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Topic: rigid heddle loom-building one  (Read 13151 times)
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« on: December 12, 2007 02:54:30 PM »

Hey guys, I'm venturing over here from the knitting board.

Like so many of you, I've been doing a TON of research on looms and I'm just totally lost. As of now, I'm only interested in making scarves and wide wraps. Maybe 20" wide at the most. But I would like the capability of making them 6 feet long. From what I gather, that's not possible on a frame loom unless I make it 6 feet long. I've been looking at rigid heddle looms and those cool folding ones. The price isn't too bad, but is there any way of building one? I just can't grasp how that little short thing can store a long scarf. My only guess is that the scarf would be rolled up at the end, but then where does the extra warp come from? Or is there an alternative that can be easily handbuilt?

Any help or suggestions would be really appreciated.
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2008 09:09:30 PM »

A rigid heddle loom is kinda like a frame loom with moveable end pieces and a rigid heddle for picking up every other warp thread so you don't have to pick them up by hand. It would probably be a little difficult to build a good rigid heddle (though I've seen it done with popsicle sticks) but you could easily make the frame part and use string heddles for the patterning.

Basically you need two end pieces...they can be round dowels or you could use a square beam...with screws sticking out the ends... and two side pieces with holes drilled through the ends for the screws to pass through and then be tightened with wing nuts/washer.

You wind the yet to be woven warp onto the "back" end piece and as you weave, the woven cloth gets wound onto the "front" end piece to give you more room to keep weaving.

Rigid heddle looms that you buy have a bit of extra shaping on the side pieces to give the rigid heddle a place to go "up" or "down" (not describing it well here, I'm sure it's described better other places) and mine has a raised thing with slits lengthwise on the end pieces to put the yarn through and tie it on but you could just tie it around, you'd just have to make sure to get even tension.

If you don't have the rigid heddle and don't want to make/buy one, you can use a dowel and string as simple string heddle type controls.

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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2008 09:21:57 AM »

I am very new to weaving, so I don't want to steer you wrong but...

If you buy just the heddle from a rigid heddle loom, it is possible to make a "backstrap" loom. I have never seen anyone do this, but it is in a book I have out from the library (I will check later when I am not sneaking out from work.) This would give you the convenience of having the heddle for $25-$50. (I think it will help make the warp more even and repeatable then I could with something homemade.) I only got the book yesterday so this is still guesswork.

I am just starting to use a rigid heddle loom in a class. We are using the harp from Kromski. You might want to check classes in your area to see if you can try out looms (more than you would in a store) and see what you like.

« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2008 05:31:57 PM »

The book I mentioned is Backstrap Weaving by Barbara Taber and Marilyn Anderson. They show a project using a rigid heddle and dowels (modified to have peg ends) and cord.  They also show a lot of projects just using dowels and flat sticks (like lath.) The nice thing is that you could work in a small space with some flexiblity and it would be much cheaper. I don't have room in my apartment for more than one loom (and really I am not sure I can really fit one loom) so I am interested in this.
The book is from 1975 but it doesn't feature the truly frightening "experimental" work printed in non-stable inkes that so many 70's weaving books have. Amazon has the book if all else fails.
The google search for backstrap weaving brings up some good diagrams and photos (and amazing work.)

Anyway, the materials should be cheaper and the construction should be much less difficult for backstrap than for an actual loom. Whichever, please write and say what you went with.
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