Backstrap Loom

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on Jun 17, 2008 3:09 PM

I've brought out my backstrap loom for a demo (in Sept). 

I'm a bit fuzzy on warping. Ok, a lot fuzzy. It's been quite a few years. I don't remember using a warping board.

Am I deluding myself? This doesn't need to be "authentic."

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Liz Gipson wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 2:04 PM

Ah, backstrap weaving, something that is on my to-do list.  I think the traditional method is to wind the warp between the front and back rod with a cross in the middle or toward the back. You then tie one rod to a tree or post and the other to yourself. While sitting you insert the shed stick or roll behind the cross and the beater in the front. You then have to tie up a heddle rod, looping it around every other thread for plain weave. The shed stick sits behind the cross. I think I've already used too many words that sound like gobbledy gook, if you are new to backstrap weaving. 

  

I dug around a bit to see if I could refer to you to a good resource. Interweave is disturbing book called Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands that has a few photos of how backstrap looms are set up, and while there is no step-by-step information on warping there sure is a lot of eye candy!  I went into the Interweave library--a treat unto itself--and dug around for a book to refer you to and came up empty handed (and fell off a chair while reaching for a prospect on the top shelf; shame on me, I'm a safety monitor).  I do know that Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing by Rachel Brown has a chapter on backstrap weaving, but our copy has wandered off somewhere so I couldn’t look at it to tell you if my description is apt. I bet you could find it at the local library. 

 

Here is a You Tube video that shows a weaver on a backstrap using a rigid heddle for the shed stick:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbzUdaMjtws. It at least gives you an idea of the goal. I’ve been keeping my eye on Travis Meinlof, a clever fellow in San Francisco. He has designed a cardboard backstrap loom and has posted photos to Flicker with a sort of step-by-step on how he warps it: http://flickr.com/photos/mrtatiana/sets/72157604206361659/

 

Me thinks it might be time for an article on backstrap weaving!

 

 

 Liz Gipson

Managing Editor, Handwoven

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on Jun 23, 2008 8:32 AM

I really liked the flickr.com slide show. I felt the dust sift off and memory returning! The youtube video was nice, but not as helpful in terms of setting up. It was refreshing for the weaving.

I do have the Rachel Brown book. I brought it out of storage. I remember being able to do just about anything a multi-harness loom could do; just not as fast.

Thanks

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on Aug 18, 2008 3:25 PM

I have success!

I did modify warping and dressing a bit; no warping board.  Everything looks good.


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Liz Gipson wrote
on Aug 27, 2008 1:37 PM

Let us know how the project turns out.  We are casting about for a bit of backstrap content.

 Liz Gipson

Managing Editor, Handwoven

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JE Martin wrote
on Sep 6, 2008 7:56 AM

 This does sound interesting for me, although I doubt I'll get to backstrap weaving in this life time. Does this site have an area to post photos of how Denise looks in her "loom"? And how her weaving goes?

 

Happy Weaving to All! - Joan in Jamestown

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Posts 84
on Mar 25, 2009 2:07 PM

I've discovered that I can't sit for very long at my backstrap before my lower extremedies start to violently complain.

Most places that I demonstrate don't have a good place for me to set up. I end up sitting on the floor strapped to a railing or doorknob.

All it takes is for someone to touch my warp and everything pops apart.

Anyone have any options to solutions to throw out?

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HelenS wrote
on Mar 26, 2009 1:09 PM

 

I live in Guatemala, where this is a traditional art.  Women here attach the end of their looms to something much higher than a doorknob - like a cieling beam - and sit on the floor to work.  I think the angle at which you are working might not be right.  It is pretty steep here, nowhere near horizontal.  When I learned, I sat in a chair but the work was tied to hooks several feet high up on the wall (the shop where I learned, along with many Mayan homes, has a number of hooks installed for this purpose).

If you have the option to work outside near a tree, you can tie your loom to that.  Many women here weave that way too.  If you are not used to sitting on the floor it may be uncomfortable for you!  Women here sit on their heels with their knees bent and lower legs under the thighs, but I can't sit for long that way.  Of course, they sit that way all their lives, so I'm sure they are adapted.

Good luck!

 

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HelenS wrote
on Mar 26, 2009 1:11 PM

One more thing:  do you have the strap right at your waist?  Women here keep it  a bit lower, around the hips.  Having it angled up at the waist can make the strap dig in uncomfortably.

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Liz Gipson wrote
on Mar 26, 2009 2:25 PM

The strap goes around your hips, much easier on the body.  You might be interested in checking out Synergo Arts website.

 Liz Gipson

Managing Editor, Handwoven

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Laverne wrote
on Apr 5, 2009 8:41 AM

Hi, I just this minute signed up for this forum and I am very excited to find people interested in backstrap weaving and am aching to help out. I have been backstrap weaving for the last 12 years and have lived in South America for 15 years. I am now in Santa Cruz, Bolivia where I teach English in a bi-national school-American/Bolivian although I am, in fact, Australian. I use all my free time to backstrap weave. I sit on cushions on the floor of my bedroom and tie up to my bed. There I can happily weave for hours with my legs stetched out in front of me. I have learned 8 different techniques with the Quechua people of highland Peru and Bolivia, the Guarani people of lowland Bolivia, the Salasacas of highland Ecuador, the cotton saddlebag weavers of coastal Ecuador and the K'achikel speaking people of Guatemala. My many weaving teachers also taught me to spin llama fiber and cotton. In May I hope to spend time in the Mapuche communities in Chile. I have recorded all my experiences with photos, diagrams and explanantions in several notebooks. I would love to help out if anyone has any questions or if, indeed, you need information for an article. I am not a current subscriber to your publications so I don't know if, in fact, you have already written an article. I suscribed years ago to Handwoven and Spin Off as well as to a handcrafts mag-the name escapes me now. I was also lucky enough to be able to visit your library in Loveland-what a treat that was-way back in 1996. I am new to this blogging scene. Am I able to post photos? Regards, Laverne Waddington

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Liz Gipson wrote
on Apr 5, 2009 11:54 AM

Welcome to our forums.  We don't have a way to post photos here yet.  I'd love to see your work.  You can e-mail photos directly to me at lizg@interwave.com.

 Liz Gipson

Managing Editor, Handwoven

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JE Martin wrote
on Apr 16, 2009 7:33 AM

 Wow - you sound like you have enough information for a book! I hope Handwoven looks into at least an article. I would love to see your technique and the variety of styles you listed. Pictures would be welcome for everyone.

 

Happy Weaving to All! - Joan in Jamestown

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Laverne wrote
on Jul 29, 2009 10:44 AM

Well it's been a loooong time....I just popped in to share a link to my Flikr page which I have been uploading over the last few weeks if any one woud like to see some of the techniques I have learned here in South America, my projects and my teachers. There are also some instructional photos there which I have quickly snapped in response to questions from online groups. 

This is what I am working on at the moment......and here is the link.....

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39560980@N05/sets/72157620033311308/:550:0

Laverne

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 50 Contributor
Posts 84
on Jul 29, 2009 6:19 PM

Laverne,

I haven't got to my backstrap loom lately, but I did get a blue ribbon (1st place) on my rigid heddle weaving at State Fair. I worked on color combinations and getting those selvages even.

My father is helping me on trimming up the wood for the backstrap loom parts. He should be done soon. I'll prod again.

Denise

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