03 April 2013

Backstrap Rigid Heddle Loom

Tomorrow and Friday I’ll be at an alpaca show doing a spinning demonstration, something I’ve done several times before – always a fun (if tiring) time. Some other spinner friends come too, and we get to play with lovely fibre for a couple of days and explain it to people as they come by to see the animals. It’s cool.

I wanted to take some weaving along this time, so we can make something with the yarn that is spun. We have taken a full sized Rigid Heddle loom in the past, and could have done that again, but I wanted to try out the extremely portable backstrap loom setup, just to see how it worked.

I ordered a small rigid heddle (one of the advantages of owning a fibre shop!) and did a bit of reading online … and voila, a loom:

Photo 2013-04-03 12 30 51 PM

(Sorry about the sun glare.)

That’s a purchased rigid heddle, a stick shuttle I found upstairs, and two pieces of bamboo and some short dowelling. And some string. Oh, and the green piece of test-weaving I did back when I first got the loom works perfectly as the backstrap! It was way too thick and unweildy to be a scarf, though it had approximately scarf-sized-dimensions, so it is wrapped around my back and tied with loops of string to the bamboo pole closest to me.

I’ll get some more pictures of the loom in use at the alpaca show, but yep, it’s easy and affordable! The only tricky part is figuring out how to hook the loops on the wound up rods so that they don’t unwind on you, but with a bit of trial and error I got that figured out.

So, that’s where I’ll be for the next couple of days – then a workshop on the weekend, so I expect I’ll be pretty tired by the time this is all done!

Got some pictures of the loom in use at the Alpaca Show:

Photo 2013-04-05 11 19 50 AM

Photo 2013-04-05 11 19 24 AM

Photo 2013-04-05 11 19 58 AM

Things I learned:

  • The top bar of the loom needs to be firmly affixed at both ends so that it doesn’t wobble side to side; this helps keep the tension more even.
  • The sett on this heddle is quite wide, and the weaving looked best with the weft yarns doubled up.
  • To hook the belt loop over the bar so it won’t unroll, you need to: loop the string over both bars (the big bamboo stick and the small dowel that the weaving is rolled against), then take the bottom of the string and loop it around once more, then hook the string under the dowel and out over the top of it. By catching the string on the dowel, when the whole thing tries to unroll as you put tension on it, it is stopped by the loop at the dowel. This was the trickiest part of the whole thing, but once I had the hang of it, it was fine.

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