Although I have enjoyed strap weaving with a mini rigid heddle, until now all of my straps became much narrower than the heddle as all the warp threads were staked to a single point at each end.
The concept of incorporating a beam on which to load the warp and another beam to hold the woven fabric is not new and basic horizontal looms have been in use since at least the later medieval period. One clear advantage to beam looms is that the warp threads can be kept evenly spaced out during the weave, this will help weave as wide a fabric as the heddle allows. Having all the warp loaded also requires less work space.
The mini loom frame above has been designed to work comfortably with our mini rigid heddles. I cut the two side frames from two old larch panels that still had a little life left in them. Larch is very much valued for its tough, waterproof and durable qualities. Attached to the pine dowel beams are lengths of willow, these are for the warp threads to tie to. The beams have 8mm threaded rods inserted at each end. Wingnuts are used to hold the frame together and also to lock the beams firmly whilst weaving.
A two ply cotton thread is shown for the warp and a mix of hemp, hemp-cotton and hemp-wool for the weft. All colours are traditional naturals dyes. The frame works well for weaving with a rigid heddle and I'll report at a later date how the frame will fair for tablet weaving.
As this frame has been specifically designed for use with our mini rigid heddle, it was important to make this device as compact as possible whilst maintaining ease of use. The frame can be taken down in seconds making it ideal for easy transportation. Measuring 30cm x 19cm x 10cm, it isn't really that difficult to carry around whilst set up with a loaded beam.
This prototype will be produced and available through our website during spring 2014.
Please follow the link below to view the blog entry regarding use of this frame for my first attempt at tablet weaving: