Tag Archives: looms

One More Reason To Love The Rigid Heddle Loom

 

photo of 24" RH loom with cotton mat project in progress

If you weave with a rigid heddle loom, you already know it’s a wonderful way to weave.

You don’t need me to remind you of all the advantages.

You already know – and appreciate – what your rigid heddle loom can do.

  • You know how easy it is to set up your loom when you’re ready to weave.
  • And you know how easy it is to put it away when you’re not.
  • You know that your loom offers endless fabric-making possibilities.

I know these things, too.
They’re a few of the reasons why I choose to teach weaving with RH looms and why I wholeheartedly recommend the rigid heddle loom to anyone interested in weaving.
Especially anyone eager to explore the craft without having to spend lots of money for a much larger and more expensive piece of equipment.

Rigid heddle looms are affordable, portable, simple, and versatile.

But if someone asks you why you love weaving with your rigid heddle loom you might have more personal reasons.   You might say it’s because:

  • You can take your loom outside with you on a fine summer’s day.
  • You can weave on your porch, under a tree, in a park or on the beach.
  • You can hang your loom on the wall  – and display your handwoven art.
  • You can take your loom with you on vacation or on a business trip.

Maybe most important of all:

You can access your creativity with a rigid heddle loom.

The funny thing is, even though I know and appreciate all of these things, until recently I’ve done almost all of my weaving on a floor loom.

Until recently, I’ve felt more comfortable weaving with a floor loom.

Maybe because I learned to weave on a floor loom.
Maybe it’s just a habit I developed because I’ve spent so much time practicing with a floor loom.
Or maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a loom snob.  Maybe I choose to believe that a floor loom is “better” than any other type of loom.
Maybe.

But maybe the reason I haven’t spent much time weaving with a rigid heddle loom is simply that I haven’t had to.   I’ve had access to (and a definite preference for) a different type of loom.

Funny how things change.

My new reason to love the rigid heddle loom? – I don’t have to use my knees.
And recently, I’ve been having pain in my knees.

Of course it makes me sad not to be able to use my floor looms – dancing on those treadles is part of the fun.
And of course I hope I’ll be able to weave that way again, soon.

But for now, my “weaving way” is moving me slowly and gently in a different direction.

And once I decided to get over feeling disappointed and frustrated, I started to get excited about this new path.

I’m excited about planning projects that – until now – have been outside my preferred (and comfortable?) method of operation.

I’m also intrigued by the appearance of this unimagined opportunity and the impact it has on the choices I make – turning me away from what I know well – towards ideas I hadn’t (and likely would not have) considered before now.

I love weaving.  I love spending time making fabric by hand.

And this change in circumstance reminds me of why, exactly, that is.

Weaving helps me learn about myself.

One thing’s for sure:  if you’ve ever thought (like I did) that weaving with a rigid heddle loom “just isn’t the same” as weaving with floor loom – you’d be right.

There are a lot of reasons why it’s a whole lot better.

I gotta go figure out what I want to weave next.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio

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Nearly 30 Years of Weaving And I Still Don’t Know “Jack”

We’re not total strangers, jack and I.  We’ve crossed paths.  Met briefly at a couple of workshops, and at a friend’s house.

I’ve read several descriptions.  And seen a lot of pictures.

But we’ve only ever had a passing acquaintance.  We’re certainly not good friends.  And the thought of spending any real time together?
It never crossed my mind.

Not until recently, that is.

Maybe because my first loom – a counter-balance loom  – seems like the perfect loom.  Small and sturdy.  Exactly the right loom for me.

I  learned  to love weaving with a counter-balance loom.

Photo of 27" Leclerc Counter-Balance loom

My first and favorite loom – a 27″ Leclerc “Fanny”

Maybe that’s why my second loom is also a counter-balance loom.

Photo of 36" Leclerc Counter-Balance Loom

My second loom – a 36″ Leclerc “Fanny”

And my third.

Photo of 45" Leclerc Colonial Counter-Balance Loom

My third counter-balance loom, a 45″ Leclerc Colonial

To me, these looms represent everything good about weaving.
Easy, effortless and enjoyable.

I’m happy weaving with these  looms  – and have great long  lists of  “what to weave next” – projects perfectly suited to weaving with a counter-balance loom.

So even though the 45″ (older) Leclerc Colonial is convertible – (and not just from counter-balance to jack, – I have the kit to add 4 more harnesses), – even though I could switch it over to a jack loom, – I’ve never been particularly interested in giving it a try.

Any discussion of counter-balance vs. jack  fell by the wayside.
Into the category:  “It doesn’t matter, it’s not important, and I don’t care”.

Until recently, that is.

Because recently I’ve had several conversations about looms.  Conversations with people in my Learning to Weave classes; conversations with weavers thinking about getting a different/smaller loom; conversations with people visiting during Open Studio Weekend; conversations about choosing the “right” loom, and which loom is the “best” loom.

And I’ve started thinking about how limited my weaving is.

When a question comes up about jack looms, all  I can say is:
“I don’t know”.

(For the record, I think “I don’t know” is a perfectly good answer.)

But all that thinking and not-knowing made  me curious.  Not just about why I was choosing not to know.  (Although that may be the more interesting question.)  I started to get curious about “jack”.

How would (my) weaving be different if I used a jack loom?

The Leclerc Looms  website  has good  information about the mechanical differences between counter-balance,  jack and countermarche looms – along with the advantages and disadvantages of each system.

But I wanted to know what it meant to me.
What did it have to do with the kind of things I like to make – or  the kind of fabric I like to weave?

Would having a jack loom change how I felt about weaving?  Could I, would I, should I – weave differently – or explore different things  if I had a different type of loom?  Was there something in particular I wanted to try, but couldn’t accomplish with a counter-balance loom?’

And the “ifs” turned into “then”  and “when”.
If I was considering converting the Colonial to a jack loom,  then I might as well set it up with all 8 harnesses.  And if  I was going to look for a learning project, then I might as well look for one  that  let me experiment with multiple harnesses.
When I found the right project I decided to give it a try.

Photo of Leclerc Colonial Loom as 8 harness jack loom

My Colonial Loom with 8 harnesses.

After 2 months and three warps, I’m surprised and pleased.    The nearly completed project was a perfect introduction to “jack”.   And even though it represented just a little bit of time – (in weaver time) – it feels like time well spent.
Most of all, this experience  helped clarify something the Home Economist (Consumer Scientist?) in me suspected – something the Weaver in me needed to know for sure.

It’s not just about the loom.

Our personalities, values,  lifestyle choices,  likes and dislikes,  dreams, aspirations, goals –  all of those things deserve our attention.

The first loom you use may not be either “right” or “best”.  But if it gets you weaving, it’s a still a good choice.  It’s important to notice what feels like fun – and what doesn’t.

Keep weaving.  And pay attention. Weaving can show you things.
Whatever loom you use.

Your preferences will show up in the fabric.

Photo of various colors used in 8H weaving.

Changing weft colors made this an adventure!

I’ll tell you why this was such a great project in my next post.

Right now, with another 20 inches or so left on this (last) warp –
 I gotta go weave.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio

I love my Fanny!

The one I started with was fairly  small.  But after a few years – having a bigger one seemed,  – natural.

Photo of small floor loom

27" Fanny

You can see a photo of my other Fanny here.

(So much for my first attempt at writing an attention grabbing headline, eh?)

Other proud owners of Leclerc weaving equipment will recognize  Fanny as the name of a floor loom.   But it’s not a current favorite  – especially with new weavers.

Someone browsing through ads in weaving magazines is unlikely to come across a picture of one.  These days, the Fanny seems old-fashioned.

Which is part of its appeal for me.

If you’re unfamiliar with weaving:  – The system that creates a space for the shuttle to move back and forth between the warp threads in this loom is a counter-balance system. It looks and acts a lot like the looms in use a couple of hundred years ago.

My other floor loom, a Leclerc Colonial, really does look like what you might imagine an Early American, Colonial-type-person using – to produce household and clothing fabrics.   (Though maybe not in a room this color).

Photo of LeClerc Colonial floor loom

My 45" Leclerc Colonial

Sometimes I imagine myself as that person – laboring to improve the well-being of my family – making useful cloth.

I know that I feel a connection to certain periods in history – when the work of the family included weaving and spinning.

Working in, on, at, and around these looms, I feel very comfortable.    And at home.

If you love to weave, – what ever the make or model of your loom, whether it’s old or new, big or small – you’re likely to feel intimately involved.

Yikes!  Maybe this conversation needs to contiue – with another attention grabbing headline, like:

Who’s got the biggest one?

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio