What backstrap-woven articles do you own?

Have you......

picked up any backstrap-woven articles in your travels?

had something brought back for you from a trip?

discovered a unique item at a flea market or at an op shop?


Maybe you didn't buy a textile on your last trip away but you took photos of fabric and weavers.

Post your pictures here, please!



Posted on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 08:44

hello, I have this textile fragment .I found it many years ago when i worked in textile recuperation.the rest of it was no more then a rag , torn and in shreds. it looked like something south american and as i am interested in inca and maya history i saved it  .  not that it is antique but it looks similar;Now i think it is backstrapwoven with four selvedges because you can see where it comes together.Doubleweave because the patternstripe is thicker then the plain weave.In the middle you can see that two panels are joined together ;warp and weft are fine wolen yarn (smels like burned hair).original colors are:brown,yellow ,grayblue ,purpleand white.

Posted on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 10:41

Ooooooh, that looks interesting!  How many colours are there in the wider stripe with the round circles and the arrow shaped stripes? It looks as if there might be 3, or has the colour run with it getting wet? What fun to try and analyse it!

Posted on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 12:11

I am 99% sure that this is Bolivian. That design with the circles in the arrow shapes is typical of a place called Macha.Wish I could scan photos I have in books here of other Macha weaves so we could compare.

The other design is very common throughout the department of Potosi and is a particular favorite of mine-that is woven in pebble weave technique.  It would be nice to see the back of this piece-I would imagine there are long floats where the weaver has used three colors-black,purple and beige-in the bigger design.  

Nice find Jeannine! Thanks for posting it!

Posted on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 13:39

I think there are 2 colour schemes for the wider part : one halve is black,pink, and white; that one is still intact ;one side off the design is clear:

black and white( opposite side pink and black) followed by pink and black (opposite side black and white)

the other halve is yellow,black and a unknown color (brown or red which became very dark )

there are floats over 3 or 4 weftsbut the floats are not in pairs so i think it might be supplementary warp with pickup pattern. thats the most i can tell about it and after all it is a very old fragment . i have it for at least 15 years.

Posted on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 14:10

Hooray! I found a photo from my first trip to Sucre back in 1996. This old lady, Senora Maxima had a little cubby hole store with weavings literally from the floor to the ceiling-look at all thse stacked up behind her! She is showing off a Macha weaving there and I hope you can see the arrow design with the circles. My friend Ulla bought that one and I bought an ''axsu'' which is a full woven tunic/dress that only the very old women use now.

I went back looking for Maxima on my last trip to Sucre in June but was told that she died in 2005-no one knows what happened to all the textiles.

Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 08:36

 Here's a small part of an article about Sami (indigenous, traditionally semi nomadic, reindeer herding  people of northern Scandinavia and Russia) woven bands, though nothing about the fact, as far as I have understood it, entirely done with some version of back strap. I will take a photo of some narrow bands woven by my Swedish aunt, on a small rigid heddle, with at least one of them in the sami colours. Later. 

"Woven and Braided Bands

Wowen and braiden bands by Susanne Svonni, Foto: Jon Mihkkal Inga

The tradition of making woven bands originates both from the Sámi cultural heritage as well as from borrowed cultural elements since the material used and the method of production come from elsewhere. The technique for woven and braided bands is known throughout the Nordic countries. Thus the technique can be seen as a cultural loan. The specific choice of colours and the pattern can be taken as Sámi. What characterizes Sámi woven bands are the specific colours, red, yellow, green and blue—sometimes called the Sámi colours—and the patterns that relate to different symbols."

The rest of the article can be found here: http://www.sameslojdstiftelsen.com



Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 08:56

What an interesting site! I love the colours. I have finally got around to using a translator on my computer so I can enjoy browsing on sites everywhere, instead of being limited to English-speaking sites, and of course I am finding out all the things I have been missing out on. I know very little about Nordic weaving traditions, but now I can start learning more.

Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 09:21

 thanks! though I grew up there I know very little myself, especially about Samis! It reflects my age and the time I was in school etc. Though within a day's drive - the main areas I mean - it wasn't on the whole talked about! Except to romanticise about occasionally. Or should I say cutify: there was a popular book about a three year old sami girl with lovely photos. It is a nice book, but it rather denied some historic realities like, I think, schooling which was there to Swedify and to spread christianity,whether wanted or not. Also loss of areas to graze reindeer etc. etc. etc. All the usual stuff, really. Now they have a 'parliament' of their own which crosses national boundaries. 

re Swedish textiles (non sami) yes, there's plenty and I am still learning!!!!

Should any of you ever go to Sweden do visit Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum) in Stockholm. It is dedicated to traditional arts and crafts, and though nothing like the scale of London Museums or the smithsonian, it is well worth a visit. 

Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 13:31

Hi Caroline,
I've been using the babelfish translater on yahoo, but it doesn't do swedish. Does yours do nordic languages?
I've been using babelfish to browse world sites looking info on domestic rabbits.
See my website www.rabbitgeek.com
(warning: this site contains references to rabbits as a tasty, nutritious food source.)
Since domestic rabbits come from Europe, that's where a lot of breeders and clubs have based their websites.
We used to raise angora rabbits, spinning the wool into yarn for hats and scarves. That's how I got into weaving, it was on account of the rabbits.
Have a good day!
Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 14:04

 As far as I know to tie round the top of their shoes/boots (I am speaking traditionally here! Now you wouldn't tell the diffiernece either by name, on the whole, or looks from any other Swede).

Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 14:05

Hi Franco, I'm using Google Translator and it does Swedish. I had a few problems with the yellow fish after it transformed  the insertion of weft through a shed on a weaving page into something resembling the script of a dirty movie - definitely lost something in translation there! With Google I can also move from link to link and it keeps translating which is great so I just keep browsing as normal. I can also save the page in English to my hard drive, something I can't do with Babelfish, well at least not in Firefox. It seems to handle weaving topics without too many problems, and is a lot more fluent than Babelfish too. I'm happy with it, and its free.

Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 14:13

 Here's a picture of a man's costume: I now wonder whether they use the bands, too, to decorate some of the costumes. Hadn't ever thought about it before........


Sami politicianas Ole Mattis Hetta, Geir Tommy Pedersen and Klemet Erland Hætta. 
All photos: Liv Inger Somby


Found it here: (And it's all in english) http://www.galdu.org/


Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 14:44

 I think I am getting a little besotted with this site! never mind, I will calm down! anyway, the question made me think of what I have myself. And here's a photo: From left to right: I made the bag, backstrap with cards, something like 30 years ago, but never used. The yellow sami style band was made by my aunt. The other two next to it are her experimental samples. The one above the top is likewise early experimental, trying to learn an odd technique or two in card weaving a couple or so years ago. 

Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 14:51

Great bag! Well now that you have it out it's time to use it! Lucky you to have these sami style bands. The yellow, red and green look fabulous together.

Posted on Wed, 10/14/2009 - 22:55

Last spring I found this back-strap piece at a thrift shop for $1.00!!  It appears to be a child's piece or maybe it belonged to someone who was just learning. There are errors in the weaving  here and there. The piece also is crooked in the loom.  There is a large population of Guatemalan people in this area of Southwest Florida so I am almost positive it is Guatemalan.   I was thrilled to find it. It now hangs in my tiny Florida weaving studio.   The dowels are hand carved. I took photos of the front, back and heddle bar.


Posted on Wed, 10/14/2009 - 23:19

What a nice find, Sharon. That arrow type design is typical of San Antonio Aguas Calientes near Antigua, Guatemala and those blue, brown and beige brick work horizontal stripes are also how they typically divide up their designs. I didn't see anyone weaving those little spots though. They are very attractive. Thanks for posting this here!


Posted on Sat, 10/17/2009 - 00:43

A friend dropped by and gave this to me today-a little gift becuse I helped her with her a passport application. Isn' t it gorgeous! This was not woven on a backstrap loom but on an oblique loom in Candelaria. I think some of you may have seen the video I posted on my Flikr page of the weaver I visited in Candelaria a couple of months ago. This is the kind of weaving they do there for their own use-for coca leaf pouches and skirt trims. The white yarn  is a lot thinner than the acrylic pattern yarn.

The weaver in the video is the cousin of my weaving teacher from 1998. This was one case where I found an excellent weaver who wasn't a good teacher and in the week and a half we spent together, this all we made!

But we did other fun stuff like make bread in the clay oven that you can see in the photo behind the weaving. I did learn the technique but it was slow going and when I got home I was able to use it to make things on my backstrap loom.

If you would like to see the short video segments of a weaver from Candelaria at her loom, they are here...........

www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157622333789842/

She is making a textile for sale to tourists using colors and yarns that are not used for their traditional textiles.


Posted on Sat, 10/17/2009 - 00:49

There was one thing that stood out today as I watched the videos, and that was that the pick-up stick used in indigenous weaving is more like a fine knitting needle than the ruler-sized planks sold here as pick-up sticks! The thin stick is definitely faster and easier to use, particularly in the situation where you have more than a few threads to sort through. I wonder why loom companies insist on making them so unwieldy?

The size of commercial yarns often depends on the dyeing methods used, down to the colour! White yarn is so bleached it is thinner, even though the label says it is the same ply. This is true for knitting wool  as well as acrylic, polyester or nylon.

Posted on Sat, 10/17/2009 - 01:22

That's really interesting! I have noticed that about white yarns before but had no clue why. The white yarn she is using is a totally different yarn though and they do this to make the patterns stand out more from the background.

This is a weaving that I did using the technique I learned in Candelaria but the background and pattern yarns are the same and you can see the differencet.  You don't get that ''laddered'' effect.

The size of the pick up stick varies a lot from place to place too. In Candelaria they use that super thin one. In Potosi they use that bone tool I showed here before and in Ecuador they use a broader stick.

Posted on Sat, 10/17/2009 - 01:44

In the end we all use what is handy. I have always found the big thick plank-style sticks awkward to use. I now use bamboo knitting needles, as they are flexible, but that is out of need and not being able to go out and buy weaving tools, as much as preference.

Each time I go back and view the weaving videos I have seen before I find more and more in them, even if they have been made as tourist videos. There was something on TV last night, people had to guess what it was, and it was a South American corn husk tool - made of bone, and with a loop that went around the thumb, just perfect for picking a small shed! It made the bone an extension of the thumb.

Posted on Sun, 10/18/2009 - 15:07

Thats nice, it looks very silky, or is it just the colours chosen for this particular piece?

And if you think i am burning the midnight oil - I am, hehe! I was weaving and lost track of time. I have started the tapestry beret using sari silks.

Posted on Fri, 10/23/2009 - 16:59

That's a nifty little gadget too. It looks kind of sharp or have you blunted it a bit-looks like it might pirce the yarn sometimes.

Posted on Fri, 10/23/2009 - 18:11

 The tip is blunt. I haven't had any trouble with splitting yarns :) I like it cuz it's narrow and not heavy...I'm prone to tendinitis in my wrists and need to be careful with how much weight I combine with repetitive motion.

Posted on Fri, 10/23/2009 - 19:46

 I've just spotted this! wish I would find items like it in our local charity shops, but then there are not many Guatemalans here in York in the UK! I would most certainly display it, just like you have done. 

Posted on Fri, 10/30/2009 - 02:46

My Op shop find!!

This has been woven with 4 selvedges, and the band made seperately. Please excuse the colours, its worse in real life!!

And here is a close up of the 2 motifs used:

You can just see the selvedge on the right hand side in this photo.

Posted on Fri, 10/30/2009 - 03:03

What a fun find! These things just seem to fall into your hands Caroline! Wouldn't it be great to know the story behind this. A lot of hard work went into that and it ended up in an op shop and now into the hands of someone who really appreciates it.




Posted on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 04:20

Cool find! 

I went to a barter fair today in a backwoods hippie community in California, USA.  This is my old neighborhood, a bi-yearly event.  Today was beautiful and clear weather.  I staked out some pegs in the middle of the meadow, surrounded by a few craft and food booths, and blankets on the ground with peoples trade goods.  I put a warp on the pegs, while kids in costumes sat on the grass and asked me about what I was doing.  A few adults also watched.  i told the kids they could go run around and come back to see how far along I was.  That suited them fine.  I had to find a shady place to sit to make my string heddles.  The kids found me, and were excited to see my progress.  I didn't get to weave on that piece, but the kids loved the demonstration.  A gentleman onlooker, enjoyed the demonstration and presented me with a sweater that I had admired on his blanket.  It is made in Italy, very fine merino and cashmere.  An old sweater, with some shrinkage.  Lovely soft fabric.  Sorry, I'm getting off topic here.

Back on topic, a friend was showing and selling his collection of rugs from around the world.  Some were antiques. There were some great pieces.  I fell in love with a tent band, about six inches wide, and about twenty feet in length.  I didn't even ask where it is from. Somewhere in the middle east.  The colors are rich and the patterns are simple and elegant.  I did not have a camera, but I know where this band lives.  I couldn't afford the price even if it is a good price.  He will let me take a photo, and I can copy the patterns.  I'll post photos when i get them.  i hope he didn't sell it today. 

Posted on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 04:40

I didn't see the link to the OBLIQUE LOOM weaver the last time.

That is amazing what she can do with that frame loom!

I am stunned at the possiblities of such a a loom. And the notes said the weaver was going to make enough cloth for two bags to sell.

OBLIQUE LOOM. That's going on the list of things to do.

Have a good day!

Posted on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 04:41

What a lovely story! It sounds so idyllic sitting under a shady tree and weaving with your backstrap and having the children come along for a peek. That is my idea of a great day out.

There is a member in this group called Virag who will be very very much interested in that tent band. I have learned a little about them from her as she has shared photos with me. She is hoping to weave one herself the traditonal way and is writing a blog about her progress.

So I take you will be returning to the fair tomorrow? Have a wonderful day!

Posted on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 05:41

That sounds wonderful! We don't often get a chance to do that sort of thing here in South Australia. In winter its often too damp and cold and miserable, even if it doesn't rain, and then we suddenly turn into summer. This happened last week when temperatures went from 18 degrees to 34 degrees nearly overnight. Now the sun burns too much and its so dusty you would not want to put textiles outside.

There is a seller on Ebay I have been watching who sometimes has tent bands. His prices aren't too bad, but the older bands are very moth-eaten, and somewhat damaged. I bought a very pretty bag from him that had been "reconstructed" from a rug or bag, and when it was sewn up the warp became the weft. It was brocade on a plainweave ground, and 3 different textiles had been used - very interesting as I far as I was concerned! I am waiting for another bag; this one does look like its a warp weave fabric and may be a bit more "authentic", but its the fabric I like and am interested in. When the bag is pretty its a bonus!  If I have some good sales on Ebay I may treat myself to one of the tent bands...........the colours and patterns are fabulous.

Posted on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 11:38

You are right, it was a lovely day.  But, alas, it was only a one day event.  It is likely to rain today as well.  We were lucky to have such a nice day.  The barter fairs are always on Oct. 31, and May 1.  Both days have a 50/50 chance of rain. 

I used to teach out in that neighborhood.  The teachers bring a batch of kindergarten studenst out to our farm once a year to tour the farm and my mill.  They come during strawberry season, for the obvious reason.  I let the kids pick berries for a few minutes during the tour.  They go crazy in the strawberry field!

Well, yesterdays weaving in the meadow has made me think about teaching a workshop at the school again.  I was the art teacher out there when I lived in the neighborhood.  I once taught a BACKSTRAP weaving workshop with a bunch of 3rd and 4th graders.  I had them bring in old clothes.  It was a long time ago, and I can't remember, but I might have prewarped for them.  They cut their clothes into strips and wove rugs.  They put their favorite old clothes into the rugs, and were very happy about the process.

Funny that I taught that class with very little knowledge about back strap weaving, but it was very successfull.  Now that I have a little knowledge, I'm gonna be dangerous!  :>}. 

BTW, besides the band I warped at the fair, I finished my black and red, photos later, and I wrapped a narrow warp for DOUBLE WEAVE! Unfortunately I have a very busy day today, and may not get to weave at all.

Aunt Janet

Posted on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 11:45

Well, I checked out tent bands on Ebay.  The band I saw yesterday was simpler in design than the ones I saw on Ebay, but it was in very good condition.  He was asking $500, and dropped it down to $400.  I thought that was probably a good price for the band, but alas....I'm saving my money to purchase a felting machine for my mill, and just can't put out any for this band.  The seller will barter, but I just can't think of anything I have that he would want.   He mentioned that that would be a lot of strawberries.  I have a bunch of young hens for sale, but they aren't worth that much.  Oh well, I guess he will probably hold it for a while.  At least I will probably get a chance to take a photo.

Aunt Janet

Posted on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 01:30

The slat type of pickup stick can be turned to hold a shed open so both hands are free, if it's wide enough and not too slippery. Works well when the stick is left in place for a repeating pick-up as in Davenport's Textures and Patterns for the Rigid Heddle Loom. For picking up different sets of warps pick after pick, I'd join you in using a long doublepointed knitting needle.