Another Rigid Heddle Class, and my Demo piece

27 10 2008

I rush to Orange, Va today and for the next 4 mondays to teach a rigid heddle weaving class there. We will be using several different looms, so folks get a chance to see how they weave before buying a loom.  Here is a picture of the piece I did with the demo warp from Friday.  It took an hour or less to set-up the loom, and an hour to weave it off.  The yarns are $2/skein on sale at some cheap discounter.

Rigid Heddle Loom Review updated

25 10 2008

Since publishing the Rigid Heddle Loom review, I have woven on/with the Kromski Fiddle, and the Harp, and wanted to update the review, with these looms.  I also want to say that I read recently that some floor loom weavers consider rigid heddle looms to be ‘toys’.  Well, they are fun, they are small, they generally provide a quick weave,  so my rigid heddle looms are my toys.  My floor looms are my toys, and my tapestry loom is my toy.  My work is my play.  And I do a LOT of it.  Don’t worry about what others think.  How much fun are you having?

OK, to review the looms:

Beka.  It’s a a simple loom.  I like the Beka because it’s an inexpensive way to have rigid heddle looms to take from art center to art center without renting a larger vehicle.  They are lightweight, and graceful looking. These looms assemble in less than 5 minutes.  The ratchet brake is fairly secure, but the end of the 2 beams screw into the side supports, and (Dislikes) these tend to tighten themselves so the warp doesn’t advance without working with them every time.  The block that holds the rigid heddle up, or down, is just that, a block of wood, as a result, the heddle slips off a good deal.  I also don’t find it comfortable as a lap loom.  It just doesn’t rest well against the table, and if tilted, the rigid heddle is even less likely to stay in the up or down position.  If you have the money for a better loom, don’t spend your money here. This loom should cost approx $110 for a 20″, and $127 for a 24′ .  Included equipment are 2 stick shuttles, a pickup stick, and a threading hook.  Be aware: No warping device is included!

Schacht rigid heddle looms Schacht is an ok lap loom.  Again, it’s very rudimentary, streamline, and graceful looking. It’s very light weight, and easy to travel with.  I like the Schacht for the same reason I liked the Beka.  I also like the fact that Schacht notches the block that holds the rigid heddle up, or down.    As you know, anything with the Schacht name is not “economy” priced. I dislike it because it is rather an economy loom,by design, yet at nearly twice the price of the Beka. The warp brake is tightened by screwing the block on the back beam, which allows slippage, leading to frustration in my classes.  So between the price, and the slippage, I don’t use Schacht. It comes with a clamp, warping peg, stick shuttle, and threading hook. Generally, these looms cost approx $180 for a 20″ loom, and $200 for a 25″ loom.

Kromski Harp is a lovely loom.  I didn’t plan on liking either Kromski because the hinged loom seems like a rather silly idea to me.  LIkes:The rigid heddle loom is already so much smaller than other looms, why hinge it.  Yet one of my students who travels a lot said, “simple, to fly with it”.  Yes, it would travel better in that small state. I began liking the loom as soon as I finished putting it together.  The wood is finished.  The various supports are turned wood, or otherwise decorative, there is a system with the loom to assist in threading, the loom comes with a nice heddle/reed hook, a DVD, clear instructions, a pretty rigid heddle, clear assembly instructions, warping devices and shuttles.  It’s a good deal.  I got the 16″ for $189, which is a good price for a package that includes everything you need.  Dislikes: I didn’t like the density of the reed, but that’s because I’m so fond of the Leclercs, which come with a more widely sett reed.  I’m concerned the hinge will come loose.  I can’t figure out how to carry the loom, as the hooks come unhooked when the loom is folded.  You pretty much have to buy a carry bag to keep the stuff together (good thing they sell one).  I have enjoyed it in the few days I’ve had it.  It is the only rigid heddle loom that I’ve bought to teach on that just beckoned me to use after class.  I will buy more of these if this holds up.  It’s actually a good buy.

Ashford Knitter’s Loom never got reviewed in the original or update because it seemed so much like the Kromski. I have now taught on one, and it’s not a Kromski. The knitter’s loom has a unique feature in the fact that it folds partially to weave.  I don’t see this as a pro or con to the loom. Unlike the Kromski, there is no device to hold your warping rod while threading the heddle. Of course this is because Ashford ships the loom with a single warping peg, and instructions for direct warping. In small homes, this is not always the best way. Actually, I always prefer to pre-measure my warp on a board. And, when teaching, the space requirements for direct warping are ridiculous.  I like Ashford and would not overly discourage someone from getting this loom, but would recommend the Kromski, Bergere, or Penelope over this loom. I don’t see any specific benefit this loom offers that one cannot find in any other rigid heddle loom. It is a nice, functional loom. Comes with warping peg, heddle hook, reed hook, clamps and instructions.  Additional heddles, and stand are available, as is a carry-all.

Kromski Fiddle is a cheaper alternative if you want a Kromski, but don’t want a hinged loom.  It’s a comfortable loom to use.  I got the 16″ version for about $130. It comes with the hook, a warping peg, shuttles, and assembly instructions, as well as that cool system for holding the apron rod to make warping easier.  It is simpler to assemble than the harp.  Dislikes: The wood is unfinished. It does not come with use instructions, or a DVD.  The heddle is very closely sett, and Too bad.  I will use both the Kromski looms again.  Very good loom.  I would pay more, and be more likely to buy this again, as well as recommend it if it were finished wood, and if it came with some use instructions.  Overall, it’s a very good loom.

Ashford has a nice looking loom.  It’s a lot like the harp without the warping board attached.  I thought I was really going to like it.  It looks rather modern with it’s colorful ratchets and it’s wonderful instruction booklet. Another nice thing about this loom, is that the craftsmanship is quality.  The looms are soundly constructed, finished nicely, and fairly well designed.  The very best feature of the Ashford Rigid Heddle looms, is the clear, instruction manual that accompanies the looms.  A full color instruction booklet that is nearly failsafe is priceless for self-taught beginners.  This is a wonderful feature!  For some reason, however, I find the ratchet/dog system failed me several times, and winding on the warp is not a simple task, because the loom doesn’t have a crank on the warp beam.  All of the above mentioned looms are simple in design, and structurally should make very good lap looms.  I found this one is the best lap loom. It rests easily on the table, and the heddle stays firmly in place when the warp is sufficiently tight.The 24″ runs about 165.00 and it comes with 2 stick shuttles, 2 threading hooks, a clamp, and the precious INSTRUCTIONS!

Leclerc Bergere is a tabletop rigid heddle loom.  It has metal ratchets, and dogs, handles to wind the warp on, and the rigid heddle securely rests in the notched “castle post”.  It’s a more complex design than the aforementioned rigid heddle looms in that it is raised off the table by legs, and has a castle type device for the heddle, rather than simply a support block.  It comes with a styrene boat shuttle, 2, 28″ long stick shuttles, metal lea sticks, a set of 2 warping blocks (each has 2 pegs for creating a cross in your warp), and warp sticks with cord.  As you can see, this is a loom, and if you want to learn the entire process of warping, this is a great place to start.  You get a lot of equipment for a weaving studio, and a very good table top rigid heddle loom.  I really like this loom.  It’s good for me because as an instructor who travels to art centers(that don’t own looms) to teach, I can take a loom that I can actually teach the entire process of dressing a loom on, and it translates to the student’s floor loom also, because the loom is designed to be dressed back to front like a floor loom.  The rigid heddle rests firmly in the notches, and there is a ‘rest’ position for threading it.  it travels well with the loom warped by simply putting rubber bands around the joint where the rigid heddle rests in the castle post.  It comes with a very clear, thorough instruction booklet that will easily get a beginner started with the loom, and with some elemental tapestry techniques.  However, what I don’t like, is that it is not graceful and complact.  It doesn’t have a simple design, and really isn’t a lap loom.  Also, although I like Leclerc looms a lot, the craftsmanship on the older Leclerc looms is better.  The craftsmanship on the loom is rudimentary.  At just $165, this 24″ loom stands head and shoulders above the others for my purposes. (best overall rigid heddle loom in this review)

Leclerc Penelope II is a rigid heddle tapestry loom.  It is weaves 22.5″ and works as an upright double rigid heddle loom.  It can be used with a single rigid heddle, but comes equipped with 2.  The craftsmanship is very good on this loom, the beams are braked with metal ratchets and dogs, the beams also have cranks for easy beaming of the warp.  As the loom is designed to be used vertically, the rigid heddle supports are designed to hold the heddles securely in this position.  The loom is designed to be warped with lea sticks, and in a ‘back to front’ fashion.  Again, this makes it a wonderful pre-cursor to a floor loom, if that is the direction the weaver is headed.  This loom gives very good tension on the warp, and is comfortable for a variety of tapestry techniques for tapestry, but is not an efficient loom as a substitute for plain weave, or pattern weaving quickly because of it’s upright position.  I’m very impressed with this loom.  It comes with tapestry bobbins, metal lea sticks, 2 warping blocks, which have 2 pegs each, for creating a cross in your warp, heddle hook, and 2 long stick shuttles.  Now, for the downside, it also comes with an instruction booklet that has instructions for the Penelope, but not the Penelope II.  As of the date of this review, I had not been able to get instructions from the company on how to use the 2nd rigid heddle with the loom, as the instructions are for a single rigid heddle design.  Thanks to Schacht for the clear instructions on how to thread a 2 heddle rigid heddle loom. What do I not like about this loom?  As I mentioned, it’s not for someone who wants to ‘crank out’ rigid heddle work. Other than that, I can’t come up with a single thing I don’t like. It’s definitely a rigid heddle loom for the tapestry weave, or a weaver who wants to do 4 harness work on a rigid heddle loom.  .  At $235, this loom is a bargain. (I own 5 of them, and am getting ready to order 3 more… mostly for teaching, but occassionally, for some ‘me’ time).Excellent loom

Rigid Heddle Weaving Class

25 10 2008

Well, I had a rigid heddle weaving class yesterday in Mathews, VA.  Everything seemed to go well.  There were 7 students registered, one got sick and couldn’t come.  Another registered, and then had to work, so we had 5 students.  That was a great number.  I brought a Kromski Harp, and a Kromski Fiddle, so I could add those to the ‘review’ of Rigid Heddle looms.

It seemed like everyone had a very good time.  For the first time, I took some pre-measured warps with me.  And measured one warp in class, to demonstrate how it is done.  This allowed me to teach the entire class in 6 hours.  Generally, I have to leave looms behind, for students to finish up their projects.  That was not the case with this class.  It was sponsored by the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, through their Statewide Partnership program.  Part of the criteria for the program is that the student be able to complete the work within the 6 hour time slot, so I had to find a way to hone some time off the usual 10 hours.  Pre-measuring warps was perfect.  I also narrowed the warps from the usual 12-15″ warps to 6″ warps.  Each person made a very nice narrow scarf.  We used a Leclerc Tapestry loom (Penelope II), a Leclerc Bergere, a Kromski Harp, a Kromski Fiddle, and a Beka 20″ rigid heddle loom.  As we enjoyed the  day, students watched each other with the looms, learned what the benefits and downfalls of each looms was, and decided what loom is best for them.  One thought the Penelope was best for her, one bought the Beka she had used, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Harp.  The lady who used the Fiddle was also thrilled with the loom she used, while the lady who used the Bergere had bought it in a previous workshop.  Here are some pics of the workshop, and the finished scarves.

Thanks for peeking in, and drop me a line sometime, or leave a comment on the blog.  My students, and visitors love to read your comments.


quick double-weave throw

18 10 2008

I never do double weave.  Although i frequently teach it, I decided to break with my own traditions and do a double weave piece in dime store yarns that can be thrown into the washing machine.  Another break is that I decided to weave something for me.  From start to finish, it was intended to be for me.  I made a throw, and chose exactly the colors I wanted.  I worked on it in spare moments before and after classes, and it only took about 4 hours.  Those four hours were over a two week period, and the day I finished it, I was sick with a nasty cold, and it was dreary, rainy.  It came off the lom, and I washed and wet-finished it, then went home and curled up under it and slept.  What a wonderful thing it is.  If you would like to see it, here it is:


16 10 2008

Some of you may remember that I’m spending most of Oct, and a week in Nov. as an artist-in- residence at one of the public middle schools.  It’s the #1 reason I haven’t posted in a few days.

Last week, we made thigh spindles from dowels and CD’s, spun yarn, and made PVC frame looms and strung them up.  The kids are now weaving on the looms, and we have begun felting.  We are felting component parts this week, that will be used for embellishment of the finished piece.  It’s exhausting.  I’m up very early (leave the house at 6:45), and leave school at 3:00 pm.  Then I still have my After school program I work with at the Visual Arts Center (it too, is with middle schoolers, and we are weaving tapestries).  On Wed. and Thurs, I then have my evening, adult weaving classes.  So I’m getting home at 10 pm.  Fortunately, It’s an 18 day residency.  I’m sure it will be over too soon, as I love to work with kids this age.

I have taught some of the kids to crochet, and we are working on Granny squares.  Then, in my planning period, the art teacher sends kids in to my studio at the school, and I work with them individually, teaching some to spin on the wheel, and others get special help with their class work.

My core group is 6th graders, and we are felting a set of 2 murals that are 8′ high, by 4′ wide.  They will be permanently installed at the school, when I’m finished here.  Keep us in mind if you have a loom that you might be looking for a home for, as Richmond City Schools would like one for the Arts and Humanities Center.  More later.


How lucky can a fiber artist get?

8 10 2008

I’m working as an artist in residence right now, for a  middle school in Richmond.  It’s a very nice ‘gig’. The kids are typical middle school kids, which I generally enjoy teaching.  The classroom is massive, and not…..NOT cluttered up.  This teacher has storage space, nice kids, an open and inviting room, computers and A GALLERY!

While I’m at the school, the gallery is my studio space.  It’s very large, and I have brought in a floor loom, a couple of spinning wheels, and lots of yarn and fiber.  While I’m at the school, I get to mingle with the wonderful folks there, work with the kids (some of whom are very talented), and use their space as my own studio space.  How lucky is that?  Plus the art teacher, her fellow teachers, and the administrators are all friendly, deeply interested in the kids success and stimulation…It’s just too good to be true.

Here is a picture of the gallery (my studio for now).  If I get permission, I’ll put up pictures of our progress, OK?

Hot off my own loom

2 10 2008

And a few pics of what’s off my loom this week.  A sister set of pieces in the weave I designed. One is with a pink and green weft, the other has the tri-colored weft and is tromp as writ.  Then the lacy piece.  I love it, and realize it’s very tender and will snag on everything.  Que Sera. I really like it and will enjoy it until it is all snagged up.  It’s alpaca, and light enought that it floats on air (figuratively speaking).