Medieval Weaving Techniques Brought To Life with Little Looms
My sister is part of a really interesting organization called the Society for Creative Anachronism, an international living history group dedicated to researching and recreating pre-17th-century European history, from textiles to courtly manners to music and beyond. She and her friends dedicate countless hours to preparing for events, where all clothing and equipment must look accurate to the period. That includes lots of sewing, leatherwork, and weaving!
In particular, rigid-heddle weaving and other portable little looms are popular for replicating medieval weaving techniques, including recreations of some of the modern rigid-heddle loom’s ancestors. These include ground and backstrap looms using string heddles, as well as “cheater” looms that use a modern rigid heddle on a ground or backstrap setup. At SCA events, you’ll also see tons of tablet weavers, creating trim for garments and straps for instruments or equipment.
Each SCA member dedicates a substantial amount of time to research, and many are devoted to fiber arts of some stripe or another. One of my sister’s friends discovered a design for a gigantic medieval weaving loom that, instead of using treadles to raise and lower warp threads, was operated by servants tied to harnesses, who ran away from and then back towards the loom in set sequences to raise and lower the threads in more complex patterns. She’s thinking about recreating this loom as part of her research. If she does, I’ll be sure to get you a picture!