Stash-Busting with a Rigid Heddle

I have a startling confession to make: I am not a yarn-hoarder. But trust me, it’s not because I don’t love yarn. I’m just usually really good about only buying yarn for a specific project and then executing the project before the idea gets lost in time. I have a modest yarn stash, of course, with balls of yarn carefully labelled with their intended use so I don’t forget. And naturally I have ends of yarn from projects that didn’t quite need the whole skein. But my whole collection fits in a box that lives at the foot of my bed.

Detail of Andrea's stash-busting rigid heddle warp

Detail of Andrea’s rigid-heddle warp

Maybe it’s because I’m only in my 20s—I simply haven’t had enough time or money in my life yet for my stash to reach epic proportions. But I prefer to think my modest stash is a conscious strategy to help me avoid the dreaded analysis paralysis of picking a project to match the yarn, rather than vice versa.

I recently found myself with two skeins of gorgeous 100% merino yarns in subtly different weights and shades of ethereal blue-green, gifted to me by a friend…and I didn’t have a plan for them! Cue six months of analysis paralysis. I assumed I’d knit with them, until I borrowed a rigid-heddle loom from work and set about trying to figure out what my first project with it would be.

I knew right away that I wanted to use those yarns in my warp, as the friend who gave them to me is one of my “fiber moms” who has encouraged and enabled my crafting habits for many years. I thought she’d be pretty excited to know I used her gift to learn a new skill – as long as I didn’t mess up! Plus the reduced loom waste from using a rigid heddle would allow me to stretch this special yarn as far as possible.

Rigid heddle looms are awesome for stash-busting!

Andrea’s first warping of a rigid-heddle loom. Click here to check out Weaving Today’s rigid heddle resources!

For the weft, my vision was less clear. I turned to my stash to see if I could possibly bust through some of those odds and ends from projects past. As I combed through the layers of my stash, I was surprised at how well my yarns coordinated with each other and with my warp yarns, but no real vision came together until I got to the very bottom of my box.

There I found two vest fronts I knit up from a fuzzy, multicolored statement yarn years ago, before the creative inspiration to do anything with them flickered and died. Best of all, there was a good-sized ball of that gorgeous statement yarn left curled up with them. And it coordinated with my other yarn scraps! Bingo. I would weave a back for my vest and put that project to bed once and for all.

I so much appreciate the rigid-heddle loom for helping me in my stash-busting endeavors. It’s such a major advantage of rigid heddles and other small looms like pin looms and tapestry looms, and I’m sure it will only become more valuable to me as my yarn stash grows. Little looms are prefect for beginners like me, who need a low-investment, low waste, quick to set up, and very fun way to learn new weaving techniques.

If you’re interested in weaving on small looms, whether you’re a beginner looking to hone your weaving skills or an experienced weaver looking to bust through a more intimidating yarn stash than mine, I encourage you to give them a try. Handwoven’s special issue Easy Weaving with Little Looms is a great go-to resource for learning all about different types of small looms, mastering new techniques, and finding inspiration. Plus there are 28 projects to get you started!

I’m happy to say that I successfully finished my first rigid-heddle warp last night, and I can’t wait to start weaving my vest. It will be such a relief to have those odds and ends of yarn nicely “sewn up” (pardon the pun). Keep checking back to see how I do on my very first rigid-heddle project—and wish me luck!


P.S. Time to fess up! What’s the state of your stash? Let me know in the comments!

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