Simple Loom, Lovely Cloth

As I had mentioned previously, as a way to keep my niece occupied and entertained during the holidays I warped up my little rigid-heddle loom in pretty, variegated alpaca and let her go wild. After the first four inches she did try to convince me that she had woven enough for a scarf, but she soon became entranced and wove for hours on end.


While she wove, I had a conversation with several of my in-laws who wanted to know where I had gotten such a fine child’s loom. I can understand why they may have thought the loom was for children: my rigid-heddle loom is 10” wide, it is simple to set up, simple to use, and requires no fancy equipment (a fact emphasized by the fact I still have not found any of my stick shuttles after the move to New Mexico and had to fashion several out of cardboard).


I smiled and explained that while the rigid-heddle loom is wonderfully easy to use, it was most certainly not a toy. I showed them photos from various books in my weaving library, including Liz Gipson’s Weaving Made Easy, and explained a little about pick-up sticks, hand-controlled weaves, and color-and-weave patterns. Each one left the conversation genuinely impressed by just how versatile something so small and simple could really be.

 

Horton Napkins
Designer Susan Horton used a striped warp and clever pick-up to create these bright napkins
on the rigid-heddle loom

 

This is, of course, the beauty of the rigid-heddle loom. The cloth woven on it can be as simple or complex as you, the weaver, want to make it. I love weaving on the rigid-heddle loom for the same reason I love making bread: they both encourage you to use your hands to create. With bread, even if I use my mixer to knead I still have to stretch, fold, and shape the dough. I have to feel it to know that it is ready to rise and later, ready to bake. With the rigid-heddle loom, I use my hands to gently manipulate the threads to create lace or textured weaves with loops and knots. I can get lost in the yarn and really get to know my piece from the inside out as I handle every thread over and over. It is absolutely meditative and blissful.


Truthfully I do not use my rigid-heddle loom as much as I would like, but after being reminded in a rather roundabout way exactly how wonderful these looms really are as I explained this fact to others, I have a hankering to warp it up for myself and get lost in some lace or maybe a rya. We’ve published a few towel and napkin projects for the rigid-heddle loom that require simple pick-up and 8/2 cotton (of which I have an abundance), so perhaps that will be my next weaving adventure.


Happy Weaving!

 

Christina Garton

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