A Tutorial on Andean Pebble Weave

My ebook on Andean Pebble Weave is available now on WeaveZine as a downloadable pdf. I have been working for many months on this and it is crammed with step-by-step photos, diagrams and charts on my favorite Andean pick up techniques. It is double faced ad here the indigenous weavers use it to weave both traditional and contemporary designs-geometric figures, animals and human figures on the characeristic spotted background. It is used to adorn carrying cloths, coca bags, belts and ponchos.


The above design is Guarani from the lowlands of Bolivia and I used it to decorate a guitar strap.

It is one of the faster pick up techniques to execute as it uses two sets of string heddles and is partly loom controlled.

I hope you will take a look and consider buying a copy so we can maybe organize a weave along when I get back home.

You can find it here....


Hope you find it useful!! :-)




Posted on Thu, 04/22/2010 - 10:24

 I definitely would like a weave along!  I may have to start early though... :)

I'll be good and wait - I need to weave my backstrap first. Perhaps next week when things slow down.


Posted on Fri, 04/23/2010 - 03:27

By all means go ahead and start and report. If you post pictures as you go you will probably have others join in. Wecan always organize another when I get home. :-)

Posted on Tue, 04/27/2010 - 21:33

After reading your blog I got the backstrap weaving bug, I have always wanted to do weaving but never got to buy a loom. I have read your tutorials and tought that I'll gave them a try after my holidays, but when you published your ebook I bought it and gave it a try! I didn't have access to any yarn. I made the loom with sticks from the countryside (I'm trekking in the Alpujarras, South of Granada) and used Madeira Lana embrodery thread, because I only have this thread around, it measures  only 0.5 cm, it's almost too tiny.  I hope to make a better  pic at dayligth.
Your ebook is awesome, inspiring, clear and easy to follow. I can't wait to try lesson two... I think that I'll do it on a thicker yarn, since tomorrow I'm coming back home, by the way I'm spanish and I would like to know what is the spanish name of this stitch!

Posted on Tue, 04/27/2010 - 22:03

Well I take my hat off to you!! My e-book was not intended as a beginner's introduction to backstrap weaving!! and it makes me so happy that you have bought the book and have jumped right into pebble weave-awesome! It's so cool that you have taken this project trekking. I trekked on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees many years ago.

As for the name in Spanish-as far as I know, a fun name like "pebble" doesn't exist. There would probably be a long technical description of this weave structure in use. I learned this weave in regions where the weavers did not know multiple techniques and, therefore, had no reason to give it a name in order to distinguish it from the other weaves that they knew. This was called simply "dibujo' by my teacher which means simply "picture" or "drawing" which of course you know! This simply distinguished it from plain weave with no figures.There must have been a name for it in quechua too but I never heard it. 

I would like to use your little story and picture on my blog if you would allow me! What are you tying your loom up to? Can we see a picture of your loom too?



Posted on Fri, 04/30/2010 - 16:30

Hi Marta, Littlebird and Laverne,

I would like to be part of a WAL! 

I have been working my slow way through Laverne's monograph and having lots of fun!

I am impressed by Marta's ingenuity.  Creating a loom on the fly and weaving with what is on hand!  The results are very nice!

I am working on lesson 2.  I am very pleased that I finaly managed the heddles.  I am working on a rigid heddle loom which held everything still while I made them. 

I am having trouble keeping my edges even, possibly I just need practice.

I have been using 8/4 cotton carpet warp, but am thinking about purchasing some 3/2 perle cotton.  What are other people weaving with?


Posted on Fri, 04/30/2010 - 17:00


I too am working through the ebook and while it's not easy, I'm so proud of myself when I do something right!  Like you,  I started by attaching the warp to a RH loom - nice to have everything anchored, but hard to adjust the tension for pickup. I am now trying a narrow wrap on a backstrap. I think I have made pretty much all the mistakes possible - including dropping it several times, losing part of the cross, etc, etc. There is a learning curve of not only figuring out the pick up, but of having your body as being part of the loom!

As to yarns, I first used 3/2 perle cotton and while it was too thick for an attractive product, it was easy to handle. My current warp is a 5/2 perle cotton and I think it's a good compromise of looks and ease of use. I would recommend it. I have only used these mercerized cottons as I understand wool can be sticky and add a whole set of different problems.

We would love it if you shared pictures of your efforts! I am hoping that these humble beginnings will lead to beautiful & functional weavings!


Posted on Fri, 04/30/2010 - 20:40

I got some 3/2 pearl to do the samples with and then I figured I'd go back and weave them with 10/2 just for fun.

I had to make a last minute trip to ALbuquerque so I've set up loom in the backyard of my sister's house - until it starts snowing again. :)

Posted on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 00:44

I made the eight hour trip from NC to Maryland today with an inkle loom on my lap weaving Andean pebble weave. I got six key fobs done and am enjoying this loom. I leave the tension a bit looser than one would normally do on this loom and it works well. Will show pics when I can later.


Posted on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 05:08

Laverne -  Great to know the inkle loom is working well! How did you manage to use it while traveling? Isn't the loom a bit big for using in the car/plane? 

Have fun at the fiber festival! 


Posted on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 03:52

I have some 8/2 unmercerized cotton that I really like.  I have used it for card weaving.  It is not as strong as perle cotton, but I think I will try it.

Here is a photo of lesson 1 woven in thet 8/4 cotton carpet warp.

 And here is a photo of a card weaving with carpet warp on the left (pattern from Linda Hendrickson's book) and a plain old zig zag doodle in 8/2 unmercerized cotton on the right.  The one on the right has 30 warps and the one on the left has 50.


I'll try to finish and upload my lesson 2 weaving tomorrow.  I am trying to get straight edges and it is proceeding very slowly!


Posted on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 05:09

 Nice job on lesson 1!  And the card weaving looks interesting. I have never done card weaving  before - is the texture similar to inkle bands?


Posted on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 10:18

Inkle looms come in all sizes. The one I was using is pretty small. I am staying with Mike from Spanish Peacock who has bulit one called a "tinkle" and it is tiny!!

Posted on Thu, 05/06/2010 - 14:31

I just went to the Spanish Peacock's website to check out that "tinkle" loom. How very cute. It looks to be smaller than my Ashford Inklette and wow what a great price.

Posted on Wed, 06/23/2010 - 15:56

your book looks wonderful

and, is available for a very modest price

can you share how sales of the book may compensate your teachers?

Posted on Wed, 06/23/2010 - 18:08

The sales of my book do not compensate my teachers in any way that I know of.  My teachers were compensated for the classes they gave me. The book may, however, bring publicity to my teacher in Huancayo who I know still teaches foreigners. In fact I just heard from a British girl who is cycling from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego who stopped in Huancayo and just happened to have my teacher teach her pebble weave. She has bought my book as she said that she still hasn't figured out how to make the patterns.

Perhaps those who buy the book and learn the technique will have a better appreciation of the time and skill involved in weaving these designs and will be willing to pay more for such textiles when they come across them.

What do you suggest?

Posted on Thu, 07/01/2010 - 15:15

What a wonderful book!  It was exactly what I was hoping to find.  I couldn't make heads or tails of the instructions in Atwater's "Byways" and was growing frustrated trying to find clear instructions.  Your book fits the bill perfectly.  Thank you.

I just finished project #1 and can't wait to start #2. 

I also just downloaded the new appendix.  I will definitely try that on my loom once I finish working through the book.

Laverne, you are an amazing and generous teacher. I saw your incredible weaving first hand in Santa Clara this year.  So beautiful and beautifully done! 

Thank you!  Ruth

Posted on Thu, 07/01/2010 - 17:03

Hi Ruth,

I am so glad you are enjoying it and this gives me the opportunity to mention to everyone that the appendix with intructions for doing pebble weave on a four-shaft loom is now being sent to all those who purchased the original e-monograph and will be included in all future downloads at no extra cost.




Posted on Sun, 07/04/2010 - 21:44

I've got a pebble weave question.  I am trying to weave a pattern from page 62 of your monograph (the one using a 10 revolution warp)...

I have my cross the furthest away from the fell line, then the 4 pattern sheds saved on cords, and then pebble shed 1 and 2.

How do I open the pattern sheds?  There are four different ones and I have labeled them A-D.  "A" is easy to open as it's closest to the pebble sheds and the fell.   But how do I get C open when A and B are blocking it and keeping it from opening?

Also, do I need the cross anymore?

I should tell you I've put this on an full sized inkle loom (not a tiny one)...but that may be influencing this problem.  If you've already written about this, kindly just point me in the right direction!



Posted on Sun, 07/04/2010 - 22:53

Hi Ruth,

This misunderstanding about the saver cord has come up before and it is something that I have clarified in the new edition. You can only use one saver cord . You pick your pattern shed, put in the cord and pass your weft. Then you weave in your pebble shed. When you come to pick the next pattern shed, you remove the saver cord, saving the warps under your fingers, pick and drop the warps you need for your pattern shed, replace the  cord and pass your weft.

The saver cord has the advantage of saving you from having to repick some of the same warps. Imagine you are weaving a triangle with a base of 12 warps which you picked for one pattern shed. In the next pattern shed the triangle reduces to 8 warps. If you use a saver cord, instead of having to pick those 8 warps, all you will have to do is drop 2 warps from either end of the 12 you saved. This saves time. 

The saver cord also helps you read the pattern in relation to what you picked for the last pattern row. It will help you understand how the pairs of warps go moving to form the patterns rather than counting off your pattern chart and counting the warps for every pick up row. If your pattern is moving diagonally to the right, for example, all you will have to do is pick the pair of warps immediately to the right of the pair you last picked which is being saved by your cord. I f you didn't use the cord, you would have to recount all the warps to pick up that pair.

On wider warps with more pairs, the benefit of this will be much more apparent.

The saver cord with  alot of practice, will help you read what is going on in the weaving rather than being dependent on your pattern chart.  With practice, when you are weaving a repeated motif, you will be able to leave the pattern chart and  weave by reading  from your woven motifs rather than from the piece of paper.

As I said, I have, hopefully, clarified this in the new edition of the monograph with the new appendix. I f you want to save multiple sheds as you have done, you woud need to put the warps in string heddles. I don't recommend this BTW. You already have two pebble heddles.   

The cross always stays in there. This is where you do your pick up and keeps the complementary pairs in order.





Posted on Sun, 07/04/2010 - 23:23

Ah Ha!  OK.  That's good to know.  It did seem impossible to open a pattern shed with another one in front of it!  And yes, if one cannot save the pattern sheds, then I understand why one needs the cross!  Thank you! 

I am not sure which edition of the monograph I have.  I just bought it about a week ago, but have not found such an appendix... you  must be referring to a future edition. 

Thank you so much! 


Posted on Mon, 07/05/2010 - 00:23

Ruth, the new edition went up on the WeaveZine site on July 1st. The appendix has instructions for pebble weave on four-shaft looms. I took that opportunity to also make some other minor ammendments including extra text to clarify the function of the saver cord. You shoud have received a mail from WeaveZine giving you al ink from which you could download the new appendix. Check your spam box and if you didn't get it, please contact WeaveZine and tell Syne which email address you used when you downloaded the monograph. She will then make sure that you get it.

I am glad this is clear now :-)




Posted on Mon, 07/12/2010 - 22:35

OK!  I have finished lessons 1-4 and here are my bands!  I combined lessons one and two.  The band I just finished is made with wool, the red is dyed with madder.  I love them.  Next a purse!


Thanks Laverne!


Posted on Mon, 07/12/2010 - 23:04

Great! You swapped colors and did little blocks too. I am glad you are going to try something bigger now like a purse. You can still do a narrow piece of pebble weave on a large background. Warp up the background the same way that you do the borders. That way you can have something large and won't have to do a lot of pick up.

Posted on Tue, 07/13/2010 - 13:42

 I have bought the monograph and have enjoyed experimenting with the backstrap techniques. I am most interested, though, in setting up Andean pebble weave on my full-sized inkle and have a question about that.

I understand that the inkle is used as a frame (without using the inkle's shedding rods), but have you been winding the pebble warp directly on to the inkle? or winding the warp as you would wind a backstrap warp and then placing it on the inkle? 

I just joined this group and I'm so sorry I missed the weave-along. I'm still learning from all of your questions.

Posted on Tue, 07/13/2010 - 13:55

I think the best way to do this on the inkle loom is to stick with narrow bands and warp up as you normally would for an inkle loom. Separate out your two colors into the up and down sheds and then hand pick your sheds for every weft pass. This means you won't have your pebble shed programmed on separate heddles. I did this with a 4 rev band and it worked well.

I later did a 22 rev band with fine yarn and wound a continuous warp on the inkle loom but didn't use the inkle loom's shedding system. Then I just installed the cross sticks and used the two pebble heddles just as I would on the backstrap loom. The pebbles sheds are a little hard to open as you don't have the ability to ease tension on the warp as you do so. You just have to pull up hard on the heddles whike pushing down behind them. It is quite fiddly and won't work if you can't anchor your loom in some way.

SO, I wouldn't recommend using the inkle for anything but realy narrow bands unless you have a lot of patience for pick up. If you have the patience, you can warp up the inkle with its up and down sheds for any number of warps and then hand pick all your pattern and pebble sheds.

Don't worry about having mised the weave along. You are welcome to ask as many questions as you like here. :-)



Posted on Thu, 07/15/2010 - 01:54

 Some advice to those who are thinking about doing Pebble Weave using a 4-shaft loom: 

1) Do it!  It's really fun and easy compared to a backstrap loom (IMHO)

2) Use a yarn with a hard twist. I used Webs 5/2 mercerized cotton which was too soft and there was considerable 'wear" from the heddles. My next project will use Aunt Lydia's crochet cotton (which just happens to be on sale at Joann.com). 

And don't forget to post pictures of your work! :-)


Posted on Thu, 07/15/2010 - 02:41

Thanks Jennifer! That's good timing; I just took a warp of 5/2 off the warping board and am about to put it on my Schacht table loom.

Some questions. What kind of heddles are you using? Do you think that adjusting the level of the heddles in the loom will help with the abrasion? I've got inserted eye ones, and I think I can adjust the height of the harnesses on this loom. But I'm wondering if I should use some of the nice #10 Royale I just got and make another warp instead!


Posted on Thu, 07/15/2010 - 03:14


I was using flat steel heddles, I think someone else used inserted eye heddles and didn't have any problem - I know they are supposed to be "gentler" on yarn. 

Not all 5/2 yards are twisted the same either. I have some Astra that looks a lot tighter than the Webs, but I have not tried it for pebble weave.

After I noticed the wear on the warp threads, I advanced my warp often and tried to reduce the tension a little. I ended up using  the whole warp for my band and in the finished product, I can't tell where the worn part is.

All that to say, try your 5/2 and see how it goes.  I think it'll be easier to learn on than the #10 Royale. That's my strategy anyway!

Looking forward to seeing your project!



Posted on Thu, 07/15/2010 - 19:27

My monograph on Andean Pebble weave is now available in print!!! thanks to my publisher WeaveZine Books.

I will have copies to sell at Convergence at the Weavolution booth and will be doing a signing during the Twilight Madness on Thursday night so please drop by and see me there. I will also have my loom in action and some small weavings of mine to show. It is 75 pages and spiral-bound so you can have it lying flat by you as you weave.

And as a special introductory offer, I am giving one of my backstrap woven pebble weave keyfobs away with each book purchase. They are all different except for one or two so come along and choose the one you like best.

I will also have some of these to sell (but not in the Vendor Hall) so if you see me out and about I would be happy to sell one to you - just choose your favorite colors.