Weaving on a Rigid Heddle Loom

My exposure to weaving throughout my life has been fairly limited. I remember going to the house of one of my parents’ friends and being shown a beautiful floor loom (and getting to try it out). I was fairly young (definitely younger than 13, maybe even younger than 10). That probably formed my basic conception of what weaving is like.

I have done some very basic weaving as part of darning (I originally learned the simple weave method of darning, and tend to use that even on knitted and crocheted fabric). I participated in a tapestry weaving workshop in late 2021, which I found generally enjoyable, but the tapestry format left me wanting, probably because my earliest memories / ideas of weaving were tied to that floor loom I was exposed to.

Due to following several spinners on YouTube, I started getting some background exposure to weaving due to the high overlap in that space. I have been struggling with spinning anything thinner and more consistent than “art yarn” until fairly recently, and weaving seemed like a nice way to be able to use my handspun that couldn’t easily be used for knitting or crochet. (Note: I have yet to use any of my handspun in my weaving, though I hope to use some as weft, at least, in whatever project I pick up after my planned simplified houndstooth project).

In December of 2022, I decided I wanted to jump into weaving beyond on a tapestry loom. My main criteria when looking at looms were (a) I can weave variable amounts of cloth (i.e. not a tapestry loom), (b) the loom is fairly portable / can be made to take up less space, (c) the cost is less than $800, and (d) I have the ability to resell fairly easily if I am wrong about liking weaving. My size and cost criteria in particular ruled out all floor looms, and virtually all table looms, so I dug more deeply into rigid heddle looms.

I came very close to buying a Schacht Cricket. (Perhaps I “should” have gotten one, since there is a conversion kit to turn it into a 4 shaft table loom.) In the end I was swayed by size. The Schacht Cricket is only 15″ in width. Many patterns (including a couple I had an eye on for eventually weaving dishcloths) call for a rigid heddle loom that is at least 24″ wide. So I purchased a 25″ Schacht Flip (plus stand).

The loom and stand arrived on the 31st of December, 2022. I warped the loom for the first time on the 1st of January, 2023. Since I first warped the loom, I have completed 2 projects (simple weave practice, yielding fabric that can be used as shawls), and have a 3rd project currently on the loom.

First up, I used Lion Brand Mandala Bonus Bundle Yarn in the “Gnome” colorway. I already had this yarn sitting around because I was considering making it into a machine knit sweater. Since I hadn’t made sweater progress since the end of May, I decided that now was a good time to use the yarn as colorful practice for weaving. The yarn is acrylic (so has enough give / stretch to be fairly forgiving to new weavers). I still struggled a little with tension (both in the warp, and too tight of draw-in), but I love the way it turned out regardless! I am glad I started out with bright and cheerful colors.

simple weave in yellow / orange / pink / purples / greens on a loom with a stick shuttle with teal yarn on top
my first rigid heddle loom weaving project
a fringed shawl in colorful teal / green / purple / pink / orange / yellow plaid-ish pattern  hung over an empty rigid heddle loom on a loom stand
completed colorful shawl hung on my empty loom and loom stand

Because I wanted to practice more with tension, I decided to use an acrylic blend (in this case acrylic and cotton). I currently only have a 10 dent heddle, so I have been sticking mostly to DK weight yarn, so I used Lion Brand Comfy Cotton Blend yarn in the Silver Lining colorway and the Chai Latte colorway. I used a longer warp. I used mostly Silver Lining in the weft and the warp, with some Chai Latte included experimentally. I still had more draw-in than I wanted, but the warp tension felt improved over my first project.

a light wood rigid heddle loom with largely grey fabric, and a small stripe along the right side of orange / brown with a stick shuttle with orange / grey / brown yarn on it sitting on top
mostly grey simple weave
cool grey yarn in a simple weave pattern
close up of grey simple weave

My current project is for Fiberuary 2023, color week: some plaid fabric in red, white, blue, and green. The yarn I picked is intended for machine knitting, and isn’t great for weaving (not as strong as I hoped in the warp, and pretty sticky). Since the yarn is so thin, I put 2 strands in each slot and hole in the heddle instead of 1 strand, but I am weaving the weft in single strands.

a close-up view of dark red, white, blue, and green plaid simple weaving in progress
plaid weaving

Once I am finished with the plaid, simplified houndstooth is next up. I am loving what I can make with the rigid heddle loom so far, and am getting additional heddles so I can (a) use different sizes of yarn, and (b) try 3- and 4-shaft weaving patterns!