As soon as I had the idea to start Bolé Road Textiles I began taking weaving classes at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn. Learning to weave not only helps me feel more connected to the artisans I work with, it helps me become a better textile designer.
This past weekend I took a backstrap weaving class which I shared on instagram. This ancient form of weaving is the origin for many weaving techniques and has many similarities with Ethiopian weaving. It's much simpler than using a floor loom and it helped me better understand the essentials of the weaving process. It’s just you, some yarn and some sticks.
One commonality backstrap weaving has with weaving in Ethiopia is the simple two-yarn system, since most looms in Ethiopia only have two harnesses. We fashioned our ‘harness’ using a tree branch and some string. I couldn't believe how simple this was.
Also similar to weaving in Ethiopia is the baton (a flat wide stick pictured below) used to open up the shed (separate the yarns) allowing you to insert the shuttle.
Even though backstrap weaving is simple, it's very difficult to master. It's definitely something I'll keep working on this summer.