Thursday, 1 October 2015

Peruvian band weaving

I am often asked when I became interested in band weaving.  In 2007, we had a wonderful holiday in South America and visited Peru.  I found the Centre for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. This wonderful shop and museum was inspirational.
I had tried band weaving before but had been very unsuccessful.  I always show my very first attempt at band weaving when I am teaching workshops. It is a very uneven scrappy piece.  It has 17 pattern threads and is made of linen. I found it so hard that I gave up trying to learn band weaving.

After seeing the lovely work of the weavers, I decided to try band weaving again once I arrived home. Band weaving is an absorbing hobby.  The patterns seem infinite in variety.

Peruvian Woven Bands.

Here are a selection of bands that I bought in Peru. The bands that I bought in the Centre for Traditional Textiles had a card with the name of the weaver.  How wonderful!  So often weavers are anonymous and yet they are skilled artists.

This is a small back strap with the warp and some of the completed weaving.  It makes a pretty wall hanging.

A close up of the pattern.
Here are some more bands which are called chumpi.

close up of one of the motifs

The front and back are shown for these two bands.
Two beaded hat bands known as jokimas

by Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez
This book is published by Interweave Press and has lots of illustrations of the weaving of the highland people.  ISBN -13:978-1-59668-055-5   published 2007

These bands were a revelation for me.  I was intrigued by their complexity and wonderful  use of colour. I had forgotten that it was only nine years ago that I really began to study band weaving.  It feels as though I have been doing it as long as I have been weaving.

When I started to learn, most of the patterns that I found were from Scandinavia.  I had to find out more about them so we visited Sweden to explore museums and collections.  I had not realised that this was only the start of a long journey of discovery.

Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

I was reminded of my holiday in South America recently when I visited the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.  In the museum shop traditional Peruvian bands were on sale.  I bought two because I thought that the colour combinations were particularly attractive.

Two Peruvian bands
The blue band has a simple pattern.  The weft is double thickness. The picture shows the back and front of the band.

Close up of blue band

The white band is an unusual asymmetrical design.

I have made a graph of the pattern for the blue band.  There are nine colours for the centre pattern on a border of blue.

Pattern Draft.

The 15 coloured pattern threads float over two picks.  The weft is a double thread of the blue background. There are 14 picks for the pattern repeat. There are no background threads behind the pattern threads. All the warp ends are the same thickness.

Here is the warp sequence.  There are 27 warp ends in total.

6 blue, 2 dark green, 2 medium green, 2 pale green, 1 yellow, 1 white, 2 pink, 2 medium pink, 2 red, 1 burgundy, 6 blue.

Thread the warp ends alternately through a hole and a slot in a standard heddle.
The 6 blue threads on either side weave as warp faced plain weave.  The central pattern area is not pulled together as much as the blue selvedges.

I tried weaving with a single strand of the blue but the pattern becomes more compressed.  Using a double thread for the weft makes the pattern elongated and nearer to the original. I had to devise my own way of weaving which took a little time.  There may be a more efficient way of selecting the pattern threads but I will have to experiment with different methods to see which is best.

I have not yet made a graph for the white band.  There are fewer pattern threads so the weaving should be more straightforward.

Here is my attempt at weaving this pattern. The colours of the wool are not identical to the original Peruvian band.  I tried using a single weft yarn but the pattern did not elongate which is a feature of the Peruvian band.  A double weft is much better although the selvedges are not as neat as I would have liked.  I will need to practise with this technique.

This lovely heddle comes from Sweden, Vavkompaniet in Boras.

Susan J Foulkes  October 2015


  1. Your work and enthusiastic studies are so inspirational. Are you familiar with Laverne Waddington? She has a gorgeous weaving blog as well, and teaches Andean pebble weave.

    1. Hi Sue
      I had the privilege of attending one of Laverne Waddingtons workshop at the Braid Society International Conference in Manchester. She is an incredible teacher. I love her blog.
      Susan J Foulkes


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