E-Textile Alpaca Weaving by Hortensia


In this project, I am trying to explore electronic textiles with alpaca fibre through weaving. From the class resources provided to us, I am interested in creating a textile circuit board, which for me is a to do task, I will try to do on coming project. In this assignment, I will present an e-textile prototype that I weaved with a little embroidery on top.


Parts & Materials List

Three sets of fairy LED lights
Ten yellow LED lights
Silicone Wiring
Arduino Nano 33 iot
Jumper wires with alligator clips on one side

Circuit diagram



See here

Prototype Development

Below the sketch of the weaving sample.


I did a loose simple weaving using two alpaca color wool: beige and light gray, I used a broken branch as a “loom”.


I embroidered a flower button in yellow and for the receptacle I used Peruvian natural cotton. I tried to find some nice colour combinations.


Below it is the final piece, the idea was to try to see how to create an e-textile using alpaca. I do not want lights compete with the weave, my goal is to enhance the beauty of the weave with the light. Later I could use this approach and weave lights in an outfit, like an alpaca poncho for example.


I used three set of white fairy lights and weaved them with the wool, I did this because the fairy light cord colour matched the alpaca wool color, light gray, in colour and size.

Small LED’s did not compete with the weave on the flower button and the tone of the yellow LED lights matched quite nicely. I would have preferred using Lilypad LED’s, because they are sewable and easier to use, but I did not like the look, they covered the embroidered part that I wanted to show. The option was to use simple LED lights, that fitted inside the embroidered flower button that matched the textile texture. When weaving the fairy light sets, I left the flower lights on before removing the batteries, that helped me guide the distance between lights (see below).



There are two fade effects, one going from high to low and the other from low to high. Two sets of fairy LED lights have one effect and the other the reverse effect.



Each led light on the button flower has an individual connection positive and negative because I wanted to turn them on and off in a sequence, as you could appreciate on the picture below and the YouTube video.




I am happy with the e-textile outcome. It would be interesting to try it on an outfit like a poncho or cape. Although I did not try on alpaca fabric, I think this type of lights will work well too.

My reflection about this project are, I found I need to improve how to connect the LED lights to the circuit. It was a little hard to connect the ten LED lights individually to the circuit, in a small space like the button flower. My idea is to use a printed circuit using conductive paint on a piece of neoprene, having the lights installed before the whole piece is sewed behind the back of the flower, having LED lights legs long enough so they can go through small holes in the weave.

Incorporating fairy lights into the weave went smoothly. Additionally, the color of the string matched the colour of the weave, light gray, and the size and colour of the lights was a good complement to the weave piece.




It was interesting to get started with e-textiles. I feel I still have a lot to learn and this is a field I would like to explore. I watched the links and resources provided to us in the course web site, the ones that called my attention were the E-Textile specifically the “Experimental Weaving” at the Unstable Design Lab, University of Colorado. I also liked the “Handwoven White Led Display and Hand Embroidered” at Studio subTela and the “Dear Data Project”.

I enjoyed the key speaker Laura Devendorf at the Symposium for Computational Fabrication 2019 (“Fabricating (Smart) Textiles – Computational Design, Craft, and Radical Possibility”). It was very inspiring to me. She uses design as a mean to critique design and does research on how technology shapes relationship to the world around us, more specifically how fabrication shapes our relationship with material. Super interesting.


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