Gear Guide: 10 Tools for Rigid-Heddle Weaving
“Rigid heddle” is a long term for a simple loom. On complex looms, two separate pieces control the spacing and movement of the warp yarns. Rigid-heddle looms have just a few basic parts, making them easy to use.
A shuttle holds the weft yarn as it passes through the warp; it’s part yarn storage and part delivery system. Two common shuttles are a stick shuttle, a simple piece of wood with a notch on each end, and a boat shuttle, which holds a bobbin or quill that feeds out yarn through a slot.
A rigid heddle has slots and holes for the warp to pass through. When the heddle is raised or lowered, some yarns go up and down with it and others stay in place. On a complex loom, the heddles (which move the threads) are separate from the reed (which spaces them out). Dent describes how close the warp threads are to each other when they pass through the reed (expressed in spaces per inch or other unit).
This is what it’s all about! A loom holds the warp in place and under tension, ready for weaving. The area where the heddle rests in the up, down, or neutral position is called the heddle block. Some looms have blocks that can accommodate two heddles, useful for more advanced weaving techniques. Some manufacturers offer add-on kits to hold a second heddle.
4. THREADING HOOK
A tool used to bring the warp from one side of the heddle through the slots or holes to the other side. “Sley” is another word for the verb “thread.” There are special sleying hooks, but some of them don’t fit through the small holes in a rigid heddle. A threading hook will probably come with your loom.
5. WARPING PEG
Many rigid-heddle projects are started by direct warping, or tying the warp yarn directly to the loom and measuring it from there. Measuring the distance from the back of the loom to a fixed peg makes sure that all of the ends are the appropriate length.
NICE TO HAVE:
1. WPI TOOL OR SETT GAUGE
To match your warp yarn with your heddle, it helps to have a handy measuring tool that counts the number of times the yarn fits in a given space.
2. FRINGE TWISTER
You can twist fringe by hand, but for an even and speedy finish, you’ll be glad to have a special tool for the purpose.
3. LOOM STAND
Depending on the size of your loom and your comfort, it may be possible to weave with your loom clamped on a table or resting on a surface, but a specially made holder at the appropriate height can be a huge benefit in your weaving life.
4. BOBBIN WINDER
If you’re ready to try a boat shuttle, a tool that quickly and easily gets yarn onto bobbin or quill is a lifesaver.
5. WARPING BOARD OR FRAME
If you’re working with many colors, need each warp end to be exactly the same length, or don’t have the space to set a warping peg very far from the loom, a warping board or warping frame will let you measure the ends and change colors all at once.
- Ashford Handicrafts, 415 West Street, Ashburton, Mid Canterbury 7700, New Zealand. +64 3-308 9087,
www.ashford.co.nz United States Distributor: Foxglove Fiberarts Supply 8040 NE Day Road W, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110. (206) 780-2747, www.foxglovefiber.com Canadian Distributor: Harmonique Fibre Arts Supply, (250) 294-4411, www.harmonique.ca
- Glimakra USA, 1471 Railroad Boulevard Unit 5, Eugene, OR 97402. (541) 246-8679,
- Kromski North America, 1103 North Main Street, Box 247, Pavo, GA 31778. (229) 859-2001,
- Nancy’s Knit Knacks, 104 Hobblebrook Court, Cary, NC 27518. (800) 731-5648,
- Schacht Spindle Company, 6101 Ben Place, Boulder, CO 80301. www.schachtspindle.com
- The Woolery, 859 East Main St Suite 1A, Frankfort, KY 40601. (800) 441-9665, email@example.com; www.woolery.com