Posted by: lavernewaddington | March 1, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Sewing and Warping

A bag in Intermesh structure with a shaped and edged flap. It includes some patterning in weft substitution.

I always get a bit nervous when my weaving friends who are skilled at sewing start picking up my weavings, many of which have been sewn into bags and small  pouches.  It’s when they start un-zipping, looking inside and inspecting seams that I get all wriggly. I am not great at sewing. My things hold together and look nice on the outside. However, I always fear that the inside might look a little unconventional to those who know something about sewing!

I sew by hand and I have to admit that I find sewing really relaxing. I love to put on a good movie and just sit and sew. Learning to make clothes is kind of a bucket-list thing. I always joke about one day being the best-dressed 79-year old you have ever seen.

Several of my weaving friends have kindly offered to help me make my first item of clothing. One of these days I will take advantage of those offers.

I dream of being able to find a pattern that works just right for me and then go to store knowing something about all that gorgeous fabric. I’ll be able to choose the right kind for the project I have in mind and a print that takes my fancy.

A yurt-shaped bag in reeled silk.

In the meantime, I’ll weave the fabric and sew my bags and pouches.

The fabric that was most recently on my loom was meant to be made into a bag. The black one you see above, which I named Tales from the Sub-continent and Beyond, has been traveling with me for a few years now and really isn’t quite big enough for the stuff I’d like to carry about when I am on the road.

To be honest, the final product is never of great importance to me. My main objective for this project was to weave something that included one of the little pockets that my Bolivian teachers weave into their coca-leaf bags. They are usually tiny pockets just big enough to to insert two or maybe three fingers. I wanted to have a large-ish bag with a pocket big enough to perhaps hold a folded boarding pass, baggage receipts and other bits and pieces that I need to have on hand when I travel.

Weaving that large pocket into this large project was really what this project was all about.

A bag I made for my sister-in-law in 8/2 cotton with Andean Pebble Weave patterns.

Once I had completed the pocket section of the bag, there was nothing new or challenging about the project and it was just a matter of weaving, weaving , weaving….until I decided right at the end that I needed to place the two weaving ladies under a tree.

Out came the charting paper and just I dove in and wove the tree without first sampling as I usually do. I am thinking that if I had wound a warp to first sample the pattern I would still be adjusting the charting and fiddling around with it today! I am quite happy with my tree. If I use it again in another project, I would make some small adjustments. In any case, designing and adding the tree to the project gave it just that extra bit of challenge that I enjoy.

I was determined to make it work because un-weaving wool is not fun. The hairy weft makes itself very much at home next to its hairy warp companions and does not want to be removed! I had already had enough experience un-weaving this wool at the start of this project when I decided that the green stripes  I had included in the warp had to go.

Almost at the end with the ladies waiting for their tree.

I had seen this tree picture shared on Facebook and tried to follow it back to its source. Unfortunately, it seems that the photographer’s name was never mentioned. I was quite taken with this grand tree shading all those people and wanted to include something like it in my project.

So, here are the ladies sitting and weaving and chatting under their tree. The bones for the weaver pattern were created by Maja, my online weaving friend in Germany. She allowed me to include her pattern in my Complementary-warp Pattern Book . She was also fine with my making adjustments to it so that I could have two versions in my book. This is my tweaked version. I doubled it and added the tree.

I was so happy with the tree pattern, that the pocket kind of took a back seat for a while.

Then I edged the pocket with the eye-pattern tubular band that I teach in one of my more recent books.

I doubled the thread so that the tubular band would stand out a bit more and added an extra edge thread to each side of the warp so there would be more solid blue in the tube right next to the pebbles. It looks nice enough in this picture but I have since unpicked it all! It just seemed too busy next to the pebbles. I realized that I usually sew these patterned tubular bands onto a solid-color edge. I’ll probably end up attaching a solid-color tubular band instead or some other variation that has more solid color than pattern. The addition of tube was lovely all around the edge. It really strengthened the pocket.

I wove a couple of bands to make the sides of the bag. This comes even after having asked for bag construction ideas in one of the online groups and being given the very wise advice to hand this off to someone who knows what they are doing! However, being someone who is always more interested in the process than the product, I decided that I would push ahead and see what I could come up with on my own. I think that in the end, I would rather have something, even though it may be quite clunky, that I have made myself. It’s a shame that I don’t have enough of the blue yarn left to make the straps.

Zipper and sides are in place.

The sides will be edged with a patterned tubular band which should look nice against all that solid blue. The`straps, once I get the yarn to weave them, will flank the central pattern and go all the way around the bottom of the bag.

In between periods of sewing, I have been in a warp-winding frenzy preparing for up-coming travels. My living room is a yarn jungle. And, with warping very much on my mind and with memories of my online encounter with Megan and Li backstrap weaving which I wrote about in a recent post, a wonderful video came to my attention. Created by Yan Zhang, this is the most beautiful film of backstrap weaving I have seen. It shows the backstrap weaving style used by the weavers of the Li minority group in China. Yan Zhang is the younger lady that you will see in this video winding a warp and then later sitting at the loom and weaving.

This is the first time that I have seen a warp for the backstrap loom wound this way. I contacted Yan Zhang so that I could be sure that I understood what she was doing. I will show a screen shot here of the warping frame to further entice you  to click on the video and watch it. In her reply Yan Zhang told me that “this frame is one of the most traditional tools of Li Brocade with 3000 years of history“. I have certainly never seen a warp wound this way before.

I like watching this video last thing at night so that I can close my eyes with the music still playing in my head. (ETA…unfortunately,it appears that the video has been removed from Youtube).

I haven’t been so excited about seeing a warp being prepared since I found this picture of two ladies preparing a backstrap loom from the website of Woven Souls. Jaina Mishra allowed me to share her image of the two ladies warping directly onto the loom.

Weavers in Arunachal Pradesh using the traditional back strap loom to weave skirts, shawls and loin cloths.

And then there was the thrill of winding a warp with Montagnard weaver Ju Nie. With Ju Nie I learned how to create the heddles as the warp is wound (as well as use the wonderful coil rod).

Ju was kind enough to let me try warping. I would never let anyone touch my warp!! She however, took control of the heddle string at each pass but I was slowly coming to understand what was going on.

Oh my gosh, there are so many exciting things still to learn and experience on this continent where I live. I am so grateful that while I am here I am still am able to enjoy these small amounts of contact with weavers from the other side of the world.

I hope that if nothing else grabs your attention in this post, that you will at least pause and watch Yan Zhang’s beautiful film. It is just over 5 minutes long.

I’ll leave you with a reminder, if I may, of my two latest publications….

The Eye-pattern Tubular Band.

Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms.


Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 15, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms – a new ebook

I am taking a step away from the world of the backstrap loom in this post to tell you about my new e-book, Andean Pebble Weave on Inkle Looms. This is a book that I have designed specifically for those who use what I would call a “standard” inkle loom, whether it be a one-of-a-kind home-made model or one of the mass-produced kinds. By “standard” inkle loom, I mean a frame with pegs that has some kind of system that allows adjustments to be made to warp-tension. The threads in half the warp are held in individual string-heddles while the weaver lifts and lowers the threads in the other half to create the two basic sheds.

And, I have provided instructions on these looms that are suited to BEGINNER pick-up weavers….those who have found that, although there are unlimited possibilities for weaving beautiful bands in plain weave on inkle looms, they would now like to add some little motifs to their bands….geometric patterns and little animal figures sitting on an attractive “pebbly” background.

With the experience of warping, setting up the loom and weaving plain-weave bands behind them, they can now venture into the world of pick-up patterns with methods that have been designed specifically for this kind of loom and their level of experience.

The methods I present take into account the particular characteristics of the inkle loom.

Firstly, I sort out some terminology. In my wanderings around the internet, I have found that there can sometimes be a little confusion over the terms pick-up, complementary-warp, pebble weave and Andean Pebble Weave. I welcomed the opportunity to talk about those terms in this book.

I present three different methods for creating Andean Pebble Weave patterns, two of which are aimed at beginner pick-up weavers. The third method is one that you can try, if you like, when you have gained a little experience and are interested in perhaps adding some short-cuts to speed up the process. You can try just one of the methods or all three of them.

All three methods produce the same pretty results! You can decide which one best suits your weaving style.

There is a method for those who enjoy getting their fingers in among the threads. The only tools that are required are those that you would normally use to produce plain weave, that is, something with which to beat and carry the weft.

Another uses a few additional tools which are as simple as two pencils and a pointed stick!

The third requires some additional materials to set-up the warp, no additional tools for weaving, and is for those who are interested in making a little extra effort in the set-up to enable them to see the patterns appearing on their bands faster. Additional string heddles are used in this third method and I cover, in pictures, text and video, the instructions for making them and the tips and tricks for operating them on inkle looms.

I use my Ashford Inklette throughout the e-book and in the videos to provide instruction. My friends Ruth Mitchell and Bradie Hansen also contributed with their full-size Ashford and Schacht inkle looms.

In order to cater to as many learning styles as possible, I have presented the instruction in various forms. Dozens of step-by-step pictures are used. Detailed text accompanies each and every picture. Instructional video clips take you through the steps all over again and there is an additional set of video clips called “Just Weaving” where you can enjoy watching the flow of each of the three methods, uninterrupted by instruction.

The .mp4 video clips can be viewed on all kinds of devices…iPhones, Android devices, iPods, iPads etc….

Tutorials cover how to recognize mistakes and un-weave, finish a band, lay out patterns, weave two different kinds of borders, and manage chart-reading. Tips for left-handed weavers are provided. The book finishes with twenty-two Andean Pebble Weave pattern charts for small motifs which are perfectly suited to beginner-level. Plus, there are two surprise bonus charts with patterns I know you will love!

If you already own and are using my e-book, Complementary-warp Pick-up, for your inkle loom, you won’t need this new book….unless you are curious about adding a couple of other methods to your pick-up weaving repertoire on inkle looms. The second kind of border structure that I teach in the Appendix of this new book might be new to you too.

Which method do I prefer? It very much depends on a number of factors which take into account the kind of material I am using for warp, the weight of the yarn I am using, as well as the number of threads. I love to have different methods up my sleeve to use in all kinds of situations, just as I do for my backstrap loom. If you have seen me or other weavers using additional string heddles to create Andean Pebble Weave patterns on inkle looms and have wondered about those, the third method in this is book will answer all those questions…all the why’s and how’s of making them, as well as using them.


And now I shall return to my pocket-bag fabric which is so very near completion. The second two weaving ladies are now happily seated at their almost-finished looms and I am about to add my newly-created pattern for the tree which will shade them. I suspect there will be some un-weaving for adjustment because I am being naughty and weaving the tree without first sampling!

Perhaps there will be a finished bag to show next time I post!








Posted by: lavernewaddington | February 1, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – Crossing Woven Paths

Since I last wrote, I had the luck to cross woven paths with a lady who lives on Hainan Island in southern China. She found her way into my inbox via my blog after she had spent time with some backstrap weavers on Hainan Island from the Li minority group.

I imagine that it had been a very intense time watching the weavers at work trying to absorb and make sense of everything they were doing. Megan told me that although she speaks Mandarin, the weavers speak a local dialect. They were only able to communicate using some very basic Chinese words. It reminds me of weaving with Quechua-speaking ladies here in Bolivia and Peru. One of my teachers had the habit of throwing a word in Spanish at the end of long sentences in Quechua hoping, I suppose, that it would somehow give context to what she was saying. Believe it or not, it sometimes actually did help me to get the gist of what she was saying! None of it was instructional, though. It was basically chit-chat and the way that we tried to bond talking about our families.

Here’s Megan observing one of the Li weavers at her foot-tensioned loom.

She told me that the loom had been warped and fabric had been woven before she arrived and so she was able to watch the steps to creating the patterns with the supplementary weft threads but had not had a chance to see the loom being set up.

She took home a loom with its partly woven fabric but was understandably a bit confused about the process and unable to sit and continue the weaving on her own. As she was about to travel to Europe and wanted to take the loom with her, she did not have a chance to return to the weavers and have her questions answered. I am glad she found me! She sent me a brilliant high-resolution photo of the loom with the parts numbered and an email in which she named the parts as best she could. I love to trouble-shoot but I can’t do so without good pictures that I can enlarge. I couldn’t have asked for more from the pictures that Megan had sent me. The piece is decorated with supplementary weft.

It was exciting because I had seen Li backstrap looms when I was at Convergence in 2010. Pam Nadjowski had a booth in the Vendor Hall with textiles and weaving implements of various Chinese minority groups and the Li loom was one of them. That’s it pictured below. I was tempted to buy one because the pieces were so beautiful  However, I eventually settled on buying two fine bamboo reeds instead that have served me very well in my weaving projects.

Pam had sent me and allowed me to use pictures of the Li weavers that she had taken during the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market one year. Clearly they use several different kinds of techniques to decorate their woven cloth, not only supplementary-weft inlay.

I love the paddle-like ends of the beam against which the weavers place their feet. Megan’s loom is much simpler. I like how a piece of plastic tube has been used in hers as the shed rod.  The caps on the ends are handy for helping to stop the rod from sliding out of the warp. Weavers in Peru often use pvc pipe for the shed rod in their backstrap looms. They thread a safety string through the hollow pipe and tie the ends together which helps to stop the pipe from sliding completely out of the warp. You can see how beautifully the paddle ends on the Li loom are decorated in my photo from Convergence.

When I examined the photo with the numbered parts that Megan had sent me, I was excited to recognize the set-up as one that had been taught to me by two of my weaving teachers in Guatemala in 2008. That’s one of my teachers, Carmen, in the picture at left. I have even written a tutorial on this blog for the set-up and technique.

So, I was able to help with an explanation. Because Megan had named the loom parts in her email to me, we already had a common vocabulary with which to work. I could point her to my tutorial which also has video and, with those prompts,  she was able to remember what the weavers had been demonstrating and she was on her way! She too remarked on how much fun this connection was. In her words…

This was exactly the advice I needed, as now everything works PERFECTLY! I am so happy, not only because I managed to move on my own, but also because a lady on the other side of the globe, who works with native people of different culture, was able to give me solutions. I find this very awesome 🙂

Here she is contentedly weaving at her loom….I have to say that she seems to have the right toes for this.

Now we can take another look at the picture Megan sent me with the numbered parts and I can name them for you. The rods hold a circular warp which are, as far as I know, far more common in Asian backstrap weaving than single-plane warps. In South America I have only seen circular warps used by backstrap weavers in Ecuador and I have read that they are also used in far northern Peru. The Vietnamese hilltribe weavers with whom I studied also use circular warps as did the Burmese weaver that I spent some time with one day.

#1 and #10….the warp beam and cloth beam…or near beam and far beam as I usually call them

#2 coil rod or rolling stick

#3 patterning shed stick 2

#4 shed rod

#5 patterning shed stick 1

#6 heddle rod

#7 and #8 patterning swords

#9 main sword

Half the black warp threads lie on top of the shed rod. The other half are enclosed in heddle loops and are raised when the weaver lifts the heddle rod. Patterning shed stick 1 holds certain threads from the shed-rod shed. Patterning shed stick 2 holds certain threads from the heddle shed. It’s these threads under which the supplementary weft is passed to form the patterns. The patterning sticks raise groups of threads and the weaver selects threads from these groups according to the pattern she is creating.

Here’s the video that I created a few years ago to show how to set up a warp with these patterning sticks. I am using heavy cotton thread and a really narrow warp just to demonstrate this. The second part of the same video shows how to operate the loom and use the sticks to create patterns. You can pass the supplementary weft from one edge of the cloth to the other as Megan’s weaving friend has done or you can create smaller discontinuous patterns by passing the weft back and forth just from edge to edge of the motif itself as I demonstrate in the video. My Guatemalan teachers use both techniques.


You can see the rest of that tutorial here. This is the cloth that my teacher and I wove together in Guatemala. The X patterns used continuous weft from edge to edge. The little figures were woven using the discontinuous method. Simple inlay as well as wrapping and soumak-like techniques are used to create these kinds of patterns. The blue checkered pattern is supplementary weft passed through the two unaltered patterning sheds. I used these methods to weave this cotton scarf some years after that trip….

Every now and then a student will bring me a warp that they bought in Guatemala with partly-woven cloth and I get to play on it! You can see the two patterning sticks in the warp just to the left of the shed rod….one on top and one below. Guatemalan weavers use single-plane warps rather than circular ones.

I am not sure what kind of system the Li weavers use to clamp and roll up their circular warps. The warp does need to be secured before weaving can begin or it will slide around the beams every time the weaver beats. I own an implement that I got from Dar Ku, a backstrap weaver from Myanmar, that I was able to spend some time with. It’s a split beam, the two pieces of which are placed above and below the unwoven warp ends and then joined and rolled to secure the circular warp and stop it from slipping around the beams. So far, I have only used it in more unorthodox ways.Right now, I am using it to secure to my current piece of weaving…

I found that I could no longer roll up the woven cloth around two beams as I usually do, as the little built-in pocket is bulky and was creating a bump. That was messing with the tension on the unwoven warp threads. So, I removed the cloth beam and had to find another way to attach myself to the piece so that I could continue weaving and be in comfortable reach of the weaving line and heddles. I have clamped the cloth between the split beam. I add another beam and can roll the cloth around both. Two rolls get me to a good position where I can start weaving again. That is working well.

Now I am on the home stretch having passed the half-way mark and have finished the diamond section of the pattern. Now I will weave the two weaving ladies again. This time I get to weave them the right way up rather than standing on their heads! I am thinking of trying to design a tree under which they can sit and weave in the shade.

Progress hasn’t been as fast as it could have been because I am working on another book. I realized that it is not often that I get to spend this much time at home and that I really need to take advantage of that. Too many of my book projects have been started and left standing with the interruption of travel. I am also very buzzed about the fact that I can include video clips with my publications on Patternfish. This is highly motivating!

Here are some projects from students and online weaving friends…..

Christine, who came to weave with me in Maine, is using a Harrisille Designs band lock, in much the same way as I am using the split beam, to clamp her band. She took this project away with her and reported that this was the easiest way to bring weaving along on her trip in carry-on luggage.

Caroline designed and wove this cute snail motif on a warp-faced double weave band that we started together.

Gonit Porat in Israel wove a fabulous band with several patterns from my book of traditional and original Andean Pebble Weave designs. She uses the two-heddle method which is just one of several ways to set up a loom for this structure. Click on her name to visit her website and see the amazing work she does with hundreds of tablets.

Yehudit is making striking key fobs using patterns from my Complementary-warp Pick-up book. That book shows another way to create Andean Pebble Weave patterns without using additional string heddles. And this is what Lenora is weaving using the same book. It is amazing how a little imagination in the  arrangement of colors in the borders can give a band an extra bit of zing. I love it.

Lausanne finished the wool band with its aquatic patterns that she started during my visit to Vermont last year. She also used the two-heddle method for these Andean Pebble Weave patterns that are charted in my Pattern Book.

And, I was right in guessing that Kristin would be the first one to show me a project in which she wove and sewed the eye-pattern tubular band as an edging for her hand-woven cloth. This was all made with her own hand-spun alpaca yarn. It’s a beautiful finish for this piece.

Some feedback from an online weaving friend on these tubular bands and my most recent book, in which she compares the bands to potato chips, brought a smile to my face and really made my day  🙂

Oh my, these little bands are just like potato chips, but way healthier. I just can’t stop at one! I was in a bit of a weaving slump, but now I’m dreaming of things I can weave, just so I can add this lovely edging. I can hardly wait to finish one band so that I can try another in a different colour combo. I’ve been waiting for a book like this for years, down to earth and easy to understand. Thank you Laverne!

Lizzie Ruffell has been weaving bands using some of the knot-work pattern that are charted in my second book. She says that she is now completely comfortable with the spotted charts, has managed to adapt a tablet-weaving pattern (the dragons) to pebble weave and chart it, and is keen now to create some designs of her own.

While my northern hemisphere friends huddle indoors away from some of the coldest temperatures in decades, and Australia recovers from its recent heatwave, I am enjoying a few days of cooler temperatures here. I was filming video clips during a stretch of particularly hot days last week (I still can’t get a tech to come out and look at my broken air conditioner!). I have to get myself into some pretty awkward positions sometimes to film and give people the weaver’s view of what I am doing. At one point I had to stop filming because sweat from my forehead was dripping onto the band I was attempting to weave. I can tell you that holding some of the positions is doing my abs a whole lot of good!

I will leave you with a bright band and some spring-like images to brighten up your cold days, or soften some brutally hot ones. I call this band Birds, Bees, Butterflies and Blooms.









Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 18, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – A Pocket-Guide to Pockets


Happy 2019 to you all! New Year’s Day for me was more about celebrating finishing my latest e-book. And now that that project has been put aside , I am back at my loom and working on a large piece of fabric. This will be sewn into a shoulder bag. Don’t ask me what shape or form that will take. I am not skilled at sewing and I’ll have to figure that out later! I have worked on this for more hours than you might imagine. If you compare the first and second pictures, you might notice that the green stripes that flank the center pattern are missing in the second picture. They were begging to be removed and so I spent one evening un-weaving back to the start and cutting them out so that I could get up the next morning to a fresh warp and pretend it never happened! That left me much happier with the project.

Of course, I will be finishing the cloth with decorative stitches and tubular band edgings. How could I not after finally getting the instructions down in my latest e-book, The Eye-pattern Tubular Band and Other Decorative Finishing Techniques.

This bag will have a built-in pocket. If you look closely at the picture above, you will notice that I began by weaving across the whole width of the cloth. Now I am only weaving the center section. You can see that the weaving there has advanced far beyond the side sections. In that center section the warp is longer than the two side sections and this is what will form the pocket.

This is the warp for the black pocket bag that I recently wove. You can see how the center section of warp extends all the way to bottom of my bed, which is my usual anchoring spot for my warps. The two side sections don’t extend that far. They are suspended on a separate beam which is extended on rope (my lovely braided llama-fiber rope from Peru :-)) away from the bed. I guess for me that is the trickiest part of the set-up….having the two shorter parts of the warp sitting at just the right distance from the bed so that tension is exactly equal the whole way across the three sections.

That involves a lot of sitting in my backstrap to feel the tension across the warp and then laying the warp down so I can go to the far end and guess how much the rope needs to be adjusted…back to my backstrap….back to the far end, another minute adjustment…and so on! You can try to feel for tension differences all day and night but they will only really show up once you start weaving. Ridging, or corrugation, in the plain weave is the warp’s way of telling me that it is unhappy!

It was a lot easier to equalize the tension when I learned this technique in Potosí, Bolivia back in 1997. We used a horizontal ground loom and wove a very small piece. Adjustments were made by simply shifting a stake within easy reach that had been whacked into the ground.

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

I wanted the pocket on my current project to be 10cm deep. That means that the center section of warp is 20cm longer than the rest of the warp. I wove the center section, as I am doing in the second photo in this post, for 20 cm. Then I placed the entire warp together on just one back beam, put the llama rope aside, and anchored the beam directly to my bed as I normally do. The long piece of pocket fabric then gets pulled toward me and folded back and out of the way so that I can continue weaving across the entire width of the warp once again.

The next challenge is folding the pocket and somehow securing it so that I can once again put tension on the warp.

That was easy in Potosí when I was learning and relatively easy on the small pocket pouches that I have been weaving lately. In Potosí we just used a long needle and pinned it to the rest of the cloth. We were weaving with re-spun acrylic. It had a lot of twist added to it and it was tight and firm. Added to that was the hard beat on which my teacher always insisted. My cloth, like the yarn, was stiff and firm. I could just pin something to it and it would not budge.

The 20/2 wool that I am using, on the other hand, has a bit of stretch to it and the cloth that I am weaving is not stiff. After trying many ways to secure it, none of which were satisfactory, I ended up using crochet cotton to sew the folded pocket down. The stitches can be removed once I have finished weaving.


It’s a quirky little pocket. It sits on the outside of the bag and is accessed from the inside. I have been wanting to weave a large piece with one of these pockets for years. Now that the exciting pocket part is done, the rest of the weaving will be less technically challenging. Maybe some warp threads will break to provide some additional challenges…ha ha. Actually, that’s quite unlikely. I am not needing to do any strumming on this piece to get sheds to open and so the 20/2 wool should remain in excellent shape. The bag will be 30cm long and so I am quite near the half-way point where I can start working on what will be the back.

These patterns, by the way, are all charted in my Complementary-warp Pattern Book.

I am also working a bit on another book while I weave this piece (I have a lot of started book projects on my laptop!). I am actually always working on something like that when I am not at my loom.

I have seen a few eye-pattern tubular bands being woven in my online groups since I launched my latest e-book on the topic earlier this month. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. Nancy, aka yarndragon, was the first to post a picture of hers which she made on her inkle loom..

I wonder who will be the first to post a picture of one they have sewn to cloth.  I am pretty sure I know who it will be but I won’t reveal that here!

But, you don’t need to wait until you have woven a piece of fabric to which you can attach an eye-pattern band. One of the happy discoveries I made while writing the book was that the tubular band can be attached very nicely to store-bought cotton cloth. I had actually planned this to be a sample that showed how light cotton cloth cannot support the spiraling energy of the tubular band when it is simultaneously woven and sewn to the edge using the weft as the sewing thread. Light cloth can buckle and get distorted with all that spiraling energy.

The eye-pattern tubular band used to dress up a simple pouch made with commercial cotton fabric.

However, after having folded the cloth to make a little pouch and seaming the sides, I was actually sewing to four layers of fabric and that was more than enough to support the tubular band. I had bought interfacing to use but didn’t need it in the end. I am very tempted to make a bunch of little pouches now as gifts using lovely Japanese cloth pieces that I bought at the indigo exhibit we visited as part of BRAIDS 2016. Tubular bands along the sides and cross-knit-loop stitching along the top are nice finishing techniques. The legs of the cross-knit-loop stitches completely cover the hem at the mouth of the pouch. The strap is braided ( a 4-strand round braid) and there is a simple snap closure in the center. The button, or rather, pendant, is just decorative.

I pulled out examples of my eye-pattern tubular bands used as edging so that I could photograph them for my book. I completely forgot this quirky piece that I wove some years ago. It lives with my travel bags as I only use it as slip-cover for my laptop when I am traveling. Hence , it was forgotten and didn’t make it into the book.

I made the circle shapes in ikat and then filled them in with pick-up patterning. The piece is edged with the tubular band as are the circles. My ikat circles which were quite round (I was very proud of them) got slightly flattened as I wove because silly me forgot to consider take-up!

I am very fond of this piece because of its quirkiness and the somewhat unconventional application of the techniques I have learned to do while living here in South America. I love that I have created something that can travel with me everywhere.

Knowing how to turn corners while attaching the tubular band is something that will open up even more possibilities for adding decorative finishes to bags and pouches. I have covered the various ways that the bands can be placed on these kinds of projects in the e-book and there is a tutorial and supplemental video clip on turning corners.

Now I am thinking….wouldn’t it be nice to have a laptop bag with a pocket for the cable….hmmmm.

Until next time I will leave you with a reminder of my new e-book….






Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 4, 2019

Backstrap Weaving – A New Year and a New E-Book!

Happy New Year to all of you! I usually let December 31st slip on by but this time it was a little different because it marked the finish of my latest e-book on the eye-pattern tubular band and other decorative finishing techniques. It really did feel like a big finish and, as the fireworks boomed outside (we tend to only have the noisy ones here and not so many of the pretties), I almost felt as if they were cheering for me. I guess the end-of-year means something different for each and every one of us. This is what it meant to me at that very moment, and on and off until 2am! There are no official public displays of fireworks. People buy them in the market and let them off in their back yards. It can go on all night!

So….about the e-book. You may know this pretty eye-pattern tubular band by its Quechua name, ñawi awapa. I have seen it woven in various places across the highlands of Peru and Bolivia. Because I know of at least one other local name that is used for it, I decided to simply call it the eye-pattern band in my book.

Weaving the eye-pattern tubular band in the central Bolivian highlands.

I have been happily applying it to my small woven pieces ever since I learned it. The novelty of seeing those little eyes appearing along the band never wears off! Used as an edging, it is the perfect finish to my woven pieces. In the highlands it is used for both decorative and practical reasons as it protects the edges of the fabric which are often the first parts to wear out.

Here’s my latest finished project using a simple two-color eye-pattern band as the edging on my Andean Pebble Weave wrist-cuff .

The tubular  band is woven and sewn simultaneously to the perimeter of the cuff using the weft as the sewing thread.

When I was learning to weave a coca-leaf bag with my teachers in Bolivia in 1997, I realized that removing the cloth from the loom did not mean the end of the project. It actually signaled the beginning of a whole new process that involved embellishing the piece with various decorative finishes. I saw that the eye pattern has different levels of complexity in different regions and that the methods used to create it can also vary. These kinds of similarities and differences have always fascinated me.

And, I have since learned that the eye-pattern tubular band is fun to weave on its own rather than purely as an edging. It makes lovely necklaces on which to hang pendants, sweet bracelets and bangles, and can be used in a variety of ways in accessories….fobs for keys and tools, lanyards, eye-glass holders, shoe laces, straps and drawstrings…. From my own experiments, I show you how to create straight, curved and spiraled versions of the tubular bands. They all have their particular charm!

One of the many fun things about this pattern is that you can make it as subdued or as lively as you like. I am generally limited to using only two colors at once in a pattern when I do most of my basic pick-up weaving techniques. The eye-pattern band allows you to use up to five or even more colors in the pattern. My favorite combination is usually with only three but you can make them as colorful as you like!


The traditional way to weave these tubular bands is by having the narrow warp attached to the weaver’s waist or belt with a piece of string. String heddles are not used at all and so the weaver’s body is simply suspending the warp. The weaver is not required to move the body back and forth to add or relax tension on the warp to help operate the heddles.

You should at least be familiar with weaving terminology…warp, weft, beat, shed etc…before you approach this.

Because heddles are not used at all to create the sheds, the warp can be easily set up and woven using an inkle loom or any other loom or frame that allows you to adjust tension for take-up. Full instructions on how to set up and weave the independent band on an inkle loom are included in both versions of the e-book.

Here I am weaving one on my tiny Ashford Inklette.

My e-book is available in two versions. One contains the instructions for weaving the eye-pattern band as an independent tube and then goes on to show how to weave and sew it simultaneously as an edging along the two sides of a project, or around corners, covering all edges.

I used a two-color eye-pattern tubular band to dress up a simple pouch that I made with commercial cotton fabric. The cross-knit-loop stitch decorates the mouth of the pouch.

Other decorative sewn finishing techniques such as the coil stitch, pictured below, are included with dozens of step-by-step photos as well as drawings.

The other version of the e-book is for those who only want to weave the band as an independent tube, perhaps for using it in jewelry and accessories, and aren’t interested in the sewing techniques. Both books provide ideas, instructions and suggestions for finishing the bands and for using them in such projects.

There are links to both versions in each one’s product description on the Taproot Video page.

And, let me tell you about something new for my e-books……

Both e-books include access to supplemental video clips. These are not stand-alone tutorials. They were designed to allow you to see “in action’’ some of the processes. The techniques are thoroughly explained in the books using over 140 photos, drawings and diagrams and so the videos really are optional supplemental material. With these additional materials I hope to be able to cater to a greater variety of learning styles. I had a lot of fun making those video clips and I am thrilled with them! Links to the videos are provided in the ebooks where they can be viewed and/or downloaded, if you like. They are better viewed after you have read each tutorial. Little video camera symbols in the book will let you know when there is a related video clip to be viewed.

For my left-handed weaving friends, I have included instructions in the Appendix on how to adapt the weaving technique to suit. You will notice that I said for my left-handed weaving friends. I am sorry, but for the sewing techniques in the book, I have left it up to you to adapt.  My left-handed students have always been so awesomely good at doing that in my classes!

I will leave you with this picture of me with one of my teachers, Maxima, spending a tranquil afternoon together. I weave as Maxima sews a decorative edging to a small pouch. The pouch on which she taught me to weave and sew a tubular band, lies on the ground between us. This was on my birthday back in 2011….a lovely way to spend it.

So, I hope that you will enjoy the e-book and I look forward to seeing what you create using it!

I wish you all the best for 2019!

(Hair update, for those who are interested…. I now have a blunt-edged chin-length hair cut with a good five months of grey growth!).






Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 21, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – A Leafy Retreat

Anyone who is familiar with my work will know that I like weaving leaves….creeping leaf-laden vines, fallen leaves lying among berries or on the snow, shadowy leaves floating on a background of translucent cloth.

I have used them in a variety of structures: using supplemental weft on a warp-faced plain-weave ground, in intermesh, in double weave, in Andean Pebble Weave, and, more recently, with supplemental weft on an open mesh-like ground. I like to consider them my signature patterns.


Leaves on the snow and leaves among the berries in silk.

Leaf patterns in two very different cotton projects that both use supplemental weft threads to create the motifs.

A band with a leafy pattern is the one I chose to be my ”reward” weaving whenever I decided to take a break from writing my latest book. Right after I wrote my blog post ”Taking My Own Advice” in which I talked about the importance to me of having these little rewards, I set about choosing thread and planning a small project. I wanted a wrist cuff but one that was a fair bit wider than others I have woven. I also wanted one in black and white to go with a necklace that I often wear. I have a lot of DMC #12 perle cotton and decided to go with that. It is silky smooth and strong in contrast with the sticky wool and delicate hand-spun cotton singles that I have been weaving with lately. Oh my, how those sheds just pop open with the lightest touch!

I chose my pattern, one that I included in my latest book of 100 patterns…Complementary-warp Pattern Book…….leaves, of course, this time in pebble weave.

I had first created this pattern for a piece that became the cover for a journal in which I combined colors using small skeins of naturally-dyed silk that I had been given. This pattern of leaves is included in the Garden set of patterns in the latest book. The garden set includes various flower motifs, a butterfly, a humming bird and of course the leaves with a flower bud. And, there is whole other set that is made up of just bees.

I made my heddles on my wrist-cuff warp and then, there the warp sat for two weeks, tied to the bottom of my bed and stretched out across the floor. I can’t say that it sat there untouched because I stepped on it, tripped over it, and even got things tangled in it as I sat on the floor next to it, tapping away at my computer keys, writing my book and studying my samples. My bedroom floor is my weaving studio and my desk! I am afraid that I was a little impatient with that warp and would just shove it aside. The thing that had become entangled in it would be favored over the fine threads in the warp. I was almost convinced that I had abused it so much that it would be beyond recovery for weaving. I was so absorbed in writing the book and taking photos that I guess I just didn’t need time out for ”reward” weaving. The book itself required a certain amount of weaving and I guess those projects alone gave me enough loom time to keep me very happy. I would often be typing with the sample I was currently weaving still attached to my waist!

Now I am in a period between two major parts of the book-writing project and I decided to take a break and enjoy my little leaf pattern. A little leafy retreat. As you can see, the abused warp survived and I was able to weave enough band to make a cuff. The fineness of the thread allowed me to weave two columns of the pattern and I enjoy the mental gymnastics of flipping the pattern in my head as I pick my way across the threads.

As for the book on which I am currently working, you might be wondering what it s about…well, I like surprises…and I’ll let you know soon!

This is what Kristin has on her loom. She is making cloth for a bag project using her own hand-spun alpaca yarn and using the pattern from a piece I wove many years ago and photographed for my very first book. Seeing her project made me fondly remember that old wool weaving of mine. I turned it into a pencil case for a friend. It was tragic when one of his pens leaked ink onto it! Kristin is an awesome spinner of all kinds of fiber and she is handling what must be a sticky and tricky piece on her backstrap loom with two sets of string heddles holding her precious hand-spun thread. Her photo has me admiring her yarn as much as the weaving.

Maria Leticia Galve in Argentina sent me a picture of the band she wove using one of the six cat patterns that are charted in my latest pattern book. It is heart- warming seeing these patterns being enjoyed by people around the world. I love the colors and the way she has flipped the cats back and forth.

The cats are just one part of the Animal set of patterns in my book.

Katrina Michaels is using one of the smaller patterns from my instructional book, Complementary-warp Pick-up, to create a guitar strap. That’s a lovely set of tools that she has there on her inkle loom. Her swords are placed within the picking cross ready to help her select threads for the next row of pattern. This is a technique favored by many who don’t want to fiddle with extra sets of heddles or whose looms don’t have enough space for them. This picking cross method is the one I teach in the Complementary-warp Pick-up book. Kristen, on the other hand, is using the two-heddle method, as am I, for the leaf pattern on my cuff. Each weaver decides on the method they prefer, or choose the one which best suits the pattern they are weaving and/or the equipment they are using.

The fabric for my new cuff is off the loom. I see that I have enough length for the two ends to overlap. I can use simple snaps to close it. But now I want to edge it with a patterned tubular band. This is weaving and sewing combined, and I find it so relaxing.

You can see that I have just started the tubular edging on the upper right. I get a kick out of turning corners when I do this sewing!

I wont have a button under which to hide the start and finish ends of the tubular band. I can, however, hide the join beneath the part where the two ends of the cuff overlap. But, let’s see how neatly I can manage to connect the two ends together. I have been trying this with increasing levels of success with heavy-ish wool. I don’t know what my chances are of achieving neatness with this DMC #12, though! I’ll keep you posted.

As I said earlier, if you are a follower of my blog, you will know my love of leaf patterns. You will also quite likely know that I don’t really do Christmas. However, I had fun last year at my brother’s place designing a bunch of Christmas-themed patterns in pebble weave. The feedback from my sister-in-law as I wove and re-wove them, making little adjustments along the way, was very helpful.

I loved the way they turned out. Then I put them aside to await their publication in my pattern book in March this year. It has been a long wait since then to pull them out for Christmas this year. I think they do look very jolly and, with these, I will wish you all a joyous and peaceful time whatever you choose to do this holiday season.










Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 30, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Taking My Own Advice

This will be a very sparse blog post, I am afraid. But, the exciting thing is that I have been spending almost all my time working on my next book. I am on a roll! I am weaving samples, washing and pressing them, taking photos, wishing for clear days with good natural light to re-take photos, and writing, writing writing. There have been some very exciting and surprising discoveries along the way. There’s always something new to learn.

October was supposed to be what I considered to be a well-earned ”play” month after two-and-a-half months away from home on the road. Writing was to begin promptly in November.

Well, that didn’t happen. I was having way too much fun weaving, spinning and even knitting. But, by mid-November the books I had started writing earlier this year were calling for attention. I do, after all need to earn a living! Getting everything set up to start is the hardest part. I tell myself to just get over that hump and everything will start to flow. Well-taken advice. I cleaned up my chaotic creative space and set up for writing and photographing just before I went to bed one evening. It turned out that the ”hump” had been the cleaning. I woke up to a clean, organized space and happily jumped into the writing the next morning.

As for my play-time weaving experiments, I took my own advice again and stopped spinning cotton to weave a sample. It would be no use continuing to spin if the thread I was producing was not suitable for the kinds of cloth I want to weave. I am, after all, very new at spinning cotton. What I am producing now is clearly beginner stuff and I don’t expect to be able to produce anything consistent until I spin my way out of this beginner phase and improve my skills. That just takes mileage….lots of it…..and, hopefully, some advice and tips from experts.

I was curious about how my beginner efforts in spinning singles for weaving would hold up. I created a warp for the kind of sheer cloth that I recently wove using the hand spun Guatemalan cotton I had bought. I wanted to spin thread that was finer than that.

Well, my hand spun cotton is finer in most parts, less fine in other parts and shockingly thicker in others…you know, typical beginner stuff! But, I was determined to weave with it anyway. I didn’t use a reed, as if one challenge would not be enough!

There was a fair bit of un-weaving and re-weaving in the beginning as I messed around trying to get the sett right. I didn’t have a sample from which to take measurements. This was the sample. My hand spun didn’t really care for all that fiddling about and a couple of threads broke.

And then I ran out of weft and that is where it stands. Is it worth spinning more thread for weft to finish this or has the sample already told me what I needed to know? You might know by now that I like to make things from my samples if that is at all possible. I’ll let it sit there while I think about it. What I do know is that I have much to learn about spinning cotton.

The other thing I wove, before I got my nose buried in my writing, photo-taking and sample-weaving, was the strap for my little pocket bag. When I use the ñawi awapa tubular band as the edging for a piece, I like to weave a strap with a design that resembles the ‘eye’, or diamond shapes on the edging. A simple pattern like that is easy to set up with four sets of string heddles.

Here’s the finished bag with its strap…

Weaving can zoom along when I use those extra heddles. I have used up to eleven of them when I have needed to quickly knock out a strap or lanyard.

It’s fast and could almost be boring if I didn’t have to busy my mind with remembering which heddle came next in the sequence. I found color coding useful.

And then there’s this…! Those are all heddle rods. This lady certainly knows how to weave a complex pattern without having to do pick-up.

I spent a lot of time watching this lady weave and realized that figuring out the next heddle in the sequence was not a visual thing for her but rather a matter of ”feel”. She could tell by the way the sets of heddles moved along the warp which one was next. The  heddle sets she had already used would slide freely. The next one in the sequence would resist.

Now I am going to take my own advice again and set up a couple of small weaving projects that I can play with as ”rewards” for time spent at the keyboard working on the book. I have been advising a friend who is moving house to take time out and reward herself during the tedious packing-up process. When you live alone, like I do, and don’t have encouragement and support immediately around you, the rewards system seems to work well. I might weave the fabric for some hair barrettes (yes, the going-grey plan is still in action) and add some new pieces to my woven jewelry collection.

Until next time….





Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 16, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – The Plan

Spinning cotton had certainly not been part of The Plan for how I was going to spend my time during this Bolivian summer. I spend a fair bit of time when I am away sitting in airports, or on planes, trains and buses, and that is when I like to get out my notebook and create sketches and notes on the projects I would like to attack when I get home. Cotton spinning was not one of them. However, the seed had kind of been planted, although it had not quite taken hold, when I was in Australia. Elizabeth, who came to weave with me, gave me a lovely gift of prepared cotton, a tahkli and a pretty dish in which to place the spindle tip. She had taken classes with Joan Ruane earlier that year and gave me a little demonstration one lunch break. We were so absorbed and I was so swept up in her enthusiasm that we forget to eat!

I had learned to spin cotton in 2007 in coastal Ecuador when I stayed with a family of spinners and weavers along with anthropologist Kathleen Klumpp, but had not taken it much further. I practiced a little when I got home but never spun any useful kind of amount. I certainly couldn’t imagine using the clunky kind of thread I was producing in my weaving and I didn’t have the will to practice more in order to refine and perfect the skill.

                                                                        Photo by Kathleen Klumpp.

I had brought back some of Trini’s prepared cotton and still have it sitting in the closet. Now there is a good chance that I will spin it.

This cotton had passed through the hands of the many grandchildren in the family who would sit on the floor after dinner and pluck out the seeds. Mariana, Trini and I had taken turns in pounding it. I had even made myself a miniature stand from a tree on their property on which to drape the cotton while spinning it.

I simply couldn’t see any reason to spin my own cotton. I didn’t feel that the cotton I was buying was lacking in any qualities that I needed for my weaving….until now. I want cotton singles that can come somewhere close to the fine thread that the weavers in Guatemala use for their sheer cloth. They are able to buy skeins of the commercially-spun cotton singles that they use.. Some weavers in Mexico, who also create this kind of sheer cloth, go to the trouble of splitting the ply of commercially produced cotton if they want to weave the finest pieces. Can you imagine? The seed of interest that Elizabeth had planted in me in Australia started to sprout when Deb in North Carolina showed me the amazing piece of sheer white cloth that she had bought in Guatemala. I actually own a small sample of this cloth. I have taken it out of the closet many times to admire.

There is a wonderful article by Cherri M Pancake and Suzanne Baizerman in the 1980-81 issue of the Textile Museum Journal on the production of Guatemalan gauze textiles. The article states that Handspun single-ply (Z-spun) cotton of varying fineness and degree of twist was used to produce some of the historical textiles. This is referring to textiles that were produced prior to the last decades of the nineteenth century. It seems that the weavers now only use commercially-spun thread.

Kathleen Vitale of Endangered Threads has produced a video on these sheer textiles that are being produced in both Guatemala and Mexico. If your mind boggles at the idea of splitting the ply of your already fine two-ply cotton, take a look at the technique used by the ladies in Mexico in this video!

I brought back a big ball of hand spun doubled cotton singles from Guatemala. I don’t know for what style of weaving that thread had been intended. I separated the strands and used the singles in my experiments in weaving the sheer cloth. My cloth is heavy next to the Guatemalan work! So far my own attempts at spinning cotton is producing thread that is only ever so slightly finer than the Guatemalan thread I bought but, even so, I know that I will enjoy weaving with it.

In the meantime, I decided to try weaving a small sample without a reed. I only wish I had used my own hand spun for this experiment. If I had done so, I could have killed two birds with one stone…testing the strength and suitability of my own thread as well as experiencing the difficulties of maintaining consistent sett without a reed. The sample was very small….just over four-and-a-half inches wide.

After all my talk of temples in my last blog post, I didn’t end up using one. I did find it very useful to use the comb, pictured above, to beat rather than my usual sword/beater. I used a coil rod at the start to help establish the sett. I took measurements from the scarf I had woven. If you are familiar with the ”twisty sticks” that I like to use in my backstrap loom set-up, you will understand what I mean when I tell you that I also used a coil rod in place of the far stick in the twisty stick pair. I think that was helpful. There was much time spent keeping a close eye on warp threads that might be threatening to wander out of position, probably way more time than was necessary. I was happy with the way the width remained consistent but won’t get too carried away with happiness. This was, after all, a really small sample.

And then, I wove a sample with the same number of ends using the reed. It takes time to thread the reed but then you can just relax and weave.

These experiments are preparing me for the time when I can either get hold of much finer singles, or spin my own.

Do I then abandon my 24dpi reed which won’t be fine enough, or thread multiple ends in each dent?

I have been asking some online weaving friends about the very common practice of threading reeds with multiple threads per dent to achieve a finer sett on their floor looms and have been hearing about their experiences with the ”reed marks” which can sometimes result. Apparently, they quite often disappear in the wash and one needs to sample to see if they will do so according to the material and structure that is being used. I think that reed marks would annoy the heck out of me! However, it’s good to know that these marks sometimes do remain in the cloth even after washing and that their occurrence is pretty much normal.  I need to get over that if I am to going to be able to enjoy the ease of weaving this kind of cloth in fine thread with a reed. What about you…do you have any thoughts on how having multiple threads in the reed dents will affect the kind of open cloth I am weaving?

So, I have been spinning. I have a surprising amount of prepared cotton to spin in a big box in my closet. Back in 2009 and 2010, I was swapping llama bone tools and Bolivian drop spindles by mail with folks in Australia, the USA and Europe for various bits and pieces. Quite often I was sent cotton as a swap from generous people…way, way more than I had initially bargained for! I have natural green and brown cotton ready to spin and all sorts of other natural tones as well as dyed stuff. The picture above shows just a small sampling. And then, there’s the Indian charka that my friend Lisa gave me in 2010 and all kinds of useful tips in the book that Stephanie Gaustad gave me when she came to weave with me on one of my U.S visits a couple of years ago.

I can’t spend my time only spinning. I need to be weaving too. So, I prepared a warp for anther bag with built-in pocket. Both this new bag and its pocket are bigger than the green example I recently wove and decorated.

And, this latest example is far less colorful…black and white and that’s it. I am working my way up to a shoulder bag that will will have a large built-in pocket and pick-up patterns. I am done with sampling for this larger project now. I think I have remembered and put into practice all I need to review for the creation of the pocket and am ready to move on to the real project.

Here’s the warp set up with its longer pocket section. I actually remembered to take a photo of this part of the process.

I edged the pocket with a patterned tubular band this time instead of cross-knit looping. And then, I edged the entire bag, including the mouth, with the same kind of patterned tubular band. The pocket is just the right size for my Bolivian ID card.

I added a snap to close the pouch, rather than a zipper, as well as a decorative button.

It looks a little dull in the picture above and so I stuffed the pouch and the wee pocket with bits and pieces to give it some life.

It needs a strap and I’ll most likely weave a pebble pattern into it as the bag itself is so plain. The back of it is pretty unusual. I wove the back with a window so that I could place my little sheer woven cotton sample within. I even lined that side of the bag. That’s a big deal for me with my limited sewing skills! It’s a quirky combination 🙂

Now, I would like to show you what a couple of my weaving friends have been doing with the bamboo reeds that they made with Bryan Whitehead at the ANWG conference in 2017. I will show just one project from each of Tracy and Kristin for now (so hard to choose) so as not to overload you with all that beauty! I’ll show more in future posts as the reed topic continues….

Here’s Tracy’s work using the 22dpi reed that she made herself with natural 10/2 cotton from Lunatic Fringe. It looks so awesome on the loom with that lovely roll of finished cloth on the front beams!

Here she is working on it during my visit earlier this year…

And here’s the finished cloth…so gorgeous!

You can read Tracy’s blog post about the making of her reed at the ANWG pre-conference workshop with instructor Bryan Whitehead here.

One of the reeds that Kristin made in the same workshop is 25dpi. She used it on her backstrap loom with natural and blue 16/2 hemp from Hemp Traders that she combined to weave fabric for several towels….

The finished cloth…

These ladies also do some awesome work on their backstrap looms with their hand spun yarn and reeds. I’ll be showing you more from time to time.

Here are a couple of cool warp-faced projects from online weaving friends…

This if from Penelope in the UK. She says that the hat is nalbinded in Oslo stitch using some unknown chunky grey wool…..Felted down to size. I created the chart for the pick-up pattern for her. It is based on a motif that is often seen in tablet-woven bands. Penelope says that the pattern is based on a 10thC viking find from Dublin that many call ‘Little Dragons’. 

Marie Paule in France is weaving Andean Pebble Weave patterns on her inkle loom using the two-heddle technique that I teach in my first book, Andean Pebble Weave…

The same pebbly patterns can be created without the use of the additional heddles as Marsha is doing here….

Marsha is using the technique that I teach in my third book, Complementary-warp Pick-up. If you don’t think you would like to deal with the additional heddles that Marie Paule is using, or if you don’t think that your particular loom will comfortably accommodate them, my third book teaches a method that does not use them. It is a slower method, but it suits a very wide range of looms and can be used for other complementary-warp structures besides Andean Pebble Weave..

And here’s some of Bradie’s work. I wove with her in Vermont a few months ago. She was using an inkle loom but is already wondering about going on to weave wider pieces. I feel a backstrap loom coming on! This and other Andean Pebble Weave patterns can be woven with two sets of heddles, as Marie Paule does, or without them, as Marsha does.

So, it’s back to my spinning and maybe I will get the silk on the loom this week. I have already put together my pre-warping project notes and all is set to go unless I decide to go with the wool pocket shoulder bag instead. And there’s always a chance that something else will come along to have me throwing The Plan out the window…..

Until next time………..






Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 2, 2018

Backstrap Weaving – Time for a new Tool

One weaving tool which hasn’t really made its way into my kit is the temple, an instrument that helps weavers maintain consistent width in the cloth they are producing. I have never really felt the need to use a temple and that’s most likely because I haven’t used my backstrap loom to create the kind of cloth that I felt required one. The ladies with whom I studied in Guatemala used temples. They were wonderfully simple tools….a piece of bamboo that sat underneath the cloth with a couple of small nails holding it in place.

I have to admit that I would cringe every time we pushed those nails into the edges of the woven cloth. When I took the pieces that I had started weaving with my teachers in Guatemala back to Bolivia to finish, I continued using the temples for a while. However, I soon abandoned them as I really felt that they weren’t doing anything for me. I have seen some fine Bhutanese textiles with horrible holes gouged at intervals into the edges from the sharp ends of the temples and that, more than anything, has really put me off using them.

But, now as I am typing, I am remembering that there has actually been one piece of cloth that I wove where I could see a clear need for a temple. It was a wide silk piece that I wove some time ago. I did manage to get away without using a temple because I couldn’t bear the thought of pushing nails or even pins into the edges of the silk.

When weaving this wide piece, I was finding that the cloth would ripple slightly as I propped the shed open ready to pass the shuttle. I had to try and grab the edges of the cloth, first one side and then the other, to straighten and smooth the cloth so that I could be sure that I was laying in the right amount of weft. A third hand would have been handy! It was clumsy and slowed me down but I was willing to do it to avoid using the ”dreaded” temple.

My Montagnard (Vietnamese hill tribe) weaving teachers used wooden temples with carved pointed tips for the cloth they wove on their backstrap looms. They even used them for narrow bands…

And, my weaving teachers in coastal Ecuador who wove on vertical looms rather than backstrap looms, used a similar style of temple cut from a large tube of bamboo that they attach to the upper face of the cotton cloth on the loom. I remember really struggling to bend that slat of bamboo into place each time it had to be re-positioned on the cloth. This heavy-ish sturdy cotton did not suffer at all from the pointed tips of the temple.

Why all this talk of temples? Well, I would like to weave another sheer cotton piece like the one I just wove but using much finer cotton. I don’t have a reed that is fine or wide enough for the piece I have in mind and so I will have to resort to trying to maintain the sett and width by other means just like the Guatemalan weavers in Alta Verapaz do. The temple will help with the width. Maintaining the sett will be another story! What tool do the ladies in Guatemala use?….skill and lifetimes of experience and know-how passed down through generations!

Until I get the fine cotton singles that I would like to use, I will practice with the little bit of hand spun cotton that I have left over from my most recent project. For that project I used a reed and so I have a sample from which to take calculations for width and something to guide me to determine and try to maintain the spacing between warp threads. I have wound a short warp with half the number of ends that I used for my scarf. Wish me luck!

Here are some bits and pieces I have gathered together for possible temples…

The piece at the bottom of the picture is the temple that came with a Karen loom that a friend gave me. Pins have been taped to a piece of wood and the temple was sitting on the back side of the warp-faced cloth. The bamboo pieces are the temples I was using with my teachers in Guatemala. The nails that pierced the cloth and then turned into the open ends of the bamboo, are sitting on top of the tongue depressor. I was wondering if cutting points into a piece of heavy cardboard like the black stuff you see there and reinforcing it with a tongue depressor would also work.

Or, there’s this….contributed by friend Franco to the backstrap weaving group on Ravelry many years ago…

It was working well for Franco. I would love it if I could get something like this to work for me. It measures and maintains width all at once!

As for my current project…it is finished! Except for the very first part which I un-wove and turned into fringe, I got a consistent 9 1/8 inches of width.

First patterns underway.

After finishing the hem-stitching the far end, I slowly unrolled the cloth and worked my way back to the start, burying weft ends as I went. Then I  cut the weft out of the first wider part of the cloth and hemstitched that end.

Here it is off the loom waiting to have its fringe twisted before being washed and pressed.

Procrastinating! Enjoying the cloth and taking pictures because I was nervous about what was going to happen to it when it was washed!

Moe procrastination…yes, it’s sheer now but will it lose this translucency when it has been washed?

A whole day has gone by. Tomorrow I’ll wash this thing.

Post-wash and press: it lost between 1/8” and 1/4” in width and the warp threads moved closer together ever so slightly. It feels so soft!

Post-wash cloth with twisted fringe.

Post-wash verdict: I love this super soft supple cloth that is so unlike anything I have woven before!

Now I am thinking about dyeing it. Should I?

During all the pre-wash dithering, I decided to take a sample that I had woven before my last trip away and make it into something. You might remember that I wanted to make a wool shoulder bag with a built-in pocket in the style of the ch’uspas (coca-leaf bags) that the Bolivian weavers make. I learned how to set up the warp and weave the pocket back in 1997 with my teachers in Potosí. This small green piece is the wool sample that I most recently wove to refresh my memory of the technique. I edged the little pocket with triple cross-knit looping.

I decided to go ahead and make this into a little zippered pouch. I edged it with a tubular band style that is woven in Chahuaytire, Peru which also served as the strap. The bottom is decorated with coil stitches and the pocket is edged with single cross-knit looping. A four-strand braid makes a nice zipper tab.

The wool surface loved to attract the stray bits of cotton that I have had flying around during my latest project.

I had started gathering materials for this project before I had finished weaving the cotton scarf. I thought about what I could possibly fit into the tiny pocket and found that my door key sat within it perfectly. Two days later when I wanted to go out, I turned my apartment upside down looking for my door key. I was locked in and had completely forgotten about having placed the key in the little pocket. I had to call a friend who keeps a spare for me to come and let me out. Another two days went by before I picked up the little green bag once more to work on it and discovered the secret contents of the little pocket. Duh!

So….I guess the hand spun-cotton-with-temple experiment is next. I have also wound my skeined silk into balls ready for warping. I am thinking about weaving a silk cowl….just a simple tube to drape around my neck instead of a whole scarf. At three-and-a-half months into the grey hair transition I am still thinking about wearing color around my face to brighten things up a bit. Until next time……..









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………








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