Rigid-Heddle Reflections

Whitney Dorband is a member of our Interweave staff and an intrepid rigid-heddle weaver whose adventures have sometimes graced the pages (pixels) of Weaving Today. She started weaving a couple of years ago with a rag rug, and now she has decided to expand her horizons by weaving her way through Jane Patrick's Weavers Idea Book. You can follow Whitney's adventures and "Aha!" moments (and maybe chime in with your own) in her new blog on Weaving Today. Here she is to tell you more about it. ––Anita.

The rigid-heddle loom is full of surprises, and as I slowly progress my weaving knowledge and skills, I see that more and more.

Finger-manipulated weaves are some of the most interesting techniques to explore on the rigid-heddle loom. I feel like they are almost easier to manage on this loom (but I’m sure many of you could argue otherwise). Not only that, but there are so many! You’ve got loop pile, leno, Brook’s bouquet, Spanish lace, and variations of these. Lately I've been really enjoying using Danish medallions in my weaving.

This technique is so versatile. There are so many different looks you can create. I first came across these in Jane Patrick’s video workshop Weaving on a Rigid Heddle Loom. She shows several different versions that she worked up, from just the simple, even Danish medallion, to more complex patterns like crow’s feet or double Danish medallions.

  Danish Medallion

Here’s her explanation, from the workshop, of how to weave Danish Medallions:

  1. First, you will want to pick out the outline weft color that you will use for the medallion. In the video she uses a nice ribbon. Having a thicker yarn will help enhance the pattern.
  2. Weave in the chosen outline weft from selvedge to selvedge.
  3. You will then weave as many picks of the main background color as you desire. In the video she does about 6.
  4. Now you will change sheds and create the medallions. With the shed open, use the outline weft and bring it over as many warp threads as you want. The more threads, the thicker the medallion will be. (Jane doesn’t use a shuttle for this yarn in the video, but you certainly can, whatever is most comfortable). Also, be sure the outline weft goes over the top of the background weft at the beginning of the selvedge to ensure that your outline will run up the selvedge and create a finished medallion look.
  5. This step you will need a crochet hook.  Poke the crochet hook underneath the initial row of outline weft that you wove in step 2 and in between the number of warp threads you chose in step 4.
  6. Grab the second outline weft with the crochet hook and pull it up and through hole, forming a loop.
  7. Then you will insert your remaining outline weft yarn (or your shuttle if you chose to put the outline weft yarn on a shuttle) through this loop from right to left and pull as taut as you desire.
  8. You will continue steps 4 through 7 until you have medallions all the way across your weaving.

Danish medallions are pretty simple once you get the hang of it ,and they can give your handwoven fabrics really unique looks.

Want to learn more about rigid-heddle weaving? First, I have to recommend Jane’s workshop Weaving on a Rigid Heddle Loom as well as her book The Weaver’s Idea Book. Second, I invite you to join me as I weave my way through her book and write about my adventures in my new blog “Rigid-Heddle Reflections” on weavingtoday.com!


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