From Rigid Heddle To Multi-Shaft

Handwoven MagazineAsk Madelyn

Dear Madelyn,


I just bought a kit from my local yarn (knitting) store for weaving two scarves. The directions are for weaving on a rigid-heddle loom—how do I change them so I can weave the scarves on my regular 4-shaft floor loom? They say to use a 10-dent heddle and warp in 30 slots of the reed. How many warp threads per inch would that be? This must be so easy, I just can't see it! I am so excited to have a local shop to get ideas from and lovely yarn I can touch before weaving!




Hi Janet!


It is easy to translate a rigid-heddle project into one for a shaft loom unless it requires some kind of pick-up technique worked behind the heddles (rigid-heddle pick-up pattern techniques can sometimes also be translated, but doing so is trickier and might need more shafts than you have). 


We’ll assume your project is plain weave. If the project calls for a 10-dent rigid heddle, that means (unless the instructions say otherwise), that there are 10 ends (warp threads) per inch. I’m going to assume that if the project requires 30 slots, they are assuming you will use a method by which you warp 2 ends in each slot and then put one of each pair in an adjacent hole. The warp width for 30 slots would be 6" (there are 5 slot/hole pairs in each inch of a 10-dent rigid heddle). For a 6” wide warp at 10 ends per inch, you will need 60 ends.


You’ll sley a 10-dent reed 1/dent, centering for 6”. Since you have four shafts, you’ll thread them 1-2-3-4 and then weave plain weave by raising first shafts 1-3 alternating with shafts 2-4. If you had more than four shafts, you could thread a straight draw on however many you have (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, for example, and weave plain weave by alternating odd and even shafts) or you could use only the first four shafts. It is usually better to spread warp threads to four shafts for plain weave if you have them rather than crowd them onto only two.



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