Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sticks and Straps

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting back into band weaving lately, but I no longer have an inkle loom, the funds to procure one, nor the space to store one.

Fortunately there are backstrap looms. Made from little more than a warp tied between a hip-belt and a stationary point via some cleverly inserted sticks, a backstrap loom can be made from items you may have around the house. (Got an old broomstick you can cut up?) Even if you don’t have the materials on hand, dowels are cheap to buy at the hardware store. A sturdy scarf can serve as your backstrap until you can weave your own. Because there is no frame, your weaving or loom parts can be bundled into a bag or box between sessions, so it takes very little storage space.

It’s been a while since I did anything with a backstrap loom, and then it was for card weaving, so I didn’t use heddles and such. I needed a refresher course.

I found stunningly clear instructions at WeaveZine. Laverne Waddington’s "Backstrap Basics" takes you step by step through the process of assembling, warping, and weaving on a backstrap loom, with beautifully done photos and videos. There are two projects; a simple band to get you familiar with the weaving process, then a strap to replace the pillowcase she recommends using in a pinch. There are links to Laverne’s own blog, where you can learn more advanced weaving techniques, like stripes, warp floats, and supplemental wefts. And look through the comments, too, for a few more tips.

Now, what did I do with that broomstick I stashed away...?

The photo above is used here with kind permission of "Ursula in BKK," from her photoblog of her travels, Weekly Wanders. This photo is from her post about visiting with the women of Taliang, Laos, who have made a cottage industry of their exquisite weaving. It's a wonderful read; go take a look!

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