Friday, 8 August 2014

Dawn Willey introduces her Rigid Heddle weaving course

 Dawn shares some of her passion for rigid heddle loom weaving and explains what experiences her course offers:

My first adventure into weaving was with a rigid heddle loom. I arrived at a class where my newly assembled (by the supplier) loom was awaiting me. That afternoon, under the tuition of Rowena Hart from Ashford I warped and wove my first scarf. Returning home I soon had my handspun alpaca on the loom. It was magic, I was making real cloth where only loose threads had existed before! I was hooked and this excitement has never left me.

Some people say that you progress to a shaft loom, however even though I have woven on and added many types of loom to my collection (from backstrap to individual digital thread control), I  still continue to use my rigid heddle. Perhaps this is because of it’s speed of warping, low loom waste and versatility, or perhaps the charm of discovering that what is woven on a particular style of loom is, to a large extent, governed by the weaver’s own imagination and willingness to experiment. I am constantly fascinated by what weavers around the world produce using very humble tools, but with great expertise. I love to push the boundaries and am always thrilled when someone cannot easily determine which type of loom I used to produce a particular piece of cloth!

For me, woven structure added to yarn style, fibre content and colour interaction of warp and weft means that weaving will always have horizons waiting to be explored. During this coming summer school I hope to help you to discover some creative new skills to expand your rigid heddle weaving frontiers.
The addition of a few smooth wooden sticks and string are all that is needed to hugely expand your rigid heddle loom’s weave possibilities. These are explored in the first of the two short courses where we focus on ‘The Pick-up Pattern Stick and Friends’. We will concentrate on how we can use a pattern pick-up stick to create warp and weft floats to create lace and textured weaves. We will discover how useful a heddle rod can be, learn how to set it up and use it to produce weaves such as twill not usually associated with rigid heddle loom weaving.

Add a second heddle and this deceptively simple loom takes on a whole new life and opens the way to many possibilities - the topic of my second short course is ‘Double the Heddles, Double the Fun’.

It is not only the fun that can be increased but also the sett possibilities, meaning that much finer cloth than usual can be woven. Did you know that weaves such as blocks, twill and Theo Moorman Technique can also be woven on a rigid heddle loom equipped with two heddles? We will creatively sample as many of them as realistically possible during the course.

Either course can be taken as stand-alone course or you could 'bolt them together' and spend the whole week exploring more of your rigid heddle loom’s potential.