Ignoring Conventional Wisdom on the Rigid-Heddle Loom

There was a time when weavers were told that rigid-heddle looms were only good for scarves and shawls—thank goodness for everyone this was proved wrong.

Christina Garton Sep 4, 2020 - 3 min read

Ignoring Conventional Wisdom on the Rigid-Heddle Loom Primary Image

Jenny Sennott used memories of trips to the beach as the inspiration for her rigid-heddle towels.

I remember when I got my first rigid-heddle loom. I wove a few scarves on it, but then I wanted to try my hand at towels or napkins. I looked around a bit and mostly saw experts who claimed that it was not worth attempting. In order to weave towels or napkins (so I was led to believe), I would need to get a 2-heddle setup to achieve the finest sett possible or resign myself to weaving towels using extra-thick cottons. I am happy to say that while all this was “common knowledge” at one point, it’s pretty much all been debunked. Thanks to a slew of rigid-heddle weavers who ignored the weaving authorities and tried to weave towels anyway, I now know you can weave gorgeous towels and other table linens on the rigid-heddle loom.

In fact, we have a whole eBook full of fabulous rigid-heddle table linens to prove it: Handwoven Presents: Top Ten Rigid-Heddle Table and Kitchen Linens. Each and every one of these projects proves wrong the sentiment that beautiful towels and other linens are not possible on the rigid-heddle loom. In this eBook, you’ll find towels with fabulous drape, cheerful napkins, and sturdy placemats—all woven on the rigid-heddle loom, and most woven in traditional weaving yarns.

Nautical Kitchen Towels

Nautical Kitchen Towels by Jenny Sennott from the eBook Handwoven Presents: Top Ten Rigid-Heddle Table and Kitchen Linens. Photo Credit: George Boe

Of course there’s more to love in this eBook than just the types of projects—this is also the perfect eBook for the rigid-heddle weavers who want to build their skills. Start with the plain-weave patterns and work up to simple pick-up, beautiful inlay, and even waffle weave. You can pick up this eBook as a complete beginner and, after weaving through the projects, have the skills to confidently start designing your own rigid-heddle table and kitchen linens using a wide variety of techniques. Towels are, in my opinion, the best training project because even if you “mess up” in some way, chances are you’ll still have a perfectly serviceable towel.

Much has changed in the weaving world when it comes to rigid-heddle weaving since I warped up my first loom. More weavers are recognizing the potential that comes from such a “simple” little loom. It is possible to weave wonderful towels and so much more on the rigid-heddle loom. Sometimes it pays to ignore authority.

Happy Weaving!