August Weaving Challenge: Weaving Texture on Your Rigid Heddle Loom

Posted by Jodi Ybarra on

Are you ready for weaving with texture challenge?!

 Sweet as Pie Towel Kit

Through the month of August, we challenge you to weave texture on your rigid heddle looms!

We all agree that plain weave can be an exciting weave structure in itself, but wouldn't it be fun to weave texture like we see being accomplished on shaft looms?

With this challenge we are going to go a step further, increasing our skill and our loom’s capabilities.

Let's start by thinking about what our rigid heddle loom does.  It is basically a 2-shaft loom.  Heddle up is one shed and heddle down is another shed.  But with a little manipulation with our warp threads, we can also create new pathways that will produce texture in our weaving!

We can weave texture on our rigid heddle looms by bringing a pick-up stick, or two, or even three into the mix.  Ok, let's not get ahead of ourselves.  We will start with just one pick-up stick for now. 

This technique is easier than you might think.  Your rigid heddle loom is especially suited for pick-up patterns.  We have our slot threads and our hole threads, and all we need to do is use our pick-stick to control the warp threads in the slots.  By manipulating these slot threads, it will make a new shed for our weft to pass through so that we can accomplish more than just plain weave.

Let's get started!

  • Gather your supplies ~ We've supplied a pattern in this blog for inspiration, but we would love to see your own unique designs.  The amounts that you need will vary depending on the size of towels you choose to make.  I have included the amounts needed to make two towels with a 23" weaving width, but this pattern can easily be adjusted to fit any weaving width.
  • You can use any yarns you have on hand, or we have this project available as a kit if you'd like to weave the Sweet as Pie Towels shown in this blog.
  • Let's get our looms warped and weave together!  I'm here for you every step of the way!  


Sweet as Pie Towel Pattern

Weave structure: texture weave in 3/1 lace
Equipment needed: rigid heddle loom; 22” weaving width; 10 dent reed; 2 shuttles; 1 pick-up stick
Warp Yarns:  620 yds Aurora Earth 8/2 cotton natural or white; 300 yds Aurora Earth 8/2 cotton in a dark color and 300 yds Aurora Earth 8/2 cotton in a light color.
Weft Yarns:  1000 yds Aurora Earth 8/2 cotton natural or white
Total warp ends:  222 (444 threads)
Warp length: 2 ¾ yards (99”) allows for 33” tie on and waste (you can warp 2.5 yds if you feel comfortable with allowing less waste allowance)
Setts: 10 epi (doubled in slots and holes); 11-12 ppi in texture weave
Finished Dimensions: two towels approximately 20” x 29”
Available as a kit from Cotton Clouds, Inc.


Step 1:  Warping the Loom
Set up your loom to direct warp a length of 2 ¾ yards (99”) and 22” weaving width.  Warp four threads natural Aurora Earth in a slot, then two threads light and two threads dark Aurora Earth in the next slot.  Repeat this 55 times ending with four threads natural.  You can easily adjust your weaving width to make smaller or larger towels by changing the amounts of repeats.  If you are weaving on a 15" Cricket loom, then you would adjust the repeats to 37 rather than 55.

Fast warping tip:  You can warp all of the natural threads in every other slot then go back and warp two threads light and two threads dark in the skipped slots. 

Step 2:  Threading the Reed
Wind the yarns onto the back beam.
Transfer two natural Aurora Earth threads into the holes and all two light colored threads into the holes.  You will now have two threads in each slot and hole.  Tie your yarns onto the front beam in small sections and tighten the warp.


Step 3: Preparing the Shuttles
Wind one shuttle with double strand Aurora Earth natural and second shuttle single strand natural.  The single strand shuttle will only be used for the hems.  Each hem will need approximately 15 yards.


Step 4:  Setting up Your Pick-Up Stick:
  • In this pattern you will use just one pick-up stick.  
  • Begin by putting your heddle in the down position.  This places all the warp threads up, so that you can easily work with just these threads.
  • Working with the threads behind the heddle, place your stick under the first 5 warp threads, then over 1 thread and under 1 thread all the way across your weaving width until reaching the last 5 warp threads. Slide your pick-up stick under these last 5 threads. (Note that our warp threads are doubled so each doubled thread counts as one thread). 
  • Slide your stick to the very back of the loom.  When your pick-up stick is at the very back of your warp you can still weave in plain weave.  The texture patterning will only show up when your stick is brought forward.

Step 5: Weaving 

Weave with scrap yarn to spread the warp evenly. 
With single strand weave 1½” for the hem. 
Change to double strand shuttle and weave 10 picks in plain weave.

Now you are ready to weave in the four-step pick-up technique. There are many different pick-up sequences to choose from, but with this pattern we are going to weave a 3/1 lace. 

We have already set up our pick-up stick with 1 up, 1 down.  We can now follow these four steps for the entire body of our towel. 

Step 1.  Heddle in the up position 

Step 2. Heddle in neutral with pick-up stick brought forward and turned on edge.

Step 3. Heddle in the up position

Step 4. Heddle in the down position.

Notice that we left the first and last five threads on top of our stick.  This will create a border of plain weave on each side of our towels.  I like to do this because the texture weave does pull in a little as we weave.  The borders help to keep our towels from pulling in and you will see that your towels will lay nice with this border.

Continue in this 4-step pattern until you reach 31” then weave another 10 picks in plain weave.  
Finish with another 1½” with single strand for hem.  

Separate the towels with a few rows of a contrasting color then start next towel.  When you have finished weaving your towels, weave a few rows with scrap yarn before cutting yarns off loom.

Step 6:  Finishing and Hemming
Remove the towels from the loom and sew a straight stitch across each end with sewing thread before cutting apart.  Using a hot iron, fold each hem over twice to get a nice flat edge.  Sew a straight stitch across securing each hem.  Machine wash in cool water and dry on normal in machine dryer.  Press with a warm iron if needed.  Towels will relax with more washes.

Enjoy or Gift Your Towels!
Towels are what I enjoy weaving most.  I love seeing my stack of towels come out of the wash in all sorts of colors and textures.  Each one brings me such joy and brightens my day.  I love being able to change them up in my kitchen according to the season or holidays.  Towels are also the perfect gift for any occasion.  Your friends and family will be overjoyed to receive such a special gift.  It’s also fun to personalize towels with the colors that match their kitchen décor. 

I hope you enjoy weaving these textured towels and I encourage you to weave some in your favorite colors!

Happy weaving! 

Jodi Ybarra

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