Sunday, August 02, 2015

Learning to Weave - Rigid Heddle, 4-Harness, and Tablet Weaving

I am now a weaver!  First I learned on a rigid heddle loom.  Shortly afterwards I acquired a 4-harness floor loom.  Recently I discovered tablet weaving a.k.a. card weaving.  I'm a little obsessed, so I haven't been knitting, spinning, or crocheting as much as I used to.  Luckily weaving also uses yarn, sometimes much faster, and I definitely need more ways to utilize my now enormous stash of diverse yarns.

Nice weaving looms are like pieces of furniture, and since I don't have much storage space anymore, my looms have to live out in the open.  To accent my decor, I spent some time painting, staining, finishing, and polishing them.  My two looms now compliment my dark wood furniture, and they always garner curious questions from house-guests.

I will go into more technical details about my adventures in weaving.  I have learned too much for one post!  My individual weaving projects are posted in my Ravely projects.  For now, here's a photo-heavy description of my weaving looms and tools.


THE RIGID HEDDLE LOOM

My first loom is this Schacht Cricket 15" rigid heddle loom, aquired June 2013.  It comes unfinished, so I stained & finished the wood.  Now it looks great in the living room.

Before  &  After:




I used Rust-oleum Ultimate (all-in-one stain and sealer) in American Walnut and simply followed the directions.  The plywood edges looked awfully uneven with the stain, so I gilded the edges with bronze acrylic paint.

So far I've made several scarves, placemats, and towels with this sturdy, easy-to-use loom.  It's also a good loom without the heddle for other types of weaving.



THE FLOOR LOOM

Then a month later, I acquired this previously loved Harrisville Designs 22" floor loom from my friend Kay.  It had passed through several owners, and judging from the manual and that it's an older model direct tie-up, it's probably from the 1980s.  After a little cleaning & polishing, it works beautifully.  One great feature is that it easily folds flat with the weaving intact, so it can be pushed into a corner out of the way, but so far it always stays open and ready to weave.  Kay also included a warping board, boat shuttle, and a weaving book from the the 1950s - Key to Weaving by Mary E. Black.





My current project is a set of 8 to 10 dish towels.  I'll know exactly how many when I'm finished.


A hardware store toolbag hung on the side of my loom makes a perfect easy-to-reach weaving tools organizer.  There are lots of little accessories involved with weaving!


TABLET WEAVING

Recently I taught myself tablet weaving, or card weaving, from online tutorials.  In my goal to be thrifty, I made my own weaving cards and belt shuttle by recycling heavy cardstock from junk-mail & packaging inserts.

 
I used heavy, shiny cardstock.  Nice greeting cards, cereal boxes, cardboard notebook backs, and playing cards all work just as well.  With a paper-cutter, ruler, hole-puncher, and markers, I made a 2.5" set of 24 weaving cards.  The shuttle needs to have one knife-like edge, which none of my regular shuttles have, so I made my own belt shuttle by folding cardstock around a craft stick taped inside for extra stiffness, and then trimmed the edges to hold yarn.  Since I've never held an actual belt shuttle in my hand, I can't make a side-by-side comparison, but my homemade shuttle works great for the worsted-weight yarn tablet weaving I've done so far.

Tablet weaving is facinating!  I use my rigid heddle loom (without the heddle) to hold the warp.  I also tried an ancient method and made myself a backstrap weaving belt, but I found it more difficult to keep even tension, plus I couldn't go anywhere without untying myself from the loom.


John Mullarkey's website and a variety of YouTube tutorials got me started with basic tablet weaving.  After experimenting, I discovered how to make simple yet stricking patterns.  Eventually I plan to read books and watch videos courses to  learn more advanced techniques and designs.

It's no wonder my blog has been quiet for two years now!  Like I said, I'm a little obsessed with weaving now.  I probably will be for the rest of my life.





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