UPDATE: I have made peace with my loom since I wrote this post, learning some tricks online that made it work wonderfully, I now do love weaving: 🙂 See detailed updates below.
I’m not a huge fan of weaving, (partly because I don’t seem to be that good at it, I will explain), so this may be the last post I ever write on it, but here we go. I will include a review of my loom, and a couple of the projects I’ve done. (I also did a lot of dishcloths, place mats, and kitchen towels, because I love colorful plaid cotton stuff like that in my kitchen.) A woven item will be much thinner than a knitted or crocheted item, so its great for scarves if you like plaid, stripes, or checkers, or live in an area that is not too freezing. (I have since learned things and no longer agree with myself in this paragraph! See update below.)
Here is my loom. I just googled it and found these sell for a lot of money these days (over $100), I’m surprised, because I think I spent somewhere between $40 and $80 for mine years ago. This is the Harrisville Easy Weaver B.
It comes with the shuttles you see on the front of the box, the yarn pictured on the box, and an instruction booklet.
The only negative I’ve found in years is that the screw under where I’ve drawn the green arrow got threaded and loose. This makes the locking mechanism under the pink arrow not work as well, as the spiky gear was getting further and further from the wood at that end there, so the lock lever would slip off. Once this started to happen, this was repaired by removing the original screw and replacing it with a large deck screw. My husband has just done this repair, so I can’t tell you yet how long the fix will last, but it’s working fine now. I have not had this same problem with the locking lever you see at the top of the loom.
The other difficulty I have with weaving is my own personal problem, that I tend to get my “warp” threads (the longways threads, not the back and forth threads which are called the “weft”) attached with different tensions. If you have one thread that is tighter than the others, it will pull your fabric tight there, and it will curve in that direction and not look so nice. If some threads are too loose, they hang wrong and wind up on the wrong side of the weft thread as you pass it through, leading to a sloppy looking weave. Its something you have to pay attention to. Despite my difficulties getting that right, I made this scarf.
This scarf shows the unevenness, but really doesn’t look all that bad. You can see how it curves inward. I certainly still use the scarf, but I don’t seem to be able to weave without doing that. (See update below – I know how to fix this now.) You can see on the inside edge of the scarf how yarn is wrapped and carried upward to the next row when you are weaving with more than one color.
The scarf below was done next, in a random pattern, while the one above was counted to make sure I’d have squares that were equal. You can see a little lumpiness and curling where my too tight threads were. I haven’t tried wetting this scarf yet to see if I can flatten it better that way, that’s next on the list. You can get lots of variation using multicolored yarns. Despite my troubles, I do like the end product.
Another thing I made was this skirt, with the yarn that came with the loom, (also already installed on the loom for me). You will need some sewing for this. You can weave 2 scarves big enough to go around you (best to measure yourself and then your scarf to make sure that its long enough, and has extra room for a hem on the side if you need one. Leaving more room is better than making something too tight. This skirt is 2 scarves sewn side to side together, one on top of the other to make the skirt long enough to almost reach the knee. Since these are the 2 side edges of the scarf, you don’t need to hem that seam, they are already sealed. Likewise, there is no hem at the bottom of the skirt, as it too was a scarf edge. Then you pin the side to mark where you want your side seam to be, making sure its roomy enough to fit you and have some left over, then sew one seam up the side, You may need to hem this, depending if you cut off or tie off the fringe, or if you had to cut your woven cloth to make it fit tighter. If a hem is needed, fold the cloth over twice on the inside to make a hem, and sew that folded edge to the skirt. I left the yarn fringe on the top half of this side seam to make it interesting, and braided some of it.
For the waistline, I folded the top edge over big enough to hold a piece of elastic (about 3/4 inch to 1 inch wide elastic). Measure your elastic around you, (let it sit around your waist not stretched), then pin it there to mark it, take it off over your hips (this will make sure you can), and sew it together where you pinned it so it is a flat ring, no twists. You will have elastic that can stretch to go on over your hips this way, but isn’t tight around the waist. Then sit this elastic at the top of your skirt, on the inside, and fold the top over it, also to the inside. Put some pins in the skirt (not the elastic) to hold it, make sure your elastic ring is not twisted. Turn the skirt inside out, and sew this edge up with the elastic inside the fold (make sure not to sew the elastic itself, only the cloth, or you will sacrifice stretchiness). This photo shows how the top elastic should look from the outside of the skirt, and the center seam where the 2 scarves were joined.
UPDATE with weaving tips! 6/25/14
Thanks to CarolineA on the forum at Weaving Today, I fixed my problems and am now enjoying weaving! It turns out that your yarn can have the right tension if you do a couple of things. Attach it to the loom carefully, and when you roll up the yarn end of it, shove pieces of cardboard the whole way under the yarn to keep the strands from falling between each other. Attach the yarn carefully to the front end, making sure your tension is even. Then as you weave, you keep shoving cardboard pieces under the weaving as you roll it up. Your cardboard should be the same length as the rod on your loom, (or at least wider than the width of your yarns or weaving). It was so simple, and this fixed everything! I didn’t realize that yarns falling between each other could cause so much difficulty! The fix that my husband did with the screw is still holding up just fine too.
This video helped me greatly too: Simple Warping for a Rigid Heddle Loom by AshfordHandicrafts on youtube. She shows what I’m talking about with using the cardboard, and how to warp a loom as quickly as possible. I also have tried attaching dowels to my loom to warp the way she does instead of using the velcro that came attached to the loom, and am pleased to find I was able to do it, and even kept the dowel on the front end to use with a string the way she shows. It makes fixing the tension easier, and also will allow me to keep using the loom long after the velcro stops sticking (which it has not, even though my loom is years old. It is still very strong velcro.)
I can also highly recommend The Weaver’s Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid Heddle Loom, by Jane Patrick. (Interweave, 2010.) Also suggested to me on the forum and this was so very right! This will probably be the only weaving book I ever buy for rigid heddle weaving on this loom, as it has everything a person like me (who doesn’t use patterns much) needs. It has a few patterns, but mostly she shows you how to do many different stitches on this loom so you can design your own stuff – it doesn’t have to be just solids, stripes and plaid!
Also, my seam, which is very obvious halfway down the skirt pictured above, could have been done invisibly. Here is a link to a post which shows you how to seam weaving invisibly: http://www.weavezine.com/content/kiss-baby (baby blanket)
UPDATE 7/6/14 – Project photos and more on the Weaver’s Idea Book
Here are some photos of some scarves and a wall hanging I’ve since done on this loom:
This was the first recent project, I found it came out much straighter and more even, just by using the cardboard. The warp is 3 sections of black, dark gray and light gray (repeated). All the weft was done in dark gray with a few rows of light gray at both ends. It is done in Caron super soft (black, charcoal heather and gray heather), and it came out SO soft! The only thing I’m not sure about is the thinness on a cold windy day – you can see below the light through it. Even after wetting it, it didn’t change really. It was woven on a 8 epi heddle (this means 8 slots and holes per inch, or “ends” per inch). I may invest in a heddle with more holes per inch to weave with this soft and not very expensive yarn again.
Everything below is done using the Weaver’s Idea Book. This scarf below is done in what is called Log Cabin (pg. 27), and the lacy stuff in the middle is called Leno (crossing warp threads over each other and doing a weft row, this one is the Jane variation, pg. 56). To me Leno looks more like lace than what they call “lace” for rigid heddle weaving.
Log Cabin comes out looking really cool! Its easier than it looks too, its just over and under like usual. It is just caused by the order of color in the warp yarns and the order of color in the weft yarns, nothing fancier than that!
Below: I had a lot of bright color leftovers from old Red Heart yarn projects, so I decided to use them up on a wall hanging. I saw a cool weaving hanging on the wall in a Thai restaurant, and while mine looks nothing like that, that is where I got the idea to weave something for the wall, and leave a long stretch of naked warp threads in the middle. I used this project as a sampler, doing all different kinds of things shown in the Weaver’s Idea Book. This way I can see it in person and decide what I’d like to do for a whole project, and I could also see how different color patterns effect the result. (So this wall hanging is not just decoration, it’s also for my later use as a reference for weaving projects.)
To make it, I just wove as if weaving a scarf. To make the naked warp section, I used hemstitching (pg. 69), to seal the weft yarns and keep them from falling inward, then at the end I folded the top over and stitched (with the sewing machine) across, leaving a loop of weaving big enough to insert a straight stick I found in the yard. I then twisted some of the same color yarn into a rope to tie to the ends of the stick to make a hanger. It came out a little longer than I had intended! (I won’t be putting it where the cat can find it.)
In the close up photo on the right above, you can see at the bottom some random warp floats (where the warp threads float over the weft instead of over/under, pg. 97). Above that, you can see Danish Medallions (the long dark blue threads in 2s, pg. 48). A ways above that, where you can see warp threads that look tied with dark blue yarn, that is called Brook’s Bouquet (pg. 59). Most of the rest is warp and weft floats done with a pick up stick. The orange at the top of that photo is called Spanish Lace (pg. 65). I have noticed that much of this I would prefer to do in one or two colors, instead of the random mish-mosh of crazy brightness I’ve got going on here.
Near the top of that photo there are dark blue diagonal lines, that is my attempt at twill, simply replicating the drawing of what twill is that you get on wikipedia. (I kept taking out and putting back a pick up stick, alternating which 2 warp threads I picked up to make a pattern that went diagonal.) I was just playing, and my way of doing it took a long time. The book does have a section on doing twills on the rigid heddle loom- you need 2 heddles, and 2 pick up sticks, which I’m sure would be much faster than what I was doing. I haven’t played with doing twills “right” yet, I don’t yet have a 2nd heddle.
Above, you see Leno at the bottom (the twists that look lacy), some “Lace” above that, which is weft floats (weft yarn floating above a few instead of over/under), more warp floats above that, and near the top, “windowpane” (squares, pg. 121).
I’ve shown you a lot of things I did from the book, but not even all, there is more in there. I have played on this sampler and done some of my own pick up stick ideas, but none of them worked out quite as well the ones in the book. The yellow windowpane above (yellow squares near the top) is an example. I tried to make up something myself that would look like squares, but I didn’t get my yellow weft yarns locked down right. The green windowpane is from the book, and that one works perfectly.
So, there is MUCH you can do on a rigid heddle loom!
Weaving with very skinny yarn:
Warp: A mix including 2 colors of mini mochi (Yosemite 331 and Passion Flower 334), and Lionbrand Amazing (color Arcadia).
Weft: All Crystal Palace Mini Mochi – Yosemite and Passion Flower. I wove with each one separately, switching from one to the other when the colors were similar so it would blend, and in one or two places when they weren’t similar to get a harsh line of color change for a random looking scarf. Opposing color made the stripe at the bottom.
The warp was so colorful I was really excited about this scarf. The idea was to use Mini Mochi as the weft to make a scarf that gradually changed color, and looked different as it went, bringing out or disguising different colors of warp.
I’m not 100% pleased with the result, mostly because mixing colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel made a very muddy tan/brown finished object. I tend to go for lighter/ brighter colors, and dull is not really my friend. I will now make friends with my new colors.
I did find my warp a little difficult as the Amazing wanted to stick to itself instead of separating as the heddle went up and down, but I got used to it. I used the comb in the picture to help me poke the strands down as needed. Mini mochi wove easily, but a few of the warp strands did break, and my scarf got skinnier as I went. The strands were so thin, and (lucky for me!) the strands on the ends, so it didn’t wind up very obvious.
I did get a beautiful color change with some chunky randomness I like. ( I think the photo is actually making it look brighter and more colorful than it does in reality, it is really mostly tan.)
The strands were very skinny, and wanted to separate and leaves holes, but this was easily fixed by moving them with fingers to the correct position and washing the scarf with a little rubbing. These are wool yarns and they felted slightly in place to stay where I put them. Its a very thin scarf, but also very warm.
Pink and white log cabin (but with squares only, no thinner sections like on the purple one). Yellow and white random weave with Danish Medallions at the bottoms.
Bright colors of Red Heart yarn mixed together using a slot vs. holes warp. (one color in the slots, the other color in the holes, using several colors in chunks of slots / holes) and weft is the light green on the whole scarf.) Warp floats in groups of three at the bottoms for decoration. (You see the back of the bottom on the left side, showing green weft yarns, floats on the front.)
Below: Fluffy towel type yarn with leftover scraps of random pinks, purples and grays. Warp is 2 white, 1 thinner purple (2 stripes of pink instead of purple on the left side). Weft at the bottoms is 2 white 1 purple, then for the middle- 2 lavender, 1 gray.
Patterned Scarf – This one follows charts in The Weaver’s Idea book (reference above). Plain weave warp and weft samples followed are on pg. 24.
Rainbow Scarf: For this one, I got a yarn that changes color, and I warped the loom such that all the colors lined up. I wasn’t trying to get it straight, but instead do a diagonal blob of each color. You can get them straighter if you prefer. I used a thinner yarn for the solid light blue, then wove the whole scarf with solid blue only.
A rainbow scarf!
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