What can I do on a Rigid Heddle Loom?

Nik's scarf
By Amelia

There are plenty of nice Rigid Heddle books out there. I've heard terrific things about Betty Linn Davenport's Hands on Rigid Heddle Weaving
and the revised Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving (the revised edition with a male on the cover, not the original with a female on the cover) -- my copies will get here soon, I hope!

In the meantime, I am consoling myself with the excellent Textures and Patterns for the Rigid Heddle Loom by Betty Linn Davenport, and also with bookmarks in my table loom books. It turns out, there are plenty of patterns that only take 2 harnesses, and a few interesting 3 harness ones as well, if you have a second heddle or like playing with pickup sticks.

So, how many patterns in The Handweaver's Pattern Directory: Over 600 Weaves for 4-shaft Looms (by Anne Dixon) are there to explore on a rigid heddle loom or a two harness loom? Here are the ones I found:

p. 29, simple tabby (hey, you gotta start somewhere), warp 1 color, weft another.

p. 30-31, tabbies in a variety of colors -- 6 interesting combos with 1 warp color and 1-2 weft colors (sometimes using the warp color, sometimes not).

hopsack - 2h weavingp. 46-47, hopsack -- very interesting way to make a nice sturdy (thick) fabric. The 2-2 hopsack could be done with doubled yarns in the heddles & slots. Three nice color combinations shown for each, of two different warpings, so six total. (Picture is Deb's hopsack, in progress on her 2H loom)

p. 48-49, tabby with two-color warps. Simple alternating color warps and a variety of weft color uses lead to interesting stripes of color, from log cabin to fancy Aztec-looking things (they look Aztecy to me, that is). Six total shown.

header on Nat's scarfp. 50-51, tabby with two-color warps, a variety of threadings from the cool herringbone check to larger checks that look like way too much fun! DD is working on the smallest check in a scarf for her teacher. Three warps and 3 wefts for a total of 9 combinations.

p. 60-61, Hopsack: two-color warp. Oooh, aahh -- three warps times three wefts equals nine more ways to stripe and get fun color patterns. And you know what -- you can vary the warp across the loom, and the weft as you weave a piece to have panels of different checks and stripes. The mind boggles.

p. 154-155, Hand-manipulated wrappings, 6 interesting combinations of wrap and color.

p. 156-157, Brooks Bouquet (hand-manipulated), 3 varieties fo this technique for different effects.

p. 158-159, Danish Medallions (hand-manipulated), now these intrigue me and are on my short list -- three varieties shown here, I've seen others in other books too that are worth exploring...

p. 194, Crammed and Spaced: straight draft. This is all the rage in warp and weft right now for weaving and felting scarves. Simple to do on a rigid heddle with gorgeous results!

p. 230-231, Warp Face: three great striping effects with color combinations in warp and yarn thickness in weft.

p. 232-234, Warp Face: Rep; Two Color. This style of weaving intrigues me. I'm not sure if the rigid heddle can do heavy fabrics like this makes, but I'm curious to give it a try. Two of the Rep Weaves are simple 2-heddle patterns, so there may be a way to thread the rigid heddle to get this effect.

p. 238, Twining, Loops, and Soumak -- all on a plain weave tie-up, so these look pretty do-able, if you want to explore these three techniques. Three loops shown, so a total of 5 things to try here.

p. 239, Inlay -- on a plain-weave tie-up, looks like an interesting way to add a picture into a plain weave.

Did I miss one? Let me know! These are 61 potential rigid heddle jumping-into points -- about 10% of the book overall. Not bad, eh.

I notice the book didn't get into plain weave and color for plaid effects at all, but then again whole books have been devoted just to Scottish Tartans -- Harriet Tidball's Weavers Book of Scottish Tartans (Shuttle Craft Monograph) is a terrific, no-nonsense, authentic look at them -- it's a huge area to try to cover, let alone glimpse. So I will leave you with my son's lovely plaid scarf, his first weaving:
Nik's Finished Scarf on Coat

The Anne Dixon book also has some terrific 1/2 and 2/1 twill patterns in it, which I'm currently exploring with my 2-harness Emilia loom (pictures to follow...)


Do you have a book of patterns you turn to for Rigid Heddle ideas? Let me know, I'm on the hunt for more. My potential project queue may even be larger than my stash but luckily it takes up alot less space (grin!)


posted 3 January 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/


Julie said...

thanks for posting this, I'm also interested in loom books. My 7 year old budding spinner just got a cricket loom for Christmas and I've never done any weaving!! do you have any starter suggestions so I can help her a little more?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Now you make me doubt if I made the right decision. I love to have a rigid heddle loom (I have two floor looms ;-) or an electroninc spinning wheel since my foot does not do what I want anymore...... I ordered the ashford electronic but now I wonder.... so many possibilities with a rigid heddle loom .......
Thank you for all this information. I know I made the right choise but I also know I will start saving up for a heddle loom. Groetjes, Marion from The Netherlands.


Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

@Julie: oh how cool! Don't be afraid about using her handspun -- if it's thick & thin it may be perfect weft, and if it'll stand up to a tug and wear test, it should be fine for warp too. The cricket booklet is a nice starting point, from there I'd suggest playing with color -- plaids, checks, stripes, there are a ton of interesting things to try. I'll post some more as my children and I explore these fun looms!

@Marion -- spin first, then you'll have plenty of handspun when you decide to get a loom (grin).

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

joesullins on ravelry liked the Hopsack picture ... so here's an explanation for doing that one on the RH loom....

You need to have 3 strands through each slot and one through each hole (if you direct warp – pull two loops through all the slots, i.e. 4 strands, then just move one strand over to the adjacent hole once you wind on). You’ll also need to put an extra thread on the next empty slot on both sides (that’s a “floating selvage/selvedge” … been reading old books lately, they spell it selvage. I like selvedge, it seems more explanatory (edge, get it) but, I digress.) If it’s easier to put two, then put two. Lots of people double up the thread in their floating selvedge on table & floor looms.

Oh, and, you'd want to dent fairly loosely, so the 3 strands in the slot have room to move and spread out once this is off the loom. I.e., don't pack it in -- I wouldn't go more than 2/3 the wraps per inch of your yarn for the sett (# of ends per inch).

This is woven here by putting 2 strands of one color (the navy, here) through with the heddle down (you go back and then forth, wrapping around the outer strands) and then by putting 4 strands of the other (the brown, here) through with the heddle up, again wrapping the outer floating selvedge each time so the strand is held at the outer edge, not unwoven when you go back through. (The warp was a multicolor green/blue/gold yarn.)

I usually get into a rhythm with my floating selvedges like this: go under it when entering the shed, and go over it when leaving the shed. That way, you’ll always have gone _around_ it since when you turn around, you’ll wrap around from being on top of the floating selvedge to go under it.

Because we used two colors of warp on this, we carried the unused color up the side it was on, and wrapped the other one around it (at the same time as wrapping the floating selvedge – it’s not as complicated as it sounds, really). It was tidier than letting it “loop” around the other color’s rows, though that is another possibility.

This one is a slight variant of the one in The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory, we used four of the brown because it was slightly thinner/more compactable than the navy, and we really wanted to emphasize it. In the “official” hopsack, there would be three navy and two brown.

DangAndBlast! said...

Really neat patterns. Looks like I must always have been doing it wrong, as my warp threads never show up at all -- am I packing too tightly? (I came here looking for how to do things with pick-up sticks, as I figured a twill or something similar might show the warp color better -- have it all set up for a lovely plaid, but you can see the warp threads' colors only when holding it up against the sun and looking at the light shining through.) Always did full-color or weft-only stripes in the past, so never noticed the problem before ... you have many excellent patterns here.

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Hi @DangAndBlast! ... yes, it sounds like you may be pushing too hard on the weft yarn after throwing the shuttle across. I know weavers describe this as "beating" the weft, but actually, on plain weave with the RH, it's more of a "place" the weft sort of action. I only push down gently, the pressure I use might deform a cake-top a little bit, but wouldn't flatten the cake entirely. Aaaahhh, cake ... mmmm. Now I've gone and made myself hungry!

If you are beating gently (aka placing) on the weft and the warp still doesn't show through, you may not have the warp threads set closely enough together. Usually for plain weave, set the warp threads at half their wraps-per-inch. So, if you have a DK weight yarn at 14 wraps per inch, use a 7 dent reed and aim for 7 weft threads per inch as you weave, as well. If you are pushing on the weft so you get more than 7 ends per inch of weft (in this example, that is), then you'll be obscuring the warp somewhat.

Kellea Thompson said...

I know this question is super old but I just found your blog.

Can you explain/show how on earth one could do a herringbone twill on a rigid heddle loom?


Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Herringbone twill takes at least two heddles, I give the idea behind that in this post:

Herringbone check, mentioned in this post, is a little pinwheel that is a plain weave with colors set up to make tiny pinwheels.