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.

MUST-HAVES:

1. SHUTTLE

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.

Shuttles

Left: Glimakra Classic Shuttle and Quill. Right: Kromski Stick Shuttle. Photos by George Boe.

2. HEDDLE

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).

weaving tools

Left: Kromski 5-dent heddle for 8″ Harp Loom. Right: Schacht Variable Dent Reed for Cricket or Flip.

3. LOOM

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.

Ashford SampleIt Loom

Ashford SampleIt Loom

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.

Weaving Tools


Top: Kromski Threading Hook. Bottom: Glimakra Cord Threader

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.

rigid-heddle: Schacht Cricket Warping Peg

Schacht Cricket Warping Peg

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.

rigid-heddle: Nancy’s Knit Knacks Wraps Per Inch Tool

Nancy’s Knit Knacks Wraps Per Inch Tool

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.

rigid-heddle: Fringe Twisters by Jim Hokett, available from The Woolery

Fringe Twisters by Jim Hokett, available from The Woolery

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.

rigid-heddle: Kromski Harp Floor Stand

Kromski Harp Floor Stand

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.

rigid-heddle: Glimakra Bobbin Winder and Schacht 4" Plastic Bobbin

Glimakra Bobbin Winder and Schacht 4″ Plastic Bobbin

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 Small Warping Frame

Ashford Small Warping Frame

MANUFACTURER CONTACTS:


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