While I’m in between floor looms, I’ve gone back to my rigid heddle loom. The past couple of weeks I’ve been playing with empty space, leaving gaps in both warp and weft as I weave.
For my first project I pulled out some baby wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills (I had 100g of the Barley colour that I picked up from the bargain room at the Mill in 2014). My finest heddle for my loom is 12.5 ends per inch (I think I need the 15 epi heddle!), so that’s what I used. For the 4-ply, machine wash, baby wool, this wasn’t tight enough.
I warped up 4 slots (8 threads) with yarn, then 4 empty slots, for a total of 7×8 = 56 warp threads. As I wove, I put in 9 weft threads, packed as tightly as possible, then left about 3/4″ empty. I didn’t break off the yarn between “stripes”, but just ran it up the side – so the odd number of weft picks in each “stripe” meant that the yarn running up the spaces alternated sides.
It looked great on the loom, but started to relax once it the loom tension was released.
This was looser than I wanted, and, since the yarn wouldn’t felt or full, there was a lot of movement when the scarf was washed.
The resulting scarf clearly shows the density difference between the centres of the woven squares and the areas that had been open space, but the square holes between the stripes have mostly filled in.
Not to let a good learning opportunity go to waste, I hypothesized that the result would be better with a thicker yarn that would felt. Back to the stash, where I found some 8-ply pure alpaca yarn. Using the same heddle, I warped up scarf number 2.
As the yarn was thicker, I had to beat harder to pack in the weft. As I ran out of weft while there was still a bit of warp left, I added four stripes of dark green wool/silk at one end of the scarf.
Off the loom, the result was similar to the baby wool. The empty spaces looked smaller than on the loom, but they were still quite pronounced.
The big difference came after washing – the holes were still there!
So, I’m going to continue to experiment with empty spaces when my new loom arrives – this time with cotton, but woven much tighter. Stay tuned to see how that turns out.