Tutorial: How to Warp a Rigid Heddle Loom using a Peg

Oct 02

This summer, I took a class at Webs in order to learn how to weave on the rigid heddle loom I acquired via Craigslist.  The class was incredible, and I recommend it if you live nearby.  The trickiest part of weaving on a rhl is warping the loom, but once you’ve got the process down, well, spit, spat, it’s done like that! (Why, yes, I do secretly long to be Mary Poppins.)

I’ll do my best to explain the process and to provide some resources that might help you as well.

Before you begin, you’ll need to do some project planning.  Make sure you’ve marked the center of your heddle, and you might want to also mark each inch from either side of the center.  This will help you to achieve the correct width for your project.  How long do you estimate you’d like the finished product?  Add 10% to that number, and then add an additional 20" for loom waste.  If you want fringe, add that length to your number.  So, if you want a 60 inch scarf, your equation will look like this: Img_1405
60+6 (10%)+ 20+ 8 (fringe)=94".  Clamp your warping peg 94" from your back beam.

Make your life easy; if you aren’t using yarn that is on a cone, wind the yarn into a center-pull ball, which you might like to place in a coffee can on the ground (I used a box originally, but I’ve converted to coffee cans, which is what I always saw in use at Village Wools.)

Take a looImg_1331k at your heddle.  You’ll see slots and holes (oh, I should get some hits from that.  Minds out of the gutter, people.).  You’ll first go through the slots. We’ll deal
with the holes later. With your peg in position, tie the yarn on to the back apron rod.  So, from the back, using your hook (if you’re Dave, your hook is amazing), pull the yarn through the slot at your starting point; you’ll work across to the other end, the width that you want the project.

Drop the end over the peg. 

Go back to the apron rod, reach from under it, and pull the yarn through.  Drop over the peg.  Go through all of the slots needed to reach your width.  Every other time you go around the apron rod, you’ll come from under it.

Once you’re at the right width, pull all of the loops off of the peg, and snip the loop in half.  Loosely knot the ends to keep everything orderly. 

Next, you’ll use paper (butcher paper or paper bags that you’ve cut open work well) under the fiber as you wind onto the back beam.

The paper helps to keep an even surface for the yarn to come across, enabling you to keep good tension–the key to a successful warp.  Pull on the warp threads as needed to make even, and turn the back beam so the threads wrap around it.  As the threads start to wind around each other, make sure to insert the paper between them, snapping andImg_1338
shaking warp threads to keep that tension even.  If you need to add more paper, allow it to overlap a bit.  Keep winding on (tugging and pulling gently each time you turn that beam) until the front end of your warp threads reach the front bar.

Img_1339Now comes the part I like the best in warping.  Sit with the loom resting in your lap, braced against a table.  Turn on a good podcast.  Untie the knot and, moving from the left side to the right, put the heddle hook through the hole to the right of the slot and pull one of the two slot threads through the hole.

Once all of the threads are through, do a quick double check to make sure every other thread is through a slot/hole.  When you’re all set, grab bundles of 10 (or whatever your epi is) and tie loosely.

Starting in the center and working out (one to the left, one to the right) split  the bundle in half.  Drop the ends around the apron bar.  Pull up around to the sides (left and right), and tie over the top.  Click to make that picture larger and get a better sense of what I mean. 

Img_1344_2After completing this task, return to the center bundle and pull up on the knot (see picture) to tighten up the warp threads.  Continue until you’re satisfied with your tension, then tie the ends in nice little bows. 

You’re ready to weave!  Schacht has a fantastic website with more about warping on it, and Weavezine is a great resource, too.  I’d keep my eyes peeled to see what Dave is up to as well.  He’s had his loom for, like, five minutes and is already producing fantastic material.  He’s persuaded me to move on past a rhl…but I need to figure out some space issues before I undertake finding the right floor loom for me!

I hope this helps you to warp with confidence.  As I wrote before, after you warp once, it’s easy peasy!  Let me know if you have any problems, and I’ll do my best to clarify my instructions.


  1. Thanks for the great post!

  2. That’s a great tutorial.
    And, hey, you’d be surprised at how well YOU would do on a floor loom! You’d take to it in no time. NOT that I’m en enabler or pusher…much. 🙂

  3. Brilliant! I have not one but 2 RHLs sitting around just waiting for me to warp them…the part I dread.
    Let’s not even get started on the giant Harrisville floor loom I got crazy cheap that is currently living in the basement…

  4. Grandma /

    I read and re-read your directions. I must have missed something. When I start to weave the junk yarn at the start of the new project the up shed and down shed do not open completely. I can move the threads manually, but I know that is not correct. HELP!!! I am a new weaver and love it. Marty

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