Rigid-Heddle Musings

Christina's first not-quite-perfect, but much loved,  rigid-heddle scarf

Christina’s first not-quite-perfect, but much loved,
rigid-heddle scarf

Not too long ago I taught a friend of mine to weave on a rigid-heddle loom. She was interested in learning to weave, and my little loom was perfect: it was a simple introduction to the basics (over-under-over-under and the like), I could give her bag of skeins of knitting and fashion yarns to practice with, and she could easily schlep it from her home to mine and back again. She was delighted to get to have her own loom for a while, and I always enjoy spreading the love of weaving to whoever wants to learn.

Every time I break out the rigidi-heddle loom I’m re-reminded of exactly how versatile it is, and not just because it’s so portable. It’s so easy to use it to create lace and texture in your weaving—more so than on a floor loom. Yes, I can do Danish medallions and soumak and rya on a floor loom, but it is so much easier on the rigid heddle loom. As I showed my friend all the different ways you can create patterns and texture simply by different placements of the weft thread she was excited to take the loom home and try it out for herself. We’d put on a long warp for sampling, and I encouraged her to have fun and not worry about making anything concrete—to just create for the sake of creating.

I’ve also been privileged these past few months to  help out with an upcoming, exciting new special issue of Handwoven dedicated to rigid-heddle, pin, and tapestry looms titled Little Looms. Looking at other people’s weaving always gets me inspired—whether I want to weave the exact project, try out the color palette they used, or experiment with a technique, I think I learn something from just about every new project I see. Looking at the projects in Little Looms is no exceptions, which means I’ve been more often pulling out my pin loom and my rigid-heddle loom, and I’ve been seriously contemplating getting a frame loom so I can try my hand at wall hangings.

One technique I’m very curious about is using two heddles on a rigid-heddle loom. It intrigues me because two heddles means you can sett your yarn higher and use finer yarns. You can also do more than over-under-over-under as you move the two heddles into various different positions. Most intriguingly for me, you can use two heddles to better aid you in pick-up and inlay. Imagine all the design possibilities!

Of course, I might have rigid-heddle loom fever because it’s spring again here in New Mexico and few things beat weaving outside in the sunshine on a beautiful day. Whatever the reason, I’m looking forward to the next weaving lesson with my friend so we can weave outside together and explore all the possibilities of this versatile, little loom.

Happy Weaving!


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