Summer Breeze Scarf
Weaving setts of 8, 10, and 12 ends per inch are typical when weaving on a rigid heddle loom. This is because rigid heddle reeds are made of plastic which makes it hard to manufacture a reed with a spacing finer than twelve dents-per-inch.
So are you stuck weaving worsted-weight yarns on a rigid-heddle loom?
Happily, no. You can double the sett of a rigid-heddle loom by using two heddles. For example, if you use two twelve-dent heddles, you can weave at twenty-four epi.
Here’s how it works: Thread the first heddle (back one) with three threads in each slot and one thread in each hole. Then thread the second (front heddle), offsetting the threads. You’ll thread each hole thread from the back heddle into the adjacent slot to the right in the front heddle, and thread the three slot threads, one in the adjacent slot to the right, one in the hole, and the third thread in the slot to the left.
Note: Some rigid-heddle looms (like the Schacht Flip) are designed to be able to weave with two heddles. Others (like the Kromski Harp) can be upgraded to work with two heddles by purchasing a set of add-on blocks to support the second heddle. Looms that do not have a two-heddle upgrade option (like the Ashford Knitter's Loom) can still be used, but you might have to get a bit creative and engineer your own way to support the second heddle when it is resting in the "up" and "down" sheds.
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I used several techniques to create this scarf: Two heddles for a fine 20 e.p.i. sett, spaced warps add floats for textural interest, heavy fulling in the washing machine creates a dense fabric, and finally, aggressive steam pressing produces a lustrous, soft finish.
- Schacht 15” Flip Rigid Heddle Loom or other rigid-heddle loom adapted to weave with two heddles.
- Two 10-dent rigid heddles (for an effective sett of 20 end per inch)
- Warping peg
- Slim boat shuttle
- Two 12” stick shuttles
- Washing machine and iron for finishing
100 yards each of Web’s 8/2 Tencel in Lemongrass and Aquamarine (warp), 500 yards of Jaggerspun 2/18 wool-silk blend in Marine Blue (warp and thin weft), and 45 yards each of Berroco Yarns’ rayon ribbon Glace in Cadet 2528 and Aquarelle 2347 (thick weft.)
Plain weave with spaced warps.
20 e.p.i. in threaded areas.
Wind a warp three yards long. This allows about 12” extra for practice and sampling.
Width in reed
8 and 5/8 inches
Fabric after weaving: 8 x 78 inches.
Fabric after washing: 6.5 x 70 inches.
I used the single-peg, direct warping method following the warping guide below. (Note the intentionally skipped dents between the dark blue wool/silk and the Aquamarine and Lemongrass tencel.)
First, I threaded the back heddle with four threads through each slot , wound the warp onto the warp beam, and then threaded the holes in this heddle by removing a thread from a slot and sleying it in the adjacent hole. Note: in the tencel areas, sley one of the Aquamarine threads in the holes (you’ll sley the other Aquamarine threads in the holes in the front heddle).
After all of the threads have been threaded in the first heddle. The warp is ready to wind on
Wind onto the back beam.
After all threads have been sleyed in the slots of this first heddle, remove one of the four threads in each slot and sley it in the hole to the right. Repeat across the entire warp width.
After you’ve threaded the holes in the first heddle, place it in the back threading slot and insert a second heddle in front.
(Note: If your rigid-heddle loom does not have a threading slot for the second heddle, you can use a clamp to hold the second heddle upright.)
Working from the right edge, find the corresponding hole on the front heddle (I count holes on the back heddle up to where I’ve threaded and do the same on the front heddle to make sure I’m starting in the correct slot.)
- Working right to left, take the outermost hole thread from the rear heddle and thread it through the slot to the right of the corresponding hole in the front heddle.
- From the back heddle slot, thread the first thread in the same slot in the front heddle as you just threaded the hole thread.
- Thread the second thread from the slot of the back heddle through the next hole in the front heddle.
- Take the last thread in the slot of the back heddle and thread it into the slot to the left.
- Repeat Steps 1-4 until the entire warp is threaded through the front heddle. When threading the tencel areas, thread the Aquamarine in the back slots into a hole in the front. This way, during weaving, these colors will alternate. (Note: When you reach the empty areas, skip three holes and thread the next group beginning with a slot.)
You may find it easiest to think in fours—threading the hole thread in the front slot and the three slot threads: slot, hole, slot.
During weaving, move both heddles together to create the up and the down sheds. You can beat with both heddles, or with only the front heddle. Experiment to see which works best for you
Weave two inches with the Tencel or similar yarn (you will ravel this later for the fringe), then weave in pattern:
- Seven picks of wool/silk (I would occasionally weave only six picks of the thin weft so the ribbon yarn would fall in a different shed. This changed whether the Lemongrass or Aquamarine Tencel was on top of the ribbon-yarn weft.)
- One pick of ribbon yarn (I used two different colors of the ribbon yarn, changing them at random, for organic, shifting color.)
- Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to weave eighty inches of fabric. I found 16-18 picks per inch to give a nice drape.
Finish by weaving another two-inch header of Tencel or a similar yarn.
The combination of two strategies for varying the color along the length of the scarf created a subtly shaded and rich textile, that looks much more complicated than it is.
I used a measuring string to keep track of my progress. This is a string that is cut to length and then pinned to the side of the cloth during weaving to keep track of the length that you've woven so far. When you run out of string, you're done!
Secure the ends with overhand knots. To prepare the scarf for washing, roll it up in a couple of dish towels, secure the bundle with rubber bands and then place it in a laundry bag. Machine wash with regular detergent using warm water on the gentle cycle of the machine. Check the fabric often to make sure it isn’t over-fulling. After washing, lay the scarf flat to dry and then steam press it with a wet press cloth and lots of pressure. Press both sides of the scarf. Cut off knots, remove the two-inch header at either end, steam press the fringe, and trim it to one inch long. Since the fabric is heavily fulled, it won’t ravel.
Jane Patrick grew up in south-central Nebraska, where she was always making things. When she walked into the weaving studio at Löngumýri in Iceland she knew weaving was something she had to do. Since then, weaving has become both her livelihood and hobby. Jane is a past editor of Handwoven magazine and the author of Time to Weave. She lectures and teaches workshops on weaving and is the VP of sales and marketing for Schacht Spindle Company, Inc. She blogs as Violet Rose.