The popsicle stick rigid heddle is a simplified version of a traditional tool used for weaving straps or wider pieces of fabric. This is a brief summary for how to use it and how to set it up again for future use. There is also some information at the end about other kinds of weaving.
How to use it:
The long threads strung through your heddle are called the warp. One end should be attached to something sturdy: a table, a doorknob, a tree, or whatever’s handy. You can attach that end to a piece of string tied around the heavy object. Alternately, if your legs are long enough, you can hook the far end over your big toe.
The other end is attached to your waist using a belt, a piece of string, or a belt-loop. (This style of attachment with the weaver as part of the loom is known as a simple backstrap loom.) Sitting will let you put things in your lap, eliminating the need for three hands (or a nearby table).
If you lift the heddle, half the warp threads will be raised in a line above the other half, with a space between.
If you lower the heddle, the warp threads will change places. We color coded the threads we used for teaching to make it easier to see which threads were up and which were down; this is not required.
Because you will be weaving a narrow band, you might find it easier to let the heddle sit at an angle to bring the threads closer together. You will still be able to raise and lower it.
Lift the heddle and pass the weft yarn (wrapped on a shuttle) through this space.
Lower the heddle and pass the shuttle back through the new space in the opposite direction. Pull on the yarn until there is no open space in the loop sticking out the side.
Pull on the first two rows until the width is what you want.
If you pull tightly, the warp will show more.
If you pull gently, more of the shuttle yarn (the weft) will show. The main thing is to try to keep it the same for the length of the strap unless you want wobbly edges. After the first two rows, you will want to “beat” after each pass. If the heddle is raised, then lower it, or the other way round, and then put a ruler or other flat surface through the space. Push it toward your weaving to press the weft yarn into place.
If you are making one of the wider bands, you will want to lay the yarn at an angle before beating, so there will be enough slack to go over and under the warp threads.
I got a float like this because I forgot to switch directions when I put the shuttle through. I made one pass from right to left, pushed the heddle down, brought the shuttle underneath by accident, and then put the shuttle through from right to left again. Since I noticed the mistake before finishing, I unwove the stripes after the mistake, and then sorted things out.
This is how things look when you forget to put the heddle up when it’s been down or vice versa. When I pulled on the shuttle, it all pulled out the left side, and I had to do the previous pass over.
If you’ve been weaving for a while, you’ll stop being able to reach where you’re weaving. Untie whatever’s fastening the end closest to you, scoot forward, and then tie or the end of the band so that everything is tightened up again. I tied the band to a belt loop. Repeat as necessary.
Untie the knot at the far end (or cut it off), and decide how to finish off the ends.
Two easy possibilities: either braid the end and knot it or just tie a knot. There are various ways to sew the end so it won’t come unraveled. If the end is going to be hidden, you can also glue it all together, though it will make it stiff.
If you want to make a fob for your keychain, untie the knot from both ends, thread the strap through the key ring, fold the strap, and knot both ends together with an overhand knot. Unravel any bits of weaving beyond the knot and trim the fringe.
Set up your loom:
To start over, you’ll need to warp your loom. We used an assortment of crochet cotton and thin acrylic string meant as a substitute for crochet cotton; you can use any thin, durable string. Knitting yarn is not recommended for this loom; it will fray and break. (A regular rigid heddle with larger holes would be another matter; it’s mostly that drilling through popsicle sticks makes for rough holes.)
- Measure out up to 13 equal lengths of string. They can be whatever color combination you like; we used color combinations designed to make it easier to see which warp threads were up or down.
- Using a hook or a needle, thread 7 warp threads through the holes in the popsicle sticks. Thread the other six through the spaces between the sticks.
- Even out the ends and tie a knot.
- Attach the knotted end to a fixed object (or loop over your toe).
- Untangle the ends that are closer to you.
- Smooth the warp threads out so they have even tension, and tie a knot in the end closer to you. You’re ready to start weaving!
If you enjoy this, you might want to try making (or buying and using) any of the following:
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