Sunday, January 8, 2012

Be Careful How to Use Words & Advice, You Might Have to Eat Them!

Rigid Heddle Loom
It was at a craft fair in Woodstock, Vermont during October 2011 where it all happened. The vendor's booth's were filled with many different products and services, from hand weaving to dog grooming. After walking around admiring what the vendors had brought with them, I especially admired the weaving projects that were for sale. I asked the vendors of these products what kind of weaving techniques they used in their weaving. At one booth, I purchased a lovely scarf, woven with chenille. The striking colors in the scarf reminded me of the bold colors red, yellow, and blue that are often used in weaving from Sweden. I was pleased with my purchase. When I arrived home after the long day at the craft fair, I took a close look at myself and wondered if I also should begin to weave scarfs. I was not entirely pleased with my own thoughts, mostly because of being reluctant to put  a long warp on my big loom "just to weave a scarf". That was when the "light bulb" flashed in my head to purchase a "rigid heddle loom".

When I finally tried the scarf, I examined it with care to see how it was woven. I then looked at my large 12 shaft, 160 cm wide, Oxabeck loom from Sweden. This was a loom I purchased to weave projects on for use in the home. Thinking of the larger loom, I knew at that moment that I was going to be pleased with my decision to "purchase a rigid heddle loom". 
Oxabeck loom from Sweden
A few weekends before the fair in Woodstock, two girls and I, both members from Vermont Weaving Guild, held a demonstration in weaving at Sheep & Wool Festival in Turnbridge, Vermont. One of the members had brought her own rigid heddle loom. I  asked her about the loom, and she told me several interesting things when I asked about the loom. What struck me the most was when she told me that there was very little waste of warp when one weaves on a rigid heddle loom. This is especially so when compared to the warp waste when dressing a floor loom. When dressing a floor there is always a larger amount of warp lost, this is what is called in weaving terms, "take up". Usually, 10% extra yarn (sometimes more depending what kind of floor loom being used), has to be counted in the warp. This extra yarn is used to tighten knots to a rod, and to weave a heading before the actually weaving can begin. Measuring the warp for a rigid heddle loom requires 6 inches of yarn on each end, front, and back of the loom for the take up, versus 10% yarn for a large loom as the Oxabeck loom from Sweden. This was the main reason that I purchased a rigid heddle loom, for the weaving of small projects.                                                      

Pick Up Stick on Edge
After the rigid heddle loom arrived from Halcyon Yarn I assembled it, I opened the instruction book that explained the operation of the loom. It was from another book, " by Jane Patrik", is an encyclopedia on weaving for anyone who is serious to learn more about weaving. In addition to a history of weaving, the book contains projects for weaving on a floor loom and the rigid heddle loom, understanding conversion on weaving drafts is made simplier. The book explains how conversion to weave on a rigid heddle loom is done with a pick up stick and how to obtain weaving drafts written for floor loom. More important, the book contains weaving techniques when using a rigid heddle loom. Whatever you choice of loom, or if you are new to weaving, I believe that you will find "The Weaver's Idea Book", by Jane Patrick as interesting, handy and helpful in your weaving adventures.

I have already woven 14 scarfs, with two still  to be completed. A scarf for each now belongs to my two grand-daughters, and one to my daughter-in-law. Each scarf was carefully planned as to the kind of yarn to use, and the weaving technique that would look the best for each of my scarf projects.

I have used various yarns in my projects. This include 100% wool, Baby Alpaca yarn, Angora yarn, silk thread and cotton thread to name just a few.

It has been a fun learning experience. If you haven't already-Try it!

Woven in double windowpane, mock waffle weave.
Scarf  for a doll or cuddly doggy
 Mock Waffle Pattern using two repeat in pattern on a child's loom.

Scarf woven on a rigid heddle loom


I have created a Motto- for weaving," inspiration". Traces of weaving can be found in many civilization. You can find it in ancient Egypt. Since prehistoric times, woven fragments have been found in Necropolis sites from 4200 B.C., and early Islamic 641 A.D. Weaving is no different than any other craft. Ever since weaving has developed it has been studied and improved by the past generations. It my privilege to share my weaving knowledge with you.

Today, videos about weaving contain comments from the presentor encouraging the practice of weaving and the learning new methods, and use of materials from many sources. A sampling of suggestions on weaving have included weaving projects found in books and magazines. All generally are reliable sources for determining what yarns to use and learning new weaving techniques for your future weaving projects.

It would be difficult to weave from a basic draft given in a weaving book without prior experience. The same is true in other crafts, like knitting for instance. A first time knitter should at least have acquired some basic knowledge of knitting skills before attempting a major project. In a weaving project, the hand weaver will have to choose a weaving technique and the tie-up  that goes with the technique,- threading, and the treadling for the chosen weaving technique. I might add that just following the comments I've posted here requires amodest number of basic weaving skills.

A tie up can be changed from an original draft in a certain weaving technique, as well as the threading to obtain a different look, this can be time consuming and a good idea is to use a weaving program  to be able to view what the new tie up and threading would look like in a weaving project. Even a tapestry loom has its own history. A loom of this kind is where the first weaving began. The warp threads on a tapestry loom are picked up and manipulated by hand, or a pick-up stick.

One of my favourite weaving techniques is to weave rose-path. Rose-path has many possibility in the  ways to explore how to obtain many variations of patterns by using many different colors that interchange with each other. For example, the treadling is almost countless depending on how many shafts are being used in weaving project or when using the one treadle opposite another versus when weaving rose-path with one plain weave in between each pattern. I prefer to use pattern and treadling that is already developed, but also by using my own variations in treadling.

Most weaving books from Sweden use rose-path in their weaving projects. These are the wonderful traditional rose-path patterns that originated in our past generations and will surerly  be woven for many generations to come. And, these traditions are why I try to be careful to only give advice to those that wish to design their own patterns and not use the patterns of others.

Be careful how to use words & advice, you might have to eat them!

Lastly, I highly recommend the rigid heddle loom, a loom with versatility, easy to weave on, and to try out a new pick up lace weave, or a double pick up weave. A wonderful loom to weave sampler, and try out new yarns to find out how the yarn behave, before starting the new weaving project to be woven on a floor loom, or a rigid heddle loom.
The rigid heddle loom would make a wonderful gift for someone, or for the whole family on those cold and rainy days when not knowing what to do, it is an easy loom to learn on, and there is always information on were to begin a first weaving class, try to look up a Weavers Guild in your own community.

                                            Happy Weaving
                                       Margaretha Fletcher

scarf woven on rigid heddle loom.

Scarf woven in Rose-path on a small floor loom.




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