Do you ever buy yourself a present that you know you don’t need, but you just really want? This was me the other day. I bought myself a ‘vari dent’ reed.
This allows you to mix-and-match different spacings across the width of the reed. Of course, I have a rigid heddle loom so the point of this isn’t predominantly to vary the spacing of the warp, but to weave different size yarns. That sounds like a lot of fun to me!
And this is what the Ashford’s vari dent reed looks like:
Loving words comes in handy when there is a bunch of new terms to learn. Weaving is a treasure trove!
I particularly like “heddle” because it’s fun to say. (Also fun is “raddle”, which I’ll talk about another time.) But what is a heddle, and why is my loom a “rigid heddle” loom?
Like the eye of a needle, the heddle is the part of the loom that holds the warp thread. Usually looks a bit like this:
The heddle is what keeps one warp thread separate from another and, ultimately, what lifts a set of warp threads up to allow you to weave.
As well as passing through the heddle, each warp thread also passes through a comb like thing called a reed. This helps to keep your weaving tidy and – to some extent – control the density of the cloth. It does this by setting the spacing of the warp threads.
The reed, while a thing in itself, is also a part of the beater that you use to “beat” the weft threads into place. Usually the reed sits inside a frame of sorts so that you can easily pull the reed forward to beat the weft when you need to.
So, why is my loom a “rigid heddle” loom? Well, that’s because in this type of loom the heddle, the reed and the beater bar/frame are all together as one thing. How? Like this:
You can see the long “slots” are just like in a reed for other looms, but the solid area between each slot is a heddle (“hole”) and it’s altogether used as the beater. Very clever way to combine 3 things into one!
I’ll talk more about this type of reed when I get into the specifics of rigid heddle looms, but it has both benefits and limitations. So far, I’m just loving the benefits.