A quick lesson in rigid heddle weaving…

So… I was working on a weaving today yesterday and realized… I have something to share with you.

So first of all let me begin by saying that the original post of this just vanished into the ether when I tried to post- thanks WordPress.

Ok – so let me really begin by saying that sometimes you have a friend who knows something you don’t, who no doubt learned it the hard way and is sharing information with you to make sure you don’t have a similar experience (right Frazzle?). And while you listen to that friend and take her advice, you don’t think about it quite enough and you keep having the same problems over and over again. For me that’s been tension on the outer edges (selvedge) of my weaving. This time I doubled the strands in the outer two heddles and eyes of both sides thinking that this might help. Well, it didn’t. Things got sloppy again. So my edges start off fine, end up really tight and then end up too loose. It’s a bizarre problem that made no sense, had no answers and was just a fact of weaving… or so I thought.

First let me say – if you have this same problem and you do things like hang pens or other oddities off those strands to increase the tension, it turns out neither you nor I invented that. It’s called a temple (check out these cool homemade ones). Anyway, that helps but there’s no way that’s the sum total of the solution.

Ok, so I thought that’s just that. That tension issue is part of why temples were invented – because everyone has that problem. And then I was messing around with the current WIP and realized what it is that I’d been missing for so long. It’s the drawing in. The unevenness in my selvedge is why I’m having some tension trouble – I’m sure of it.

So here’s the situation as I see it. When I’m throwing the shuttle, I’m carefulish about the outer edge and throw at roughly a 45* angle but… when my weaving space is getting full, that angle is compromised just due to lack of space. And it’s not quite enough, I’ve realized. What happens is that the edges end up all wibbly-wobbly

Exhibit A.

So that’s my weaving over one session. See how it’s progressively drawing in closer and closer to the middle? Well, it’s not supposed to do that. I can tell myself it’s no big deal or it works out in the end but really it turns out it doesn’t. I’m pretty sure that problem is part of what happens to the tension on those outer edges. Because when I leave it and come back to it watch what happens:

Exhibit B

See how you can’t see the underneath edges? Because I’m allowing for enough weft yarn. I had an epiphany that this is likely tied into the tension problem I have been having. If I can keep the sides consistent, I bet the tension isn’t going to go so crazy. There’s no rhyme or reason to it either – sometimes it’s too loose and sometimes too tight but it’s rarely right!

So how should it look to do it properly? Well, when I was paying attention it went like this:

And then at least this much yarn for the weft:

You might have too much and get these little neps (didn’t get a picture of them). You can easily rethrow that thread or leave them. I think I’m going to incorporate them into the next weaving as a design element – they look pretty cool really.


So, I hope this helps someone. I’ll let you know if it makes the next weaving a bit more selvedgely smooth!


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