I came to the rigid heddle loom with some trepidation. I wasn't actually kicking and screaming but I really thought this was a toy and those of us who earned our chops on a floor loom just wouldn't be interested. Yes, this is another of those times when Penny was totally and completely wrong. The rigid heddle loom is a great little loom. And even the word "little" is a misnomer since rigid heddle looms while indeed smaller than floor looms, came in a variety of sizes from small tabletop versions like the Cricket up through the largest Flip which is 25" wide and that is wider than an awful lot of floor looms. These are the Schacht Spindle Company looms but the other manufacturers make them in similar sizes.
I have used all the Schacht rigid heddle looms and really like the 10" Cricket the best. It's easy to carry around, fits in a really cool project bag that's hand made by Mayan Hands, is easy and quick to warp and can produce a pretty nice scarf from start to finish in just a short afternoon. I've made scarves out of wool and alpaca and cotton and silk. I've made them with free form colors using variegated yarns and in plaid using four colors of alpaca yarn. But the coolest thing is... Wait. Let me give you some rigid heddle background first.
The rigid heddle itself is made up of wooden rails on the top and bottom and plastic sections of various sizes that are stapled into the wooden rails. Schacht offers a total of four different rigid heddle sizes - 5 dent is the widest spacing of slots/holes, then 8 dent, then 10 dent and finally 12 dent which is the closest spacing of slots/holes. The number of dents is measured per inch. The widest spacing works well for bulky yarn while the closest spacing works fine for fingering or sport weight yarn. Very close spacing of slots/holes isn't possible since the sections are made of plastic and you can't get as fine a sett as you could if you were using metal, which is what the reeds are made of for floor looms.
So the rigid heddle is really just sections that are held together with a top and bottom rail. So what if we could get those individual sections separately and could put them together however we wanted? That really is the coolest thing! And so we can.
The 5 and 8 dent sections are 5" wide while the 10 and 12 dent sections are 2 1/2" wide. This means that in the smaller Cricket loom where the weaving width is only 10", we have 10" to play with. The most logical arrangement is a wide section, either a 5 or an 8, in the center and smaller sections on either side. My favorite arrangement is a 5 dent in the middle with a 10 dent at either edge. It makes a fabulous scarf!
The closer sett at the outside edges adds stability while leaving the center area for fun and frolic.
The warping and weaving process is exactly the same as if you were using a rigid heddle that was the same all the way across. And the cost of pieces adds up to about what an additional rigid heddle would cost but with lots more creativity available.
Thanks to Cheryl Dunworth of Weavin' Place - Saori Style in Folsom, LA for introducing me to the rigid heddle sections and to Schacht for making them available. Weave Happy!