Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Weaving & Braiding

One range of objects that I am always delighted to make are tools that produce something which will become part of a finished item. Below are a few of these tools, starting with three variations of rigid heddle that I use to produce straps for bags, pouches or decorative detail on garments.

The two objects below are the most recent to roll off my work bench. The slotted disc in the background is a version of a kumihimo disc carved from a slice of pine. Kumihimo is a Japanese form of braid-making where a number of threads or cords are interwoven to create thicker ornate  cords. The four pegged disc in the foreground is for spool knitting (sometimes called French knitting) This I carved from a slice of boxwood and used just a simple pointed piece of bamboo for the hook. This is a very traditional way to teach the basics of knitting. With just four pegs, this produces a knitted cord from a single yarn.

The photo below shows two lucets. The smaller one I carved from boxwood and the larger from ironwood. These two prong tools are very similar in use to the knitting spool above. With just two prongs, it produces a thinner cord. Lucets, like rigid heddles, have a very long history and would have possibly been in use during the time of the vikings and in many parts of the world.

The following images are just a closer look at the rigid heddles I made for the construction of simple woven straps. The smallest is made up of individually carved bamboo slats that have been bound together with hemp twine, This was my first attempt at a rigid heddle. With a very small number of slots and holes, it is only possible to create rather thin straps on this one.

A beautiful slice of boxwood enabled me to create a slightly larger heddle with the ability to take more warp threads, therefore create broader straps.

The most recent and also the largest I have made is this heddle pictured below. Its frame has been carved from a single slice of soft pine with small bamboo rods used to create the holes and slots. The holes are quite small, which limits the range of yarns I can use on this heddle.

To give you an idea of the straps made so far, the image below  shows three made on the boxwood heddle and one on the larger pine heddle. All of the weaving done to date tends to emphasize the warp threads. That is to say that the threads visible on the finished strap tend to be those of the warp, leaving the weft threads mostly hidden.