Over the years, I’ve learned that what I really love is yarn!
I’m sure this is because I started spinning before I did anything else. Knitting happened because I needed to do something with my handspun yarn. After I had been out of college for a couple of years, I was able to indulge in commercially spun yarns with only an occasional cringe. Of course, I was still spinning so my stash continued to grow beyond my knitting speed. That’s when I first dabbled in a bit of rigid heddle weaving. It proved to be a very satisfying way to make a good sized dent in my ever growing stash of yarn.
I never would have imagined owning a knitting company with an entire warehouse of yarn! Good grief! Now we are talking an unimaginably large stash of yarn. And, I still enjoy spinning! I don’t know why I haven’t returned to weaving sooner?
Part 1 – Intro to Weaving
Before you think I am leading you down another fiber-filled path, let me explain that I am not talking about a large floor loom with complicated levers and peddles. Nope, a rigid heddle loom almost seems to have been designed to give knitters another way to enjoy their colorful yarn collections. In fact, years and years ago, my very first weaving project was a success. A scarf that I absolutely loved!
But, you wouldn’t want to begin weaving just because it is relatively easy. The key is that weaving uses a lot of yarn in a short amount of time. And, the possibilities for color study or experimentation are endless and nearly instantly gratifying. And, it is very easy to learn because it is just a question of using the heddle to move the strands of yarn up and down to form the woven fabric.
Part 2 – The Kromski Harp Rigid Heddle Loom
When we decided to carry weaving tools at Knit Picks, we spent a lot of time choosing which rigid heddle loom we wanted to offer. There are a lot of unique qualities encorporated into the Kromski Harp loom that completely convinsed me that it was the loom I knew we would offer.
Part 3 – Choosing Your Yarns
Now you have a general understanding of a rigid heddle loom. I hope that you appreciate that weaving is much easier than you may have imagined. The next step is my absolute favorite in the weaving process — choosing yarns. I always keep the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool nearby, it is such an amazing tool for creating successful and interesting color combinations.
Part 4 – Warping
Once you have chosen your yarns, it is time to measure out the warping strands. These are the ones that go from back to front of your loom.
Part 5 – Removing the Warp
Measuring out the warps doesn’t take long at all. I will show you how the warp is removed from the warping board but there are a couple of books that will give you the steps in more detail. One of my favorite weaving reference books is Hands On Rigid Heddle Weaving by Betty Linn Davenport. Another wonderful resource for rigid heddle weaving is Weaving Made Easy by Liz Gipson.
Part 6 – Threading the Heddle
The key to the ease of weaving with a rigid heddle loom is the heddle. Once the warp is removed from the warping board you need to arrange the strands through the slots and holes of the heddle.
Part 7 – Prepping the Loom
After the warp strands have been arranged through the heddle, it is time to wind the warp onto the back beam of the loom.
Part 8 – Weaving
It’s time to begin weaving! A surprisingly soothing activity once you get the hang of the movements.
Part 9 – Ending the Fabric
Before you know it, you will get to the end of your warp. It’s time to remove your woven fabric from the loom.
Part 10 – Washing and Blocking
Woven yarns are stretched and distorted just like when they are knit. The final step to your weaving is to give your fabric a nice long bath, just like you do with a knit garment.
The first time you tackle a rigid heddle weaving project, it will all feel a bit awkward. But, be sure and start a second one as soon as possible. You will be pleasantly surprised by how easily the second length of fabric comes together.