A journey though learning how to weave on a rigid heddle loom sharing tips and techniques, resources, and projects along the way!



Monday, April 25, 2022


 A common mistake made by new weavers and some distracted experienced weavers is warping their rigid heddle loom backwards. Just what does that mean?  They have warped the loom so that the warp has been placed on the cloth/weaving side of the loom OR THE FRONT SIDE OF THE LOOM WHEN IT BELONGS ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE LOOM. A rigid heddle loom has two distinctly different sides - and they are easy to tell apart. The warp side of the loom - the side you put the warp onto the apron rod and wind onto the beam on is the BACK OF THE LOOM - and you can tell because it is the SHORT side of the loom - from the heddle to the beam.  The cloth/weaving side of the loom is the FRONT OF THE LOOM - and you can tell because it is the LONG side of the loom - from the heddle to the beam.  The side you weave on is longer to give you more room to weave in. The side the warp is put on is shorter because all that side is doing is holding the warp rolled up on the beam. 

So what happens if the loom is warped backwards. You could still weave this way but you will not have very much room to weave in. Will the weave be different? Likely no. BUT you will be advancing the warp much more often and spending time you could have just kept weaving doing so. 

Here is the simple way to fix warping the loom backwards and getting the warp from the wrong beam onto the right beam.  It might seem obvious that you just wind the warp from one beam to the other - which basically is what is done BUT when the warp is wound onto the beam when the loom is warped correctly, tension needs to be placed on the warp as you wind so that the warp will have even tension when you weave AND at the same time as winding on a warp separator of some type - brown package wrapping paper or rubber no slip grip shelf liner or warp sticks - need to be placed between the rows of warp to keep the warp from falling into the row below which will mess up the warp tension.  Follow the these instructions and you will get the warp onto the correct beam easily and fairly quickly. Just to note - this process is easier to do with a helper, but it can be done alone. I will point out where a helper comes in handy. 

1) If you have not already done so, warp the holes.

2) Take the warp that is on the back side of the loom now (the warp is wound on the front beam) and tie it onto the apron rod attached to the back beam.  Do this just the same way you would do it on the front of the loom had you warped correctly. You can use knots or lash on - which ever is your preference. Once the warp is tied on, adjust the tension on the warp just as you would do when the loom is warped correctly.

3) You now have a loom with warp attached to both beams - they are just not the right beams. Now, you will begin to start fixing it. Have your warp separator handy. If you are going to have a helper - have the helper ready to help. 

4) Set the pawl (latch) on the BACK beam - the beam with  no warp wound on - OFF the ratchet. (Ratchet looks like a gear. Pawl is a latch that locks into the teeth of the gear.) 

5) Put one hand on the front beam - where the warp is wound onto and hold the beam from turning. IF USING A HELPER - THIS IS THE HELPER'S JOB - SO GET THE HELPER TO HOLD THE FRONT BEAM. 

6) If it is just you alone, with your other hand release the the pawl from the ratchet on the FRONT beam AND DO NOT LET GO OF THE FRONT BEAM. If you have a helper and are not holding the beam with your hand - then do the same WHILE THE HELPER DOES NOT LET GO OF THE FRONT BEAM.  

7) IF USING A HELPER - THE HELPER HOLDS THE FRONT BEAM AND NEVER LETS GO BUT ALLOWS THE BEAM TO TURN WITH RESISTANCE, PUTTING TENSION ON THE WARP AS IT WINDS ONTO THE BACK BEAM WHERE IT BELONGS. IF YOU ARE ALONE - with one hand you are going to hold the front beam and put RESISTANCE on it to put tension on the warp, as you wind on with the other hand.

8) When you need to add another sheet of warp separator or another warp stick, lock both beams with the ratchet and pawl - to free both of your hands - and add the sheet or put in the warp stick. 

9) Unlock the FRONT BEAM AGAIN - and still either you or the helper HOLDING THE FRONT BEAM TO PUT TENSION ON THE WARP - start winding on again. 

10) Repeat 8 and 9 until you have finished winding the warp onto the BACK BEAM. 

11) Your loom is NOW warped correctly! The only difference from having done this right from the start is that the warp is going around the apron rod on the front of the loom and is tied onto the apron rod on the back of the loom. THIS WILL NOT EFFECT THE WEAVE. You may still need to weave a header - it is actually a good idea to do that even if the warp looks evenly spaced on the front of the loom. 


That is it - 12 simple steps.  Having a helper is less awkward in what the weaver has to do to get the loom wound on, but if you can reach hold the opposite beam while you wind on from the other side of the loom, it can be done! 😃  

Sunday, August 15, 2021


This brief article contains links to the two extensive articles on wet finishing. Wet finishing is an important process in creating woven cloth. When the cloth comes off the loom what you have is a net of yarn. The process of wet finishing converts the net into cloth. The yarn relaxes, the weave pulls together, and when dry the result is woven cloth. All weaves using any yarn fiber should be wet finished. Some will say that acrylic does not need to be wet finished. Acrylic will relax and the weave will come together just as a weave of any other fiber.  There is a definite positive difference before and after wet finishing. 

 Each of these articles has step by step directions to follow: 






 When wet finishing by machine timing is critical - especially time in the dryer. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


I am going to talk about two different processes in this article about changing weft yarn as you are weaving. There are two main reasons why you would do this. One is if you want to have weft stripes - horizontal stripes of different colors in your finished weave. The other is going to happen much more often - you are weaving and your shuttle runs out of yarn.  Now you have to start a new shuttle with that same yarn. I will take each of these separately.


 When you want to make weft stripes in your weave, you need to be able to change from one color yarn to another while you are weaving and you want the change to take place at a selvedge and you do not want the change to show. This is how I do that. I am right handed and feel most comfortable working at the right selvedge so what I am showing here is worked on the right side of the loom. There is no reason why you could not do this on the left side of the loom or alternate side to side if you want to. How long you make your stripes is up to you. How to determine how many rows of weft each stripe is, is simple. Get a "click counter" - these are sold for knitting. It is a push button counter - push the button and the number on the counter advances by one. They also have a reset to set the counter back to zero. These should not be expensive. I have one that is plastic and small.  If you decide you want each stripe to be 25 rows, with the counter set to zero, click once each time you pass the shuttle to weave a row. When you get to 25, stop, reset the counter, make your color change and weave another 25 rows.  You could do this with a paper and pencil and put a line every row - and count the lines.  The clicker is easier. 

So lets begin:

In this BLACK yarn is the OLD COLOR and BLUE yarn is the NEW COLOR.  I will refer to these as OLD AND NEW.

1)  You are ready to make your new stripe. You have woven the length you want your current stripe to be and you want to now start a new color stripe.  Take your shuttle with the OLD color yarn which you are now weaving with - and before you pass it through the shuttle CUT the yarn leaving about 7 inches left hanging down the side of the selvedge you are at. Open the shed. Put that tail of yarn into the open shed and lay it down on the warp - at a 45 degree angle up toward the other side. Now take that tail and tuck it down between two warps to under the warp under the loom.  Go into the two warps that are about an inch into the warp. You will be making the color change in the first inch of the warp from the selvedge.

The photo above shows the OLD weft through the warp and hanging down. Give it a pull while holding the weft at the selvedge warp to get it nice and straight and even - but keep it at the 45 degree angle.

2) Take you shuttle with the NEW weft and put it through the same open shed from the same direction. Let a tail stick out the selvedge that you went in from. You want a tail about 6 inches (just so you have some yarn to work easily with - don't be stingy with the yarn - a little wasted yarn makes somethings a lot easier to do. Take that tail INSIDE the open shed and tuck it down between two warp yarns to below the warp under the loom. Here you see that the warp went down between the fourth and fifth warp threads - you don't want to be too close to the end warp but close enough so that this change will be hidden when you continue weaving

 Here you see NEW yarn going down between two warp threads and below the warp. Now this is the important part and what will HIDE the change - though when you do it you will say - that will never hide the change I can see it clearly right in front of me! Well - give it a chance. TAKE THE TWO YARNS - OLD AND NEW AND CROSS THEM SO THAT THE OLD YARN IS GOING TO GET PUSHED TO BE NEXT TO THE OLD YARN IN THE ROW BELOW IT AND THE NEW YARN WILL BE NEXT TO THE NEW YARN IN THE ROW YOU ARE GOING TO WEAVE ABOVE IT. Pinch the warp at the selvedge and give each tail of yarn a little tug so that it is up at a 45 degree angle toward the other side and so that it becomes slightly snug. Close the shed by putting the heddle in NEUTRAL.

This is what your two tails look like under the loom.

  3) BEAT FIRMLY WITH THE HEDDLE. Push both yarns into the weave and you want the OLD yarn to be on top of the OLD yarn in the row before! 



And you are thinking, I CAN SEE IT! I CAN SEE IT!  Just wait!

4) Keep weaving. The yarn in the photos is thin yarn - #3 knitting yarn. A thicker yarn blends even better - but this works with thick or thin yarns. Here, below, is what you have after a few new rows of NEW yarn.

 And you are still thinking - who is he kidding, I can still see the change!  

5) Take your fingers and put your thumb at the selvedge on the NEW yarn, pinch it gently to your fingers under the NEW yarn (SHED IN NEUTRAL) and just manipulate the NEW yarn at the edge down slightly to close in what may be visible. Get it even and straight - get the NEW yarn to move into line with its first row.  Now, KEEP WEAVING the NEW YARN.

 I don't see the change any more. YOU know it is there. If you look really closely you can see somewhat what you did to make the change. Give this when it is off the loom and wet finished and they will not see the change. If you point it out to them, they may see it. But it is highly unlikely. 

When you are ready to make the next stripe do the same thing all over again. If you are changing with two stripes in alternating of the same colors or if you are putting a different color into every stripe, it will still work. 

When you take this off the loom, wet finish. I don't care what fiber(s) it is - always wet finish. Once it is completely dry you are going to eliminate the evidence. Lay the cloth flat with the tails facing you. Take hold of one of the tails and hold it up - not tight but to keep where it meets the cloth up from the rest of the cloth. You are going to snip (cut) the tail off. I do this with what is called a cuticle scissor. It is small and has a small pair of sharp blades that are curved UP.  This scissor in the photo is 3.5" long. The sides at the finger holes are 2" apart. You should be able to find these in a pharmacy or pharmacy department of a discount store - often with the cosmetics or nail care.  I happened to buy these a Farmer's Market in the Amish area of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for 3 pairs for $5.

Take the bottom of the curve just above the cloth but close to the cloth - and clip off the tail. JUST be careful not to clip anything that you should not be cutting! The yarn - after wet finishing is all part of the weave and will not come undone. 

YOU ARE DONE changing weft colors when weaving.



Starting a new shuttle with the same yarn is even easier - and is done the same way. The difference is you are going to do this change longer and toward or in the center between the selvedges (end warps).


When you start to see that your shuttle is running out of yarn, if you have a second shuttle the same length, stop weaving and go and wind more yarn on that shuttle. IF your weft is a solid color weft or a patterned weft that is random and it does not matter if you continue with weft from another section of the yarn - just wind one shuttle from the end of the ball where you left off winding the first shuttle. 

 IF your weft is variegated colors or patterns of colors - or you have a self striping weft and you want to continue with the matching part of the yarn that continues where your shuttle weft ended,this gets a little more time consuming. Ideally for this type of weft, if you have several shuttles the best thing to do is when you wind the first shuttle when that shuttle is full, you continue to wind the rest of the shuttles right then. After winding the first shuttle - (let's say you have 4 shuttles to use) - you would mark that first shuttle #4. Keep winding shuttles - the next  shuttle is marked #3. The shuttle wound after that is #2. The last shuttle you wind is #1.  You will start weaving with SHUTTLE #1. The next shuttle you will use when #1 runs out is #2, and so on. 

Do you see that you are using these shuttles in the reverse order in which they were wound? What this does is it takes the yarn left on the ball or skein and when starting to wind with that end it puts it in place to be the very last of the yarn when that shuttle is emptying.  By reversing the order of the shuttles you wind, you will match up the end of one shuttle with the yarn at the start of the next.  

BUT what if you don't have a lot of shuttles.  What you have to do then if you have only one or two shuttles is to go to the ball of weft yarn you wound your first shuttle with and wind your shuttle again - or a second shuttle if you have one - and when you are done winding - you are going to have to take the yarn off that shuttle and wind the shuttle again this time starting to wind with what was the very last wind you did when you just wound that shuttle. (Confusing - yep - follow it through - you just wound the shuttle to start weaving again because your shuttle ran out of weft. The new yarn you will start with is the wrong variegated or self-stripe to match where your weft ran out. BUT the yarn that you started winding with is exactly what you want to have come off that shuttle first.) So to make this easier - you need something to wind the yarn from that you just wound on the shuttle. A piece of cardboard - another shuttle - that is easiest - anything good to wind yarn around.  Get the end of the yarn from your just wound shuttle and start winding off the shuttle onto the cardboard - whatever - make sure that this yarn end will go under the rest of the yarn being wound on. Once all the yarn is off your shuttle take the end that came off the shuttle last and start winding a that same shuttle again - starting with that end.  You will be reversing the order the yarn was on the shuttle when you wind now.  What was the weft end on the ball that you started winding with will now be the end now that you will start weaving with. That is the end that matches the end of the weft that ended your first shuttle - and what you need to match to start weaving again.  As I said above, this is only needed if you do not have a solid color weft - as with a solid color weft - any part of the yarn will match where you ended up when the shuttle ran out of yarn.


1) The weft is just about run out on your shuttle. You want enough OLD shuttle yarn to go 3/4 of the way across the shed with enough for a tail of at least three or four inches long.  You just put your shuttle through, and if you see that there is not enough weft to weave another row, get the rest of the weft yarn off the shuttle and cut it so that you have weft 3/4 through the open shed and the extra for the tail.  TAKE THE END OF THE YARN FROM THE OLD SHUTTLE YOU JUST CUT OFF AND PUT IT THROUGH TWO WARP THREADS DOWN BELOW THE WARP UNDER THE LOOM.

 What you see above is how your shed should look with the end of the weft yarn from your shuttle after following STEP 1.  (The white paper is under just to make the yarn more visible in the photo.) Notice the yarn is up on a 45 degree angle - with the tail under the warp. 

2)  Take your NEW shuttle and pass it through the same open shed from the same side you went in with the end of your last, now empty, shuttle. Bring the shuttle all the way out of the shed on the other side - but leave its end coming out of the side it went into the shed. Put your new shuttle down and out of your way. TAKE THE END OF THE NEW SHUTTLE YARN AND TUCK IT DOWN BETWEEN TWO WARP THREADS ABOUT TWO INCHES  BEFORE WHERE THE OLD SHUTTLE YARN IS TUCKED DOWN BELOW THE WARP. Make sure the weft tail is about four inches down below.

Above you see the NEW and OLD weft tucked down below. At this point if you followed Step 2, this is how your weft should look. Note again that the weft is up at a 45 degree angle - and the tails are below the warp. 

3) Before you beat, take hold of the OLD yarn tail and pinch the end warp it comes over and give a tug on the tail. Do the same with the NEW yarn tail - this time holding onto the tail under the warp and give a tug to the weft coming our of the shed that you are going to be weaving with soon. Make sure the two weft yarns in the shed CROSS OVER each other. This locks them in. Put your heddle in NEUTRAL!


Above the shuttle is off to the left side of the loom. The shed is closed - heddle in neutral. The new shuttle yarn has been started. The two yarns are together in the weave where the change was made. It has blended together. The change is not visible. 

4) KEEP WEAVING! You are weaving with the new shuttle. If your shuttle runs out again - do the same thing! 

When you take this off the loom, wet finish. I don't care what fiber(s) it is - always wet finish. Once it is completely dry you are going to eliminate the evidence. Lay the cloth flat with the tails facing you. Take hold of one of the tails and hold it up - not tight but to keep where it meets the cloth up from the rest of the cloth. You are going to snip (cut) the tail off. With several changes of shuttles you will have several tails to clip off. Use the curved scissors I recommend above. Again, do not cut anything that is not supposed to be cut!

AND YOU ARE DONE! You have ended the OLD shuttle and started a NEW shuttle with the same yarn. Do this as many times as the shuttle runs out.