Important advice rigid-heddle loom beginners

July 29, 2015

The rigid-heddle loom is an ideal place to learn how to weave. These are some tips to help you get started.

Important advice rigid-heddle loom beginners

What is a rigid-heddle loom?

  • The rigid-heddle loom because of the rigid needle that raises and lowers the warp threads. The needle is made of plastic, metal or wood.
  • The warp threads (ends) are threaded alternately through the holes and slots in the heddle.
  • When the heddle is raised, the ends in the holes are lifted above the ends in the slots, thus forming a gap (called a "shed").
  • When the heddle is lowered, the ends in the holes are lowered below the ends in the slots, again forming a shed.
  • The weft (the crosswise thread) is passed through this shed with a shuttle.
  • With rigid-heddle looms, the heddle is also used as a beater to push each weft against the previous one.

Measure first

  • The width of the heddle determines the absolute width you can weave. The size of the holes and slots determine the size of the warp yarn you can thread through.
  • The most popular loom size is 610 millimetres (24 inches), with holes and slots set at four per centimetre (10 per inch)
  • If you thread the 610 millimetre loom to its fullest width, your finished weaving will be slightly more narrow, as fabric will draw in while weaving.
  • This draw-in is usually about 2.5 centimetres (one inch).
  • The length that you can weave on this loom is usually no more than four to five metres (13 to 16 feet). The front roller won't hold more than this length of woven cloth.

Warping the loom

  • Try to enlist help when winding the first warp. One of you can stand at the front of the loom while the other threads the slots.
  • Warping can be managed on your own with practice.
  • Choose a strong wool or cotton yarn and check that it will fit through the holes in the heddle.

Getting set to weave

  • To keep the loom steady while you weave, clamp it to a solid table and begin by weaving a heading. This spaces out the warp, guarding against error and keeping an even tension.
  • Wind 8 to 10 turns of a thick yarn onto a shuttle. Place the heddle in the upper position and put the shuttle through the shed.
  • Pull the heddle towards you with both hands, thus beating the yarn against the knots.
  • Weave three more picks (rows) in alternate sheds before beating again, giving several sharp taps to beat the weft into place. If the gaps between the knots have not disappeared, repeat the last three picks again.
  • The weft can be left in loops at the selvedge. This will make it easier to cut out this heading when removing the weaving from the loom.
  • Check for mistakes in the threading or any loose warp ends. Fix these problems at this stage.

With patience and care, you can make beautiful clothes and housewares with a rigid-heddle loom. It's best to have a friend who can help you when you start. But, with practice, you could be weaving great things on your own.

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