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Rigid Heddle Weaving: Introduction to Pick-Up Sticks

Introduction to Pick-Up Sticks

Pre-requisites: YES, see below
Instructor: Stephanie
Equipment: See below.

This class will introduce students to pick up sticks and how to use them to create patterns with warp and weft floats.  Pick-up sticks can be used to create simple patterns for all over texture or to create complex designs that may travel or cover only part of the weaving surface.

Pre-requisites:  This class assumes that you have the ability to warp and dress your own loom without assistance and are reasonably comfortable doing so.  Completion of 2 or more weaving projects on your own is advised for beginners before taking this class.  Prior completion of any one of our Beginning Rigid Heddle Weaving classes (Direct, Indirect, or Complete) will also satisfy this requirement.

In the first day of class we will warp the looms in the morning and begin weaving.  Warping can be by done by direct warping, or indirect (with a warping board).  Any method can be used at the discretion of the student and available space.  Warping boards, lease sticks, and additional warping pegs will be available for use during class.  Those who want practice with a warping technique or skill they are not as comfortable with, may use this as a chance to practice that technique with an instructor available to help.

In the second day of class we will learn some more pick-up stick techniques;  review how you can draft a pick-up stick pattern using graph paper to develop and plan your designs; and review project planning for those who want to weave an additional project incorporating color and weave.

On the last day of class we will review all projects (complete and/or in progress), review project planning again if requested, and spend time comparing our graphed patterns to the finished pieces that have come off the loom.

Recommended Equipment:

Rigid heddle loom with:

  • At least 10” weaving width.
  • 10 dent heddle (10 epi recommended, other heddle and yarn combinations are possible – see below).
  • At least 2 stick shuttles. 1 or 2 more might come in handy.
  • At least 1 pick-up stick about 12”-16” long (about 2”-6” longer than your project is wide). More than one might come in handy.   If you don’t have a pick-up stick, a spare shuttle works in a pinch.

Recommended Materials:

260 yards Color A (for warp) and 260 yards Color B (for weft).  The yarn used for warp and weft is recommended to be of the same type, or at least the same size/weight/thickness and same fiber content.  Solid, heathered, or semi-solids (with very little variation) are best for this project.

3/2 perle cotton in two different colors (available in the shop on mini cones), or other yarn appropriate for a 10 dent heddle.  Other options include most DK weight yarns.  Cascade Sunseeker Shade and Cascade Ultra Pima would make good substitutions.  Others like Berroco Pima 100, or Berrocco Comfort DK can work too.  You can use any yarn appropriate for balanced weave at approximately 10 epi by 10 ppi.

If you are purchasing 3/2 from the shop you will need one mini cone of each color and will have leftovers.  (Mini cones of 3/2 cotton are about 460+ yards each.)

You do not need to use cotton yarn for the class project.  You can use any yarn you like to learn with as long as it works well with the heddle size you are using. I recommend nothing smaller than a 10 dent heddle for the first project so that we can warp quickly in class on the first day and get right to weaving.  Pick yarn that is not a fuzzy or hairy yarn.   For yardage and sett recommendations see below:

  • 5 dent or 8 dent heddle – 200 yards Warp, 180 yards Weft
    • Use Worsted Weight yarns, and similar
  • 10 dent heddle  –  260 yards Warp , 230 yards Weft
    • For DK Weight, 3/2 perle cotton, and similar
  • 12 or 12.5 dent – 320 yards Warp, 280 yards Weft
    • For Sport Weight, Sock Weight, 5/2 perle cotton and similar
    • Not recommended for first project, but provided for those who may wish to complete a 2nd project over the course of the class.

Optional Materials (not needed for this first class): 

10-20 yards of various yarns in different colors and thicknesses for supplemental weft.    If using 3/2 cotton, a worsted or aran weight cotton like Plymouth Fantasy Natural (stocked at Cloverhill), Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton, or Lilly Sugar and Cream work well.  The last two can be found at Joann’s, Michaels, or other big box craft stores. Soft, fuzzy, and hairy yarns can work.  These optional yarns will not be needed for the first class.  Additional discussion of supplemental wefts will happen in class to provide guidance to students who want to explore supplemental wefts.