Many Ways to Weave
27 March 2017
When I have started people weaving on a backstrap looms, I start them with a narrow warp that doesn’t require any sticks. Once they can do plain weave, warp-faced, I show them how to make a pick-up design with paired floats. Laverne Waddington has a good description of this process on her blog. Mostly we use our fingers and maybe a popsicle stick to beat the weft in place. There is just a shed loop and heddles and the pick up is done either with fingers or a large needle. Here in Oaxaca a large needle is a common tool for pick up.
Here in Oaxaca de Juárez, the capital of Oaxaca state, a group meets weekly to weave. This year every one has been working on narrow warps and either plain weave or paired float designs.
This technique is used here in Oaxaca by the indigenous people who live on the northern coast of Oaxaca. Here I have not seen many narrow bands woven in this technique but wider cloths with multiple design bands are common.
We went to the Museo Textil de Oaxaca on Saturday to register for a backstrap weaving brocade class in April given by a woman coming up from Carranza, Chiapas. Bonfilia Bautista Tapia from Pinotepa de Don Luis, was finishing a workshop on this paired float technique and she and her students were weaving away. Here is a picture of her loom:
It is very interesting that she has a second set of heddles and a second shed rod behind the usual ones used to do plain weave. Both of these extra shedding devices deal only with the red warps in the design band; the shed rod has all of the odd numbered pairs over it and the second set of heddles raises the even numbered pairs. Here is a close up so that you can see the pairs of red warps going over the second shed rod and the sparse green string heddles are around the other pairs of red warps within the design band. One usually uses a second weaving sword when using the second set of heddles/rod, but I don’t see one in the photo maybe because she doing plain weave at this moment.
Here on this student loom you can see the second smaller sword. It is right behind the plain weave string heddles. It looks like it still has the warp pairs he picked up to make the bar design he just wove.
All of these lovely woven critters are made on 25 pairs. Here is some more student work with enough detail that you could make the same designs.
And one more photo of a fragment of an interesting critter woven in this technique, the brown is hand spun brown cotton, coyuche, that has been grown here since pre-hispanic times.
And yes, there are 5 pick floats in the bars between designs.
So there you have another way to weave paired float designs using pattern heddles and shed rod. Might be especially useful when doing multiples of the same design.