further reinforce this. I suppose I’ll find out! This is after all a sample, right? I haven’t cut the tails very short yet.

I was eventually able to coax out one of the ends of supplementary weft in the unwashed Guatemalan sample so I could count the number of strands the weavers were using.

It’s a very relaxing technique for me. I can sing, listen to podcasts…it doesn’t require the heavier amount of concentration that most of pick-up work involves. And, it sits light as a feather on top of my legs. It is certainly the fabric with highest amount of drape that I have created on my backstrap loom. There’s a long way to go. The warp measures something like eighty inches. which means that there is plenty of room left to play with patterns.

I am so thankful for these reeds that I managed to buy in the vendor hall at Convergence in 2010. They have just the right spacing for this open structure in the weight of cotton I am using. When the time comes to use finer thread, I will have to figure out something else. Or, not use a reed at all. The Guatemalan weavers don’t. I only want to handle one challenge at a time!

I think the only other time I used one of these reeds is when I did a four-shaft shadow-weave piece a few years ago…

My backstrap weaving friends, Christine, Kristin and Tracy made their own bamboo reeds in a workshop with Brian Whitehead at ANWG 2017. Here’s Christine with hers…I know that Kristin and Tracy have put theirs to use multiple times with both commercially and hand spun fibers and have created some truly awesome pieces of fabric. I’ll have pictures and details in future blog posts.

A much simpler project that came off my loom last week was the piece on which I had been demonstrating at recent fiber events. It is now a backstrap to add to the collection of straps that my weaving friends use when we get together. It is sitting here with a couple of my bone tools. The one on the right was given to me by a gentleman in northern Chile. He had found it in the Atacama desert. It has a beautiful shape and point.

And, here’s the latest from some of my online weaving friends and students…

It’s lovely to see patterns from my books appearing in Marsha’s beautiful band projects. She is using the Gilmore Mini and Big Wave looms as well as a Handywoman treadle tape loom with a variety of materials…cotton, silk and tencel.

Maxine combines colors so beautifully on her inkle loom. How inspiring is this? It’s nice to see these patterns from my first book being used in such an awesome way.

This is Caroline Sargisson’s first band using an inkle loom and a pattern and instructions in my Complementary-warp Pick-up book.

Julie Beers finished a really long band of the playful kitties patterns in my latest pattern book. She wove this on one of the Gilmore looms.

Tara’s making a pouch from fabric she wove using a backstrap loom. She may use some of the finishing techniques I teach to decorate it.

And Tracy has edged her bag with the ñawi awapa tubular band. She wove the bag itself using a backstrap loom and her own hand spun wool. The strap is currently underway.

Penelope made bands for her living history top hats using a Jonathan Seidel card loom with a Vav kompaniet heddle.

And, yarndragon made some keyfobs using 10/2 cotton. Because she thought 10/2 cotton too lightweight for fobs, she neatly backed them with denim.

Patrick finished the double weave band he started with me. The pattern is his own creation…

And, last of all, I will leave you to gasp at a picture of the amazing pikb’il cloth that really inspired my current project. It was one of the last things I saw on my recent trip away but became the item that jumped to the top of my to-do list on my return. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Many thanks to Deb who showed me this scarf that she had bought on a recent trip to Guatemala. It looks like it would float away in a summer breeze………








Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 5, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – The View from my iPod

I love the little pouch I made for my iPod. With it hanging around my neck, I can quickly and easily take pictures anywhere I go. And, it also gives me access to Instagram, which I love.

Backstrap weaving in Maine with camera at the ready. Oh yes, and there’s me going public with my new silver hair streak..

Using the iPod as a principal camera does have certain limitations, though. The battery life is pathetically short and the zoom is pretty useless. I will probably go back to also carting my larger camera around on my next trip away.

However, the iPod did enable me to take some nice shots during this two-and-a-half-month trip away and so I can now show and tell you that Ohio has the cutest story-book clouds….

And that I learned yet again on my second visit that Vermont has epic sunsets…

While Kentucky has awesome hiking trails and vistas…

And that strolling through Charlotte airport is like strolling though a park! Someone had the brilliant idea to plant trees and place rockers under them. That, with the natural light streaming in through the high glass walls creates a very unique airport experience…

It is so convenient to be able to grab my camera from its little pouch around my neck and snap a quick shot along my demonstration warp with the backstrap still in place around my hips…

You might recognize this warp from the cover of my dvd Operating a Backstrap Loom.

I had created it just for the cover shot and then put it away in a drawer. When I was asked to demonstrate backstrap weaving at the Fiber College of Maine event, it seemed like the perfect thing to use with its bright colors and small amount of pick-up. I have found that when there is a mix of weavers and non-weavers in the audience, most people are more interested in seeing how the loom works rather than watching a whole lot of pick-up. The tiny strip of pick-up in this piece was just enough to give people the idea while allowing things to move along at a captivating pace. Finding just the right spot outside is sometimes tricky and I found myself moving around this tree, like the hands of a clock, chasing the shade.

All ten of the people who came to weave with me were also able to comfortably enjoy weaving outdoors under a tent…

Each tent had its name and we were in the Laugh one among the woods at the Fiber College of Maine campground.

Over two days we wove bands with complementary-warp pick-up together enjoying being in the open air….

Other folks came to weave with me for just an afternoon. Young Mira added an extra bit of sunshine to my day when she showed up with a warp she had created from her own handspun and naturally dyed wool…

It had a few minor issues which we sorted out together. What fun! In the background you can see one of the porch hang-out spots where fiber enthusiasts gathered to weave, spin, knit and share stories.

After playing with the warp and making some adjustments, she  showed me the bark berry baskets she makes. She made this one into a backpack. It’s lined and she sewed on the leather trim herself. It’s gorgeous! On other baskets she has used tablet-woven trims.

There were so many cool people at the Fiber College of Maine. It truly is a special place. Check it out for next year if you are in the area in early September.

Knitting ”softwear” engineer Alisdair Post-Quinn was there. I got to hang out with him one morning on one of the porches while I wove a band with interlocking Andean hooks attached to my toe. Alisdair was starting a new piece in double knitting. He showed me the pattern he had created and it was also all about hooks in positive and negative space, looked very Central Asian and was absolutely stunning!

Later on, we all got to see one of Alisdair’s finished double-knitted pieces…whoa.

There are several relaxing ”hang-out” spots such as this throughout the campground which are great places to sit and practice your craft and talk to whomever happens to come by. There was even a convenient post for attaching a backstrap loom at this one.

There were folks making felted vessels, painting on silk, weaving rag rugs, making chain mail, doing Sashiko embroidery, double knitting, tapestry weaving, quilting, making long and short bows, plasma cutting, basket making, flute making…and these were just the activities that I managed to get around and see. There were a whole lot of other fiber and fiber-related things going on as well at this five-day event known as Fiber College of Maine. Classes ran for two days, one day and half days and there were several ”taster” activities offered by the hour. I was drawn to the pottery taster but knew that I wouldn’t be able to carry my creation home.

The entire campground is a wonderland of creativity from the plasma-cut fire places to the whimsical outhouses.

I was quite taken with the sleeping quarters for the artist-in-residence that stands within the weaving studio building…a tent structure within the building which has been covered with antique doilies. It was like a little fairy land inside.

From the seashore of Maine, I headed to Ohio to stay with weaving friend, Janie. We gathered a group to weave ñawi awapa tubular bands and play with various finishing techniques used by weavers in Peru and Bolivia.

Janie was busy preparing for a show of her tied and dyed silk scarves…

Between weaving and silk dyeing, we managed to have an awesome day out hiking in Kentucky in the Red River Gorge. It was a day of beautiful views and just enough challenge for me whose legs had not been hiking for a long, long time!

And then, I bounced over east again to Vermont to stay with Lausanne and Brian in their little cottage in the woods…

Fall was in the air and we harvested potatoes but I was just that little bit too early to see the leaf colors that I had enjoyed on the Columbus Day weekend on my last visit.

We wove, went to the Harvest Festival at which Lausanne performed on her fiddle, cruised thrift stores and did some short local hikes.

Lausanne wanted to refresh her Andean Pebble Weave skills and she put together a beautiful wool warp for her backstrap loom. Yes, wool has its challenges but working with it is so worth it. Once you get used to its hairiness and adapt your shed opening techniques to suit, it all becomes so much less intimidating.

She chose  figures from the aquatic set in my latest book of patterns Complementary-warp Pattern Book starting with some little fish in among the currents and progressing to one of the four larger fish that are charted in the book.

Carol, Peggy and Bradie came along to weave complementary-warp pick-up on their inkle looms. We used patterns from my Complementary-warp Pick-up book for those. That book has the instructions along with forty-two narrow patterns.

Online weaving friend, Lizze Ruffell, has been enjoying the book, too….

Bradie felt quite at home on the floor with her inkle loom and I may be mistaken but I have a feeling that she might try out a backstrap loom at some point…

Carol and Peggy worked at the table. Each person finds their own way to hold and work at the loom. Both Carol and Peggy took home unwoven warp and patterns on which to work.

Later, up at the table, Rosie found a warm lap on which to ride out the cold wet day…a good day to be indoors weaving. Bradie quickly picked up the technique and I know that she will go far with this!

  My last afternoon with Lausanne was spent taking a gentle walk on a perfect fall day to a lovely lookout spot where we could enjoy views of the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.

I then moved on and visited with my good friends Claudia, Janet and David in Maryland. It’s been nine years since we met online via Weavolution and there is always much to catch up on. It was tough having to limit the visit to just two days. But, we didn’t muck around. Claudia suggested reviving my limited knitting skills and I was all for it. Perhaps it was the encounter with Alisdair that reminded me of the amazing things that can be created with yarn and two simple pointed sticks. And so…I knitted! I learned the long-tail cast-on and used circular needles for the first time…exciting! Claudia sent me home with a whole kit of interchangeable needles and a half-finished simple cowl.

My warm-up sample.

I think that wearing colored cowls near my face will be nice way to brighten things up a bit when I complete my transition to silver hair. There’s still a loooong way to go on that! I also ordered silk so that I can weave some silk button-up ones too.

Last stop, North Carolina and the Yadkin Valley where we gathered weavers to try out some backstrap weaving and pick-up patterns. I stayed with Leslie and husband John on their property along with their alpacas, goats, donkeys, cats and dogs and enjoyed being back in North Carolina after a break of eight years.

Leslie had been to Convergence where she took my friend Marilyn’s class. I immediately recognized the bow-loom-woven double bracelet that Marilyn teaches people to weave. Marilyn also presents this class on dvd or via streaming on the Taproot Video website.

Here’s our happy group of backstrap weavers at the Fiber Center. A couple of the ladies are studying for the Master Weaver Certificate offered by Olds College. The Yadkin Valley Fiber Center partners with Olds College to offer all levels of the Master Spinning and Master Weaving courses. I have since seen on Facebook that Deb is enthusiastically continuing the samples we started together and I hope that the other ladies find time to do so too.

And, the other thing that the iPod has been good for is…. those dreadful selfies. They are too hard to do with my big camera and I would like to record my transition to silver hair. I promise I won’t bore you with these pictures in every blog post but I figure that if I put a picture or two ”out there” I am less likely to chicken out and go back to dyeing.

Now, I am back in Bolivia and giving myself a few days to clean house, do laundry and re-stock the fridge before jumping back in my loom. First, I will finish the demo warp that I took away. It’s going to be a backstrap for one of my students. And then, I will decide on whether I want to start with the silk cowls, some ikat, linked warp, or perhaps a light gauze cotton piece using some fine handspun cotton that I found in the closet. I think I bought it in Guatemala back in 2008. It has been doubled and rolled into a ball and I have been winding the singles back into separate balls.

I am wallowing in time before my next trip away…exciting! There’s lots of weaving to do and, of course, there is a book or two to work on as well.














Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 3, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Snippets and Snaps

Well, I was hoping to make some ”postcard” mini-posts while on the road but I have been so busy moving from place to place….long flights back and forth across oceans with the dreaded jet-laggy recoveries. But, here I am now happily settled on the pretty seashore of Maine, with my dear friend Astrig, for the next part of my journey. The only thing missing from making this next picture perfect is a warp hooked to my big toe, but there will be plenty of time for weaving soon…

I went to the local Farmers’ Market yesterday and met, quite by chance, weaver Susan Barrett Merrill, the creator of the small lap loom called the Journey Loom. I have several weaving friends who have created fabulous woven masks using Susan’s book “The Art of Weaving a Life”and I have seen her and her fans in various online groups over these last years.

As I strolled through the market, I was attracted to the sign on a booth that read ”Handwoven Earrings”. I really am not one for jewelry. I have worn the same two pairs of tiny gold hoop earrings for at least the last 12 years but I am currently making the tough transition to my natural hair color, that is, grey (actually, more like white!), and I am rewarding myself for every inch or so of new grey growth with a new pair of earrings. I’ll wear them when all my dark brown color has been cut out. That will take some time!

So, there I was admiring the idea of handwoven earrings and there was Susan! Susan uses silk, cotton, bamboo and metallic threads for her earrings and it was quite difficult to pick a single pair as my favorite from her display. I looked through a catalog of her amazing masks and noticed that she had incorporated ”Bolivian-style finger weaving” (crossed warp technique) in one particular mask that she calls Epona, She of the Wild Horses. This mask is made from Maine handspun island wool and linen. The face is woven and the headdress and horse figures are felted with merino and ram’s wool. The corona has Shyrdak designs of Central Asia. You can take a look at a gallery of her masks here.

My time in Australia was fast-paced but awesome. It was fun meeting weavers for the first time in Adelaide, wonderful catching up with old weaving friends once again and meeting new ones in northern Tasmania, Melbourne, Maitland and south coast NSW.

Weavers in Adelaide pause to chart some patterns from woven bands.

Patrick in Melbourne is a new addition to our backstrap weaving fold. He sits beside Ruth who was weaving with me for the third time in Melbourne.

Patrick was a natural and immediately started creating his own patterns in warp-faced double weave…

Ruth also created her own pattern using only twelve threads…a sweet flamingo…which she was happy to share with other students. In another class, Mog saw the pattern, loved it, and wove it as paired flamingos on her twenty-thread warp.

The endless days of glorious sunshine in NSW were marred by the fact that the state is once again in the grip of drought. Wildlife is attracted to the thin line of green grass that borders the country roads that wind through fields of dusty dry yellow. As a result, we hit a kangaroo on the way home from weaving one evening…so very sad.

Ten happy backstrap weavers enjoy warping outside in the winter sunshine on the south coast of NSW.

Cornelia, who wove with me last year, returned and I got to see the interesting things she has been weaving on her backstrap loom in the meantime. Pick-up patterning is not really her thing but she is always interested in learning. As you can see from the picture, she is very much into texture.

Here you can see Maeve’s clever hands creating a goat pattern of her own design in warp-faced double weave…

I saw the work of Tasmanian weaver Michael Kay in an exhibit called Towards an Origin in Launceston. He happened to be there when I visited and we got a personal tour. Among the various pieces displayed were Michael’s unique images that he creates using a rep weave technique and hand painted warp. The two layers of warp are painted different colors and he uses the thick and thin weft that is traditionally used in rep weave to allow one of the two colors to dominate at will to form images.

I was lucky enough to be in Melbourne during the Viking exhibit and Ruth was kind enough to take me along. It is amazing to think of the thread being spun and the cloth being woven piece by piece and interlaced to form the sails of the traditional boats. ”Krampmacken” has been reconstructed from an archaeological boat discovery from the end of the Viking Age.

I particularly loved seeing the sewing tools, the needles and their decorated cases among the hundreds of pieces on display.

Thanks to my weaving friend, Glenys, I got to spend the last days at south coast beaches which were largely deserted in the off-season. Only a few hardy surfers could be seen bobbing among the waves. I love wild wintry beaches.

There I said goodbye to Australia for 2018 and attempted a selfie for what might be the last picture of myself with dark hair. I am hoping I don’t chicken out on this transition to my natural color. The contrast in the newly emerging natural color is startling to say the least!

Beautiful early morning strolls along the boardwalk were a perfect peaceful way to end my Australian visit and contemplate the road ahead.

The immediate road ahead involved a trip across the ocean and multiple time zones to L.A where I wove once again with my friend Kathleen, experienced an earthquake which toppled some small objects and wobbled pictures on north-south walls off center, stayed in a town where wild peacock roam the suburban streets, and found a small city that bears my name!

This is one of the few places where I don’t need to lie to the Starbucks guy and tell him to write ”Mary” on my cup.

Kathleen took me along to visit the Charter Oak Weaving and Spinning Center which has over 100 looms distributed between two rooms and at least 80 students. It must be the biggest school of its kind in the USA. We visited at the start of one of the evening classes and there was quite a buzz of excitement at the start of the new term. It was nice to meet people there with whom I have corresponded as well as a weaving friend I had made on my visit to Palm Springs earlier this year.

I had stayed with Kathleen on my way through to Australia and she was kind enough to host me again on my return trip. The first time I came through, she had been fresh back from Convergence where she had taken a velvet weaving class with Barbara Setsu Pickett. Kathy’s piece was still on the loom and she showed me what she had created from Barbara’s instructions as well as some innovations of her own. She created various combinations of flat weaving, cut and uncut pile. The piece was gorgeous and particularly so because of Kathleen’s color choices and combinations. Kathleen, who is a professional costumer, plans to incorporate velvet in an opera cape that she will sew. It is bound to be stunning.

And now to enjoy beautiful Maine and the company of my friend Astrig, seen here spinning in the late evening sunlight, and other weaving friends. Let’s see if I can squeeze in another post of snippets and snaps before I head back to Bolivia.




Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 19, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Taking Stock

As I get ready to hit the road once again…how these seven weeks at home and back at my loom have flown!!…I always find it useful and somehow necessary to stop and take stock of what I have done with my weaving time and think ahead to my return so that I can hit the ground running when I get back. The next time I am home it will be for a full luxurious six months, unless I get restless and decide to go visit with my weaving teachers. Several ideas have already come to mind.

The first thing I finished when I got home seven weeks ago, was the silk paisley-patterned scarf.

If you have been following my blog over the years you will certainly know about my friend Dorinda. She recently left Bolivia to return to her home in the USA after having worked with a group of weavers in the central Bolivian highlands for about a decade. She writes and tells me about her transition back to life in the developed world. It is inspiring for me as I face the the fact that one day, I too, will most likely need to return to my other home in Australia and leave all this behind. This year I celebrate twenty-five years in South America. Leaving seems impossible and the very thought of it breaks my heart. If I could somehow make my home in both countries…..

Dorinda has also been taking stock of many things, one of which is the inventory of woven items she has had brought over from Bolivia recently. Naturally, Dorinda has had a difficult time assuring the weavers she left behind that all is not over and that she will be better able to generate sales for them in the USA than when she was with them in Bolivia. She is eager to give them a new order but funds for materials to create more textiles must come from the sale of existing stock.

This is where I am hoping you can help out. Dorinda has with her in the USA a limited number of bands of various width, zippered pouches and straps all created with the weavers’ own handspun naturally-dyed wool. If any of you have woven tubular bands with me, you will be well-acquainted with this beautiful cloth. I have also shown the pieces many times on my blog.

From Dorinda:

Those of you who enjoy working with the hand spun natural dyed woven cloth to make your own creations will be pleased to know that there are 19  fajas/bands ($38) (70” x 5” ) 6 larger weavings ($68) which are 63” x 9.5”, and 12 straps ($18) which are 74” to 78” long and 1.5” wide available for purchase.

Photo courtesy of Dorinda Dutcher.

There are also zippered pouches…$17 with wrist strap, $16 without, as well as yoga mat straps. Dorinda is particularly keen to promote the yoga mat straps as these are woven by the youngest weavers and sales of the straps encourages  themto continue learning to weave from their elders and advance to wider pieces. Read more of the story in Dorinda’s blog post.

Photo courtesy of Dorinda Dutcher.

You can contact Dorinda directly to order or ask about any of these items by emailing her at

As for my taking of stock, I am pleased that a couple of the items I completed during this short stint at home will travel with me. I have a new pouch for my iPod and charger as well as a handy neck pouch for carrying my iPod about when I want to use it as a camera.

I finished the neck ribbon for Tracy so that I can complete our fun sprang-for-backstrap-weaving barter agreement…

And, I wove a couple of silk bookmarks which are gifts for some friends. On the first one I used patterns that I haven’t woven for years and which I saw during time I spent with Angela, my Guaraní weaving teacher. I got half way through charting these patterns, but found that it was actually faster to just wing it….something which is fairly easy to do in the intermesh structure.

I wove the mug rugs pictured above many years ago with one of the patterns and still have three of the test pieces which served as my guide for replicating the motif. It had taken me a few attempts to get the tubular edging on those mug rugs right and the two pieces in the picture were duds. I am not showing the ugly edges of the mug rugs in the picture! I have a large tub of these abandoned pieces under my bed in case you believe that everything I weave turns out well first go! Occasionally I pull them out and they become useful.

Speaking of mug rugs, one of the new backstrap weavers on Ravelry has been using the mug rug pattern charts here on my blog to weave sets of mug rugs. It’s nice to see those patterns being used along with the tutorial on double weave. Those mug rugs were a favorite project of mine all those years ago. They wove up so quickly and I still have them scattered all over my home.

I took another silk book mark of the loom and used a 9-strand flat braid for finishing it. The green one was finished with a five-strand version.  I call these my ”lazy” braids…one large braid that is quick to make as opposed to the multiple four-strand round braids that I usually like to do. I have a tutorial for the five-strand version here. The nine-strand one follows basically the same steps except that individual strands go over two and under two instead of over one, under one as described in the five-strand tutorial. It keeps all the fine ends of 60/2 silk nicely under control.

In my last blog post I described my small test pieces for double-width fabric on my backstrap loom and lamented the fact that I didn’t have swords that were long enough to weave the width I want, around 23 inches, in a single layer rather than two.

Well, it turns out that I do! My place is so small it is hard to believe that I could overlook something like this. I have a beautiful sword that goes with a backstrap loom from the Karen people that my friend Bhakti gave me. It would work beautifully on fabric up to 23 inches wide. I also have lots of Navajo-style battens from my tapestry days. They are long. I used to weave 24-inch wide Navajo style pieces back then. These are, however, probably too narrow but would do in a pinch. And, I have four wooden one-meter length rulers that are the perfect width. They have been sitting in a tub alongside uncut broom handles for so long, I no longer even notice them. So, I think I am well set to cut and  shape some nice long swords from those when I return to Bolivia.

The Karen loom with its nice long split-beams and sword.

So, that’s one for the to-do list when I get home. I also want to weave a shoulder bag  with one of the cute pockets that highland weavers here incorporate in their coca-leaf pouches. These pockets are typically very small, about the width of two fingers. I want to weave a patterned wool bag with a much larger pocket that would fit perhaps my iPod, a notebook or other small item.

I learned to weave these pouches with pockets in Potosi, Bolivia way back in 1997. Part of the fun of that project was learning how to decorate the pouch after I had finished weaving it. The bag was edged with a patterned tubular band. The pocket was edged with triple cross-knit looping.

My teachers Julia and Hilda discuss how to set up the warp that includes the pocket. It had been many years since either of them had woven one of these bags.

That’s me weaving the small pouch on the horizontal ground loom. And here’s the finished pouch with its little pocket in some of the lively colors of the highlands.

I attempted to weave one these a few years ago. It resides in that tub of stuff under the bed that I told you about earlier! I had attempted it in cotton and quickly realized that cotton requires a lot more precision for this kind of thing than wool. For something like this, a bit of stretchy-ness is good! So, I have woven a miniature version in wool with a teeny tiny pocket. My notes in my journal on this back in 1997 are quite sparse. I am sure that I thought at the time that it was all just so obvious and not worth noting down. But, it was amazing how things came back to me when I hit the first obstacle in the process.

Above you can see the wee pocket with some triple cross knit looping on the side. I need to practice that some more. Some of these pouches have their pockets edged with tubular bands, like the one at left, and some have no edging at all but may have a small pom pom or tassel or added fringe hanging from them. So, that gives me a second project to come home to. I am hoping to weave the pouch with four selvedges, as is the tradition. I had also hoped to get some ikat experiments done during this time at home but that didn’t happen.

And, to finish my taking-of-stock, it was fun to be able to finally edge the purple lap blanket and put it to use in what has been a winter with unusually lengthy periods of cold-ish weather.






The double weave music band will travel with me as a sample for those who will be weaving double weave with me in Australia.

I will leave you here with some news from Taproot Video. I am sure you must all know by now that Taproot Video is the home of my video class Operating a Backstrap Loom.

Taproot Video offers its classes on dvd or as streamed content. The most recent offering is Carol James’ much awaited class on sprang braiding. Carol has had a free video on the site for some time in which she teaches some of the basics. Now you can explore the topic further with her Introduction to Sprang.

I haven’t tried it myself but I can’t see any reason why sprang wouldn’t work on a backstrap loom. One of these days I’ll do that…after I finish the wide silk piece and the wool shoulder bag and all the ikat experiments and and and…I hope my time at home later this year will see some book projects finished too.

I hope to find time to write some “postcard” blog posts while on the road. Until next time!






Posted by: lavernewaddington | July 6, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – The Bands Play On

The bands play on…

In a time when my weaving goals are geared toward going wider, finer and longer, there is a surprising amount of narrow band-weaving happening on my backstrap loom. I guess I am satisfying the desire to go finer and longer, if not wider, in some of these projects. At least the 110-inch band that I wove as an edging for my wool blanket falls into the long and fine category.

Two years have passed since I took the panels for the wool blanket off my loom and now I have it finished at last along with its red and brown partner.

Now….bring on the cold weather so that I can snuggle under these!

I stayed with fine thread for the next band project which only satisfied one of my three goals. I wove a strap for my new iPod neck pouch. First came the tubular bands for the sides of the pouch followed by the neck strap. I  set up the warp for the strap with four sets of heddles and zoomed along.

I was able to fit three of the four cat patterns from my latest pattern book on the back of the pouch. After attaching the tubular edgings, I sewed coil stitches to cover the raw edges at the bottom of the pouch. The mouth of the pouch ends in selvedges that don’t need protection. I want to re-do the coil stitches as the needle I used was too thick for the weight of wool and I think I can make the coils more compact with the finer needles that I have.

And then it was back to 60/2 silk for another band with lots of pick-up. I am using only two sets of heddles this time and so my pick-up stick is getting a good work out.

This band is for my friend Tracy who makes the most adorable sprang pouches.

I asked her if I could buy one…they are just so darn cute and I loved the colors. I know that it is hard to put a price on these kinds of handmade items and so we came to an arrangement to make a swap…a silk neck ribbon for a sprang pouch. Tracy surprised me by delivering that pouch quick smart. You can see it pictured above.

I am afraid that I am sadly lagging behind on my end of the deal. I am so happy to have this ribbon underway on the loom now.

I am using the same snake pattern that I used for a neck ribbon I wove for myself some time ago. I hang a pendant on it and use it as a necklace. This is a pattern that I adapted to fit the number of threads I am using from a pattern woven by my Guarani weaving teacher. When I showed this to some online friends, one of them pointed out the little red “rubies” that appear in the bends of the snake when you look at the other face. I hadn’t noticed that before.

So there have been a handful of narrow projects on my loom while I have been contemplating my next big project. This one will be wide. I will be on the road again before I can even hope to get this next one started. Besides, I think I need to buy more thread for it and I’ll bring that back with me when I return.

I have played around with a handful of what, for me at least, are wide projects in the past….

This was the first time I tried 60/2 silk as warp.

Another wide-ish one in 30/2 cotton. I’d like to stress that these are only ”wide” in terms of what I normally weave on my backstrap loom. They are not at all wide compared to the pieces that are routinely woven on backstrap looms in S.E Asia! Take a look at these images of backstrap weavers from Laos and Vietnam with their tremendously wide warps (used with kind permission from the folks at Above the Fray Traditional Hilltribe Art.)

I felt I needed to stand to get my friend Janet’s wide wool warp started unlike the gentleman in Ecuador who skillfully works at his wide and very heavy wool warp while seated…

 A Peruvian weaver, below, stands and “dances” with her loom as she manages her 39-inch light cotton warp…

The challenges of going wide…firstly, there’s the equipment. Long beams, shed rods, cross sticks, coil rods and heddle rods are no problem. There no end of wooden broomsticks and such things down the street in the market. What I am lacking are swords of the right length. I rummaged around and pulled out my biggest ones…

Only one is the length that I feel I need. I could have some made for when I return (make them myself?…I am useless at that sort of thing!) But then I started thinking about the double-width cloth that many floor loom weavers make when their looms are not wide enough to accommodate the width that they want to weave. They weave half the width in two layers which then unfold to make one wide piece.

Time to experiment.

I have no idea if the following small experiments will really give me any clue as to how easy this will be to handle with many more warp ends. I guess I was more curious at this point to experiment with sett and how that affects the fold in the cloth.

What I liked while making these experiments was the ability to cut off a sample and clamp off my warp. That way I could wash and press the sample, take notes, plan changes and then continue using the same warp for the next one. The width of the warp you see on the loom below is half the width of the woven cloth.

I suspect that these wooden clamps that I inherited from a guild were home made. I have searched on Google for similar things but haven’t turned up anything yet. I have two of them and they work well at holding the threads while I cut off a woven sample. I clamp one to the unwoven warp while it is under tension and then cut off the woven cloth. I lash the clamp to a dowel when I want to start weaving again.

You can see the first two samples above. I calculated the width I should produce with this number of ends of 60/2 silk based on pieces I have woven in the past. I wove the first small piece at a closer sett. It’s not the width that would normally be produced in my hands and I had to work to stop the cloth from widening.  That resulted in uneven selvedges. The density also made the sheds that much harder to clear. However, of the three samples I wove, this one was the only one where the fold in the cloth was not noticeable at all.

I let the second sample go wider than I normally would, which made shed management much easier. I also practiced a new pattern that I had charted in supplementary weft. The fold in the cloth was quite obvious in this one. It wasn’t noticeable when the cloth was just lying flat but it certainly was when held up to the light. The warp ends were spread further apart at the fold, enough so to create what I would consider a fairly weak spot in the cloth. Again the selvedges were not tidy because I was forcing the cloth to be a width which was not natural in my hands. The only advantage had been that the slightly more relaxed sett made opening the sheds easier.

I let the final sample sit at its natural width…yay, selvedges I like at last. The fold is only slightly noticeable when the washed and pressed cloth is held up to the light but I don’t believe that it affects the integrity of the cloth. It’s amazing how much variation there can be in width while still producing good warp-faced cloth.

Each sample had its advantages…1. invisible fold line, 2. easier loom operation, 3. a more natural rhythm for me and neat selvedges. It’s a toss-up between numbers 1 and 2. I won’t have to decided until I get home from my next trip. Most likely I will want to weave more samples. In the meantime, I can think about colors. Or…if I don’t go with double width, I’ll come home to some new long swords.

As usual, I have some pieces to show you that were woven by my weaving friends. I will limit the selection this week to four different techniques…

Ann wove this wool band using a backstrap set-up and one of my favorite patterns. I discovered this one on a pre-columbian fragment that I was shown and it is charted in my second book (you may have gathered that I have lots of favorite patterns)…

I think it is magical how the pelicans flow from light on dark to dark on light. Of course, you may not be seeing pelicans. You might see cogs and gears, as one weaver remarked. Ann wove this using a temporary picking cross, manually selecting threads for every weft shot.

Kristin’s beauty is based on an adaptation of a central Asian pattern that I charted. Those colors!!! This is stunning. This pattern allows the optional use of two sets of “pebble heddles” and I am pretty sure that that is the method she chose for her backstrap loom.

This is Nicole Stronge’s warp-faced double weave using the two basic sheds on her inkle loom. I have more projects from Nicole to show in which she has continued to create her own patterns, beautifully personalizing her bands for the intended recipients. I will save them for future posts.

Martina has created a really cool set-up for her backstrap weaving in her home. She’s using the backstrap she wove herself and is creating a band decorated with patterns in supplementary weft.

Cut into lengths, the band was made into key fobs and a book mark.

There are free tutorials for the last two techniques right here on my blog. Follow the links I posted above. I am also producing a pattern book and dvd on the double weave technique which extends and deepens the basic tutorial I have provided here.

Now it’s back to my loom and my wee silk ribbon. I also want to follow through on all my good intentions and surprise friends by weaving the bookmarks and ribbons that I have had in mind for them. Goal: get these finished before I hit the road again.

By the way, Australian friends….If you live in the Newcastle area I will be teaching two workshops there in August. There are spaces available! Contact me if you are interested via a comment on this post.









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!






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