During my first class at Woven Art the teacher mentioned another class that she teaches on weaving with “rags” on a rigid heddle loom. This is something I had been told couldn’t be done. The over riding opinion on the subject seemed to be that you could only weave with rags on a sturdy floor loom because of the abuse the loom takes when beating the rag weft into the warp. Our teacher had found a method of weaving rags that worked well on a rigid heddle loom and she would be teaching a class later in the summer. She showed us a sample and I signed up immediately! After having woven the rug in Allegan this was something I really wanted to try. I had the rug bug.
Again, I waited the agonizing weeks until the class, got up at the crack of dawn and drove the hour to Lansing Michigan. However this time we were instructed to purchase our yarn ahead of time. The instructions recommended 3/2 mercerized cotton and told us to warp our looms before coming to class. We were to pick a fabric and cut it into strips according to the directions provided. We were told that using a batik fabric would be best for getting consistent color.
Now, while I was getting more and more comfortable warping my loom, cutting fabric strips was another ball game. That required lots of instruction and encouragement from my bride. I couldn’t talk her into cutting it for me of course. In the end, I survived the experience and arrived at class with everything I needed in tow!
The instructor started the class by checking all of our warps and fabric strips. We had all followed the directions well and we were ready to weave. This is a very simple technique so weaving wasn’t difficult. The trick, because we were using rigid heddle looms, was in how to beat the weft into place on this type of loom. Everything else we needed to know we had learned in the previous class so we were off. Once we learned the technique for beating the warp and had woven enough to be sure we knew what we were doing we could leave. By the time I left I had woven about a quarter of the final piece.
The bottom line here is, I found a technique that I really like, I can create some beautiful color and contrast with and that I have become fairly proficient at. I can keep the weft consistently tight and the edges straight. Creating something useful and beautiful is a great feeling! It is fabulous to watch the piece come to life and to experience of the final look of the material. You never quite know what the final color will be until you see the weft material compressed into the warp. it is alway a wonderful surprise! This has opened lots of possibilities from rugs, to table runners and bags and the opportunities for creating with color seem endless.
I am sure we will see more of this!