In Which She Natters About The New Rigid Heddle Loom

So what was using the new rigid heddle loom like, when I was at my parents’ house?

When I told Ceri that the warping had gone really quickly on the new loom but the actual weaving was slower, she mused that it was a case of “be careful what you wish for.” Not so much “be careful what you wish for,” I told her, as “wait to see the reed before you choose a really fluffy yarn that might not fit, moron.” (She laughed, bless her.) Seriously, it was a classic case of not using the right material for the equipment you have. Or would have later that day. (Of course I can knit bulky yarn on size 3 dpns! It will just be… challenging.)

The yarn I chose before I saw the reed was a soft acrylic called Homespun, and it’s essentially a low-twist single wrapped with a very thin binder thread. It’s such a pretty yarn that I was cranky about how the reed was yanking it around; it got caught against itself or on the slightly rough edges of the reed a lot so I had to manually poke the shed into place thread by thread with my fingers each time I changed the heddle position. Not even that got me down, though. It got faster as I went, because I got used to how roughly I could handle both the yarn and the reed while poking the shed into place. With a lower dpi reed, it would slide beautifully. Kromski reeds are over $50 each, but the Ashford ones fit beautifully (as many Kromski weavers have attested to online, thank goodness) and the Ashfords are $25 plus shipping. We don’t have a shop that reps Ashford in Montreal, but there is a woman in Pointe-Claire who is a private rep. I’ve already talked to her about buying 5 and 7.5 dpi reeds to supplement the 10 dpi reed that came with the loom, as I want to use heavier yarns for my upcoming projects, and the fluffy Homespun I used for the sample, too. I was on the fence about one or the other when she pointed out that shipping was going to be the same whether I ordered one or two, so both it is. She says she uses the 7.5 dpi reed most often, switching to the 5 dpi for thicker handspun. It’s good to know I’m on the right track. Also, hurrah, I have ordered a real heddle hook and a reed-sleying hook! No more trying to fit the round crochet hook through a narrow slot!

I sat cross-legged on the floor with it flat in front of me for the first bit, but wove most of it with the loom propped almost vertical against a wingback chair, like a tapestry loom. If I’d known how much I would enjoy weaving with my frame upright, I might have seriously looked at the tapestry looms that occasionally pop up in the marketplace forums on Ravelry.


Back home, I went out and bought new yarn (the definition of irony is searching high and low in Oakville/Burlington for two specific yarns in specific colourways and not finding them, then locating them by accident in the local Zellers at home), thinking to make a blanket as a gift for the Wiccaning I’m performing this weekend. I made sure it was a lighter-weight yarn so I wouldn’t have the sticking-in-the-reed issues I had with the Homespun. I ended up with Bernat Softee Baby, which is a sport DK weight, and lovely, light and soft to touch in the ball, but tangled terribly while I was windign it into a centre-pull ball and several times when I was warping, necessitating an emergency trip back to Zellers to days later to buy a second ball. And it doesn’t stick in the reed. Instead, because it’s slightly fuzzy and is made of thin, thin plies, it shreds as the heddle moves up and down. I’ve had two warp threads break already. On top of that I’m having tension issues, and I suspect the finished product will be something I do not want to give to anyone. Besides, it’s not going to be ready for today, because I had revisions on a freelance project that ate up half a day and lost time; and on top of that I had to rearrange the layout of the back warp rod, which meant I had to take the back warp off and sort out all my loops, redistribute them among the apron rod ties, then slide it back on. This did not help my tension issues. I think it’s about a third done.

The accent yarn I’m using, Bernat Satin, is fine, though. Two inch-wide stripes warped along the length, two to be woven in across the width. It’s a tiny bit thicker, not as fuzzy, and it’s holding up much better than the Softee Baby stuff.

Here it is, warped and beamed and ready to go:

I would have taken more pictures of the project in its third-complete state for you, but our digital camera has suddenly developed thin lines across the image, like horizontal blinds. Not only does it have lines across the entire image, it can’t seem to calculate the proper light balance any more. It was fine Thursday night, but when I picked it up to take a photo Friday morning, poof. No accident, no misuse, nothing; just mysteriously no longer functioning properly. I looked it up, and apparently this is due to a faulty sensor used in production around 2004; there was a big thing about this a couple of years ago when they all started failing. Our camera is three years old, but I’m going to call Canon on Monday morning anyway, and ask them what they can do about it. If they can’t or won’t do anything, then a new one is only about $130, and we’ll replace it when our tax refund comes in.

Anyway, there’s about a foot woven. I’m using it horizontally instead of vertically like I did at my parents’ house: I’ve clamped it to the coffee table, and I sit on the chesterfield to weave here. I might have gotten more done yesterday, but a new project landed and I got half of that done instead, because I’ll finish it Monday morning in time to invoice for it. I can always mail the blanket to the family, if it’s suitable for gifting when I get it off the loom next week.

2 thoughts on “In Which She Natters About The New Rigid Heddle Loom

  1. Darroch

    Now I know what people must feel like when I start getting technical about decapper pins and crimp dies :). Any chance of you doing a photo post on setting up and operating the loom?

  2. Autumn Post author

    Not until I have a functional digital camera again, which will probably not be until the tax refund lands next month sometime.

    But it’s essentially the same as the one I outlined here, just with one rigid heddle in the middle instead of four hanging shafts with movable heddles.


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