Now that I have figured out what I want to do for my final project, the planning has begun in earnest. Remember that my friend let me borrow one of her rigid heddle looms? It’s actually the same loom that I own. Perhaps a bit older model. Nevertheless, it’s a very large old Schacht rigid heddle. It’s about the same dimensions as the new Flip loom.
So we are all on the same page…. I have actually warped my loom a total of 2 times. I also took 1 class from Jane Patrick on weaving on a rigid heddle at the last Intermountain Weavers Conference. An expert, I am not. However, I have wanted to weave this bag that I have in my head for a while. So here are my thoughts.
The project must be cellulose fiber. I have loads of both Flax stricht and hemp sliver. After reading Stephanie Gaustad’s book I am pretty confident that I could weave something with both fibers. I will need to spin them as singles and definitely size my warp. Sizing is basically dipping the warp yarn in a glue that will wash out after the finished item is washed. In fact I kind of had a AhHa moment about sizing recently. But more on that later when I have the time to play with it.
I sat down with a pen and paper and started to figure out the dimensions I want on my bag. I want it to be a shoulder bag. Not quite as big as a messenger bag, but a nice sized large purse. So the width is going to be 12 inches and the depth will be 9 inches. So that the bag does not become an envelope I plan on weaving a 2″ innkle band out of either handspun cotton or more flax and hemp. This band will wrap across the bottom of the bag to give some extra support and then up the sides and become the shoulder strap.
Currently I am thinking that the warp will be the bleached hemp I am spinning, which is white. and the weft will be the line flax which is a natural golden brown color. This will give me a two tone plain weave. I thought about trying to warp 2 inches of each color…. but we are starting to get past my comfort level and then I would have to split my skeins of yarn so that I could size half of each.
Now that I have a vision, I had to figure out yardage. Thankfully, there are many websites with help on that. I used both the woolery site as well as this post by starweaving. Based on my math I need just under 400 yards of both the warp and the weft for this project. This is probably an over estimate, because I used the most conservative calculations with the most possible shrinkage (it’s cellulose and probably won’t shrink) and the most loom waste. Running out of yarn on this project is NOT an option. I also calculated using the highest EPI (ends per inch). I have three options on this loom 8/10/12 EPI. For my purposes, EPI correlates to WPI (wraps per inch) because to find the EPI you take your yarns WPI and divide by 2. After doing some sampling it was obvious that 8 EPI was probably out of my range. Spinning a 16 WPI single of hemp was just not happening. My spinning was closer to a 20-24 WPI. So I am ordering the 10 and 12 dent (EPI) heddles so I have all my options here.
So far I have spun up almost 8 oz of the hemp, it’s looking good. It would be great to spin up both the hemp and the flax this week while the kids are on spring break.