Rough Road on the path to backstrap weaving

30 December 2014


Well today I added to the zoo, 3 eagles 2 of which looks like candidates for the raptor center with their deformed wings. And yesterday I got a stretcher for this warp and the width has stabilized.
But I am struggling here. Over the weekend I had woven enough on both backstrap looms that I could only reach the fell line for short periods of time (holding my arms up in an awkward position) and was struggling to see through the proper part of my glasses. I needed to advance the warp.
I have seen people do this casually, with out even thinking about it. I have never succeeded in doing it. I tried over the weekend with stick shuttles I had with me but it didn’t work. No worries, I was scheduled to go back to Eufrosina’s studio on Monday, she would show me how.

So Monday at her studio, I showed her both looms and told her my problem. She said that they had never expected me to get that far so hadn’t given me the second beam needed to roll up the cloth. What a relief, it wasn’t me but the lack of equipment!

Second beams were found or made for both looms and she was weaving on my loom showing me some things– cutting off tails of brocade weft, loops, etc. The I took over the loom and we couldn’t get the woven cloth to stay rolled up. We both struggled; I don’t understand how it is supposed to work, and she couldn’t understand why I was having trouble, I don’t think it has been a problem with any of her previous students. It seems simple for her and thousands of others using backstrap looms. Both of us scratching our heads. We finally sort of got it to stay, but it just couldn’t unroll any more because it was up against my big belly. Anyhow we had a good class and a talk about natural dyes.

Today I wake up excited to do the eagles she showed me yesterday. Do you think I can get the cloth to stay rolled up, NO! I’m almost in tears at the frustration and try, try, try again and I sort of get it to stay. I don’t know how. I weave the body and wings than take a break for lunch. Again I can’t get it to stay rolled up. I change the one rope on the backstrap to smaller ones so that they fit in the groove better. I get it tentatively tensioned with the cloth rolled , start to weave and and the fire crackers make me jump and the cloth unrolls one notch. The afternoon is filled with jolts – some from fire crackers some from the beam suddenly unwinding one notch. I was just exhausted by 4PM.

I don’t know it this is just learning to hold your body right so the beams don’t flip around, that is unwind, or if something is not right. Is my body so much wider than hers that the angle to hold the beams doesn’t work? The cloth strips on the backstrap she made for me don’t fit well into the grooves on the beams, should I look for different rope?

I will spend a bit of time looking for some answers tonight. And try again tomorrow, if the answer is that it just takes practice , the more I try the sooner it will be second nature. It couldn’t hurt to crochet (using what I have here) some thinner ropes tonight, eh?


2 Responses to “Rough Road on the path to backstrap weaving”

  1. Lauraine Says:

    It looks GREAT! You have such patience to bravely take this on… pretty impressive


  2. Sandy Says:

    It will not defeat you, I am sure of that. You are learning so much and you said the magic word that perked my ears, dye. Oh, oh!


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