Pro tips for weaving with a rigid heddle loom

July 29, 2015

Weaving takes a lot of skill and practice. Learn the fundamentals here, and start weaving today!

Pro tips for weaving with a rigid heddle loom

Getting started

  • Fill a shuttle with your chosen weft yarn, but do not have it so full that it will not fit through the shed. A stick can be placed through the shed to leave a gap between the heading and the weaving, or you can weave straight onto the heading. Avoid mistakes by developing a rhythm.
  • Enter the shed at the right-hand side if the heddle is in the lower position and from the left if it is in the upper position. With some pattern weaves such a rhythm is not always possible, but plain weaving, using one shuttle, is easier when done in this manner.
  • Leave five centimetres (two inches) of the weft end hanging out from the selvedge and turn this in by taking it around the outside warp end and tucking it back into the same shed.
  • Also, the weft yarn must pass over and under the warp ends, and extra weft must be left to allow for this weft take-up.
  • Put the weft through the shed at an angle so that it emerges at a point about five centimetres (two inches) higher than where it entered the shed.
  • The rigid heddle, when used as a beater, has a tendency to drag the last pick back when returning the heddle to the upright for the next pick.
  • To ensure a close weave, change heddle positions when the heddle is against the last weft pick.

How to add a new colour

Create some plain weave until selvedges become straight and your weaving appears even. Then try changing colours.

  • To join in a new colour, break off the original colour 2.5 centimetres (one inch) from the selvedge.
  • Tuck this end into the next shed, lay in the new colour to overlap the previous colour by about 2.5 centimetres (one inch) and continue weaving.
  • If starting a new shuttle with the same colour, simply overlap the new thread about 2.5 centimetres (one inch) over the previous one. A thread that has been pulled apart rather than cut will show up less in the weaving, as the ends are tapered.
  • For this first warp, concentrate on getting the feel of the loom and making the selvedges straight. For your second warp, try a simple project.

Finish like a pro

Finish the end of your sampler by hemstitching or by knotting the warp ends when the sampler is off the loom.

  • Unwind the weaving from the loom and undo the heading and triple knots. The front end of your sampler will need knotting to hold the ends in place; they will undo surprisingly easily.
  • All weaving, apart from thick rugs, should then be washed in warm soapy water and rinsed to finish the cloth. Press with a damp cloth.

Master the fundamentals with these simple tips. You will find that your weaving speed increases rapidly as you become more experienced!

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