20 November 2016

Warping a Rigid Heddle Loom - Tutorial

How To Warp A Rigid Heddle Weaving Loom

Looking from the back of the loom, this is the 'take-up bar' that your warp threads are tied to. 
The bar is attached to the rear roller with string. This should be permanently attached, and ready to warp for your next project.

The rear ratchet should be in the LOCKED position.

The warp threads are attached to the rear 'take-up bar'. 
(Note - I usually attach my rear warps first, but I know other weavers who like to to attach their front warps first. I don't think it is set in concrete which way it should be done. It's your personal preference).
Lay your lengths of warp threads on the loom. Start in the middle of the rear 'take-up bar'.
I usually hold about 8 to 10 threads in hand, pass them from the front of the loom over the heddle and over the rear 'take-up bar', pass the ends under the bar, split the threads evenly before bringing back on either side, and over the top, of the whole bunch of warp threads, and tie in a double knot. Don't tie too tightly just yet, in case you need to adjust the tension or position of any once you have tied all your warp threads to the 'take-up bar'.

Carry on tying your warp threads to the back bar.

 Hot tip:  Number a couple of sheets of recycled printer paper. Orientate the paper to landscape position, and write your Large numbers on the bottom of the paper.
Use this paper (starting with number 1), to slide in between the warp and the rear roller, as you turn the ratchet to take-up the excess warp thread. 
As your work (weaving cloth) progresses you can easily keep track of how much warp you have left on your back roller by checking what number you are on with the paper.

My project in this photo is about 15 inches wide, so I had to use two sheets of paper slightly overlapping. One piece was the numbered one and the other sheet was blank.

Carefully wind the back ratchet so that the 'take-up bar' is pulled towards the back roller, and start adding your paper as you roll. Kepp rolling the warp and paper until you only have enough yarn left to reach to the front roller.

Note: Remember to put the locking lever to the LOCKED position on the back roller ratchet.

Next you have to thread the warp through the heddle.
Most looms come complete with a special heddle hook that fits easily between the slots and into the holes to make threading each individual warp a lot easier for you.

The heddle has holes and slots. Warp thread is passed through each slot and hole in order.
As I am using a variegated thread for my warp, I do not have to worry about placement of different colours for this project. But if you are planning a particular pattern, then the warp threads might have to be threaded in a certain order for the pattern to show. Refer to your pattern instructions if you are using a pattern.
If this is your first weaving on a heddle, I would choose a solid colour warp thread, or a variegated like mine.
Hot Tip: Do not use a stretchy warp thread, especially if this is your first weaving project. Wool yarn is not suitable for warping because it stretches too much and you cannot keep good tension while weaving. There are special warp threads that can be purchased especially for this job, or you can use cotton, strong string, or similar.
I am using carpet weaving cotton which is strong and non-stretchy, but it is a bit 'hairy' as the following photo shows.

Here are all my warp threads hanging down loose after being threaded through the heddle.
This is when you make sure that you have enough length at the front of the heddle to tie the warp to the front 'take-up bar'.
If you need some more thread, just release the latch that is locking the back ratchet, and slowly pull enough warp for tying up.

Now tie your warp threads to the front 'take-up bar' in the same way that you tied the back bar.
Tighten the front ratchet to a suitable tension, and make sure that the locking lever is in the LOCKED position.

Voila!!! A warped Rigid Heddle Loom ready for weaving.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and can now warp your loom with ease.
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Happy Weaving


  1. Thanks Cyra, this is really helpful to me, with great photos too. Nell ��

  2. I've always been fascinated by weaving, especially as a little girl when I watched our neighbour work on a big floor loom making rugs and tablecloths. I'm trying very hard to resist trying it for myself.