Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno live about 30 minutes from each other, and spend a lot of spinning time together, trading ideas and cheering each other on. Recently, the two have found weaving sneaking into their thoughts more and more. “Wouldn’t it be fun,” they said, “to do a project where we spin our yarn and weave it and see what happens?” “Yes!” they said, “that sounds like an awesome plan.” We thought so, too. Through the end of the year, they will post on the Schacht Spindle blog, telling you about their journey weaving with handspun on a rigid heddle loom.
Ever since I learned to spin I’ve been a dabbler in weaving. That means I have taken a ton of classes and made a few things but I’ve never gotten to the point where I always have a warped loom in the house. In fact, I own 3 looms and they have all been completely empty and folded up for over a year.
Jillian was a weaver for years. That was before I knew her, but I have heard her tell about it. When we met, she had a Schacht Mighty Wolf (which now resides in Canada), but it was empty and folded up. Maybe I never got serious about weaving because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with it. Maybe Jillian walked away for a while because of new and exciting things. Both of our brains, however, seem to be leading us into the weaving world more and more. Neither of us has woven with handspun, really, even though both of us are focused spinners.
What’s funny is that even though we both seem to be moving toward what seems like the same thing, when we talk about what we want to do, we are on opposite ends of the spectrum. So here we are ready to start and we’re going to tell you about our journey. Hopefully at the end we will each have something to show for the work. If not, we will be a lot smarter and we hope that we can pass what we learned along the way to you, too.
For the last year or so I’ve been thinking a lot about weaving yardage for clothing. One time I did a few samples on my floor loom and they weren’t exactly right, so I didn’t get much further than that. But the idea for yardage keeps sticking there in my brain. The yarn that I love to spin the most is pretty fine, so it should work, right?
And, why can’t I weave that yardage on a rigid heddle loom? It would be silly not to try.
So, I’m finally going to dive right in and do it.
I’m going to spin the yarn mostly on my Schacht Reeves 30” Saxony. I use the extra small whorl in double drive. I like this wheel a lot because it loves to spin fine yarns and I can do it a bit more quickly because of the large drive wheel. Some of the yarn will undoubtedly be spun on the Matchless because if I’m out of the house, spinning with friends, it’s a lot easier to take along with me.
My rigid heddle loom is a 15 in Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom. I have 2 heddles each in the 8, 10 and 12 dent sizes. I expect to use 2 heddles to weave the fabric I want because even though I don’t want to do any fancy weaves, I can get two times the number of threads per inch if I weave with 2 heddles at the same time.
I also have a vertical warping mill which is a discontinued Schacht product. The horizontal mill is available, though, and it’s great. I just use the vertical one because it’s the one I have. There are easier ways to warp on the rigid heddle loom and you can depend on Jillian to tell you about that but because I am going to be weaving yardage, the warping mill will be a better choice so I don’t have to have lengths of warp snaking all over the house.
So, I’d better get down to spinning because I think I have a lot of yarn to spin.
I’m Jillian Moreno, a spinner and knitter and new to rigid heddle weaving. I used to weave on a floor loom about 20 years ago and have pretty much forgotten everything I knew about weaving. When I’m not at my spinning wheel, I’m lucky to work with Knitty.com, write for PLY and Spin Off, and teach spinning around the country.
I’m crazy about spinning yarn that I will use, building a yarn for a purpose. I mostly work with commercially prepped beautifully dyed fiber. I really love color and playing with combining colors.
I want to weave with my handspun and to make things that are quick and are more about color and texture than complex weave structure. That’s one reason that I’m excited about rigid heddle weaving: less time threading = time weaving.
I’ll be using my trusty Matchless, which I bought in the 90’s and recently had tuned up at Schacht. This wheel and I have been through it all together, from my hesitant first treadles to spinning samples for my upcoming spinning book. With the bottom half of my wheel from the 90’s and the top from a couple of months ago, she’s a beautiful mix of old and new Schacht. To weave I’ll be using a 15” Cricket on a floor stand. I have reeds that are 12, 10, 5 and a variable dent reed, so I have a lot of flexibility with what yarns I can use. I’m not interested in the same way I used to weave; this time around I want to weave with more creative looseness than I felt I had with my floor loom, when I just followed written patterns and drafts.
I want to make things that are simple to show off my handspun yarn, the texture and the colors. Since I’ve never spent time working with handspun or much color in weaving I’ll need to experiment and sample a lot. Good thing that sampling and experimenting are two of my favorite things! I want to make things that are easy on and easy off the loom, but are wearable. I’m going to weave a quick scarf out of commercial yarn first, just to get the feeling of the loom and weaving into my hands.
Then I want to move on to my handspun and make something a bit bigger that I can wear without fussing with it, like a mobius shawl.
I’m really looking forward to this adventure and sharing it with you!