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It’s About The Yarn

Recently Handwoven asked me to write a series of articles for rigid-heddle weavers exploring the basic building blocks of yarn work on the rigid-heddle loom.  The first was “Can I Weave That on My Rigid-Heddle Loom” (Handwoven November/December 2013). I’m not the first person to have tackled this question for the magazine.  If you can find it, check out Betty Linn Davenport’s article, “Adapting Handwoven Project Directions for Rigid Heddle Looms,” in the May/June 1993 issue.

I find that there is no real way to answer this question easily because it is like comparing apples to oranges.  Each style of loom is good at doing something in particular.  What the rigid-heddle loom is particularly good at it making use of all the delicious yarn that is available in today’s market.

Take a look at knitwear designer Stefanie Japel’s rigid-heddle woven shawl that she sported at Rhinebeck this year (pic taken by knitgrrl Shannon Okey).  Or, this recent project posted on the Purl Bee’s blog. Or, the discussion on designing tartans on the Ravelry’s rigid-heddle group.  Exploring the possibilities of plaid in contemporary yarns could take a lifetime!

Sure there are plenty of weave structure that we can’t weave easily on the rigid-heddle loom, but I’m not sure that is the point.  What we can weave is incredible!  Floor-loom weavers can’t take advantage of as many yarns as we can because they are too tender for floor looms (i.e. they shed or break) or we just don’t want to give us the greater loom waste that they require.

The real heart of the matter is how to best use the wonderful skein of yarn you just picked up at your local yarn shop to its best advantage and for that we have to tackle the question of sett. I will write about in the January/February 2014 issue of Handwoven.

Magazines are a great way to impart information and inspiration, but they aren’t very interactive and there is never enough room for all the photos and words we would like to include. If you have questions about the relationships between floor looms and rigid-heddle loom or other questions for that matter to join our Ravelry group or on Facebook and ask away, share your picks, or just say hi.

Yarnworker is about offering you the patterns and information that will help you make great cloth! Each Yarnworker pattern has a golden nugget that will help you make a beautiful object and discover a golden nugget of cloth making along the way. (By the way, I also have a new DVD out from Interweave called Life After Warping full of tips and techniques for weaving on the rigid-heddle loom.)

Weave on!


Liz Gipson
Chief Bottlewasher and Cheerleader at Yarnworker

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2 thoughts on “It’s About The Yarn”

  1. I am a beginner of spinning and weaving, if i had to choose a favourite it would be spinning first. Weaving made me intreaged. So i took the plunge and bought one. Its time consuming to set up and start. I also crochet and knit. I would love to know what type of yarns to use to what your making. I dont want to be using all my homespun yarn in weaving. Whats the best types of brand names are there of acrylic?. I see in the slots and holes video you used for the second part of the video it was done with two colours yarns?

    • I wrote a Knitty column on selecting yarns. If you are looking for good value and a nice yarn I love all of Brown Sheeps line. I use their Lana Loft and Cotton Fleece a lot. Also Lion Brand’s Kitchen Cotton is quite nice, the dyes hold up better than most of those types of worsted weight cottons. Hope that helps.

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