Introducing Erica

I’m anxious to start weaving on one of my Erica rigid heddle looms.

487 Erica loom

At 25″ inches, Erica is the widest model in my collection. I wonder what it will be like to wield such a looong heddle.

I’m almost done direct warping her for a set of two dish towels.

487 warping

She’s firmly clamped to our dining room table while the triple warping peg DH made for me is clamped onto our little butcher block cart 75″ away. That length of warp should be enough for two towels including hems and an allowance for shrinkage in a hot wash and dry.

487 warping pegs

To direct warp (measure and attach warp to the loom at the same time, instead of measuring on a warping board and then putting on the loom) I carry a loop of #10 crochet cotton back and forth between loom and the warping pegs. I start by tying the thread’s end to the loom’s apron rod, bring a loop through a slot in the heddle around a warping peg and then back to the apron rod. I need to make a total of 85 round trips, which leaves 170 threads stretched across our dining room!

The next step is to very slowly roll the cart toward the loom while I wind the warp round the beam at the back of the loom. It’s important to keep an even tension on the warp during this process. Then I cut through the threads that are looped round the warping pegs. This turns each loop, which I earlier pulled through the heddle, into two individual strands.

A rigid heddle’s spaces are alternating slots and holes. I’m going to remove one strand from each pair that’s now in a slot and put it through the hole right next door. Soon all adjacent spaces in the heddle, both slots and holes, will be filled with warp threads. Only tying small groups of the warp threads to the apron rod at the front of the loom remains. My little loom will soon be ready for weaving!

I think I’ve made the direct warping process sound pretty complicated but, trust me, it’s really quite simple.*

For my towels’ warp I’m using cream and a rich dusty rose #10 crochet cotton. It’s deeper than it looks in the photo, thanks to the flash. And the weft is going to be Bernat Handicrafter Cotton in colorway ‘Potpourri Ombre’, a cream worsted weight yarn with little dashes of dusty rose, lavender, blue and grey. Hopefully together these yarns will become kitchen towels that are both pretty and absorbent.

487 three cotton yarns

All three came from the Salvation Army thrift store. The crochet cottons were 99 cents a ball and the Bernat, $1.99. Two dish towels and many hours of weaving pleasure for $4.00? – what a Deal!, especially since I don’t expect to use up all the yarn.

* Here’s a video tutorial, just 15 minutes long, which does a much better job of explaining how to direct warp a rigid heddle loom.

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5 Responses to Introducing Erica

  1. Pretty colors! It does sound complicated, but I can’t wait to see how it all comes out!

  2. Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Susan says:

    I just purchased this same loom. I am having a difficult time tightening my warp and keeping it tight. Any suggestions that might help? My old loom had a sort of notched toggle to help keep the warp tight. As this doesn’t I have even stood it on end to try to tighten and I just can get it tight enough and my project starts to sag.

    • Hi Susan ~

      Hmmm. . .
      Does the squarish wooden handle actually move/loosen as you weave, or are only the warp and/or cloth beam moving/turning?

      If your handles stay put, I think I know what the problem is. . .
      The handles spin on threaded metal bolts that stick out of ends of the warp and cloth beams. Over time, especially if your loom’s previous owner liked to weave with the warp under very high/tight tension, the other end of the bolt, what’s INSIDE the beam, can loosen up enough that the beam can gradually turn even when you’ve tightened down the outer handle as much as possible. The hole tunneled inside the beam is then referred to as having been “stripped”.

      Unfortunately, I’m not handy enough to know how to fix this. Around here, I’ve found the folks who work in smaller hardware stores, like Ace and Aubuchon, to be quite helpful. I’d take the loom in so they can actually SEE what you’re talking about. (Maybe there’s a way to get some Gorilla Glue in there. lol)

      If the handles ARE moving, I’ll have to put my thinking cap back on.

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