Everything Old is New Again...

By Amelia © April 13, 2010

Everything old is new again: that includes the resurgence in interest in rigid heddle looms.

Handwoven magazine puts rigid heddle specific projects in pretty much every issue now. WeaveZine tracks its rigid heddle projects, even providing a special button you can put on your own WeaveZine home screen. Schacht's newsletter provides a variety of projects, with the rigid heddle projects getting their fair share of the time vs. the 4-shaft and 8-shaft looms and the inkle loom they also produce.

I've been doing my level best to track rigid heddle news on the internet in The Rigid Heddle, a tumblr-log of links to what I've found; and RigidHeddleWeaving.com shares a great collection of videos and tips.

So it was with great interest that I saw the cover call-out in the March/April 2010 Handwoven Doubleweave issue, "Rigid-Heddle Doubleweave". Doubly cool because it's an excerpt from Jane Patrick's soon-to-be-here book, The Weaver's Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid Heddle Loom. The article is a great read, full of complex ideas for doing on the rigid heddle what other articles in the issue did on multi-shaft looms.

The rigid heddle has been the loom I've enjoyed the most, much like enjoying my spindles more than my wheels. It simplifies the process, lets me explore the interaction of warp and weft, and actually gives me a machine I can complexify with only a few simple pick-up sticks -- flat rulers work great, especially on my scarf-width warps.

And being a lover of studying topics, I keep going back to my books.  I noticed that Betty Davenport refers to the Kircher rigid heddle instruction book as being very informative, as well as her thorough bibliography of her own Handwoven articles.

That led me to the reason for the title of this post. In my stack of old Handwovens was the May/June 1992 issue, on ... Double weave! And, lo-and-behold, a piece, "Double Weave on the Rigid Heddle Loom", by Betty Davenport. Cool!

It was very interesting to consider the two pieces -- from 1992 and from 2010 -- side by side.  The early piece was simpler, focusing on simply getting double weave cloth, two separate layers, with some interactions such as tubes. The later piece included the next step in double weave, interleaving the layers and switching the layers around during weaving. The earlier piece had line drawings of heddles, threadings, and pickup-stick placement, while the newer piece had photographs of each step.  For me, the line drawings were a little more clear -- less busy, reduced to essentials. The photographs that were most helpful, that the line drawings can't convey as easily, were of the resulting woven cloth.

I am glad to have both issues available to me, and will continue to watch for upcoming books I can apply to my rigid heddle weaving, even as I search for used copies of out of print books. Stephanie Gaston-Voute's translation of Weaving on Kircher Looms recently arrived on my doorstep, and in its 1970s fashion, it is jam-packed with details in the text that I will have to tease out with heddle-hook and shuttle.


Another rigid heddle book I recently enjoyed is Woven Treasures: One-of-a-Kind Bags with Folk Weaving Techniques. It contains a ton of ideas I can do on my rigid heddle loom, on my multi-shaft loom (it's just plain weave, after all), and even on my tapestry loom, in a pinch. A Persian carpet bag may yet be in my future.

Two out-of-print weaving books I'm looking for: Erica de Ruiter's books, Weaving with Three Heddles and Tejido Huave. If you aren't using your copy, let me know!

© April 13, 2010 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.com/blog


Ruth said...

The two de Ruiter books are not necessarily rigid heddle books. In fact, the one that you call "Weaving on 3 Heddles" is actually entitled "Weaving on 3 Shafts." Some of the techniques in "Tejido Huave" might be adapted to rigid heddle weaving. Here is a quote from the book (p. 10): "Any four-shaft loom can be used for all the techniques in this book. Tejido Huave requires only two shafts. . . ."

The Complex Weavers library has both of the books, and members may borrow them if they wish.

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

@Ruth: Thanks! The mis-naming may be why I haven't found that one. I agree, any loom could do 2-shaft and 3-shaft weaving; I suppose my wording is due to my own interest in applying weaving methods to the rigid heddle loom, and my own 'newness' to the sport :)

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

A friend reminded me ...

I forgot the very active Rigid heddlers group on Weavolution. They are finishing up a WAL and on their way to the next one. At 600 members in the group there is a lot going on.

The group link:

Anonymous said...

look for the books on abebooks.com

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

@Anonymous: thanks for the suggestion! Here are a bunch of places I look for out of print book: