More Rigid Heddle Weaving

Marcy Petrini

February 2019

With my first two warps on the Flip loom, described in the January 2019 blog, I learned a bit about tension on the rigid heddle. Given that the warp cannot be tensioned very tightly, I thought that warping with a woolen handspun should work.

Recently I had spun a 3.5 oz braid of 65% super-wash merino and 35% silk called Starry Night, a gift from a friend; the colors ranged from blue-black to yellow and gold. I spun it with no project in mind, split in half for a two-ply, letting the colors fall where they may. The yarn wrapped at 24 epi, so it was perfect for my 12-dent rigid heddle.

I calculated that for a scarf about 7” wide and 100” long on the loom (allowing for 16” loom waste), I would have enough for warp and weft. And here is the scarf!



But when I was spinning the fiber and then weaving with the yarn, I was reminded that I usually don’t use super-wash merino; combined with the silk, the scarf has a good hand and drape, but there is an underlying slickness that reminds me of synthetic yarns.

When it was first introduced, I was very enthusiastic about super-wash merino, as were many people, but when it came to buy it, I always seemed to choose something else. I sometimes thought that super-wash really didn’t feel like merino, but I dismissed the thought.

Just as I was finishing weaving the scarf, I read the December 2018 issue of Ply magazine and I discovered that I am not the only who is not crazy about super-wash merino. Furthermore, in a great article, Julie-Anne Gandier discusses the processes resulting in super-wash and, totally new to me, the environmental impact of those processes – of course! Depending on the process, there can be lots of water used, chlorinated waste, and a plastic-like coating to the fiber itself (no wonder it reminds of synthetic yarns!). She does say that alternatives are being developed to counteract the environmental impact. Whether you like super-wash wool or not, I highly recommend her article.

Other fibers and handspuns are in my stash, so they will have to find their way to my rigid heddle.

  Happy weaving!

  Please email comments and questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..