How to Warp a Rigid Heddle Weaving Loom

By Sandra Webster ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Warp yarn
  • Measuring tape or yardstick
  • Scissors
  • Two kitchen chairs
  • Table
  • Weft yarn
  • Shuttle
  • Scrap yarn

A rigid heddle loom is used to weave table runners, place mats, rugs and many other useful and decorative items. A variety of designs and patterns can be achieved with sufficient patience and practice. Learning how to warp a rigid heddle weaving loom is the first step in the process. Once you learn the basic technique, you can adapt the warping process to suit your needs and environment.

Calculating Warp

Decide what you are going to weave and choose the yarn you will use. Wind the warp yarn into balls.

Calculate the amount of warp needed by adding the length of the piece you will be weaving plus 24 inches for loom waste, plus 10 percent of the length of the finished piece for “take-up” or the amount of warp lost during weaving, plus another 10 percent of the length to allow for possible shrinkage when washing the piece after weaving. The total of these four numbers added together is the length of yarn needed for warp.

Count the number of holes and slots within 1 inch of the rigid heddle to determine the ends per inch, called e.p.i. Multiply the width of the piece you plan to weave by the e.p.i. per inch to determine the total number of warp ends you will need. Multiply the number of total ends by the length of each warp end in yards to determine the total yards of warp you will need.

Measuring Warp

Place two kitchen chairs upside down on a table, with the distance from the leg of one chair to the other being equal to the length of one warp yarn.

Wind the yarn back and forth between the properly distanced chair legs until you have the correct number of yarns. This is usually 20 (2 inches-by-10 e.p.i.) or 16 (2 inches-by-8 e.p.i.). Count the total number of lengths of yarn at the center of the bundle to get the total.

Tie the yarn together in front of the chair legs at both ends with a contrasting color of yarn. Cut the bundles at the loop ends so there are many ends and no loops.

Threading the Heddle

Put the rigid heddle in the notch of the heddle holder. Locate the center of the rigid heddle and measure 1/2 the weaving width of the warp on one side to find where the edge of your weaving will be on the rigid heddle.

Grab the top end of one of the warp yarns in the bundle and thread it through the slot at the outermost edge of the weaving width you will be using. Thread the next piece of warp yarn through the hole next to the slot you just threaded. Continue threading warp yarns in this manner across the entire warp width you will need.

Knot groups of warp ends together in 1-inch sections with an overhand knot. Knot each around the back apron rod.

Slide the front apron rod around, over the top of the front beam to about 6 inches away from the rigid heddle. Bring one of the 1-inch groups of warp yarn over the top of the front apron rod, divide the group in half and tie each 1/2 in place. Use a half-knot for wool yarn and a square knot for yarn that is smooth or slippery and difficult to keep in place.

Weaving

Wind the weft yarn around the shuttle in a figure eight pattern.

Weave a header with scrap yarn to separate the warp evenly .

Begin weaving. Use the rigid heddle to beat the first row in place by pulling it toward you. Repeat this with each additional row.

Tip

If a warp breaks while you are weaving, tie a new end on to the broken one and rethread it through the slot or hole. Secure it to the weaving by making a figure 8 around a T-pin. Sew any loose ends to the completed project after removing it from the loom.