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Advice for the Beginner

Yesterday I was on The Yarn Thing Podcast with the delightful Marly Bird.  She asked me, “If I know nothing about weaving and go to the Yarnworker site, which pattern should I pick?”  My first thought was our free Lovely Lace Scarf pattern or the Fat and Happy Scarf, but the great thing about beginners is that they don’t know what they can’t do, so they often end up doing extraordinary things that no one thought they could.

What’s on my loom? Handspun singles in a variable dent
rigid-heddle.  Stay tuned for the results.

Last week I taught a Crepe Weave class—weaving and spinning with singles—at The Recycled Lamb in Golden, Colorado.  One of the students told me that she walked into the shop four weeks prior to the class to ask if she could learn to spin in a month because she wanted to take the class.  By golly, she did it!  Next week she will warp with her handspun yarn.  (This student also took my doubleweave class as a relative beginner.  She is one go-getter.)

Here are the answers to four of the most often asked questions by new weavers. You may also want to check out the Summer 2014 issue of Creative Knitting. I wrote an article in that issues titled, “Warp, Weft, Shuttle, Shed: Weaving For Knitters”.

How do I get the yarns on the loom?
Warping is often where one gets stumped.  You can see it in action in this excellent video by Ashford here

What kinds of yarns can I use?
Most yarns you buy at a yarn store will work. Test your yarn to be sure it will hold up under the tension of the loom. To do this, pinch either end of a 4- to 6-inch section of the yarn between your index finger and thumb of each hand. Apply steady, firm pressure as if to pull the yarn apart. If the yarn drifts apart or breaks, it isn’t the best choice for warp. Fuzzy yarns such as mohair also aren’t a good choice unless they are sett loosely as they stick together, and you can’t get a good shed. However any yarn—loosely plied, tender, fuzzy—can be used for weft. 

I have no idea what all those words mean!
Schacht Spindle has the manual for the rigid-heddle looms available for free on their website. Not only do they give you good warping instructions there is a nice list of vocabulary words in the back.

How do I know which rigid heddle to use?

The rigid-heddle is like your knitting needle or crochet hook. You have to use the right heddle to get “gauge”. There are four sizes of rigid heddle—5, 7 1/2 or 8 (depending on what kind of loom you have), 10, and 12.  This number means that there are x number of slots and holes in an inch. This number is your “sett”. Check out my post on Wraps Per Inch to learn how to determine your sett.
On the Yarnworker Ravelry Group, I keep an updated list of resources for the rigid-heddle weaver.

Here are a list of other Ravelry rigid-heddle groups where you can meet up with weavers and find loads of information
Recommended References
New: Woven Scarves by Jane Patrick and Stephanie Flynn Sokolov is now out! We all know and love Jane, author ofThe Weaver’s Idea Book, but you will also adore Stephanie. She has training at FIT in accessory design and is truly a clever weaver.
Life After Warping by yours truly is a follow up to Slots and Holes that helps you fuss less and weave more.  I give you a ton of tips and techniques to improve your weaving. 


Weave on!
Chief Bottlewasher and Cheerleader at Yarnworker
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