Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oh, the Irony

This heddle fascination of mine started with a tutorial on the Braids and Bands Yahoo group. Susan Foulkes posted a wonderful class on weaving Sami bands with a variety of heddles. One which she showed was a pink plastic heddle with shorter pattern slots made in Sweden.

Well... I guess I was cheap, because I thought it was a bit pricey, and didn't want to pay that much for something plastic. That started me on this project. I decided to use my old copy of Illustrator to make a design that I could get Eldy to cut for me with the laser cutter at Maker Place. As you've seen in previous posts, I ended up with some lovely heddles made of birch plywood. The last one he cut for me has been sanded, but not finished - I couldn't wait to give it a try.

But then..... he found a place where he could get scraps of acrylic, so he cut a few for me using a sheet of dark, almost black, acrylic. Voila!
 Here, you can see the small birch one warped and ready for playing. On the left are the acrylic heddles - one in the small 9 pattern thread size, and one a little larger with 13 pattern slots.
Here's a closer shot of the smaller one.
I'm thrilled with them. It was SO satisfying to peel the paper off each side to reveal the finished heddle, and to have it actually be finished - no sanding or extra finishing needed. And, of course, that's where the irony comes in - I love the acrylic heddles, and this all started with not wanting plastic.

I'm still not great at this. Started out weaving backstrap. Right now, I've got a small heddle warped on my Cricket loom, but that's not turning out very well - it's just too short to get a good shed, I think. Plus, the handy thing about backstrap weaving is the ability to shift the tension with your body position, and you lose that with a loom. Hmmm..... I bet I could add live weight tension to the back beam - which might give the same effect. Of course, then I won't want to hold the loom in my lap to weave. :-)

There's so much more experimenting to do..... to try different weights of pattern threads..... to see if I can tweak the size of the holes in the smaller heddle.... and do I want a heddle with 15 pattern slots? It is so very cool to know that I can make whatever I want!  I've also got a learning curve in front of me - I need to explore how to make designs that will work well with this technique. A few of the ones I've tried have not quite seemed right. That's the wonderful thing about weaving - you never ever run out of things to explore.


Elisabeth said...

I've searching for this type of rigid heddle, and I can't find it anywhere. I have a question I hope you can help me with. Was it hard to make the file in Illustrator? It there something I should think about? I have the program, but no clue...

Deanna said...

Elisabeth, you can actually purchase the Stoorstalka heddles from The Woolery

Making a design in Illustrator is mostly creating the shapes for the slots and holes, pasting multiple copies of them, and then spacing them evenly.