For the past week or so, I’ve been working with my rigid heddle looms (pin looms too, never fear). For a couple of years they’ve all been occupied with different projects that I couldn’t get myself to finish up.
Their time has come though. First to go was a project very near completion.
If you look at the two ends of this scarf (though I think of it more as a narrowish shawl) you’ll see they don’t match (aside from the crinkly fringes). I ran out of room to complete the pattern one last time; couldn’t decide what to do about it, so that’s why I stopped. And maybe another reason I didn’t want to finish is because of the stitching I have to do to secure the edge of the cloth—it’s hard to remember how to do it (but this time I drew a diagram for myself), and takes a while to accomplish. Nevertheless, I persevered and now have one of my looms re-available for use.
You know, the hardest part of this outfit was trying to decided how to construct it. It was originally going to be a lot different from how it ended up. I’m not sure when or how I decided to use the off-white cotton blend for the sleeves and shoulders, but I eventually decided I’d like to weave her an off-white skirt.
Some people think it’s faster to weave certain things on a rigid heddle loom than on a large pin loom. I’m not sure I agree with them—but this lack of concurrence is based on the entire work required to complete the object. Rigid heddle weaving requires finishing pin loom squares don’t need.
Nevertheless I decided to give RH a shot. Here’s what I’ve learned about RHW—it takes longer than PLW, especially when using finer yarn. However, the finer yarn is a plus for doll clothes if you want them to drape nicely.
Second RH loom—this one got warped up in April 2015 in a hotel room in Loveland, CO for a class I was taking at Yarn Fest. In the class we learned pick-up stick weaving techniques. Though I liked the class and the teacher I think I was too blown away by the wearisome travel, lack of sleep, excitement, tiredness, etc. (fatigue played a huge part in my experience) to fully enjoy the experience. So, with regards to that loom I’ve been going through a mild case of PTSD. It was all warped up with yarn for practicing pick-up stick techniques, yet I couldn’t bring myself to practice them. There was a lot of warp on it too, so I also couldn’t bring myself to remove it.
Just so happens the warp was off-white. So I switched from pick-up tricks to plain weave. I used leftover warp for the weft and kept fingers crossed I’d have enough of both to make a skirt. I did. In fact, I ran out of weft but there’s still a lot of warp left. Another conundrum—what yarn to use up the warp?
Up till the time I took that class, I had only made projects on the RH loom. I’d never just practiced weaving on it. So, that’s what I’ve been doing. It started with the fabric for the doll skirt, but now I’m using an even thinner weft yarn and honing my weaving skills. It’s quite different weaving with thin yarn. My prior RH projects had all used the same yarn weight I use on the pin loom.
I’ve been reading Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom by Syne Mitchell because I want to learn to use two heddles on my loom. In fact, I actually want to learn to use three, but thought two was a good stepping stone. (If three-heddle weaving is something you’re interested in, check out this book and this group on Facebook. And stay tuned here because I think I’ll chronicle my journey.)
In Syne’s book I’m learning about selvages. I’m not sure I’ve been weaving them correctly. I thought everything on the fabric from left to right should be equally distributed across the cloth, but I think she’s saying the selvages should look more like they do on “real” fabric—a bit pinched in. So, now I’m working on snugging them in without distorting the vertical line on the outside edge.
The whole reason I started this post though, was to show my little trick of using leg weights to hold the loom on the table top while I weave. I get so tired of sitting down all the time. The other bonus here is that I’m working on my cutting table, so my large cutting mat is under the loom. The straight lines on the mat help me keep my fell line horizontal.
And that is today’s weaving tip.