Pick Up Sticks on Your Loom

  Photos by Deborah Jarchow

imageplaceholder Deborah Jarchow
Contributor, Weaving Today

I’ve been weaving for over 20 years.  Much of that time was spent doing production weaving, specializing in rayon chenille garments and accessories.  Plain weave was always my first love because I enjoy letting my mind float while I weave, letting my hands and feet do the work.  The fabric I created had most of the interest in the color and texture of the cloth rather than the pattern of the weave structure.  Keeping track of the order of treadles and harnesses was not my favorite thing.  On a complicated pattern, sometimes I’d forget where I was in the treadling order and have to stop and count the picks to figure out which harness to raise next.   


After weaving for a few years, I started teaching weaving in my studio.  My classes included beginning weaving, basic twills, color exploration, and of course weaving with rayon chenille.  It is such a thrill to share what I love and see others become enthusiastic about it.  I had the opportunity to teach weaving at conferences and local weaving guilds and it helped me realize that I enjoy teaching weaving almost as much as actually weaving.

When I tried a rigid-heddle loom about 10 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy to use and portable they are.  And since I love plain weave, my rigid-heddle loom became a regular part of my weaving routine.  I could sit on the couch and watch television while weaving!  Soon I added rigid-heddle classes to my offerings and began exploring what more could be done with the looms.  Now I teach almost exclusively on rigid-heddle looms at conferences all over the country including Stitches and Vogue Knitting Live.  It’s wonderful to see so many knitters become weavers and get excited about a new way of working with fiber!   


One of my favorite rigid-heddle techniques is using pick up sticks to create patterns and textures in the cloth.  Somehow, keeping track of the pick up stick patterns is not tedious to me like keeping track of treading on the harnessed looms.  While using a rigid-heddle loom, your hands are busy changing the heddle position and beating, so adding a pick up stick or two seems pretty natural.  Your hands are right there in the yarn and the cloth all the time, so manipulating the pick up sticks just becomes part of the natural rhythm of weaving.  It’s wonderful to make decorative cloth with so little effort.  Just a few basic tips get you started, and then you can explore so many patterns while playing on the easy and fun loom.     

Please join me on Monday, June 22, at 1 pm Eastern time to learn more about creating textures and patterns on the rigid-heddle loom by using pick up sticks.  Allow me to share with you my passion for creating decorative cloth on the rigid-heddle loom!


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