As multicraftual textile artists, we’re attracted to anything fibre. We enjoy the magic of dyeing colourful yarn, the interplay of textures in our crocheted pieces. We also enjoy the patterns in our knitting. Maybe you’re ready to learn to weave as another outlet.
But weaving might seem like a daunting task, more so with all the tools and materials needed to even get started. A big floor loom may need us to rearrange our living space (an excellent option is joining a Weaver’s Guild, where you can have opportunities to borrow equipment or weave at the guild’s studio if available).
Here comes the rigid heddle loom! It’s an easier type of loom that fits into many lifestyles, an easier tool to put away when not in use, and easier to warp without needing extra equipment.
Learning Rigid Heddle Basics
Felicia Lo’s Rigid Heddle Weaving Basics course shows us all the fundamentals we need to get started. The Square One scarf is the perfect canvas to learn the basics of how to warp your loom, weave, and finish your textiles. Choosing different hand-painted skeins from your stash change the look of the woven cloth in so many ways.
Once we start getting comfortable with the rigid heddle loom, the next course to explore is Clasped Warp & Weft on Rigid Heddle with Amanda Wood. Amanda is a tactile media artist by profession, and she brings her elegant aesthetic to the class projects, where only two skeins of lace yarn are needed to tackle both class projects. The Cherry Blossoms Cowl pattern covers how to weave a clasped warp, while the Cherry Blossoms Scarf shows how to weave clasped weft (an easy technique to apply to any weaving tool, from simple looms to floor looms.).
Expanding Your Rigid Heddle Skills
After you learn to weave your foundational pieces, it’s time to expand those skills. Amanda brings her willingness to play with samples again into the absolutely graphic Colour & Weave on Rigid Heddle Loom course. For any crafter unaccustomed to “waste” materials, and wanting to make useful projects, this may be the first introduction to sampling.
As a matter of fact, the first course’s step is weaving a Colour & Weave gamp. Basically, we start sampling with the yarn we plan to use for our project. This shows the contrasting patterns and how they change the feel of the cloth. Through sampling, we get used to weaving the yarn, to feel if the hand of the finished piece is adequate for our planned project, and the gamp becomes a palette of options to start designing your next cloth.
Amanda designed the Breakfast Eggs Towels pattern as the project for that course and it helps us become proficient at handling two shuttles. After having woven our own gamp, designing our own fabric is a natural next step.
Another option for your Learn to Weave journey is to follow the Rigid Heddle Study Guide; it’s a step-by-step guide that leads you through the warping, weaving and designing process on a rigid heddle loom.
Additionally, we find a simple tool: the pick-up stick. It allows us to expand the capacities of our rigid heddle loom. Amanda leads us through the Lace with Pick-Up Sticks on a Rigid Heddle course, where we explore how a pick-up stick enables us to mimic some of the functions of a shaft loom. We learn to disrupt the plain weave structure with intentionally placed holes and how to create warp and weft floats on our cloth.
If you have ever wanted to learn to weave but are still on the fence, I encourage you to watch the classes at the School of SweetGeorgia. You may become enthralled with the way the colour plays in the woven cloth and find a rigid heddle weaving loom, as I did. You’ve got all the support and resources available as you learn in the Community Forums!