In addition to the Katu style foot-tensioned weaving, I have recently started another Andean pickup piece.
This is a technique I first tried exactly two years ago, in January of 2011 (right).
The first pickup weaving was an exercise from Laverne Waddington's Andean Pebble Weave book, and I had used her excellent tutorials to learn how to set up a backstrap loom in the first place. Improvising with spools of thread to hold the cross, I made several narrow bands which became bookmarks or keyfobs.
When I became bold enough to go wider, I could weave phone covers, still using charts from Laverne's book.
So far, I was using cotton commercial yarn and following charts, not knowing the names of the designs. But my original introduction to this kind of weaving was still hovering in my mind and in a small unfinished bundle.
In 2010 at the Golden Gate Fiber Institute (GGFI) Summer Intensive Retreat, Abby Franquemont had warped up a spontaneous, late-night warp with 6 pairs of pattern threads, and had begun to teach a traditional weave pattern. It was late and I had to thread a loom for Judith's class the next morning, so I could not spend much time at the moment, but I took home the warp and worked on it once in a while.
Being very small-scale and silk, it was fussy, but I eventually learned that this is a crucial design, with which young Andean weavers begin. It gives them the basic concepts and principles on which their weaving will build. For this reason, I decided I'd better work one that I could finish. The pattern is tanka ch'oro.
On the left is the silk warp Abby made, with my attempts at weaving. On the right is an actual tanka ch'oro jakima (the quechua name for the narrow woven bands) from Chinchero village, Peru, made with handspun yarn. The Chinchero jakima was given to me by Laverne, and is one of my most prized textile possessions.
Over an embarrassingly long period of time, I worked on my own handspun tanka ch'oro, finally completing it in Laos last May.
But meanwhile, I had been working on other pickup bands, expanding my knowledge of the patterns and how they are learned and created. I wove a long strip of maya q'enko, a winding river design, in cotton.
I also learned and practiced the S curve, or kutij, which is in Laverne's lessons. When Abby noticed that I was trying to master designs, she suggested warping 16 pairs of pattern threads and doubling the mayo q'enko or kutij. This set me on a path of exploration that led to understanding what Ed Franquemont meant when he wrote about Andean weaving design as jazz.
So the current weaving is a return to this experiment and ongoing tutorial after a hiatus, this time with handspun yarn.