Ask Madelyn: From Rigid-heddle to Floor Loom

I am interested in making the Travel Shawl on page 32 of the May/June 2018 issue of Handwoven. Is there a way to convert the rigid-heddle draft for use on a 4- shaft table or floor loom?

Thank you,

Travel Shawl Kit

A shawl light enough to take to the beach but large enough to ward off the chill. Photo: George Boe

Hi Marilyn!

In reading your question, I’m thinking that a very good suggestion for Handwoven would be to give shaft-loom instructions whenever possible for all rigid-heddle projects. The only time when it might not be possible is when pick-up is being used for the rigid-heddle project, which is often done by inserting pattern sticks behind the heddle. The slots in a rigid-heddle loom make some pick-up techniques possible on it that can’t be done on a shaft loom.

However, whenever the structure is plain weave, you can use any of the magazine’s rigid-heddle instructions for a shaft loom. In the case of the Travel Shawl, the structure is plain weave. The fabric is woven in three different panels that are sewn together. One warp color order is used for the center panel and a different warp color order for the two side panels. The weaving width of each of the three panels is 9-3/5″. Therefore the width of the entire shawl is 28-4/5″. If your loom is wide enough, you can weave the shawl in a single panel (wind the warp in the order of: first side panel, center panel, second side panel). The sett is 10 epi, so sley 1/dent in a 10-dent reed and thread for plain weave (usually 1-2-3-4 on a shaft loom). Weave raising shafts 1-3 vs 2-4. Note that in general, rigid-heddle looms allow less loom waste than shaft looms. This rigid-heddle project calls for 18″ loom waste; I’d add 12″ to that amount.


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