Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Warping up a Simple Rigid Heddle Loom

Basic learners loom
I have very little weaving experience but wanted to see if I could add a continuous warp to the Mini Loom sold by George Weil.  I had thought that the loom was just a basic frame and that the size of the woven cloth would be determined by the looms length and width. However, the warp can be extended so that scarves or table runners can also be woven on it!

Here are the step by step photos which I took while learning how to add a continuous warp to the loom so that it can be unwound to allow for a longer length of weaving.  I have used two colours of yarn to help demonstrate the difference in the shed which is made when the heddle bar is moved backwards and forwards (see my previous blog post about weaving on the Mini Loom).

I placed the loom on my dining table and wedged foam sponge inside the frame edge to stop it slipping while I tied one end of my Tekapo DK Wool Yarn onto the back of a chair (use a warping post if you have one). I then took the yarn around my first hook on the beam and back around the chair, repeating the process until the width of the loom was warped up.

It was difficult to maintain a consistent tension because the sponges did not stop the frame from moving about so I decided to use another chair and tie the loom to it before adding my second colour of warp which I took around the alternative teeth of the beam (see right).

The warp yarn taken through the hooks on the beam.  It is important to try and maintain the same tension for each of the warp threads.  Once the last warp thread was tied onto the beam, I removed the beam by loosening the wing nuts either side and sliding it out of the slot.

Removing the warp from the warping post

With the warp threads still tied onto the back of the chair, I pull the beam towards me to keep the threads taut.  I then placed a length of paper along the beam and rolled the beam down and away from me so that the warp threads rolled onto the beam. 

I continued adding lengths of paper along the beam as I rolled on the warp to help keep the warp threads separated.

Rolling on the continuous warp

When I had finished winding on my warp, I cut it from the back of the chair and then placed the threads into their relevant heddle slots, starting with the blue yarn and alternating with the orange yarn, taking them down through the slots on the front beam (see below).

Warp threads through the heddle

Nearly ready to weave!  When all the warp threads were positioned correctly, I took three or four threads in each hand and tied each group together.

Weaving on a basic loom 

The loom comes with two shuttles and I used one for my blue yarn and the other for my orange yarn.  I started my weaving with the blue yarn and then alternated the colours after a few rows of each.  When the weaving begins to get close to the heddle bar it is time to wind the weaving on.  You need to loosen off the wing nuts on both the front and back bars.  When you wind the back bar towards you it releases more of the warp, when you wind the front bar towards you the weaving is wound onto it and the warp tightened.

Below the heddle bar shows how the warp threads are separated to accepted the weft yarn which is wound onto the shuttle.  Moving the bar one way lifts the blue threads and moving the bar the other way lifts the orange threads.

The warp threads parting to create the shed.

Ashford Sample It LoomAn excellent demonstration for adding a warp to a more advanced rigid heddle loom, such as the Ashford Sample It Loom (left) can be found on the Ashford website.

The Ashford Sample It Loom is available from George Weil, as are a choice of other weaving looms, weaving equipment such as shuttles and warping posts, weaving yarns and a large selection of books about weaving techniques.

~ Allison Holland

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