Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 27, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – Highland Fling Part 1

I am back from the highlands. I know I have told you in past posts about how wonderful it is when I receive my box of woven bands from the co-operative of weavers high in the mountains of Cochabamba. Each year they supply me with beautiful bands woven with their hand spun wool which is dyed with local plants and cochineal.

cochabamba bandsThe box would arrive filled with the colors and aromas of the highlands which would then fill me with a longing to return to the places where my various highland weaving teachers live. This year, I managed to find time to give in to that yearning. I went up to the highlands, at Dorinda’s kind invitation, to collect my order in person and meet the weavers whose names have become so familiar to me over these years. Each band in the boxes I received would be labeled with the weaver’s name and I soon started to be able to recognize the characteristic style of certain weavers in the way they arranged their colors.



It was easy to see when a new weaver had joined the co-operative and was weaving bands for my orders. Her style would be just that little bit different to what I had become used to seeing.

Here is the latest order laid out in Dorinda’s yard in the highlands. Dorinda has been working for many years with the weavers helping them to recover lost natural dyeing techniques, encouraging youngsters to learn, helping them to design products that are attractive to foreign markets and to manage orders and accounting. I use these bands in my workshops when I teach tubular bands and finishing techniques and these workshops often generate more sales for the weavers. My students are always more than happy to buy more cloth for making pouches and practicing the finishing techniques they have learned. The fact that their purchases help support the weavers is an added bonus.

latest order of bands

max-and-me-with-bandsThere I am with my teacher and friend Maxima who is the head of the association of weavers. Maxima and I first met at the first Tinkuy in Peru. She, Dorinda and I were roommates. I got together  with her another time when she came into the city of Cochabamba and gave me some weaving lessons.

On this trip, Maxima and I spent three amazing days together hanging out and weaving. She normally teaches me but, on this trip I got to watch her teach three teenagers from the town and I also got take on the role of teacher and show her some new patterns. It was a blast. Dorinda and I spent 4 days together as we had met and traveled up from Cochabamba together on the bus. We left at 5am  for the 7-hour trip and wound our way up from the valley floor to skirt the mountain tops on dirt roads up and over 14,000-foot passes to then descended to the lovely town of Independencia at 8,000 feet. It was a wet and muddy trip and we were delayed 2 1/2 hours when a truck that had gone off the road had to be winched out.wet trip to IndependenciaClouds spilled over the mountain tops and mist crept upwards from the valleys. There was not much that could be seen through all that on the way there but I was blessed with beautiful weather and gorgeous views on the way back. On the return journey, we stopped for llama crossings rather than fallen trucks.

llama crossing

road to independencia
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe passed by tiny settlements and people flagged us down and joined us along the way…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIndependencia is a lovely little town…one of those places with an altitude that allows it to enjoy eternal spring-like temperatures. Rainy season downpours in the very early morning hours left everything clean and fresh by sunrise. The hillsides were green and lush.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere, it’s Sunday morning, 6:30am and the market is in full swing with ladies already making their slow way home up the steep cobbled street with their purchases.

Dorinda and I plodded up the hill to her home from the bus stop. I had my luggage and the altitude to deal with while Dorinda had all her purchases from her monthly visit to the city of Cochabamba. We stopped a few times along the way!  That was some hill. I spent the first afternoon exploring her extensive garden, getting acquainted with the 11 cats that reside there (they belong to her landlady) and  investigating her workshop areas and store rooms of yarn, sewing machines, looms and art supplies.

The workshop room had this wonderful poster that Dorinda had created which records the natural dye plants the co-op has been using and the various tones that have resulted from the use of different mordants…

natural dye colors of Cochabamba highlands

These lovely hand woven pillow covers were on my bed, a woven rug was on the floor and large hangings adorned the walls.
woven pillows with handsun wool and natural dyes colorsOutside my bedroom window, pieces of the leaning vertical looms that are typically used in this area were standing against the wall. I got such a rush seeing those… I was going to be with weavers soon…I couldn’t wait!

leaning vertical loom pieces Bolivia

The first day was ”Club Day” and three of Maxima’s teen-aged students who are members of the ”Club de Chicas”came to learn to weave patterns on bands. Of course, the tendency these days is for youngsters not to learn to weave at all as all eyes look to the large towns and cities for higher education and work. Many men in the community associate weaving with poverty and do not want their wives and daughters involved with that. It is wonderful that Nelva, Abigail and Veronica had decided that weaving was precisely what they wanted to do during their summer school holidays.

first weaving lessonFirst, the youngest, Nelva, was set-up to learn the ”linquito” pattern. Maxima would call out the color sequence to her as she picked up the threads to form the pattern. Then Maxima wove a new pattern and called out the color sequence to Veronica and Abigail row by row. They wrote it all down in their notebooks….two black, four white etc. This was Veronica and Abigail’s second band and they already know very well how to create sheds, form the picking crosses and select the threads. Weavers in this area use a technique where they form a cross, called the picking cross, using two fingers of one hand. They then select threads from this cross with their other hand to form their motifs. There are no sticks or swords or beaters involved.

learning to weave BoliviaThe girls helped me write the words for numbers and colors in Quechua in my notebook even though they preferred to note everything down in Spanish. I remembered the words from the time I had spent in Potosí with my weaving teachers. Remembering those Quechua words came in very handy the next day when I went out to one of the outlying communities to weave with the ladies there.

With notebooks on knees and heads down, Veronica and Abigail settled down to weave and the race was on. I sensed a healthy competitiveness between them. They were very methodical and never lost their way in the instructions. We hardly heard a peep from them for the rest of the day!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANelva’s ”linquito” pattern was coming along but her younger age and, perhaps the lack of a competitor, showed when she got easily distracted and often lost her way. Maxima was there to set her back on the right path.


Once the girls were up and running, I showed my backstrap loom and some woven samples I had brought to Maxima, Antonia (who also weaves bands for my orders) and Adviana. Adviana, now 21, had learned to weave at age 16 in the Club de Chicas. I think they all politely watched my backstrap loom demonstration but what really got them excited was not the loom, but, rather, the pattern I was weaving along with those on the samples I had brought.demonstrating-my-backstrap-loom They liked the softness and smoothness of the cotton I use and the fineness of the wool samples I had. Adviana immediately wanted to learn a new pattern for a wrist cuff after seeing mine. Maxima chose a wider and more complicated pattern.We stopped and went our ways for lunch and Maxima returned with spindle in hand adding twist to some of her hand spun wool so that she could learn the new patterns.

max adding twist to her yarnWhen it was clear that adding twist to the three colors she needed was going to take too long, she went into the store room and brought out a bag of cones of perle cotton. I was surprised to see that. These had been donated by Cotton Clouds one time when Dorinda was in the USA at a WARP conference. No one had put them to use until now. There was a certain sense of urgency. Maxima knew that I had only a few days there and she wanted to learn everything she could in that time.

Adviana wound a warp for the wrist cuff and the new pattern she wanted to learn.adviana winding a warpNo need for warping stakes. You just throw off a shoe and wind around your index finger and big toe. I love it!

I explained to Maxima that her pattern was much wider and that it would be very difficult for her to hold all those threads on two fingers.She would need to set this up on her leaning loom. I figured she would relent and decide to learn a narrower pattern instead. But, no, before I knew it, out came the leaning loom pieces and Antonia and Maxima were seated rolling the cones of cotton back and forth to each other creating the warp. Then it was my turn to get excited. I hadn’t expected to get to watch them warping.

Normally, they roll balls of yarn back and forth to each other and years of practice have them smoothly and efficiently launching the balls with just the right amount of force. Rolling the cones was a different story. They simply would not cooperate but things had certainly improved by the time they got almost to the end of rolling and winding.

warping-the-leaning-vertical-loomAdviana finished first and made her heddles and I set about teaching her the new pattern that she liked. Her patience was put to the test when her youngest little boy wanted attention, swinging off her braids and throwing himself on her back at regular intervals.

aadviana weaving her patternI had spent the lunch break drawing out a pattern chart for her. That way I could demonstrate the first few rows, teach her to read and mark the chart and then move on to teach Maxima. There just wasn’t time to weave the full 24-row repeat of the pattern for her to copy and my wool sample was too fine to easily read. She really took to the charts and came two days later and happily sat and copied several pattern charts from my book. You can see her band taking shape above.

I had a hard time convincing Maxima, that, although I set up my backstrap loom very differently to the way she sets up her warps, (I use two sets of string heddles and one permanent picking cross while she uses one set of heddles and two temporary picking crosses), she could still weave the new pattern using her methods. We both weave the same structure but just use different ways to create it.

Because she lost confidence after her first attempts to copy the pattern from my cotton sample, she asked me to set her loom up the way I do and to weave one complete repeat so that she could watch me.

with-max-at-leaning-loomSo, I did. After I had woven one half of the pattern, Maxima took over and finished it off, feeling more confident as she started to recognize familiar shapes.


She then wove another motif almost completely on her own and had just started a third when it was time to stop for the day. She is really motivated to weave a new aguayo, or carrying cloth, with this new motif. I left her my cotton sample which has three other new patterns. You can see Adviana in the background of the above picture, copying pattern charts into her notebook.

max learning a new pattern

max at her loom

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI could just stroll about at this stage with everyone happily engaged at their looms. Abigail and Nelva had gone home but Veronica was determined to finish her band that very day…

Veronica finishing her bandShe was not able to weave with her leg extended any more. She could have just added some string to end of her band to extend it so she could continue weaving with a straight leg. Well, she’s 13 and supple and I don’t think she was experiencing any discomfort sitting like that. She was far too absorbed in finishing the band. My knee and hip ache just looking at her! She didn’t finish that day but showed up two days later to show it off with its ends nicely braided. She said that her grandmother was very proud of her and had shown her how to do the braiding.

Where will this young lady be headed next with her weaving?

vero-with-finished-bandMaxima and Adviana also came over on this day to learn even more patterns. These particular motifs are not unknown in this area and have, in fact, been used by some of the weavers on the bands that I ordered. But, not all the weavers know all the patterns and it seems to be that they are not in the habit of getting together to teach each other motifs once they are adults.

This is the band that Maxima wove with two new patterns that she wanted to learn from me. We continued using cotton as time was short and no one wanted to wait until yarn could spun. Plus, I think they really enjoyed trying out cotton for the first time.

maximas new patterns

That morning I had risen early to wind a warp and weave a narrow band with more tawa chinito, or 4-pair,  samples that I could leave behind for Maxima. I pounded some stakes into the ground for that. You can just see the tip of it next to Maxima’s band above. I can’t wait to see if some of these motifs show up in my next order of bands.

If I wind using four stakes rather than just two, I can eliminate one of the steps in the setting-up process as I can separate my two colors into two sides of the cross as I wind. When you use a finger and toe as your warping stakes you don’t have the opportunity to add two extra ”stakes” in the middle. I don’t live in a place where pounding stakes into the ground is possible and I welcomed this chance to get down and grass-rootsy at ground level.warping

I scouted about the garden and found a stick to break into pieces. Of course one of the resident cats had to come over to inspect the intrusion, approve it, and then claim it as its own.


At lunch time, I went up to Maxima’s place to see the latest piece she has on her leaning loom. It is one of the two panels that she will weave to make the new aguayo that she wants to use at the Tinkuy in Cusco, Peru this November. It has two strips of warp-faced double weave patterning along with two strips of pebble weave. That’s a lot of pick-up! I love feeling the firmness of the cloth which is the mark of a good weaver in these parts. She is using the brightly colored fine synthetic thread that is sold in the market and I was surprised to see the Cotton Clouds cotton being used for the heddles. She likes the way it behaves.

maxima's doubke weave and pebble weave aguayo

That evening, I discovered a supply of dyed hand spun wool in the store room that belongs to the co-op. This is sold to the weavers who have run out of certain colors and who would like to weave for one of the orders.  Generally, each weaver has a stash of yarn that they take away from the communal dyeing days. Maxima allowed me to buy some and I am keen to weave something. I have woven with this tightly twisted yarn before but, this time, I would like to experiment with it by taking out some of the twist.

natural dye hand spun wool Cochabamba

I have described our activities over two of the three days that I spent up in the mountains….the first and the third days. The second day was something else again when Dorinda, Maxima and I traveled about an hour away to the settlement of Huancarani and met with the weavers there for a ”weave-in”. That event will have to wait for my next post. There is so much to tell! Many thanks to Dorinda who supplied some of these pictures.

When not weaving,  I had lovely peaceful times chatting with Dorinda sitting out on her ”stoop”, swapping travel tales, enjoying her garden and her fabulous home cooking. She makes do with so little…no fridge…everything is fresh, and she loves to bake! Morning break on Club Days is spent eating her freshly baked muffins and cookies. She always has something tasty ready for visitors from Huancarani  who come into town on Sundays to sell their produce at the market. We took walks around the town in the evenings, greeting her neighbors and local shopkeepers. Everyone seems to know her by name and they show their warmth in their kind greetings.

I am already making plans for my return. I’ll continue the stories in the next post. Now, to get back to my silk weaving!













Posted by: lavernewaddington | January 10, 2017

Backstrap Weaving – A Highland Holiday

I am heading up to the highlands for a quick visit with Dorinda, my weaving teacher Maxima and other weavers in the co-op. It will be nice to escape the lowland heat and humidity and breathe some mountain air although the mountains are in their rainy season and so there won’t be any lack of moisture. I just hope the bus doesn’t get stuck anywhere along the way.

Dorinda with the weaving group at Huancarani - what a gorgeous area she is working in!

Dorinda with the weaving group at Huacarani – what a gorgeous area she is working in!

So I won’t be around for my Thursday night post. I thought I would give you a quick update today on the long long silk warp that I recently set up.

Here it is off the warping stakes and with coil rod installed….

long silk warp in living room backstrap weaving

Starting to make the continuous string heddles…

making heddles long silk warp backstrap weaving

And now, I have the first bit of heavy-duty pick-up patterning finished. I did a reversible 3-color pebble weave pattern with motifs in supplementary weft on the side. The three colors are brown, gold and red. On this face, the gold separates the brown and red. On the other face, the brown and red end up being adjacent. This gives a much bolder look. I prefer this face which is much more delicate.

silk 3 coloe pebble weave backstrap weavingI am going to simplify the pattern for the body of this piece so I can move along much faster and then I will duplicate this 3-color pebble pattern at the other end. The 3-color pick-up is quite slow but it’s amazing how quickly I got into this new rhythm and pace. It soon started to feel quite ”normal”.

After winding the warp and then sitting at my loom to look all the way down its length, I had experienced quite a few ”What was I thinking?” moments as I contemplated the amount of time it was going to take to weave this project. But now that it is underway and I am pleased with the way it looks, I am calm and content and looking forward to planning each new section. I did some backing up when my color arrangement wasn’t coming out well and un-wove a 1/2” before getting back on track.

I’ll finish this section with some gold weft-twining before moving on.

I took a break from this to weave some small pieces in 3/2 cotton for a project which must remain under wraps for now. After having worked with the 60/2 silk thread, the 3/2 felt like thick sausages in my hands! It was lovely to be able to zoom along on those for a couple of evenings.

So, I’ll have some time away and lots of bus hours to think about what comes next. There certainly won’t be any lack of color inspiration when I get to meet up with Maxima and the other weavers and see what they have been creating lately with all their gorgeous naturally-dyed hand spun wool.

cochabamba bandsI’ll tell you all about it when I get back.




Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 30, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – A Long Time Coming

Some projects take a long time to finish simply because I run out yarn and can’t add the finishing touches. Then I forget to buy the yarn and the piece gets stashed…out of sight, out of mind. This piece which I had on the loom almost 2 years ago has finally been finished. It was just a matter of buying the purple wool that I needed to weave the edging.wool warp backstrap weavingThis was an experiment to see if I could use up some Knit Picks Palette wool that I had in my stash. I wasn’t sure if it would work for warp-faced weaving with its fairly loose twist and I didn’t want to add more twist myself. I found it wove up well with some extra care and precautions and I decided to use it to weave a piece with 4 selvedges. Below, you can see the final stages where the two woven ends are meeting in the middle . Eventually I had to remove the shed rod and needle weave one of the two sheds. Then, the heddles had to go and I needle wove all the remaining sheds. I split the 2-ply yarn by mistake a few times with the needle and the back of the cloth shows evidence of that.

four selvedge wool warp backstrap weaving

A wool plain-weave runner with four selvedges that I decorated with supplemental-weft patterns.

After finally bringing the purple wool home, I could think about the edging. I decided on the kind of tubular edging pattern that I have seen used by weavers in Chahuaytire, Peru.


tubular band of ChahuaytireI was lucky to have been able to watch a weaver at work on one of these bands and bring home an unwoven warp set up for weaving. Talk about long warps!…this one was created to edge one of the large 2-panel carrying cloths.

My wool cloth was not firm enough to support the spiraling tubular band and so I applied it as a flat edging instead. chahuaytire style edgingThere is always the challenge of figuring how to best disguising the start and finish of the edging band and I all I could come up with was to hem a bit of left-over band and sew it over the spot where both ends meet.

tab to disguise start and finishAnd so, this 2-year old project finally sees it completion.

Other projects sit by while I wait for ideas on how best to finish them…sunlight on red panels backstrap weaving

wall ahnging panels connected by weft twining in progress

ikatThese 3 wall hangings in a series I call Plain Tales are off the loom but remain unfinished as I can’t decide how to finish their fringes.

long silk warp at full stretchAnd now, I have just put together a new warp that will take a long long time to finish not only because it is so long, but also because I have planned a heck of a lot of pick-up for it….3-color reversible pebble weave in 60/2 silk.

On top of that, after finishing about a 1/2” of pick-up, I decided that I prefer the reverse. That would not normally matter. Both faces of a double-faced weaving can be enjoyed. The problem is that I also plan some single-face supplementary-weft patterning and so I need to decide now which side will be the ”good” side. I could flip it over and re-position the heddles. There are lots of heddles. It’s a good thing I like making them. Or, I could simply un-weave the 1/2”.

I got rid of a table in my living room which allowed me to stretch out the warp while I got things settled. Something always gets given away when I arrive home from a trip. This time it was the dining table. More room for weaving…you can see where my priorities lie! I installed a coil rod to help keep things organized on the far side of the cross as well as help settle the plain -weave sections.long silk warp backstrap weavingWhile I was there, I thought I may as well install some heddles…making heddles long silk warp backstrap weaving
Then, I rolled up the far end of the warp so I could fit everything into my usual weaving spot in the bedroom. I am still not a big enough fan of circular warps to have taken that route.

At this time two years ago, I was weaving on another black fine warp. This one was in Guatemalan cotton and I used supplementary weft for the patterns. It was a project that experienced its own share of hiccups with multiple more green motif bhutan scarf I put a lot of strain on that poor cotton warp with all the un-weaving and weaving but it forgave me.

bhutan scarf with borderI am just glad that I decided to stop after only 1/2” on this current project. I hope the silk will be as forgiving if I decide to un-weave.

I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy new year. Thank you for all your support! See you in 2017.









Posted by: lavernewaddington | December 16, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – A long band in a short post

Longer, finer, wider….the challenge continues. This time I certainly went longer. In fact, I think this might be the longest thing I have woven so far on my backstrap loom. It is reasonably fine but it is certainly not wide….. a decorative band to edge my wool lap blanket.

I wanted to finish the lap blanket that I had woven some time ago. I thought that I had been weaving the two wool panels this time last year. I can remember feeling really uncomfortable in the summer heat having the panels on my lap as I sewed them together but, when I took a look back at my blog posts from December last year, it seems that I was actually on a silk binge at that time. That is certainly a much more pleasant material to use in the humid Bolivian summer. The fabric for this little yurt-shaped silk pouch was one of several silk projects I had on the loom last December.

yurt pouch with cuff and necklaceIt is fun to look back at this time of year and remember what  I was weaving… and then be horrified at how fast the year has slipped by. I am sure that I am not alone in that. It certainly was an active one for me travel-wise. There was a little less time spent at the loom and lots of time spent on the road gathering inspiration.

Anyway….back to the long, long band. My edging band needed to be 112”. I wound a warp of 150” length just to make sure that I would be comfortable weaving right to the end of my 112”. I could weave a few inches to spare, just in case, and I would not be rammed up against the far loom bar trying to squeeze those last inches in. I also needed a fairly large working space as I used 7 sets of heddles so that I wouldn’t need to do pick-up.

As much as I love having my hands in among the threads picking patterns, this band was too long and the motif too small and repetitive to make the weaving interesting in my usual slow thread-by-thread style.

edging band backstrap weaving with band lockI rolled up most of the unwoven warp around paper and a couple of beams so that I could fit this long warp in my weaving space. That also meant that I could stay more or less the same distance away from the far beam which I think helps me maintain a consistent tension. I could roll up the woven length of band and, as I did so, unroll a bit more unwoven warp. You can see that I changed to a band lock after a while rather than continue using my long backstrap beam. There was just too much band piling up on the beam and it was getting uncomfortable having that wad of cloth at my belly.

I got that nice long and heavy band lock from the Santa Cruz guild. It had belonged to the late Nora Rogers and it was given to me with one of her many fiber experiments in progress…a sprang Hopi-style sash. I still have the sash and can pop it back into the band lock at any time should I wish to continue with Nora’s sample. I have to admit that I prefer the length of my backstrap beams. I find having the backstrap around my hips sitting on those wide beams very comfortable. It felt a little strange having the ends of my backstrap pulled inward to sit on the ends of the short band lock.

An advantage of the band lock is being able to slide the woven cloth out of the way between the two wooden bars very frequently. I didn’t have to wait until I had woven enough to roll all the way around two beams as I usually do. I could adjust length every inch or so if I wanted to. It makes it seem like you are progressing faster!

big and small band locksIn the picture above, you can see that I have cut off the finished length of the woven band and just left the unwoven warp clamped in the band lock. I figured that I could make a couple of wrist cuffs with the warp that remains. Let’s see if the band lock grips that unwoven warp well enough to enable me to do so.

I am grateful for having this large heavy band lock. I am wondering if Nora Rogers had made this herself. Most of the band locks I have seen for sale are much smaller and lighter. You can see a small one sitting alongside my larger one in the picture above. That one was given to me by Becky and the staff at Vavstuga when I visited.

The last time I was in Cusco, Peru, it was interesting to see a weaver from Chahuaytire using a similar set-up…

chahuaytire backstrap weavingThe woven cloth was clamped and hung free rather than being rolled up around two beams.

My weaving friend Marie showed me how she uses her small band lock with a backstrap…

maries-stuffAnd, you can see in Marianne Planting’s Andean Pebble Weave project below, how the band passes around and between the wooden pieces to be locked off. The pattern she is weaving is in my second book.

marianne planting 1I haven’t become a band lock convert! I will, however, use it for long, long bands. I have another blanket waiting for its edging band and the band for that will need 136” or so of warp….

purple blanket waiting for edging backstrap weavingAs for the long band that I just wove, you probably recognize the colors and remember the blanket for which it was intended…

two wool panels sewn together backstrap weavingAfter washing and ironing the finished edging band, I folded it in half and stuffed the very center part that has the pick-up pattern with wool and sewed that into place so that it looked like a tubular band. Then, I sewed the band to the edge of the blanket by hand. I don’t have a machine and really enjoy hand sewing. What I didn’t enjoy was having the wool against by bare legs in the heat. The corners were tricky.

blanket with edging backstarp weavingHere you can see some details of the finished item.

Before taking on the 136” for the purple blanket, I think I will tackle something a little shorter…

This 4-selvedge wool piece has been sitting around for quite a long time. I finally bought the purple wool that I needed to weave its edging. The edging will be a tubular band that I will weave and sew directly to the edge using the weft as the sewing thread. I think I will use the Chahuaytire-style tubular band. While doing that, I can think about the pattern and structure I want to use for the edging of the larger purple blanket.

I need 82” of woven band for the 4-selvedge piece. I am using the small band lock to lock off the far end of the warp with all the excess warp pooled on the floor. This way I can extend the warp and fit in my weaving space and don’t have to roll up the unwoven warp around paper and dowels. I am finding some cool uses for these band locks!
band lock at far end of warpI have a couple of large and complex projects planned for this summer. They involve wool and silk and dyes and ikat tape and 3-color pebble weave and lots of risks as I venture into some unknown territory!

I guess I am just getting warmed up for them after having been away from the loom for a while. It is nice to be able to finally finish some of these pieces that have been sitting around for some time. I have lots of ideas for more jewelry too…little things that I can weave when I need a break from the big stuff.

I have also been busy at the computer planning the dvd cover and disc design for my backstrap weaving class. Yes, that was what the in-front-of-the camera activity that I mentioned in my last blog post was about. There will be a dvd as well as the ability to stream the class. Until I have a release date for you, I will keep you in suspense! I am in suspense too!

Here is a shot of filming in November that Marilyn Romatka took with videographer Rainer Romatka capturing some nice detail,…


Posted by: lavernewaddington | November 30, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Big Hands, Little Hands

I am back home after two months on the road. Back at my loom…yay. It’s always nice to come home to projects that are set up and ready to go. That’s always a nice way to ease back into things. I had taken two projects with me to weave in free time. I didn’t get a lot done! I think I showed this one with the word ”backstrap” completed before I left and all I got to add while away was the word ”weaving” and a little flower….
backstrap weaving lettering projecttwined words for weaveIt is a band in 60/2 silk that I am weaving to sample letters. I want to weave a strap for a pouch showing the word for ”weave” in different languages.

The last time I attempted such a project, I created the letters in weft twining and I was only able to fit six words onto the strap for my loom bag (at left). I hope I will do better this time.

If you look at the black background in my picture you will see the texture that Bolivian weavers created by using both s and z-twist warp yarn.

Yes, 60/2 silk is some crazy stuff to be handling no matter what size your hands and fingers are. When I am using fine thread like this. I change the way I do my pick-up and set up the warp so that I can use a pick-up stick rather than having to hold threads in my hands. That is the beauty of having worked with backstrap weavers from so many different places. I have a variety of techniques from which to choose according to the kind of yarn I am using or the kind of structure I want to create. I just love getting my fingers in among the threads, but sometimes a smooth pick-up stick works better for me. It is not only about the size of the thread. You might know how silk thread wants to catch on every little imperfection in the skin of your hands and fingers!

silk cuff on loom backstrap weaving

The other project I took on the road was a three-color reversible pebble weave. I am using tapestry wool for that which I bought at the Australian Tapestry Workshop. I had bought the wool for practicing the braid that had I learned with Rodrick Owen at the BRAIDS 2016 conference last July and I thought this wool would be a nice souvenir of my visit to Melbourne. Then I thought….what the heck, let’s try it for band weaving. It doesn’t stand up to warp-faced weaving too well and I am afraid that the off-white thread won’t be lasting  much longer. The green, on the other hand,  has a totally different character and is performing beautifully.

3 color pebble weave backstrap weavingThree-color pebble weave isn’t something I do all that often and so I am weaving this piece to remind myself of the steps as I plan to make something much larger in silk. Of course, a silk sample will have to follow. I can’t wait! I can easily handle these threads with my fingers and I love feeling the wool in my hands. When I make my silk sample, I will come up with another way to handle the threads.

My goal of weaving wider, longer and finer continues…

Talking about hands and fingers and size…

san diego zooMy weaving friends Deanna and Margaret took me to the San Diego Zoo. Yes, you can get this close to the gorillas! It so happens that one of the gorillas’ favorite places to hang out is right up against the public viewing window. I am sure that the window must block sound as the gorillas would otherwise be driven crazy with the constant outpouring of ”ooh and ahs”, and laughter and squeals from the public. There the gorillas were reclining and napping. The bored baby gorilla pounded mom’s belly like a drum as she tried to sleep. I found this gorilla’s hand fascinating.

lily-7-years-old-andean-pebble-weaveFrom there, let’s look at some little hands in among the warp threads.

I got to visit with my weaving friend Lori and her family again on this trip.

Lily, now seven years old, is doing Andean Pebble Weave in the way I was taught by my teachers in Ayacucho, Peru, that is, with two sets of string heddles. She picks up her pattern threads at the cross sticks and knows just how to operate those two sets of string heddles.

It has been fantastic watching her progress over the years. I now have video clips of her weaving at 5, 6 and 7 years old. Such fun!


Take a look at her doing some pick-up and working those heddles!

This is the pattern that she is weaving…

lililys warp backstrap weavingLily is left-handed and was taught by her left-handed mom. Of course, she doesn’t stay put at the loom for too long. A group of us were weaving in a barn on a farm and there was a whole field of beautiful wild flowers outside just asking to be picked. After a few weft picks Lily was skipping off to pick some flowers.

That was such a great weekend out there on the farm! Lori got a group of friends together and we wove. Most people wanted to try their hands at creating wider warps that could be used to weave cloth for a small pouch. They all chose to use the Andean Pebble Weave structure for the patterns.

asymmetric warpI loved the asymmetric warp that Jennifer created. I am such a slave to symmetry so it’s always nice when someone shows me how naturally asymmetry comes to them.

open-field-farmThese beautiful fields in their misty valley greeted us each morning. We had the whole barn that the farm’s co-op uses for selling its produce to ourselves.

barn for backstrap weavingThere were so many interesting possibilities for attaching warps.

barn backstrap weavingweavingOnce the fog lifted, it was glorious outside. Kate brought a warp she had obtained in Guatemala with leno in progress. She wanted to get the hang of  opening the sheds on such a wide piece and was comfortable outdoors enjoying the sunshine and mild temperatures..

Kate with Guatemalan warpHere’s one of those busy tables that I so love. Much of the first morning was spent with rulers and calculators measuring samples, planning colors, picking patterns and figuring the number of warp ends as well as practicing warping…yes, practicing warping…I insisted. And, I think everyone agreed that it was a worthwhile exercise.

busy table for backstrap weaving

lori's backstrap warpLori’s beautiful purple and gold warp just happened to match the dried flower arrangements that were scattered throughout the barn. This piece will become a small pouch.

Making string heddles…

Lori making string heddlesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s her warp set up and ready for weaving. She is setting the width. We calculated how many warp ends were needed using samples and got to within 2/16” of the planned width on all the projects. I was really pleased with that.



karen making backstrap loom sticksKaren had brought sticks from her garden and would just pick one up and cut it to size when she needed a heddle rod or cross stick….love that!

angela weaving backstrapThat’s Angela at work on her pouch fabric….hands in warp threads…love it!

weaving in the barnRose, Cynthia and Sharon are hard at work weaving. The warps were wider than any they had ever made before but not terribly long. They had small pouches in mind and they had enough length of warp to allow them to weave the planned length of fabric without being crammed right up at the end beam trying to weave the last inch or so. I can’t wait to see how these projects turn out. Lori organizes regular gatherings with these ladies so that they can work through problems together or simply enjoy weaving side by side.

Here’s Cynthia’s beautiful warp…

Cynthia's backstrap weaving warp

Back at Lori’s home, we played with ñawi awapa tubular bands…

lori weaving nawi awapaOnward to another group of weaving friends and  another delightfully chaotic table! This is another group that organizes regular backstrap weaving gatherings… this time in Phoenix.

This was a sewing day as we practiced sewn tubular edging bands and other embellishments for finished cloth….

Caroline is weaving and sewing a plain-weave tubular band to the edge of some gorgeous handwoven cloth made by my weaving teacher and friends in Bolivia.

collyer-tubular-bandCollyer decorated one edge of her cloth with coil stitches and also wants to add a ñawi awapa tubular edging to a felted purse that she recently made. You can see the wool warp that she prepared. It matches the felt so well.

I created some excitement when I brought out my double weave samples. I think we will get together and play with double weave next year!

az-and-san-diego-6My friends in San Diego wanted to do just that this year….double weave. Rocio was so pleased when the steps started making sense and her first patterns emerged….

rocio double weaveLook at the nice cushy armchairs some of the group got to sit in and weave! We just about filled Deanna’s living room and sometimes I have no choice but to crawl under the warps to get from one person to the next!

az-and-san-diego-1The weather was gorgeous and we got to chill in Deanna’s gazebo at lunch time…


Deanna double weave backstrap loomDeanna quickly slipped into the rhythm of warp-faced double weave. There are some unusual moves to be made but, once you start understanding the ”why” of it all, the steps become easy to remember.

Meg charting double weaveMeg discovered how easy it is to chart patterns from cloth and took advantage of my sample selection to add to her collection of charted motifs.

Deanna later sent me a picture of her progress. She added an I Ching hexagram to her band…

deanna-with-heartAs always, it was a fun spending time with Deanna. This time we had a little extra time up our sleeves and we went to the Zoo and also to the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park. Balboa Park is an amazing place! The historical buildings from a couple of world expositions in the early 1900s are spectacular. The park is packed with museums, theaters and gardens.

The Botanical Building Balboa Park San Diego

The Botanical Building Balboa Park San Diego

balboa park

spreckels organ pavilionThis building is the Speckels Organ Pavilion. The organ, one of the world’s largest in an outdoor setting, was donated in 1914 and has 5000 pipes ranging in length from a pencil to thirty-two feet! On Sundays, the door rolls up for free concerts. We were lucky in that it seemed that an audition was being conducted and we could enjoy hearing (and feeling!) some moments of music.

At the Mingei I was quite taken with this quirky collection of Japanese dolls made with eggs. This one is clutching a copy of Time magazine. Others held burgers and even a surfboard!…traditional clothes meet modern times, I suppose.

mingeiA visit to my friend Diane in Grass Valley was possible on this visit too. Of course, we wove. Diane invited others and six of us sat together and worked on all kinds of things. That is when I got to weave a bit of my lettering band.

Diane wound a warp for a backstrap with an Andean Pebble Weave pattern from my second book...I hear it has been progressing well since I left. By the way, a new Andean Pebble Weave pattern book is underway!

Diane's backstrap projectShan, Jane, Stephanie and Janet brought pebble weave and double weave bands to work on. That’s Shan’s on the left and Jane’s on the right…fingers and hands in threads and sheds…


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI got to go to the guild meeting where the Jane above, Jane Milner, presented a program on her years studying basket weaving. She placed an extraordinary number of baskets on the display tables…all so different…in shape, material and technique. She included special pieces that she has collected over the years. Each basket had its story. It was a fascinating presentation…

One of the baskets that Jane recently made.

One of the baskets that Jane recently made.

One thing that Jane mentioned during her program which,while being onvious is not something I had previously contemplated....every basket you ever seee was made by hand. No machine has yet been created that can replicate these woven structures. I like thinking about the hands, small and large around the world and throughout history working all kinds of natural materials into these magnificent containers.

One thing that Jane mentioned during her program which, while being obvious, is not something I had previously contemplated….every basket you ever see was made by hand. No machine has yet been created that can replicate these woven structures. I like thinking about the hands, big and little, around the world today and throughout history working all kinds of natural materials into these magnificent and useful pieces of art.

And, guild member Bhakti, whom I had met way back in 2010 at Convergence in New Mexico, turned up with a fabulous Karen backstrap loom to give me! It has a circular warp on it that the Karen weavers had created to teach her how to use a backstrap loom. It uses hefty split beams to sandwich and anchor the cloth. I always end up with terrible problems trying to get everything back to Bolivia in my luggage. But, I didn’t care if I went home without clothes….this loom was going home with me! It had a large piece of pvc pipe as the shed rod. I left that behind and I will replace it with something of my own here at home. I can’t wait to sit down and study the patterning and heddle set up. I love the rice sack backstrap! The warp is extremely long.

Bhakti shared with me a picture of two of the Karen ladies at their looms. It is interesting to see how high up on their bodies they place their backstraps.

bhakti-photo-karen-weaversSo, the loom got packed into one of my bags in among the skeins of 60/2 and 120/2 silk that I got from Red Fish Dyeworks.  The ladies at Red Fish did an amazing job filling an order over which I had been dithering for weeks. Ginny and Mary helped a lot by letting me examine their samples. They even gave me some of their silk. It is so hard to order colors from those you see on a computer screen. I am really excited about the luscious colors. This will be used for one of my big Bolivian summer projects.

I finished my visit in the northwest. I visited friends Elinor and Einar in Skagit Valley. Elinor helped me with some sewing and I helped her with some weaving. A good deal! She is making this striking Andean Pebble Weave belt for her husband for Christmas. This is one of the patterns I adapted from komi knitting for my second book. Oh, did I happen to mention that I am working on a new Andean Pebble Weave pattern book?


But I spent most of the time in Seattle with Marilyn. There’s a lot to tell about that and that will come in another post soon!

It was a very special visit. I will give you a hint… I spent a lot of time in front of a camera while there rather than behind one.

During the visit, Marilyn also took me to a gathering of her tablet weaving group in Seattle. It was nice to see many familiar faces…people with whom I have woven while visiting the area in the past and people I met at the recent BRAIDS 2016 conference.

There was Show and Tell of beautiful tablet-woven bands and discussion of future themes for study. It was an impressive study group that got down to business and achieved a lot in their time together.

By the way, expert tablet-weaver, Kris Leet, wearing the dark top, has been spending some time in front of a camera too…

I’ll tell you all about these ”in-front-of the-camera” happenings in my next post!…It’s pretty exciting stuff 🙂















Posted by: lavernewaddington | October 20, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Coasting Along

cincinnati from kentuckyOn the road again….from Florida, from which I just escaped before hurricane Matthew hit, to the golden leaves of western Massachusetts to the Ohio River and on to mission country in southern California. I have been covering some ground. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of this time with the most awful chest cold. It stopped me from doing some sightseeing but it didn’t keep me from weaving with lots of backstrap weaving buddies at every stop.

Janie’s daughter had had an interest in learning to pole dance. A pole was installed in the basement and now it makes the most perfect backstrap weaving post.

jane backstrap weavingJanie’s guild in Cincinnati has its own house! We were very comfortable there weaving Andean Pebble Weave for three days…

guild houseIt’s pretty cool when a weaver can arrive in the morning by bicycle with the potential to carry her loom, fold up the bike, stash it under the kitchen counter and then sit down to weave….

janie and karen with bikeI am afraid that I was far too ill in Cincinnati to think about taking more pictures. I enjoyed the chance to speak at the guild and weave with this lovely group of ladies but I simply had to crawl into bed at the end of each day. Taking it easy paid off…I am well again. 🙂

In western Massachusetts, the fall hadn’t quite taken over and we found that it was really very pleasant to be outside winding warps for Andean Pebble Weave in the sunny afternoon. I got to catch up with old weaving buddies here, put a face to an online weaving friend and meet a new backstrap weaving enthusiast.

warpingfor backstrap weaving outdoors in western massIt’s a close group of weavers here and they have started a monthly study gathering. The first one was on the weekend immediately after I left. They are keen! These kinds of get-togethers where weavers help each other through their planning, warping and weaving make such a difference and I know that  next time I see these weavers they will be more than ready to advance their backstrap weaving skills.

Jacquie, above left, is already confidently creating her own Andean Pebble Weave patterns and is planning a band with dancing figures and drums. I love this idea and can’t wait to see it.

backstrap-weaving-in-massachusettsJacquie sent me a picture of the first study group gathering. Amy, who didn’t weave with us this time, also came along to the study group. It seems that the backstrap weavers in western Massachusetts are very well connected! I hope they don’t lose momentum with the inevitable interruption over the holidays and that they continue gathering to weave on backstrap looms well into next year and until the next time I get to see them all again. We might have a study session by Skype some time if I decided to upgrade my internet connection in Bolivia this summer.

group-meeting-1Martha, pictured on the right, made some Andean Pebble Weave contributions to an Ethnic Weaving exhibit in which her guild is involved. Maybe you can go along to see it if you live in the area. You can see some of Martha’s work in this postcard that advertises the event…martha's pebble weaving

Back in Florida, I had left three of my weaving buddies working on wide warps. The width of their planned projects depended on how much experience they had with their chosen pick-up structure. As Cyndy had only just learned Andean Pebble Weave, she settled on a 2’’-wide band that is the perfect size for a guitar strap. She wants to gain confidence with this larger number of ends and finer thread.

Jennifer and Berna, who both have more experience with Andean Pebble Weave, spent most of the first day warping wider projects and dressing their warps. I think they are both planning some sort of bag and are confident that the project they warped in class will be more than a sample. Berna worked hard to prepare for this gathering by weaving a sample, pictured below, with her chosen yarn which she used to calculate the number of ends she needed for her larger project.

bernas-sampleHere’s the gorgeous warp that Jennifer created. There was much talk of Harry Potter house colors. I haven’t seen the movies so I wouldn’t know about that.

jennifer's backstrap warpShe has plans to weave bee and flower motifs in the center strip and plain pebble weave in the two outer ones. I like this idea of having strips of plain pebble weave as accents rather than having a strip of pick-up patterns.

Here’s Berna ready to weave after having picked up the threads for her two pebble sheds and then enclosing them in string heddles.

berna ready to start her backstrap weavingCyndy quickly installed her string heddles and was ready to weave. She had wound her warp before our get-together and was able to get underway well before the others.

cyndy heddled and ready to weaveHere’s Jennifer picking up the threads for her pebble sheds…

jennifer creating pebble shedsBerna shows us how she smoothly and cleanly opens a pebble shed using her heddles and adjustments to the amount of tension she applies to the warp with her body. She has got the moves down!

berna opening pebble shedsAt last the pattern starts to emerge. She has combined a Celtic knot motif with a classic Andean motif.

bernas backstrap pattern emerging

bernas celtic knot and Andean river patternsI love the small amounts of black she used to make those colors pop.

cyndy's sun moon and river patternCyndy chose a particular combination of motifs that I like to call ‘’The sun, the moon and the meandering river’’.

I hope I get progress pictures soon. These ladies get together regularly in Berna’s home to encourage and help each other and it is wonderful to see their progress. Study groups, people…hint, hint…if you have the chance to form one, do it!

close up circular warpCyndy gave me this wonderful example of a circular backstrap warp which has been set up for hanging. It was one of those miraculous thrift store-like purchases. We have no clue as to the origin of the piece but I love it as a super neat example of a circular warp with all its bits and pieces. There is a wonderful shaped sword and sweet shuttle sitting with in a shed. The coil rod is in place and you can see the split beams at the front of the loom which help secure the warp and allow the weaver to beat without having the warp slide around the beams.

The woven cloth is interesting with its simple warp-float pattern and strips of weft twining. It is the ideal size and weight to carry about and show people how a circular warp is typically set up.

I used to carry my own circular warp around to show people…


my example of a circular warp …but this new one is far more interesting…

circular warp and toolsJennifer brought her new backstrap loom. She had purchased the wooden pieces as a set online and then had a friend of hers burn beautiful patterns into the wood including the image of Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of weaving. What a special loom!

jennifers loom with burned decorations

jennifer-backstrap-loomCyndy also brought interesting tools to show…some lovely shuttles for band weaving that a craftsman in Estonia makes…

cyndy's shuttles from estoniaOver In southern California, we were back outdoors enjoying the mid-fall warmth. Out on Ginny’s lawn, we wove double weave for two days…both one-weft double weave and the two-weft embedded version.

14650616_10207682302997089_3010964772416597055_nThere’s some progress on Ginny’s one-weft double weave piece….

ginnys double weave band backstrap weaving

brown and blue wool jewely backstrap weavingOn the third day we wove a tubular band pattern.

I had woven the ñawi awapa tubular band with this group before and so we tackled a different pattern which involves the use of multiple string heddles. I saw this kind of band being woven by weavers from the community of Chahuaytire in Peru.

Recently I made a nice bangle to add to my woven jewelry collection using this particular tubular band pattern. You can see it at left on the left of the two brown flat bands.

I gave the group some magnetic barrel clasps so that they could do the same if they chose.

We also learned to weave and sew the band as an edging as it is used in Peru. We had to develop the skills necessary to be able to operate and keep track of multiple heddles on wool without excessive scraping or sawing.

We used up to 5 colors and the different color choices produced bands of vastly different character.

Yarn and samples ready for weaving the tubular band.

Yarn and samples ready for weaving the tubular band.

Judy joined us at this gathering. I had woven Andean Pebble Weave with her last spring. We started talking about horse hair and horse hair braiding and hitching. Melinda joined in as she too has experience with this craft. I had started looking about online for information about horse hair hitching after the BRAIDS 2016, the conference of the Braid Society in Tacoma WA last July. One of the instructors from the UK was teaching cylindrical braids in raw hide and told me about the work of the Argentine cowboys, or gauchos, who use braided raw hide to decorate their horse tack. He showed me pictures online of gorgeous examples of fine work. This led me to images of horse hair work and I was intrigued. My friend, Betty, showed me a hitched key fob that she had bought in Montana which had been made by prisoners. So, I ended up ordering a couple of technique books online which I will pick up later in this trip.

In the meantime, along comes Judy, who has owned and worked with horses all her adult life and she brought examples of horse hair braided key fobs and hat bands as well as decorative embellishments made with hitched horse hair for various pieces that she owns.

horse hair hitching

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here is something else I have picked up along the way….

wayuu ply split braidsThese are ply-split braided bands made by the Wayuu people of the Guajira Peninsula that straddles Colombia and Venezuela. They are used as the straps for the crocheted bags, or mochilas, that they make. I have included examples of these bags in several blog posts in the past particularly after I went to visit Mirja Wark in the Netherlands and got to see the bags she collected when she lived in Venezuela. My friend Dorothy has one of the bags, see below, that has a very similar strap to the one above right. You can see the tapestry crochet technique that is used to create the bags themselves.

close up of Dorothy's Wayuu mochilaI am thrilled to have these examples and will find a way to use them as straps for a backstrap woven bag that I plan to make one day. It’s amazing how similar the strap on the left is to the one I happened to see on a Wayuu bag in a beach-side boutique on my recent trip to Sydney…

wayuu mochilas in sydneyI am hanging out with my friends Ruth and Lise for a few days. Ruth captured me, the ”mop with a nose”, weaving some double weave motifs…

weaving-at-ruthsI got a lesson in the basics of power-tool use from Ruth and she is sending me home with a dremel-type tool!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe gathered a group of friends to weave double weave for two days. After learning to weave some basic shapes by simply ”eyeballing” and not using charts, we moved on to more complex patterns. Ruth charted a sweet llama that would fit on our 12-thread warp and you can see me weaving it, starting with its four little legs.

weaving double weave backstrap loom

Here are Ruth and Cookie setting up their slightly wider and finer warps…

cookie-and-ruth-setting-upAnne and Dorothy are weaving patterns…

annes double weave

dorothys double weaveDorothy cleverly managed to keep the scroll pattern going while swapping the pattern and background colors. Kathy and Kathleen who have woven with me several times before were there too.

We looked at one-weft double weave and the two-weft or ”embedded” version as well as the technique used by some Bolivian weavers who set up additional sets of string heddles.

samples of double weave for backstrap weavingCookie works with all sorts of fiber crafts and brought her latest finished crochet piece to show…cookie's marilyn monroe crochetAnne brought a piece that she had woven with me years ago when we had studied Bedouin weaving techniques with my Santa Cruz friends. The upper face of a double weave band and that of a Bedouin Saha weaving are identical in structure. However, the bands as a whole are vastly different because the Bedouin weavers leave the long threads- those that are created by the substitution of one colored warp thread for another- floating on the back of the band. Bolivian weavers use those hanging threads to create a lower shed through which they pass weft. This creates the second layer of the double weave. Double weave bands have two ”good” faces. The pieces created by the Bedouin weavers have only one ”good” face as the other one comprises long floats, some of which are often startlingly long.

bedouin weaving and double weaveAfter weaving over the weekend with my friends, I found that Mary, a recent Facebook and Ravelry acquaintance, lives just a few blocks away from Ruth and so I visited and spent a day with her playing with the basics of backstrap loom operation. I gave her some tips on how to manage narrow and wide warps and I had a ball looking at her collection of zentangle books while she wove on the balcony. Just having those few hours to sit quietly and thumb through the zentangle and weaving books left me with my mind exploding with ideas!

mary and lola weaving a narrow project on the balconyAnd later, she learned how to change the basic set-up and modify her moves to weave wider warps. Here she is making string heddles on a stick…

mary making string heddles on a stick

The following day, Ruth, Lise and I went to the De Young Museum in San Francisco….

We went to see this exhibit…

The idea is to draw pieces from the museum’s textile arts collection which exhibit the characteristics normally associated with Minimalism…including regular, symmetrical, or gridded arrangements, repetition of modular elements, direct use and presentation of materials, and absence of ornamentation.

But for me, who has never been to the De Young before, there was plenty to be excited about in the museum’s permanent exhibit of pieces from its vast collection. As a result, we didn’t get to the Minimalism exhibit until after lunch.

Here’s a wee taste of the very old and not-so-old in the museum’s permanent display…

I emjoyed seeing this piece from the coastal province of Manabi in Ecuador as I have spent time there with cotton spinners and weavers.. This is a hollow figure from 1500-1300 B.C. The incised patterns on the figure's lower body are suggestive of textiles.

I enjoyed seeing this piece from the coastal province of Manabi in Ecuador as I have spent time there with cotton spinners and weavers.. This is a hollow female figure from 1500-1300 B.C. The incised patterns on the figure’s lower body are suggestive of textiles.


A burial offering for a high-ranking official.t A.D 600-900 Huari culture. The mosaic of colored shells, stone and bone represent teh motifs of a tapestry-woven tunic-feline heads, rectangular bars and concentric circles.

A burial offering for a high-ranking official A.D 600-900 Huari culture. The mosaic of colored shells, stone and bone on a wood and bitumen base represent the motifs of a tapestry-woven tunic suitable for a person of such high rank with feline heads, rectangular bars and concentric circles.

Limetone monument, or steal from the southern Mayan lowlands A.D 761 shows a Mayan queen proclaiming her legitimacy and power

Limestone monument, or stela, from the southern Mayan lowlands A.D 761 shows a Mayan queen proclaiming her legitimacy and power.

Seed jar Hopi Pueblo late 20th century by Jacob Koopee

Seed jar, Hopi Pueblo, late 20th century by Jacob Koopee

Looped wire sculpture by Ruth Asawa late 20th century. i loved the way the lighting in the museum cast shadows of her work on the cinder block walls.

Looped wire sculpture by Ruth Asawa late 20th century. We loved the way the lighting in the museum cast shadows of her work on the cinder block walls.

Very subdued lighting made it difficult to capture the often rich colors of the pieces in the Textiles and Minimalism exhibit. It was wonderful to see a few Aymara pieces included with their rich red, blue and brown stripes…incredibly fine pieces woven with four selvedges with subdued decorative edgings and often an absence of patterning along the joins of the panels. Ruth’s camera captured the colors better than mine. I like these simple late 19th century plain-weave Aymara pieces more than some of the intricately pick-up patterned pieces that we usually associate with Andean weaving.

Fingers were itching to touch the textiles and further appreciate their fineness. We bent over with our noses as close to the textiles as we dared without upsetting the security guard in order to better see the threads and study the patterns along the edges.

Once again, I feel it would be a shame to cram all the wonderful things my online friends have been weaving into the end of what has become a pretty long post. I think I will save them for next time when you will get a very large shot of inspiration all at once! I can tell you that Adem has finished a marvelous Mapuche-style piece in which he incorporated some traditional Turkish motifs. Tracy has been in Laos weaving on circular warps on foot-tensioned backstrap looms so, as you can imagine, there is plenty to share there. Julia W has not only been weaving but has also been piecing together bands she wove some time ago into lovely purses and bags. Julia T is back at the loom designing Andean Pebble Weave motifs after what feels like along absence and I have new online weaving friends who are making cuffs and balanced- weave cloth and all sorts of exciting things on their humble backstrap looms.

I’ll leave you with a few more pieces from the museum visit…

I lobe the detail of the facial scarification on this kneeling warrior. Maya, Jaina Island, Mexico A.D 600-800.

I love the detail of the facial scarification on this kneeling warrior. Maya, Jaina Island, Mexico A.D 600-800.

I could look at Moche pieces all day! The pre-columbian museum in Santiago, Chile has a wonderful collection. Moche, nortn coast Peru, 400B.C -550 A.D

I could look at Moche pieces all day! The pre-columbian museum in Santiago, Chile has a wonderful collection. Moche, north coast Peru, 400B.C -550 A.D.

And I really enjoyed Ruth Asawa's work and the way it has been displayed. What is real and what is shadow here?

And I really enjoyed Ruth Asawa’s work and the way it has been displayed. What is real and what is shadow here?

Until next time….





Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 23, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – From little acorns…

There is something about the process of weaving all the tiny projects I have been working on these last few weeks. While I love my large projects on which I sometimes work for weeks and weeks, it is hugely satisfying to be working on small ones and turning out something new almost every day….new colors, new materials and new textures. But there is something else about the process, and I am not sure exactly what it is, that is opening up doors and letting ideas come flooding in. I am writing and sketching them and saving them for later. Sometimes from little projects come big ideas.

The last couple of weeks have been about making jewelry…”arm jewelry”,  as I like to call it. I want to wear lots of cuffs and wristlets and bangles all the way up my arm. I am not sure how practical it will be to weave with all that stuff jangling away, but we shall see.

In my last post, I showed you the beginnings of a blue set of pieces. The bangle was the latest addition…

backstrap weaving jewlery

Since then, I have added two wristlets, another bangle and a neck ”bangle” (?) (I have no idea what that thing should be called)…

woven jewelry backstrap weavingI am also using the sample pieces I wove when I was planning my silk journal covers and making them into arm adornments. I used more of that lovely cochineal-dyed silk to make another bangle and wristlet with leaf-themed patterns…

silk and wool jewelry backstrap weavingThe berry-colored silk pieces are on the right. One of the wide bands is decorated with leaf motifs in supplemental weft and the other has a leaf pattern I invented for the Andean Pebble Weave structure. I used a slight variation of the classic Andean ”meandering river” motif to make another leafy pattern on the narrow band and bangle.

brown and blue wool jewely backstrap weavingI used a tubular band pattern that I saw woven by weavers from the community of Chahuaytire in Cusco to make a bangle in the brown set (second on the left) and an Andean Pebble Weave band to make another (far left). The pieces connect using buttons and braided loops, or snaps, or end clamps and lobster claw clasps.

blue silk pendant backstrap weavingI then set about making a matching silk pendant for the light blue cuff I wove some time ago. I put it together like the brown and black pendant on the right. There was lots of pick-up to be done  with tiny threads of 60/2 silk but the pendant only required one pattern repeat and so I was able to finish this project fairly quickly. I love these small projects and love my backstrap loom even more as it allows me to warp and comfortably weave such tiny things with little waste.

neck bangle pattern backstrap weavingThis is the pattern I used for  the neck ”bangle”. It’s one that I wove using the Andean Pebble Weave structure and I was able to set it up with multiple sets of string heddles which made the weaving relatively fast.

You can probably tell that I had a lot of fun with these little projects. One idea that came to mind while I was sitting there weaving and sewing and struggling to put together tiny split rings and other jewelry findings, was how to edge the wool panels that I wove some time ago and had put aside to finish awaiting inspiration.

brown wool panels backstrap weavingI have two raw edges with which to deal on this wool project. The cloth is really lightweight and I know that it would not support a tubular band which is what I usually use to edge my sturdy warp-faced projects. Besides, I don’t think a tubular band would work in this case to cover and stabilize the raw edges.

I really liked the way the pattern that I wove for the blue neck ”bangle” looked when it was rolled into a tube and so, I came up with this idea for edging my brown panels using that same pattern. Here is the sample…

sample for edgingThe ”star” motif is a big part of the design on the large wool panels that I wove and so I think that this pattern will be a good match for the edging. I am going to fold the band in half and sew it so that the center pattern forms a tube. The edge of my panels will then be sandwiched between the solid brown sections which will cover and protect the raw edges well. A couple of little tucks help the band bend around the corner of the blanket and I am really pleased with the way that looks.

Here is the small sample placed at the edge to give you an idea….

sample band on blanket edge So, from the little jewelry projects came the big idea of how to finally finish my large wool pieces….at last! The two wool pieces have been sitting in a box for months waiting for me to come up with just the right idea for this finishing touch.



peruvian braidI am still lumbering along trying to improve my braiding technique. This is the Peruvian braid that I studied with Rodrick Owen at the recent BRAIDS 2016 conference. I am now trying it in fine wool. You can see the chunky wool that I used in the class. My fine piece is full of flaws and wobbles due to poor tension and a little carelessness. I blamed the cotton for my last wonky attempt thinking that it must be easier with wool. The cotton is not the problem…of course, it’s me! and my lack of experience. Try again, try again. I’ll get there. The idea is to make a wrist cuff but I won’t be wearing this one! It goes in the Reject Box.

One last thing I have been playing with is lettering in silk. I am enjoying this a lot. There are no prizes for guessing what word I am writing. After completing this sample, I might weave a band with writing which will become the strap for another conference pouch.. I will tell you more about this lettering when I have sampled a bit more. Ruth, with whom I stayed in Melbourne, gave me the idea for this. I wonder how she has been getting on with her own lettering.

silk band with letteringMy online weaving friends have been doing some amazing things and I will show you all of that next time. Bands, yardage, scarves and fobs are being created by my backstrap weaving buddies around the world.

My friend Adem, in Turkey is always up to something interesting and has been at the beach weaving on a tripod loom.  Here’s a sneak preview of more to come about this in my next post…

adem-tripod-loomAh, I managed to squeeze in a few more rows of lettering before posting….It’s growing on me!

lettering band backstrap weavingUntil next time….













Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 9, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Tales from Way Down Under

I went to Melbourne as a 10-year old. Most of my parents’ friends from India, where I was born, seemed to have settled in Melbourne rather than in Sydney where we lived. So, we made a summer family trip to visit. I remember eating lots and lots Indian food, the tremendous summer heat, the trams on the city streets…but little else.

So, I was delighted and excited when I was invited to teach backstrap weaving by the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria. Here was a chance to venture to the southern end of the Australian mainland once again and experience Australia’s second largest city.

canning street north carlton

I was hosted by Ruth Mitchell who lives within walking distance of the guild. The guild is a truly unique place among the various guilds that I have managed to visit in my travels. It is located in North Carlton, a beautiful city suburb of Victorian era cottages and terraces. I do love inner city living and spent some years before I left for South America in Strawberry Hills in inner city Sydney.

I loved walking the blocks to ”work” every day at the guild. Every little cottage and terraced house was gorgeous…the lace iron work, the little gardens, the colors!, not to mention the palm tree-lined streets.  I couldn’t get enough of it. Of course, I took lots of pictures strolling home in the late evening light and I can’t wait to weave something inspired by all those iron work patterns and colors.

north carlton iron lace work.

blue and white north carlton

colors north carlton



north carlton housesThe pattern formed by the colors of the brickwork in this house reminds me of the dru, horse’s tooth, pattern used in Bedouin weaving.

classic whiteThese patterns in classic white inspire me to weave something similar in brocade. I would love to weave white patterns on black using a supplementary weft somewhat like I did in this piece some time ago…10574396_940870309260140_2468390398880458039_n

It will be interesting and challenging to try to create patterns in brocade that capture the beauty of the Victorian era iron work motifs. I must get some fine silk for that so that I can make the patterns as detailed as possible. It will be a nice piece to commemorate my Melbourne visit.

As you can imagine, after strolling these streets in the mornings with thoughts of pretty iron work and brocade in my head, I would arrive at the guild feeling very inspired and ready to weave!


I did tell you in my last post that the home of the guild is a marvelous place. It’s big! There’s a large library, craft supplies store, exhibit area, woven and knitted goods store, workshop spaces and rental equipment storage space. The craft supplies store certainly did some damage to my wallet. I wanted to bring home Australian fleece for spinning and I also bought some Landscape Dyes…colors of the Australian landscape. Lesley gave me a skein of yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills to use with the dye I had bought. It’s labeled ”fine merino magnolia” and it feels gorgeous. I will weave something with it on my backstrap loom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also had a fiber and textile outing in Melbourne with Ruth and I purchased some lovely fabric pieces from  Kimono House for perhaps lining some of my woven bags and pouches.

Victoria guild warping for backstrap weavingHere is the first of the two Melbourne groups busily winding warps for Andean Pebble Weave. My host, Ruth, is second from the left facing the camera.

victoria guild staff and storeThe guild is a busy, welcoming and fun place every day. At least four volunteer staff are there every weekday to run the craft supply store, front desk and library. Marie on the left was my ”go-fer” for the day. I am not used to having one and was hard pressed to keep her busy. I was certainly well looked after!

victoria guild libraryThe library now has my books! 🙂 Lesley was on library duty on this day.

I picked up some bargain book gems from the boxes of used books. The open magazine has articles on Australian Aboriginal art and Maori textiles. You can see a piece of Aboriginal art work on the open page with a beautiful leaf design…right up my alley!

If you are wondering about the weight of my luggage when it was time to come back to Bolivia… well, yes, less important things, like clothes, got left behind in Sydney.

Here’s new guild member, Sia, working on her Andean Pebble Weave patterns. Sia walked into the guild and signed up as a member, saw a flyer for my class and jumped on the opportunity. She is hoping to come to the Tinkuy in Peru next year and maybe visit me in Bolivia so perhaps we will meet on this side of the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASia made a wee mistake in one of her patterns and ended up creating the design which I have named ”Sia’s fish”…


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJune is celebrating the completion of her first star pattern. She was particularly happy when we later learned how to make continuous string heddles mounted on a stick. She had gone to Japan and brought back a traditional Japanese backstrap loom and has been teaching herself to work on it. However, she told me that making the continuous string heddles had defeated her. Here is a picture of her loom. It’s an intriguing set up. I find myself saying over and over ”If I come back to Melbourne, I will….”. That list of activities includes the hope of being able to see June weave on this loom.

june-japanese-backstrap-loomIn any case, even though she has been finding the heddle making challenging, it looks like she has been producing some lovely cloth.

She brought along some Japanese textiles to show me as well as her tea ceremony equipment… all wrapped in a furoshiki cloth, of course. You can see one of the beautiful bamboo reeds that she got in Japan.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATatiana, from Chile, was in my second group of Andean Pebble Weavers. She does meticulous handwork and brought me one of dozens of hand knitted dolls she has made. The doll collection is fabulous and I told her that she really should make an exhibit for the guild. When in Chile, she had seen such knitted dolls being made by Aymara ladies from northern Chile and this gave her the idea. She tells me that the Chilean dolls are more rustic and charming. I find the doll she gave me absolutely adorable!


doll-front-and-backShe also had a bag decorated with the embroidery of Ayacucho. I have shown this in other blog posts. My friend Dorothy has some of this Ayacucho work and when I made an appeal on this blog, several people wrote to me to tell me how to do the stitches. I have never actually used the stitches but, you never know, one day….

ayacucho-embroidery-1It seems that wherever I go, I will run into something South American. I showed you in my last blog post the Mapuche belts that Gerlinde gave me. These belts traveled from Chile to Europe to Australia and now are in my home in Bolivia.

mapuche bands chile

Of course, the beautiful work of the weavers of Chnichero, Peru is internationally known. One of my Melbourne students, Melanie, had been to Cusco where she took weaving classes. The little pouch she uses for her weaving tools is from there. The Chinchero pieces with their gorgeous natural dye colors are instantly recognizable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI worked with two groups in Melbourne. They both learned Andean Pebble Weave. There is talk of forming a study group and I hope that comes together. The guild has the space to hold such meetings but I was told that the problem is finding a spare day as there are so many study groups and other activities happening in the space. While I was there, the kumihimo and tapestry groups got together to braid and weave.

On my day off between the two workshops, Ruth kindly took me into the city.. a short tram ride away. We did a little textile and fiber tour stopping first at the famous Australian Tapestry Workshop. It is housed in a historic building in South Melbourne that was once a knitting mill and it is beautiful both inside and out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom the mezzanine level we got to look down on the work area with its works-in-progress and recently completed pieces. Amazing!


This piece designed by British artist Keith Tyson is called Gordian Knot The circular piece seems to float in space.


Australian designer John Olsen’s piece, Life Burst, was on display in the gallery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi signature appears in the corner along with the emblem of the Australian Tapestry Workshop where his design was woven by a team of tapestry weavers. It was amazing to look closely at the piece and see just how many colors had been blended. What appears in the picture above to be solid yellow actually comprises many strands of multiple shades of yellows, oranges and other colors.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was fascinating and mind boggling watching one of the weavers at work. I will always remember Joan Ruane’s remark when she watched me doing pick-up  on my backstrap loom. She said something like..”Oh my God, it’s slower than tapestry!” After watching this lady at work…I don’t think so! This piece is called Perspectives on a Flat Surface and was designed by John Wardle Architects. You can see the sample pieces that have been woven and mounted next to the main piece of work. Yep, tapestry weavers have to sample too.

It was a very enjoyable visit. There was a hands-on piece in one of the galleries where Ruth and I got to pass a few wefts and leave our mark and then we went yarn shopping. I picked up a half dozen tiny cones of tapestry wool which I think will work wonderfully in warp-faced weaving. There are 362 colors from which to choose and the workshop has a resident dyer. I will weave something to remind me of my visit to the ATW.

Melbourne is a pretty city.  I found it light, open and airy. It has quite a few churches. This one is St Patrick’s Catholic church. It is possible that Sydney’s CBD has just as many but they just don’t seem to jump out at you like the ones in Melbourne.


The Flinders Street Station is bustling and beautiful…


I loved running into these landmarks. These are names that I have heard all my life growing up in Sydney.We crossed the Yarra river that flows through the city dividing Melbourne into north and south banks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went to the Nicholas building which houses an eclectic gathering of craftspeople including a tailor from Peru who uses, among other materials. industrially produced fabric from Peru in interesting ways to make elegant coats.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter being thoroughly absorbed looking at the various stores and studios we suddenly realized it was 3 o’clock and we hadn’t had lunch. I enjoyed visiting one of Melbourne’s famous laneways. This one, Central Place, is stuffed full of tiny eateries that have just enough space to seat a handful of people. We crouched on tiny stools eating sushi and watched the people go by. There are apparently many of these laneways, each one with its particular personality.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt home, Ruth showed me what she has been weaving. I am kicking myself for not having taken photos. She has been using my second book to learn intermesh and has been using her Ashford inklette to weave bands with lettering. She adds the two additional sets of string heddles for the ”mesh sheds” to her inkle loom and was using fine wool to weave a striking red and black band. I was happy to meet Ruth’s two daughters and discover that her elder daughter, Lisa, is a well known Australian singer and songwriter and has been so for the last ten years. Well, I have been away for 23 years and am not caught up with what is happening in Australian music.

Lisa Mitchell is her name and here she is performing with one of Ruth’s hand woven guitar straps. I was tickled to see that she had used some of the celtic knot patterns from my second book that I adapted to  the Andean Pebble Weave structure. Ruth has woven several other beautiful guitar straps for Lisa, one of which has silver-colored threads and which catch the light beautifully when Lisa performs on stage. And yes, that’s one of my friend Annie’s guitar strap kits that she is using.

screenhunter_86-sep-02-15-16I got back to Bolivia last Thursday. It was a 54-hour trip…don’t ask! I don’t think I have ever really known what jet lag is until this trip. Sure, I get tired after a long flight but jet lag is something else again. I have been trying to claw my way out of the fog and get back to my loom and I am pleased to report that yes, it finally happened. I have been putting to use some of the jewelry findings I bought while in the U.S.

backstrap weaving jewleryThe cuff isn’t new. Nor is the silk lanyard. You might remember that I wove this lanyard pattern again as I hadn’t been happy with this first attempt. The ”good” one went to the BRAIDS 2016 where I met its new owner. This less-than-good one is now the holder for my new glasses. I forgot my glasses in Sydney, darn it. The new thing in the picture is the bangle. I want to have sets of ”arm jewelry” and wear them all at once from wrist to half way to my elbow…cuffs, bangles, braided wristlets and bands like the lady in the picture below. I have been fascinated by this idea ever since I came across the picture. You may remember it from this blog post. So, here are two pieces in the ”blue” set. There will be more ”arm jewelry” in blue to come.

From Afrostyle magazine and designer Tarun Tahilian

From Afrostyle magazine and designer Tarun Tahilian

Now there is a brown set underway…

backstrap weaving jewelrySo far, I have a bangle and a wristlet. I will use a tiny braid to connect that wristlet, tied through the eyelet at one end and looped around the button.  The wider piece is going to be sewn into a cuff with a tubular edging and then I will weave a few tubular bands to also use as wristlets. I have lots of things going on right now that are preventing me from getting into a large project…although my head is overflowing with great ideas!!  The list gets longer. Traveling opens my eyes to so many things and gives me the time and head space to organize my ideas, visualize possible projects and make adjustments and improvements before I can even touch the loom.

My small jewelry projects are keeping me happy for the time being. They are fun. I hope I get to wear them soon.

See you next time.












Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 25, 2016

Bush, Birthday, Birds, Bow-looms and Braids

ScreenHunter_83 Aug. 13 06.20I woke up to this Google doodle greeting on my birthday. It was like having two birthdays this year. I celebrated it first in Sydney, Australia and then 14 hours later I started receiving greetings from my home in Bolivia and from friends in the USA and other parts of the world.

It was a perfect day spent out in the bush with my brother and sister-in-law. After stopping for tea at a country cafe/pub,


we took the turn- off at this eclectic collection of country mail boxes to Yengo National Park…

mail boxes on way to Yengo National Parkwhere we enjoyed this view over lunch…

Mt YengoThat’s Mount Yengo in the distance which, according to Wikipedia, is a natural feature of spiritual and ceremonial importance to the Wonnarua, Awabakal, Worimi and Darkinjung Indigenous Australians. In indigenous mythology, Mount Yengo is the place from which Baiame, a creational ancestral hero, jumped back up to the spirit world after he had created all of the mountains, lakes, rivers and caves in the area. Baiame flattened the top of Mount Yengo when he jumped skyward and the flat top is still visible today.

Following a narrow bush track, we came to a large dome of rock which held several Aboriginal carved figures….

rock carvingsParts of the bush and surroundings were peacefully still and quiet while others were full of bird song, some of which I recorded. If you have never heard Australian bell birds before, take a listen to them on this piece of video I made. There are some raucous kookaburras and other unidentified birds joining in too.

This little guy (courtesy of Wikipedia) is responsible for those pretty, tinkly wind chime sounds.


Bell Miner! December 7, 2010

I picked up a gum leaf in remembrance of the day. I think this leaf shape will have to appear in one of my woven pieces soon among colors of the Australian bush.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy weaving friend Berna enjoys weaving leaf patterns too. Here is a picture she recently sent me of a couple of backstraps she has made. On one she has woven a leaf and creeper motif using supplementary weft.

bernaBetween bush outings, I visited my weaving friend, Emerald, and taught her the ñawi awapa tubular band in wool.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe later sent me a picture to show me that she has tried it in cotton and really has the hang of it…

14067582_10209255335634455_5450000789705560541_nEmerald and I spent time together looking together through the beautiful book on Sazigyo, Burmese manuscript binding tapes woven with tablets, that she owns. It was lovely listening to Emerald read the words woven into the tapes in Burmese and surprising to hear her translation of some of them to English. It wasn’t what I had been expecting at all.

SazigyoI took a few moments here and there to try out the Peruvian headband braid that I learned in Rodrick Owen’s class at the recent Braids conference. We had worked it in wool in the workshop and I was keen to try it in cotton. I had found maintaining even tension challenging enough in wool but it was even more challenging in cotton. Practice, practice…I will come up with a way of handling the threads that will make it easier to create and maintain good tension. The cotton threads just want to slip and slide past each other whereas the hairy wool threads tended to rub together and mesh eventually creating a better hold on each other.

peruvian head band braid in cottonThis is precisely the width that I want for a wrist cuff and it perfectly suits the size of the findings that I bought. There are several mistakes where I was finding it hard to see twists in the black thread. I am accustomed to working with black thread and think that better lighting will put things right for the next attempt. This one will go in the ”sample” box. I am just happy that I still remember how to do it and that the notes I took during the class continue to make sense.

With thoughts of the Braids 2016 conference still fresh in my mind, it was bizarre to walk past a store when I was down at Cronulla Beach in Sydney and see this…

wayuu mochilas in sydneyPly-split braiding! A little boutique called South of the Border, which claims to be ” a little bit theatre, a little bit beach and a little bit luxury”,  was selling crocheted Wayuu mochilas with their gorgeous ply-split straps. This was not something I was expecting to see in Sydney! Nope, I didn’t ask the price.

Marilyn Romatka bow loom weavingAnd, while still on the topic of Braids 2016, I received quite a few questions from various people, after my last blog post, about my friend Marilyn Romatka and the bow loom weaving that she teaches.

I showed some pictures in my last post of Marilyn, my fellow instructor and roommate, at Braids 2016.

It seems that many people are intrigued with these neat little looms and are scouring their yards and neighboring parks for suitable sticks that can be bent into bows.

The looms themselves are interesting as are the bead-edged bands that Marilyn teaches people to make using them. These are based on bands made by the Akha people of northern Thailand.

Marilyn has been a long time supporter of passing on folk art and indigenous craft skills to the younger generation and has published a book in which she provides lesson plans on folk art and craft for home-schooling parents. Her website Taproot Folkarts lists the more than 50 skills that she teaches.


But, back to the bow loom….here is one of the double bracelets that Marilyn teaches people to make on the bow loom….

bowloom-bracelets-22_medMarilyn and her husband recently launched their new Taproot Folkarts Video site where you can stream her class on the bow loom or purchase the dvd. This is the site on which I plan to offer my own video backstrap weaving classes soon.

Busy and exciting times!

Let’s see what some of my weaving friends from around the world have been up to….

I was thrilled about recently being able to connect two weaving contacts in Turkey. Adem, who has made several appearances here on my blog, lives in Ankara. Here he is showing me the Mapuche-style weaving that is on his vertical loom at the moment in which he is cleverly incorporating traditional Turkish motifs…

adem with Mapuche weavingPeter lives in Istanbul and has contacted me via this blog on several occasions to ask questions about projects on which he has been working. He really needed some face-to-face instruction. There is only so far that you can go providing advice and instruction online. I asked Adem if he would be willing to help and the next thing I knew, Peter had traveled to Ankara at Adem’s warm invitation, was a guest in Adem and his wife’s home and was having lessons in Mapuche-style weaving on a backstrap loom. Fantastic!

adem and peter

Here is another online gentleman weaver contact…this time from Mexico. Oscar contacted me a few years ago when he was taking his first steps in backstrap weaving following my blog. I just LOVE this picture that he sent me back then…a weaver in heart and soul!


Let’s see what he has been up to lately. He learned the warp-faced double weave technique from my blog and look what he did with it!

oscar double weave mexicoThis is now his backstrap and is being used to create other wonderful pieces…

oscar in mexicoI think that there just might be a connection between Oscar in Mexico and Adem in Turkey. Perhaps Oscar watched the video that Adem made and allowed me to post on how to use sticks to hold the pattern warps for the simple warp-float technique. You can see the video in this post.

ginnys slippersGinny sent me a picture of her recent county fair entry…her gorgeous felted slippers with ñawi awapa laces…winners! I love seeing my students putting the techniques to use like this!

Another county fair winner….here’s Tracy’s backstrap weaving which she backed and filled to make a lovely pillow. That’s all her own handspun yarn and I can tell you that it is simply gorgeous. I got to handle this piece still on the loom when Tracy and I got together last spring in Seattle. There are no surprises that this took a blue ribbon…Her handspun yarn did very well too by the looks of it.

IMG_2253_mediumJulia sewed her latest piece made from commercially spun wool onto a pillow. She is just getting into using wool for her backstrap weaving, experimenting with various weights and types while she sees what characteristics of commercially-spun wool make it suitable for warp-faced weaving. Looks like this yarn was a winner.

The larger patterns are charted in my first book.

Fresco_Pillow_mediumRoli in Nigeria sent me pictures of the finished robe, hat and bag on which she had been working. I posted pictures of her first white strips of cloth some time ago on this blog.She weaves strips of white warp-faced cloth on a simple frame loom  and sews them together to make garments. Her husband is modeling this set. The red patterning is done using the simple warp-float technique.

roli robe, hat and bagYingyu Hung in Taiwan has been working from my Andean Pebble Weave e-book and has finished a sample band of some of the 8-thread patterns using a backstrap loom….

yingyu hung

Cathy JohnsonAnd, one of my most recent students, Cathy, here in Melbourne, has been practicing Andean Pebble Weave. She has woven a pattern that I discovered once purely by mistake when I set up my pebble heddles back to front.

It was immediately after having studied the technique in Peru way back in 1996 and I obviously was not yet entirely clear on the process.

I decided to call this pattern ”rabbit ears” at the suggestion of one of my students.

Here are some familiar scenes to finish….doing what I love when I can’t be weaving myself….teaching enthusiastic weavers to create Andean Pebble Weave patterns….(many thanks to Gerlinde for the pictures)



You can see the lovely premises that the Victoria Handweavers and Spinners Guild has in Melbourne with its craft supplies store, library, handwoven and knitted goods store, exhibit space, workshop space and more. I have been building up quite a shopping cart of Australian-made goodies from the craft supplies store!

DSC03151Gerlinde not only gave me these pictures to use, she also gave me two beautiful bands from Chile woven with handspun wool by Mapuche weavers. One was created with double weave and the other with a complementary warp-float structure. She obtained them in Europe. From there they went to Australia and now I will carry them back to Bolivia, relatively close to their place of origin. I don’t have any Mapuche pieces and these will be a wonderful addition to the samples I bring to show my weaving friends….

mapuche bands chile

Now I am heading off for a day of weaving with my Melbourne friends. I’ll tell you more about the visit in Melbourne in the next post.



















Posted by: lavernewaddington | August 12, 2016

Backstrap Weaving – Strands

BRAIDS 2016 – Braids, Bands and Beyond. The conference at UPS Tacoma, Washington is over. What a week it was.

Let me quote my weaving friend Ruth Temple who was one of the 175 or so participants…

My soul is happy, my heart is full, my brain is jumping with excitement, and my fingers have been wonderfully well-tangled in strings all week.

The Proceedings of BRAIDS 2016 is available through the Braid Society, Braidershand and Giovanna Imperia Designs.

The Proceedings of BRAIDS 2016 containing articles by all 30 instructors is available through the Braid Society, Braidershand and Giovanna Imperia Designs.

If you are not already a member of the Braid Society, there are many reasons to join, one of which is the fabulous conferences.

But, even if you can’t attend one of those, the annual Journal  which is aptly named Strands, is alone well worth the price of admission. I had missed out on receiving my journals the last two years because I had lost my P.O Box. Debbie brought my copies for me with her from England. They are juicy!

Many of the instructors at Braids 2016 have authored the articles alongside other renowned braiders and band weavers. In the following photo, fans of Susan Foulkes will catch a glimpse of an article on Latvian bands in the 2015 issue with detailed instructions and photos.

strands journals braid society

Strands…after attending an event like this you start to see strands everywhere and in everything. Strands…wavy tentacles of glass at the Chihuly exhibit in Seattle. Strands…branches extending in all directions from the trunk of the massive sequoia on the UPS campus like strands of thread waiting to be worked into a braid.

At the conference, strands of yarn, wire, raw hide and even human hair were plied, split, twisted, turned, crossed and looped into beautiful braids and bands as well as exquisite pieces of jewelry like the brooch of braided hair below.

Ruth Macgregor and Carol James work on a Peruvian head band in Rodrick Owen's workshop.

Ruth MacGregor and Carol James work on a Peruvian head band braid in Rodrick Owen’s workshop.

I was lucky to have the chance not only to instruct but also to take Rodrick Owen’s class on Peruvian head band braids along with Ruth and Carol (above) and several other participants from the 14 countries and 6 continents that were represented at the conference. I was proud to be representing South America.

participants from Japan braids 2016

Rodrick owen's workshop at Braids 2016We spent the first morning setting up our looped strands to braid. I was determined not to miss anything and took lots of notes. I find that it is best to get things written down in my own hand and in my own way as a supplement to the instructions we received in our color handouts. That is what works best for me.

I really want to continue working on these kinds of braids and I have plans to try and make some wrist cuffs with them. I wanted to make sure that I was absolutely clear on the process. For that reason, I stayed with working on just the one braid for the two days rather than learn the second one that Rodrick presented on Day Two. I know that I will take the opportunity to learn that second braid in a class with Rodrick some other time in the future.

Sprang expert and instructor, Carol James, also took the class.

Sprang expert and instructor, Carol James, also took the class. I am sure that she felt, like me, that being a student now and then is a priceless and necessary experience for teachers.

Demonstrating the second braid on Day Two.

Rodrick demonstrates the second braid on Day Two.

My briad in progress...some mistakes and lumps and bumps while I get the hang of managing the tension...but I am very pleased with it!

My braid in progress…with some mistakes and lumps and bumps while I get the hang of managing the tension…but I am very pleased with it!

I bought some Valdani cotton at the conference in the Braiders’ Bazaar so that I can work on this braid while I am on the road. I am wondering how manageable it will be in cotton which doesn’t have the stretch and ”give” of wool.

I had met Rodrick Owen by chance at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival back in 2010. It has taken me this long to take a class with him even though our paths have crossed many times since. All the wonderful things I had heard about him as an instructor were true.

rodrick owen's workshop braids 2016I love workshop tables with their chaos of yarn and sticks and tape and tools and this one which I shared with Jeanne, who kindly shared her photos with me, was no exception.

Outside of class time, Washington gave us some glorious weather and the campus gave us lots of opportunities to enjoy it with outdoor eating areas to hang with friends and maybe do some braiding for those who practice the more portable techniques.

John Whitley works on a ply-split piece of his own. I met him at Braids 2012 in Manchester and he and his wife Stacy have done some backstrap weaving with me on a couple of occasions.

John Whitley is always able to whip out one of his current projects and keep his skilled hands occupied. Here he is working on a ply-split piece of his own. I met him at Braids 2012 in Manchester and he and his wife Stacy have done some backstrap weaving with me on a couple of occasions since then.

Meeting new people and hanging out with old friends

Meeting new people and hanging out with old friends…6 of my backstrap weaving students from various parts of the USA are present in this picture.

The conference was a great opportunity to meet up with my weaving buddies from all over the USA as well as folks from Europe that I had met in Manchester in 2012. Even a blog follower from Capetown South Africa, Joel,  was there.

With Annie! You will know her as Aspinnerweaver, the weaver of unique colorful guitar straps. We haven't had much chance to hang out since she moved to New Mexico.

With Annie! You will know her as Aspinnerweaver, the weaver of unique colorful work-of-art guitar straps. We haven’t had much chance to hang out since she moved to New Mexico.

Tablet weaver John Mullarkey was at the table too (see below). He likes to tease inkle loom weavers about the supposed inferiority of their chosen equipment and technique to the tablets that he prefers. I think he met his match at that table of fierce inkle loom fans. Jennifer accused him of ”inkle envy”.

I got to wear my woven accessories…something I dare not do at home in Bolivia where I have had several things pulled off my neck and wrists in the past while walking down the street.

backstrap weaving accessoriesI had woven a neck pouch especially for the conference in which I could stash business cards and card keys. My sample for that project became a wrist cuff and I only realized later that my necklace and camera strap were also good matches.

You may remember that I was just one of many many people who had volunteered to weave lanyards for the conference. I contributed a mere 6 of them. There were 175  of them to be made!

lanyards for braids 216 backstrap weavingHaving arrived early at the conference with my friend Marilyn Romatka, I was able to enjoy scanning the lanyard table before the name tags were distributed, ooh-ing and ah-ing over the variety of techniques and patterns and colors represented there.

Marilyn taught bow-loom weaving. Here’s Marilyn ”dressed” in her looms entering our dorm building for the first time. And, if you are curious about these very cool bow looms, which are used by the Akha people of northern Thailand and Laos to weave narrow bands with beaded selvedges, here’s a closer look at them as Annie and I weave with them after the conference at Marilyn’s place…

with annie bow looms Here’s Robyn Jackson who did a fabulous job attaching the various clips that turned braids and bands into lanyards for our name tags. She chose to wear one of mine 🙂

It was fun playing ”spot the lanyard” trying to see which of the 175 participants got mine. It wasn’t until Day 3 that I found the last of the 6 I had made around the neck of Braid Society Chairperson Shirley Berlin. Unfortunately, I never found out who made the pretty purple lucet-worked lanyard that I was given.

conference lanyards braids 2012

supplement=ary weft and double weave class braids 2016The weather was perfect for outdoor weaving  and I wish I had thought of suggesting doing just that to my group of backstrap weavers above. There were certainly plenty of trees to tie to and lovely lawn in which to sit. We studied supplementary-weft patterning and double weave over two days.

Supplementary-weft patterns.

Supplementary-weft patterns.

Brian and KarenBrian and Karen are working on their double weave here. It was lovely to meet up again with Brian who had woven with me at Vavstuga last fall, as well as Eileen, my host on several visits to Austin, Texas and Tracy with whom I have woven quite a few times in California. Karen is the first Alaskan weaver I have ever had in a class. She really took to backstrap weaving. It was nice to have two UK participants…Kay and ply-split expert and instructor Julie Hedges. Barbara had interesting stories of her travels in Peru with Martha Stanley.  Susan was there. I had worked on the Weavolution booth  with her at Convergence in Albuquerque 6 years ago. Beverly and Heidi were new backstrap weavers and I hope they enjoyed the class enough to continue their new skills at home.

When these weavers were happily settled into their double weave adventure, I took the opportunity to go out and briefly visit a few other classes that were in neighboring rooms.

Here are two of my dear backstrap weaving buddies. Braiding expert, Ingrid Crickmore, is instructing pick-up patterns on finger looped braids while inkle- weaving artist, Annie MacHale, watches. Dominic Taylor braids away in the background. I met Dom at Braids 2012 in Manchester and he was here in Tacoma to teach cylindrical braids in raw hide. I am grateful that he made me aware of some of the beautiful work in braided raw hide that is being done by the gauchos in Argentina.

Here are just a few of the pick-up patterned loop braid samples that Ingrid brought for her workshop.

pick up patterned loop braids by ingrid crickmore braids 2016Annie showed Marilyn and me something of what she had learned with Ingrid in the finger-loop braiding class. It was interesting after having just taught double weave on the backstrap loom to learn about these double layer braids that connect when colors are exchanged between layers and which allow motifs to be created through ”pick-up”. The braider can decide which way she wants to handle a dual-colored loop to bring one of the two colors to the upper face of the braid to form a pattern. Ingrid’s article in the conference proceedings goes on to explain more.

Carol James was just down the hall wearing one of her amazing sprang creations and watching over her group of happy sprang braiders. I saw some really sweet pouches come out of that class.

Here I can treat you to a closer look at Carol’s sprang garment while she advises one of her students.

Marilyn took this class and gave Annie and me a demonstration when we got back to her place after the conference. It was nice to see it in action on the frame. I had been at one of the fun kitchen parties at Braids 2012 where Carol had placed yarn in my hands and given me an impromptu class in the ”scissors and pinch” technique….so beautifully explained and something which I have never forgotten.

marilyn sprang

Mariyl set a piece with space-dyed yarn that looked anazing

Marilyn set up a piece with space-dyed yarn that looked amazing.

20160731_163044While I didn’t get to visit Anna Sparr’s class on braids made with human hair, or ”hair work”, I got to attend her evening lecture and see some of her jewelry pieces. It is a technique that dates back to at least the 17th Century. Anna’s family originates from Våmhus in Sweden, home of the traveling hair workers who would move from city to city all over northern Europe offering their work and providing a significant source of income for the village.

You can read much more about this in Anna’s contribution to the conference proceedings. Apparently whisperings were overheard on how some people would have liked to harvest Robyn Jackson’s and my hair for hair work. I decided to sleep with my dorm room door locked that night 😉hairwork Braids 2016

anna sparr hair braiderI dropped in quickly to another room where Ria from The Netherlands was busy braiding in Leigh Morris’ class on variations of zig zag braids for jewelry. Ria and I had met in Manchester and it was lovely to see her again. She even remembered the liking I had developed for Dutch stroopwafels when I had visited with Marijke van Epen and brought me a bag of them all the way from Holland.

There was a break from the talks and workshops mid week for an outing. I joined the group that visited the Burke Museum and the Mood Indigo exhibit at the Seattle Asian Museum. I had already seen Mood Indigo in the spring but these things are always worth a second look.

I guess one of the things I enjoyed most was the chance to see Maori twined and woven work at the Burke. When I had been exposed to kteh twining with my Montagnard backstrap weaving teachers, I had looked around online for more examples in other cultures and found information on Maori taniko, bought a book, and started playing. Here are my first experiments using Montagnard and  Bedouin motifs…


This was the first time I was able to see real Maori pieces. Of course, I very much wanted to get my hands on this skirt and look at the other face of the taniko wasitband. I have used weft twining here and there in my work and now I am inspired to do some more.

maori taniko waistband

There were also examples of local work in the form of a Salish mountain goat wool robe and coastal Salish clam basket and strap…

salish mountain goat wool robe

clam basket and carrying strap coastal salishIt was a lovely day out and about. We had lunch by the water and there were masses of blackberries nearby just asking to be picked. I couldn’t understand how they could just be left there for the taking until someone told me later that I had been stomping about in poison oak while I was happily picking. Fortunately, I did not suffer any effects….and the blackberries were delicious!

picking blackberriesMy eye was caught by Judy walking about with an interesting bag. She had taken a trip on the Silk Road and picked up this bag in Kyrgyzstan. I was struck by the fact that I had just posted about Kyrgyzstan textiles and looms in a blog post and welcomed the chance to be able to examine the textile.

judy and kyrgzstan bagThe conference ended with a banquet which I chose to miss. It had been a busy and exciting week and I felt that I needed a little down time. I walked out on a quest to find a good viewing spot to peacefully watch the sunset over Mt Rainier, or Tahoma. I found one perched on top of a wall and enjoyed the colors of the sunset from orange to pink to blue as the sun slipped from the sky. For me, it was a perfect ending to the week. I then met up with friends when all the banquet excitement had subsided who told me that the venue for the next Braids conference had been announced…Kyoto, Japan in 2019.

tahoma sunsetThe departure day at conferences is always bewildering. How did 5 days just slip by so quickly? You regret the pictures you didn’t manage to take and lament the fact that you didn’t get to hug certain people goodbye. This departure was softened for me as, rather than heading off alone, I was leaving with Annie to spend a few days at Marilyn’s place in Seattle. On the way home we had a frantic and fun time at Shipwreck Beads buying findings for jewelry making, I have lots of ideas for making more necklaces and bracelets from my woven bands. We bumped into other conference folk there which made it feel like the conference hadn’t really ended at all.

At Marilyn’s, between harvesting her figs, apples and Japanese plums, we spent time on the floor sharing the techniques we had learned in our conference workshops. That was an excellent way to reinforce what we had learned and for me to update and extend my notes.harvest
We watched the first rough edit of the little instructional movie that Marilyn’s husband is making with me on backstrap weaving. That’s just a little tease for now. I will tell you much more about that later 🙂

We visited the Chihuly Glass Museum which was breathtaking both inside and out. We strolled about the gardens soaking up the colors and shapes.


Chihuly Garden and Glass

And then, from that strange world of glass, it was back to nature, strolling the wooded trails near Marilyn’s home to a special place that she calls ”Middle Earth”…more strands!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnnie then headed back to New Mexico and I went south to my friend Betty’s place where there were blueberries to be picked. Have I mentioned that I love to pick and eat fruit straight from the trees?

Betty and Ladella took me out to meet with a group of Karen community backstrap weavers who get together every Thursday in a nearby community center. The ladies were not weaving and had not brought their looms but I got see some of their textiles and I was able to demonstrate some backstrap weaving of my own for them on a tiny narrow warp. I showed them how my loom is set up and operated to weave the Andean Pebble Weave structure. They were fascinated.

One lady, Ra-day, who I was told is the best weaver of the group, was so intrigued that I gave her my warp to take home to study. I am sure that she will quickly see how it all works and I would be thrilled if she started playing with the technique herself.

Isn’t it amazing how strands of yarn can connect people creating common ground and understanding and overcoming language barriers?

Ra-day on the left and one of the other Karen community weavers examine the picking cross in my warp.

Ra-day, on the left, and one of the other Karen community weavers examine the picking cross in my warp.

All the information needed for experienced backstrap weavers such as them selves to set up a warp like this is there. The examined the threads that were enclosed in the two sets of heddles.

All the information needed for experienced backstrap weavers such as these to set up a warp like this is there. They examined the threads that were enclosed in the two sets of heddles.

I admired one of their woven pieces for its colors and lovely warp-float pattern and, before I knew it, Betty had bought it for me as a rather early birthday gift :-). It was one of Ra-day’s pieces and I asked her to pose with it with me.

As always, I had a lovely time at Betty’s, talking textiles and yarn, visiting my first county fair, looking through her extensive collection of textiles, artefacts and  books and listening to stories of the textile and trekking tours she had led to Peru and Bolivia in the 1980s and 90s. And then, it was time to move on…

I left this behind…

and boarded one of those huge Airbus A380s for the long flight to……

…greet a glorious Sydney morning. Good morning Australia! If you look closely you will see Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House beyond it.

61O9zUazlvL._SX386_BO1,204,203,200_Braids 2016 already feels like it was a long, long time ago….

Let the magic live on….you can buy the book of the conference proceedings from the Braid Society website or from Braidershand (where you can also buy Rodrick Owen and Terry Newhouse Flynn’s new book Andean Sling Braids: New Designs for Textile Artists), or from Giovanna Imperia Designs.












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