I teach at Ardington School of Crafts as well as my home in East Hendred.
Pamela, a member of the Kennet Valley Guild, kindly gave me six rigid heddle looms when I started teaching. I have acquired three more old style ones and have bought a modern one. I also have 4 four shaft looms and an eight shaft one which I use for teaching,
During the first Lockdown, the school introduced a range of on-line courses which are ongoing. On site courses restarted in August with Covid precautions in place (see the School's Website for details), I was lucky to run two courses before the second lockdown, In August students spent most of the day weaving on four shaft looms as well as having a go on rigid heddle looms. At the October workshop students experimented with weft faced weaving and textured weaving using rigid heddle looms.
Courses in 2021
Introduction to Tapestry Weaving Thursdays 4th and 18th February and 4th March
Have a go at Weaving - Wednesday 26th May
Weave samples of a four shaft loom and a rigid heddle loom
Rigid Heddle Weaving -- Wednesday 11th August
Weave two samples on rigid heddle looms and see how to put on a warp.
Weaving Workshop - Wednesday 13th October
An opportunity to experiment further with both types of loom. Beginners equally welcome
During one day courses either at home or at Ardington, students usually weave two samples. They can be weft faced or balanced
For weft faced weaving the warp (the threads on the loom) is spaced at about five threads an inch so the weft (which is put in place during weaving) completely covers the warp. This type of weaving is suitable for rugs or tapestries.
For balanced weave, the warp is closer together and the spacing is the same as the weft. The warp shows and contributes to the design. The colours of the warp and weft form the patterns in the blue and turquoise sample. This pattern can be woven on a rigid heddle loom as it is plain weave (Over one warp thread - under the next)
The dark blue and white sample has been woven on a 4 shaft loom.The twill patterns are formed by the way the warp was threaded and the order in which the shafts were lifted
With a rigid heddle loom every other warp thread goes through heddles which are fixed in a frame called a reed. These threads move up and down when the reed is moved. The other warp threads are in gaps between the heddles and do not move with the reed. The reed is also used to put the weft threads in place.
With a four shaft loom the warp threads are all threaded through heddles which are placed on the shafts. One, two or three shafts are raised before putting the weft in place. The warp is also threaded through a reed which spaces it and puts the weft in place.
Apart from price, the biggest advantage of the rigid heddle loom is that it is easier to put the warp on it as the threads only have to go through the reed. However a four shaft loom allows many patterns to be woven.
Interesting patterns can be woven on the rigid heddle using a stick at the back of the loom so that either one thread is up and three down or vice versa. .
You can also manipulate the warp by wrapping the weft round a group of threads (known as Brookes Bouquet - below top). Alternatively, you can twist the warp (Leno below bottom).