This week I was invited to a friend’s house to try out her rigid heddle loom. She had already warped it up using a couple of different coloured 2 ply wools, one being variegated. They weren’t too fluffy but were quite different and more springy than my smooth, thicker, 12/12 cotton warp used throughout Project 9. The warp was also much closer together than I had previously used.
Nola explained to me that we would be doing a balanced weave, or even-weave, where the weft would be the same, or similar, yarn to the warp. That way we would see a pattern emerging as the warp would be visible, unlike our OCA course tapestry weaving where the aim was to cover it fairly densely creating a weft faced piece.
The first thing I noticed once we got started was the softness and flexibility of the weaving as everything was much finer than my previous experience. I finally saw what it must be like to weave a lightweight scarf.
We looked at ways of hiding the start and finish points that would not show in the linear weave, which could be quite visually obvious and spoil the piece if you are not careful. I was intrigued to see the pattern developing as we laid down more and more rows. What I had thought of as a fairly muted set of warp threads really came alive as we went along.
The rigid heddle was fabulous, very easy to maneuver and quick to separate the warp for each pass. The loom still sits in a similar manner to my home-made version – from the table edge to the body – but there is a cut-out in the side wooden struts so it fits snuggly against the table edge.
I was extremely happy to have the roll forwards and backwards feature as that enabled me to situate the working area at a comfortable distance from my body at all times. The roller adjusters were also very good. They are notched and this means that the warp can be tightened or loosened in small increments at any time. Very handy and easy to use.
I tried a couple of different yarns and was impressed with the immediate dramatic change in pattern. I really like the effect.
I’m still not convinced I would buy a loom or continue weaving because it does involve a lot of looking downwards over extended time and my neck doesn’t hold up to that very well. However, I wouldn’t mind having a go at more of the balanced weaving to explore the effects. Perhaps if I wasn’t on a time limit and could do it in small time-pockets I could make a scarf one day.
Overall an extremely interesting and informative day. Thanks very much, Nola, and I look forward to seeing your progress on this piece.