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Pick-Up, When to Weave Which Float

If you are totally new to weaving with the pick-up stick on the rigid heddle loom, check out my latest Knitty column. I give a very basic primer on how it works and discuss how to weave warp floats. In First Fall edition of Knitty, I’ll address weft floats.

Here’s what I’ve been geeking out on lately. When using a pick-up stick, I find warp floats easier to weave than weft floats. To weave warp floats, you place the heddle in the up position and then slide the pick-up stick to the back of the heddle. You only have to push the stick to the back of the loom when you want to weave a plain weave up shed, but it isn’t necessary to move the stick to the back if you want to weave a plain weave down shed.

Pick-Up Positions-2 low rez cropped

To weave weft floats, you place the heddle in neutral and tip the pick-up stick on its edge. You need to lay the pick-up stick flat and move it to the back to weave a clean up or down shed, making it less efficient. On many looms placing the heddle in and out of neutral is a bit of a pain. One notable exception is the Kromski, the neutral position on their looms is  super easy to get in and out of.

Pick-Up Positions-1 Low rez cropped

One way to work around this, if your loom allows, is to let the heddle hang in front of the heddle block instead of putting it in neutral every time.

Pick-Up Positions-3 low rez cropped


Most pick-up patterns are reversible, so whatever you weave on the front, the opposite configuration of threads will be worked on the back. For this reason, I often choose to weave warp floats, even if I want the face of the cloth to display weft floats. This way I don’t have to mess with that fussy neutral pick-up stick position.

It is in this vein that I set about weaving a series of honeycomb panels for curtains. Honeycomb is woven in offset blocks. You weave a set of floats and then change the pick-up stick arrangement to the opposite configuration and weave a second set of floats so the the blocks of floats are offset. If the pick-up order is 3 up and 3 down, then after you weave the first set of blocks, you need to replace the pick-up stick and change the order—3 down and 3 up.  The trick is that the blocks aren’t tied down, so one thread from the first block floats into the second, creating a wavy line. Shown is honeycomb with its two sides—warp floats on the left and weft floats on the right.

Honey comb

Most honeycomb patterns are written with the warp float weaver-side-up since that is considered the right side of the cloth.  Since this is my preferred method of weaving pick-up, I set about weaving it that way.

With honeycomb, you can’t leave the second pick-up stick in place and get a clean shed. You either have to place it every time you weave that part of the pattern or insert a heddle rod. I soon discovered that you can’t efficiently weave with a heddle rod for warp floats—no matter how long you make the string heddles they tangle and interfere with the up shed of the first pick-up stick. I reworked the pattern so I could weave it upside down.

Once again, weaving has taught me something.  Everything works in theory until it doesn’t and weaving upside-down is always an option.

To the loom!


P.S. If you want to learn how to combine warp and weft floats check out Weaving 301 at the Yarnworker School.

4 thoughts on “Pick-Up, When to Weave Which Float”

  1. What I would love to see is a complete index of weaves for RH on this site. I compendium of pick up weave structures that could be accessed anytime by beginning and advanced RH weavers alike…with videos showing how they are done. I spend more time on YouTube looking for patterns and they are all over the place. Some are okay but many lack vital information or there is so much talking and little doing or the pattern itself. Could you do this on this site?
    Begin by adding one each month and archive it. Do that on a consistent basis. Soon there will be an entire library of weave structures for RH loom. It would draw a great deal of traffic to this very good site!

    Just an idea….


    • A nifty idea. This concept is basically what Betty Davenport and Jane Patrick set out to do in their books, without the video. They pretty much covered pick-up behind the loom. The videos might get a wee bit repetitive because once you know the premise of pick-up you apply it to many weaves. I understand there is a lot to how you lift, lower, apply pressure, add supplementary yarns, etc. . . Syne picked up (very punny) where Betty and Jane left off introducing weavers to 3-shaft weaves, where you can mimic 4-shaft patterns. There is so much that can be done on a rigid heddle loom and so many approaches to the material.

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