Monday, July 9, 2012

The Right Tool (or Loom) for the Job!

By birth I am a Taurus and we are known for our stubborness. I admit this is true. So true! Here is an excellent example. For some totally unfounded reason, I have been against rigid heddle looms without ever seeing one. Totally against them. I mean, really, who weaves with one shaft!! Not me...never!

However, my attitude changed recently, when I met a professional weaver at the farmer's market. After striking up a friendship, I unloaded my beautiful 8-shaft high castle Schacht loom on her! Hey, what are friends for? It's a disgrace to say that I used that loom TWICE, because when I weave, I usually use my 4-shaft loom.

So when my new friend, who purchased my old loom, told me that she had a rigid heddle loom, my entire universe went topsy turvy. Not to be outdone (as you know from my previous posts on my competiveness!!), I immediately went out and starting shopping online for one!

Good grief. There are loads and loads of different brands and many used ones on the market. Now, I'm good at being competitive but not good at making decisions. I finally settled on a 16-inch Ashford rigid heddle loom. I own/owned three different Ashford spinning wheels and a drum carder so I know the quality of their manufacturing. I went with the smaller loom because of the price and I planned to only use it for weaving handpsun scarves.

Well on Fridy, July 6th at 6:30:45 PM my new baby arrived.

Our other new "baby", Nell, gives her stamp of approval to the packaging.
Here she is fully assembled.

You can see here the single shaft/harness with the white plastic uprights (heddles).
It's called a rigid heddle loom because the heddles are affixed/do not move.
My husband, who loves to get his hands on any kind of project requiring a screwdriver or chainsaw, patiently put this together while I was breathing down his neck. I didn't even take the time to finish it with wood oil. (Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Ashford, but do you know how long that would take to dry completely in this humidity???).

I obediently wove the "starter project" the Ashfords provide instruction for in their rigid heddle loom booklet. The warp (vertical threads) are Lion Brand's Fisherman's Wool. The weft (horizontal threads) are from some of my handspun Jacob sheep's wool.

It still needs a quick press with a steam iron, but she's good to go. Don't you think?

Then things got really ugly around here. I am totally obsessed with this little loom and the very next day, I had to top myself with a fancy with a multi-yarn warp.

The warp is a combination of commercial sari yarn, hand-dyed yarns, and hand-spun, hand-dyed that?

And in my haste,  I made a few errors...

Here is a threading error -- see the empty slots in the heddle? I was able to correct it during the threading process.

Here was a weaving error -- see the two yarns floating on top? I had to unweave all the way back to the beginning of the error and weave it all over again.

Part of the problem is, when using novelty yarns (sari, boucle, etc.) or some handspun yarns, they like to stick to each other. So when you are weaving, you need to keep an eye on them so that errors don't happen!

And, within a few hours from warping to weaving, I had a pretty scarf:

So, um, for those of you waiting on your custom spinning jobs...I might be unavailable for awhile! :) I found a new toy, uh, tool!

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