I learned to weave on a table loom, and then a floor loom. But people were weaving long before there were such things. Until I went to Guatemala in 2007, I had only a sketchy idea of how they did this. There I saw women in remote villages with few modern conveniences weaving incredibly beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces with only a few sticks held together with strings—a backstrap loom!
Intrigued by their intricate designs, I have been in pursuit of the techniques that they use. I have found sources that have led me to experiment with their patterns on a floor loom. But finally I have progressed backwards and discovered the backstrap loom.
At this point I need to give credit to Laverne Waddington, currently from Bolivia, who has finally revealed the many nuances that this simple, incredible, device has to offer. She has provided a link, electronically, to the wisdom of the people—past and present—who create beauty from what they have in hand and what they have learned from the ancestors.
All of this leads up to my first backstrap project. A broken broom handle and a few dowels (along with Laverne’s excellent tutorials and ebook) helped me put together a backstrap loom. I have just made a simple band in Peruvian pebble weave. I have learned a lot. I am using an old pillowcase as my backstrap, but my next project will be to weave a backstrap to replace this make-do backstrap on, what else? My backstrap loom, of course!