Someday I'll get tired of taking so-so pictures with my iPod and go back to my "real" camera. In the meantime, all I have to show of the latest experiment is this blurry picture of an attempt to weave a band using a rigid heddle (this was the 10 dent Beka) and the little antique Peacock loom. I had always wanted to refurbish the Peacock loom because it's so tiny and portable (12" width), but I failed to get up the energy to tie 100 string heddles. Instead, I ordered the smallest Texsolv heddles (5 7/8", I think) which were too long. So, I need to either shorten them somewhat, the length and the eyes are too big, or tie those 100 string heddles! Either way, that means this little loom is sitting empty… or is it? After reading up on Sami-style weaving, I warped the rigid heddle and tied it onto the Peacock loom, using only the warp and cloth bars. I removed the heddles (carefully!) and also the reed, which is held in very lightly by two small screws. I'm considering removing the top bar, too, because it's in my way and I happen to be enjoying weaving bands. But then I need to sit back and wonder if it's better to put the Peacock loom back together and pass it along to someone who will tie those 100 string heddles, or if it's better to keep it in pieces and use it as a cradle or box loom. Decisions, decisions…
I couldn't make heads or tails of the pattern until I realized the pattern strands (which are in the center and double the thickness of the other strands) are sometimes raised from beneath, and sometimes lowered from above. This may not make any sense, but once I figured it out, I knew how to do this style of weaving. There are some really wonderful band weaving heddles out there with fancy double holes and smaller slots, but if you want to try it, I suggest using a simple rigid heddle and a pattern. You don't even need the loom, as traditional weavers do this backstrap-style. If you'd like a place to start, I suggest you try The Braids and Bands Yahoo group. It's free but you do need to join. Try the Files section to find a series of PDF handouts by Susan Foulkes, who recently held an online course for Sami style band weaving.
Now that I've got the hang of it, I want to use a finer thread, more colors, and a more intricate pattern.
Also known as a bandvev. These hand-carved Norwegian looms were used to weave narrow bands. Often carved by a suitor and given to a young woman, it was a useful and decorative object. I found this one at an antique store, first assuming it was a replica. It’s a bit too fragile to use, but it’s neat, isn’t it?
Photos of other band looms from a Norwegian digital museum.
A blogger who weaves bands on a grindvev.
I was convinced I could weave an inkle-type band on my Glimakra Emilia. I studied several pictures of inkle looms, and even though they aren't expensive, I still wanted to try this on my loom. So, I dug up two curtain rods, putting one in the highest heddle notch and the other underneath the bottom of the loom. If I do this again, I would spend some time searching for a better dowel or metal skewer to hold the string heddles.
I then cut and tied the string heddles, warped a very short and simple red and white warp, and started to weave. Even though I thought this would work, I didn't actually think it would work so well. The Emilia has a nice slant that made getting a wide shed easy.
After just 30 minutes of weaving, I had a slightly clunky but nicer-than-I-expected band. Next: dog leash??
I had a crazy idea to weave a band, and I considered trying my backstrap loom, but then started thinking about weaving it on my Glimakra Emilia. I used my 10 dent heddle, some worsted weight yarn, and an inkle shuttle. There were some good instructions on doing just this in both great rigid heddle books, one by Betty Linn Davenport, and one by Jane Patrick. However, both warned not to expect perfect results, primarily because the heddle spreads out the yarn too wide, and most RH looms don't like a lot of tension.
My loom has the benefit of being extremely sturdy and I really cranked up the tension in order to draw the spread out yarn down into one narrow band. I made certain to warp light colors in the slots so I could try a simple pattern. The heddle was used only to raise and lower the warp, and the inkle shuttle was used to beat the weft.
This was super fun; however, my thick-yarned band looked a little nicer on the loom than off. Whenever I wove the pattern, the edges pushed in a little. So, it's a touch wavy, but I love the rich colors. Next time I'll definitely use a finer, smoother yarn and warp a slightly wider area. (There's always a next time!)