I love my rigid heddle loom. It’s small, portable, easy to setup, easy to use, and easy for people new to weaving to learn. Many people may start on a rigid heddle loom when learning to weave, and move on to looms with four or more harnesses capable of more complex weave structures, finer and wider fabrics, or more yardage. Rigid heddle looms do have their limitations, and some snobby weavers will turn their noses up at them because of those limitations, and even go so far as to say that it’s not real weaving, or that a new weaver will be much happier on a real loom. However, the rigid heddle loom doesn’t have to be just a step on a weaver’s journey. Yes, it is a simple loom, but despite that simplicity they are incredibly versatile.
One of the huge advantages of the rigid heddle loom is that it is incredibly easy to set up and put a warp on. A rigid heddle loom with a second heddle option will allow you to double your sett (warp ends per inch), weave twice the width of your loom, and more. With pickup sticks, you can manipulate warp threads even further for more versatility in pattern and structure. This manipulation of warp threads is a more manual process, and that does make weaving more complex patterns and structures much slower than other styles of looms.
In general, weaving on a rigid heddle loom is slower than most larger multi-shaft floor looms. That along with the limited length of warp you can put onto a rigid heddle loom are, in my humble opinion, its biggest limitations. If your need as a weaver is to produce a lot of fabric really efficiently, a rigid heddle loom is likely not for you. But their ease of warping, small size, light weight, and portability are huge advantages.
There seemed to be relatively few instructional and project oriented books for rigid heddle weavers just a few years ago when I first got my 24” Kromski Harp. Beyond the beginner oriented books there were a few books covering textures and patterns using various techniques, and that was about it. In the past few years more books with projects and ideas for the rigid heddle loom have come out highlighting its versatility and hopefully increasing their popularity. Which brings us to the subject of today’s blog post.
“Handwoven Home: Weaving Techniques, Tips and Projects for the Rigid Heddle Loom” by Liz Gipson which hit bookstore shelves this week offers a beautiful variety of easy to make projects for every room in the house, and is also a fantastic source of instruction and information for the rigid heddle loom and general weaving principles. The first chapter starts off with a look at Yarn for Interiors covers everything from yarn content and construction, understanding the count system for weaving yarns, and choosing the right yarn for the project.
Chapter Two provides the rigid heddle weaver with tips and techniques for managing various aspects of the weaving process like selvedges, changing colors, adding in new yarn, making string heddles, beating the weft, and more. Chapter 3 is all about following patterns and makes sense out of the often confusing weaving drafts. Instructions for warping your loom are in chapter 8, and finishing techniques are in chapter 9. I think is a little odd having these instructional chapters in that order, and quite frankly, that is probably my only criticism of this book. Although these chapters are brief, they are very thorough with clear images and diagrams that make these processes easy for a new weaver to understand.
In between in chapters 4 through 7 is what makes “Handwoven Home: Weaving Techniques, Tips and Projects for the Rigid Heddle Loom” truly stand out. You’ll find projects for kitchen, dining room, living room, and bathroom that are as practical as they are beautiful, and incorporate techniques that will make your projects fun and interesting to weave, as well as build and expand your skills as a weaver. And these are projects that you’ll actually want to make.* Have a look through the gallery below of some of my favorite projects from this book. (Just a heads up, it’s all of them)
My own rigid heddle loom is mostly used to make scarves for myself or for gifts, and there’s a new warp for a scarf that I just put on the other night. But I have also been experimenting with making some pieces of fabric with other uses in mind. “Handwoven Home: Weaving Techniques, Tips and Projects for the Rigid Heddle Loom” has already given me a number of great ideas for things to make for our home.
That’s it for today. I’m off to do some outside work for the rest of the morning, and then stop by our monthly Italian Greyhound Rescue Awareness clinic at Pet Supplies Plus on Western Ave. If you’re interested in adopting, or just want to meet and learn more about the breed, stop by and see us!
Have a great weekend!
*Other rigid heddle books geared towards the beginning rigid heddle weaver that include projects often have much fewer of them and some of them, especially the garment projects that are included in those books, seem a little dated to me.