How To Weave: Using a Rigid Heddle - Darn Good Yarn

How To Weave: Using a Rigid Heddle

Woven creations provide fun textures and patterns, allowing fiber artists to combine different fibers, weights, and colors. These creations can be made from strictly following patterns, or just mixing and matching the yarn as you see fit. 

Rigid heddle looms make a wonderful first loom for new weavers. They’re portable, have a small footprint and many can even fold for storage. Rigid heddles are quite affordable compared to most floor looms and are extremely versatile allowing for a lot of creativity in weaving.

Rigid heddle looms come a wide variety of sizes ranging from a very narrow weaving width up to a 32” weaving width. They all share the same basic design save for a few small differences between models and makers.

Use the reference guide below to become more familiar with the parts of your loom, and popular knitting terms! 


BACK BEAM: Also called the Warp Beam. This is the rear beam upon which the warp yarn is wound for storage while weaving.

BACK ROD: An extension of the back beam which the warp yarn is tied to before being wound around the back beam.

BRAKE: Usually a ratchet / dog and pawl gear system attached to both the back and front beam. When locked, the brakes hold the warp in place while weaving. They can be adjusted to control tension and unlocked to advance the warp forward through the loom.

FRONT BEAM: Also called Warp Beam or Cloth Beam. Frontmost beam which the woven cloth is wound onto while weaving.

FRONT ROD: Extension of front beam upon which the warp is attached.

HEDDLE: A straight beam with a series of slot and holes though which the warp is threaded. The DPI (Dents Per Inch) of the heddle determines the sett or number of warp threads per inch. The heddle is raised and lowered to create a shed. On rigid heddles, the heddle also serves as a beater to push the weft into place.

SHUTTLE: Rigid heddles will usually come with a stick shuttle -a flat, narrow piece of wood with notches on the ends to hold yarn. The loaded shuttle is passed back and forth through the shed of the rigid heddle loom during weaving to create the weft.


WARP: The thread traveling front front to back of the loom which is woven into to create cloth.

HEADER: A section of yarn woven into the first few inches of the warp to evenly spread warp threads before weaving.

SHED: The opening between warp threads which is created when the heddle is raised or lowered. The shuttle is passed through the shed during weaving.

WEFT: The thread woven between the warp threads to create cloth.

WARP SEPARATORS: Usually warp sticks or heavyweight paper inserted between layers of warp during winding ignored to keep each layer of warp separate on the beam. Helpful for maintaining even tension while weaving.


Interested in trying out your new techniques? Check out the patterns for our Boho Urban Wall Hanging, Cabito Wool Color Pool Scarf, UV Stripe Scarf, and Woven Table Runner


Information Provided By: Mary Ballard of Goldfinch Woven