Rigid heddle looms are far more versatile than just plain weaving. In addition, there are so many patterns and techniques you can do on them. The limit is only your imagination.
This blog features one of the techniques you can do on your rigid heddle loom – Leno – sometimes called Leno Lace or Cross Weave.
The Leno Lace weaving technique is perfect for adding decorative accents to your plain weave
Leno is perfect for adding decorative accents to your plain weave or to use for the entire project. Leno is a hand manipulated weave where a pair of threads are twisted, and the weft goes through them. This technique gives you a very open weave that stays in place as the weft threads are “trapped” in place by the twist in the warp threads. When used throughout the entire piece of fabric, Leno gives a very open, light, and airy weave that is structurally stable.
Leno gives a very open, light, and airy weave that is structurally stable
Therefore, you could create a fabric just as light and airy with plain weave by spacing the warp and weft threads out but the resulting fabric would be “sleazy” and unstable as the threads could move around easily. If you are wondering where you may have seen a real-life example of a Leno weave – take a closer look at the red bags your onions and potatoes come in!
This project, that Kate from Ashford has nicknamed “Blue Fish” shows a beautiful example of Leno woven by Maria Shtrik, owner of Ukarsa.ru – our authorised Ashford dealer in Russia. In addition to being and expert felter, spinner and dyer, Maria also loves to push the limits on what is possible on a rigid heddle loom.
You can do Leno on any warp on your loom. You will only need a pickup stick. I highly recommend our Ashford pickup sticks as they have a pointed end, handy for picking up threads, and are the right width to create the shed.
Here’s how to do Leno Lace
Weave a plain weave heading, and then open the shed with the outside warp thread in the upper position and the shuttle on the right. (To work from the left side, the outside thread also needs to be in the upper position with the shuttle on the left.) Then, release the warp tension enough to manipulate the warp threads with ease (especially if working with cotton or other inelastic yarns).
- With the left hand pull back the upper thread towards the left. Take the pickup stick and pick up a thread from the bottom warp. Next bring it up over the upper thread. The lower thread is now on the pickup stick and the first thread is underneath the pickup stick.
- Continue across the warp exchanging top and bottom threads.
- Turn the pickup stick on its edge and pass the shuttle through the somewhat smaller shed.
- Withdraw the pickup stick.
- Change the shed and beat firmly. Pass the shuttle back and beat firmly again. The shuttle is on the right and the threads are securely twisted.
A pick up row and a return plain weave row complete this two row sequence.
This is known as a 1/1 Leno. It can be woven repeatedly as a border or plain weave rows maybe woven to separate Leno rows. Variations are 2/2 or 3/3. For a different effect, lift up three threads from the bottom warp. Then, over the two top threads and continue 2/2 across the warp threads.
- Release tension.
- Have an open sett.
- If necessary, pack down leno areas with a table fork.
Using yarn of your choice and the approriate reed, warp your loom as follows. Please note, the yarn used in this project was very fine yarn doubled in each hole and slot on a 15dpi reed.
H = Hole/Eye
S = Slot
Weave a heading in plain weave.
Starting on the right side, push the right-hand white thread over towards the left. Next, pick up the second white thread with the pickup stick. Then bring the stick over the top of the first white thread. This will cause the white threads to be crossed before and after the pickup stick.
Continue across, picking up and crossing the white threads. Next, once you have picked up all the white threads, turn the pickup stick on its side. Next, insert the shuttle through the shed created.
After that, remove the pickup stick and beat firmly with the reed. Weave a few more rows of plain weave.
Leno Lace Weaving Hint
To stop the edges from curling as you are weaving insert a sewing needle, fine knitting needle (dpn’s work great) into the edge to hold it in place until the weaving can be advanced and wound on, remove the needle as you wind it on.
Finally, weave some more plain weave and repeat your Leno row again
Weave plain weave for the length of the project and repeat the Leno pattern at the other end. Remove from the loom, soak, wash and dry.