Andean Backstrap Weaving Class

 The Andean Backstrap Weaving Class with Abby Franquemont at The Spinning Loft in Howell, MI was fantastic!  You will have to wait a few days for photos from me.  Beth was taking photos though.  I will let you know when she posts them on her blog.

We learned history, we learned culture, we learned how to learn backstrap weaving, we learned backstrap weaving, we learned and learned and learned.  Abby is a master teacher and a master weaver!

Our loom is simplicity and functionality at its best - just yarn and two sticks, but the items it can produce are intricate and beautiful.  The items Abby brought to share with us and her own weaving are incredible.  The rest of us . . . need to practice :)

This weekend we worked on narrow bands as we learned the mechanics of the loom and some of the very simplest Andean patterns.  When we practice enough to master those skills, we will be ready to progress to wider pieces.

Backstrap weaving is strenuous! I am not used to sitting on the floor for two and a half days, using my body to tension my loom, but I enjoyed every minute of it.  I am glad the hotel I was staying in had a hot tub!

More soon!


Posted on Mon, 07/20/2009 - 02:42

Thanks Kath,

Dying to see pictures. I am so used to weaving on my backstrap loom now that I don't feel a thing-I am sure it keeps my stomach flat! You'll get used to it too. How many people were in your group?


Posted on Mon, 07/20/2009 - 12:03

hi Kath, what a fantastic opportunity! Please take mercy on those of us who couldn't get there, and pass on some of what you have learned, when you have properly processed it all of course, lol!

Can you tell how envious I am?

Posted on Tue, 07/21/2009 - 02:30

 Here are the photos Beth took at our class over the weekend.  Scroll down a bit in this entry.  

I started going back over the information today.  I want to practice more on each of the patterns we worked on in class.  I also want to set up another loom (wind the warp and tie the heddles) while it is still fresh in my mind.  More soon!  

Posted on Tue, 07/21/2009 - 03:40

Hi Kath,

Thanks. I actually had a sneak preview over at ravelry!. I can't believe how much you all got done in such a short time. You definitely should warp and tie the heddles as soon as possible to consolidate it all and WRITE IT ALL DOWN too-it's amazing the really important details that one just forgets sometimes. How are the aches-getting used to it now?


Posted on Tue, 07/21/2009 - 08:12

I think my skin is bright green! Lucky, lucky girl!

 You improved soooo quickly and that is impressive!

Look forward to hearing more about this!

Posted on Thu, 07/23/2009 - 15:29

 I am practicing a bit each day!  An hour or two at the loom in one stretch is much easier on my body than all day. Thanks for asking, Laverne!

I am comfortable with the patterns we did in class and can work them from memory/reading what I have already woven. My concentration now is on even tension and selvedges.  Practice, practice, practice! 

I have started spinning (on a drop spindle) alpaca for a backstrap project.  I am not sure what the item will be, and I do not want to start it until I have improved the tension issues!

This should improve my spindle-spinning skills too (I am much more comfortable at the wheel). The yarns used in the items Abby brought to show us were v-e-r-y tightly spun.  She said you could be out in the rain for three or four hours in a manta and not get wet through.  The highly twisted yarn makes the garment almost waterproof!  

I have cocoa brown, almost black and cream fiber.  I will probably dye some of the cream with my natural dyes.  I learned that the Andean weavers dye the yarn as a single.  We hypothesized that that was because yarn is easier to dye yarn than fiber, and, with the tight twist, it would be hard to get the dye to permeate the plied yarn.  The yarns we saw in the samples were two ply.


Posted on Thu, 07/23/2009 - 16:54

Hi Kath,

Good work learning to weave the designs rom memory-the temptation is to use charts and then you become a slave to them.

I have woven with my own handspun llama fiber. I have bags and bags of the stuff that I bought here in Bolivia and I spin it on a drop spindle. It took me a while to get the courage to try to weave with it but in the end I did and also dyed it with coca leaves, cochineal, tea, spearmint and some local seeds called achote. Yes you have to spin super hard. I dyed with my plied yarn and all the colors took well except the cochineal where you can see stray white fibers. I put up a project here with my vegetal dyed's the link....

The hard spin and the SOLID beating do make things virtually waterproof.

you will find weaving with your own handspun very different-more effort to open the sheds  and more warp breakages but worth it!