On the left is the sample I completed. After all that complaining, I realized it looks better off the loom than I thought it would, and I’m pleased with it, wavy selvedges and all. I’ve started a new one, all wool, and it’s also nice but doesn’t have the crispness that the cotton added. I altered the design somewhat so the bottom and top will match a little more. I’m thinking I can do several of these as bookmarks.
Is it me? Is it the heddle? Or, is it the combination of materials? Probably a little of all three.
I started an ambitious band design, something I found in the files of the Yahoo group, Bands and Braids. This design wasn’t charted, so I put it into a grid. Turns out it has 68 picks for one complete design… that’s a lot! You can see where I started and stopped and started again. I chose cotton for the background threads and wool for the pattern threads, and I found I had a similar problem to the previous band I completed: the cotton is saggier than the pliable wool, and that leads to tension problems. Plus, the wooden double-slotted heddle I bought has some snags here and there which are doing a number on the warp and it’s fraying quite a bit. I’m not totally thrilled with the heddle, but I’m willing to sand down the slots, which should help; however, I’ve gone ahead and ordered two different sizes of double-slotted plastic heddles and a few other doo-dads from Stoorstalka.
I’m anxious to try an all-wool band and set the cotton aside for awhile. I like the lacy and light feeling it adds, so I’ll use it again when I’m more experienced.
There are a slew of wonderful how-to bandweaving videos out there, primarily by weaver Susan Foulkes, who focuses on pick-up style Sami bands. She often uses a special heddle that has extra slots (a Sunna or Sigga heddle) or extra holes (a Beaivi heddle) for pattern threads; however you may also use any rigid heddle or even an inkle loom to create the same type of band. There are a number of great videos on her Youtube channel:
Five Ways of Weaving Narrow Bands:
Weaving Narrow Warp Faced Patterned Bands (This one uses a regular rigid heddle, not one with extra slots or holes):
My new favorite book is Norwegian Pick-Up Bandweaving by Heather Torgenrud (2014). It focuses on everything I like about weaving: the history, the color, the texture, and the process. Plus, there are dozens of patterns. If you have an interest in weaving Nordic-styled pick-up bands, well, here’s your book. Using a rigid heddle with a backstrap setup, this style of weaving produces sturdy, vivid, and cheerful bands which were once used around the house for things like belts, shoe laces, baby swaddling, package ties, and clothing decorations. Heather Torgenrud’s book is that type of reading that gets to the heart of an important style of weaving, a delightful discovery for someone like me, the weaver who likes to know.
I’ve had an interest in this style of band weaving ever since, over four years ago, I discovered a treasure in an antique shop, a Norwegian rigid heddle, or bandgrind:
Isn’t it gorgeous? Hand carved, it may have been a traditional courting gift from a young man to a young woman. It was most likely used with the decorative top hanging downward although I’m not positive about that. At the time, I wasn’t certain what it was other than a little loom, and it took some research to come across the explanation. Although you can use a band loom on a regular frame loom, they were normally used with one end of the warp tied to something sturdy like a doorknob and the other end secured around the weaver’s waist, backstrap style.
I love the portable nature of band weaving, and currently I’m looking forward to receiving a “slotted” rigid heddle, which is useful for weaving patterns. Although I love my antique band loom, I don’t dare use it, so in the meantime, I’ve been using my small Ashford Sampleit loom for some practice. Here’s a seven-thread band with embroidery and crochet cottons: