I’ve heard weavers say that if you learn one good tip at a workshop, it was worth the price of admission. Well, here are many good tips and tricks from Elisabeth Hill about starting to weave on a rigid-heddle loom, a few of which I intend to put into my own arsenal! Download one or more of the free Team Colors scarf patterns, and then check out what Elisabeth has to say to help you get your own Team Colors scarf on the loom.
As we all know, “you have to be warped to weave”—and getting a warp on the loom can seem like a high hurdle for many new weavers. The good news about rigid-heddle weaving is that warping the loom can really be a pain-free process. Here are a few tips, tricks, and tools that work for me and may help you get off the bench and onto the field, er, loom!
Design for direct-warping.
Direct warping is the simplest way to get weaving on a rigid-heddle loom, and even numbers make direct-warping even simpler. I designed the Team Colors scarves to make direct warping easy with stripes that are made up of even numbers of ends.
Determine your scarf length.
All four Team Colors scarves start with a 108" (3-yard) warp. This length results in scarves that are approximately 72" long. For other scarves, decide on a finished length that suits you and adjust the warp length accordingly. To get an idea of how long I want a finished scarf to be, I use a 108" tape measure, wrap it loosely around my neck and hang it down to where I want the ends of my scarf to be. This gives me my desired finished length, and I can determine—by adding loom waste, take-up, and shrinkage—what my warp length should be.
Find a place for direct warping your loom.
I happen to have a dining-room table that works great for a 3-yard warp and makes the process simple. However, the process can be adapted in many creative ways depending on when and where you are warping. I have warped my rigid-heddle loom in state parks and motel parking lots and off the tailgate of my old Toyota. I highly recommend Liz Gipson’s “Slots and Holes” video for offering warping options that may work for your needs.
Prep for direct warping.
You have the loom, but there are some other things you can do that will make direct warping easier.
- Try the Irwin Quick-Grip clamp if the warping peg clamp that came with your loom doesn’t fit your furniture. My dining table has a very thick top, and I find that it works as a fabulous warping peg on any table thickness. I attach my loom on one end of my table and attach my clamp on the other end, making sure it aligns with the center of my loom.
- Use rubber bands to attach your tie-on rod to your heddle on both sides. This keeps the tie-on rod straight when you start warping and prevents the heddle from sliding during the process.
- Place your balls of yarn behind the loom on the floor (either using center-pull balls or placing each color in a separate bowl to prevent the balls from rolling), center for your required width, and use the thick end of your sley hook to pull the first loop through the edge slot.
Use warp separators when you wind on.
Paper works well, and some looms come with cardboard strips, but my favorite warp separator is a set of bamboo placemats. They are 12¾" wide, and a set of 6 works perfectly for most scarf lengths.
To avoid tangles, pay attention when you cut your warp loop off the warping peg.
I hold the loop from the warping peg in my hand and cut it as evenly as possible. I then gently flip the “top of the loop” over the heddle and secure the bottom of the loop in a few bouts. Then, deploying the “threading side” of my sley hook, I thread the holes using the top threads. This ensures that when I thread the holes, I minimize any twisting of the slot and hole threads.
Plan for your finish before you start.
You need to think about how you would like to finish your scarf before you start to weave. Whatever decisions you make necessitate slight tweaks to your starting point.
- Do you prefer a tailored hem like on the Jagger Spun Team Colors Away Scarf? Lash onto the apron rod to save warp and start your scarf with a thinner weft so your hems aren’t thick.
- What about a jazzy, twisted fringe such as the one on the Jagger Spun Team Colors Home Scarf and the Halcyon Yarn Team Colors Away Scarf? If you want a 6" twisted fringe, you need to allow at least 8" of unwoven warp to get the length needed for twisting.
- Are you going to hemstitch as I did on the Halcyon Yarn Team Colors Home Scarf? Tie onto the apron bar and leave yourself a long weft tail on your first pick to use for hemstitching.
Create a template to track your progress.
Use a pattern template on grosgrain ribbon or twill tape to keep track of your pattern and help you maintain the correct picks per inch (ppi). This prevents running out of warp or weft mid-motif and helps you develop a consistent beat. All four of the Team Colors scarves have directions for doing this, including measurements.
Prep your shuttles.
Both stick and boat shuttles work for these scarves. When I work with any yarn heavier than fingering weight, my preference is a stick shuttle a little longer than my warp is wide. Stick shuttles hold a lot of yarn, are relatively inexpensive and I find them easier to manage when I am using multiple shuttles.
Spread your warp and start weaving.
Let’s say you want a 6" twisted fringe with hemstitching. Estimate how much warp you’ve used for tying on, then bring your warp forward if needed to allow for 8" of unwoven warp. Open a shed and, using scrap yarn, throw the first pick but don’t beat. Change sheds, throw, change sheds, throw, and then beat. This will spread the warp. Leave a small gap and throw the first pick of scarf weft leaving a tail 4x the width of your warp. Throw 3 more picks and hemstitch using the weft tail. Measure, noting that you may need to throw a couple extra picks before your first color change because the hemstitching compresses the beginning picks. Attach your template and start weaving, using the weft color orders in the Team Colors scarves downloads. Game on!
Download the patterns here!
- Download Nuggets' Home: Halcyon Yarn Team Colors Home Scarf
- Download Nuggets' Away: Halcyon Yarn Team Colors Away Scarf
- Download Patriots' Home: Jagger Spun Team Colors Home Scarf
- Download Patriots' Away: Jagger Spun Team Colors Away Scarf
Seriously, I never thought about separating my warp threads at the loop to keep them from twisting and tangling. I’m starting a Team Colors scarf for my husband, using the colors of the Jagger Spun Team Colors Away Scarf and the pattern of the Jagger Spun Team Colors Home Scarf. I’m using that tip, and I’ll keep you posted on how it works.