4-Shaft Twills on a Rigid-Heddle Loom

Learning about how twills can be woven on a rigid-heddle loom has given me a deeper understanding of twills in general.

Susan E. Horton Apr 19, 2023 - 3 min read

4-Shaft Twills on a Rigid-Heddle Loom Primary Image

Three 4-shaft twills that can also easily be woven on a rigid-heddle loom with two heddles, a heddle rod, and a pick-up stick.

It has been interesting over the past few years as weavers both experienced and beginner have pushed the boundaries of what can be woven on a rigid-heddle loom. I’m all for it; it’s very intriguing. I know much of what is being done has been done in the past, but I like how the methods reemerge with fresh applications and different approaches.

Given enough time and a pick-up stick, you could probably weave any weave structure on a rigid-heddle loom, although most of us probably have neither that kind of time nor the required patience. On the other hand, many twills aren’t such a big deal. After threading two heddles on your loom, adding a pick-up stick and a heddle rod, you are ready to weave. And just like many twills on a multi-shaft loom, the key is in repetition. Whatever the pick count is, you do it again and again and watch as the twills grow on your cloth.

We were recently working on a course featuring Sara Goldenberg White titled “Twill on the Rigid-Heddle Loom.” As we were finishing up the course workbook, we realized we didn’t have good photos of all the fabrics she had woven during the course. However, because all the twills she wove were well-known 4-shaft twills, it wasn’t difficult to develop WIFs for each of them. If you are interested and are an All Access Subscriber, I put the eleven twill WIFs in the Handwoven Library, with snips of the drawdowns and labeled them “Twills on a Rigid-Heddle Loom.”

On the left: Four-shaft draft with lift plan showing rigid-heddle codes. Middle: Rigid-heddle lift plan using 2 heddles, a heddle rod, and a pick-up stick. Right: Drawdown from the WIF of the same pattern.

Above are three components that show the correlation among a 4-shaft draft, a rigid-heddle lift plan, and a drawdown of a 1/3 Vertical Point Twill. Notice how in all three components you can clearly see how the repeat shows itself. In this case, the pick-up stick is creating shaft 1; heddle II, shaft 2; the heddle rod, shaft 3; and heddle 1, shaft 4. This isn’t the only way you could set up your rigid-heddle loom, but it is one way.

Two samplers woven by Sara Goldenberg White from “Twill on the Rigid-Heddle Loom.” Photo by Matt Graves

In case you are someone who likes to see actual cloth, above are two samplers of twill cloth. Can you tell which one was woven on a rigid-heddle loom? Here’s a hint: Both of them!

Weave well,