Have you been thinking about learning to weave but weren’t quite sure where to start?
Earlier this week, I received a call from a woman in my local area who had been introduced to weaving on a frame loom and loved it so much that she wanted to “go bigger” and learn how to weave on a rigid heddle loom. As we talked about looms and yarn, teachers and classes, in-person instruction vs. virtual, I became more and more excited about sharing with her the many resources I found helpful when I was learning. She was so happy for the recommendations, I figured others might benefit too, so I’ve put them all into this blog post as links for you to explore.
Weaving Classes (Live and Virtual)
It was Deborah Jarchow who introduced me to rigid heddle weaving at Stitches, which is a premier conference for fiber enthusiasts. It moves around the country, providing crafters across the USA with the opportunity to attend live fiber-focused workshops (spinning, knitting, crochet, weaving, embroidery, quilting, dyeing… the list goes on), social get-togethers (think cocktail hours, fashion shows, and late-night pajama parties), and a fiber-filled marketplace that is every fiber shopper’s dream. Today, Stitches offers virtual learning as well through its Stitches at Home events and Live in the Stitches Studio. You'll find their complete calendar of events on the the Stitches website.
At my first Stitches in Pasadena in 2015, I took Deborah’s Learn to Use the Rigid Heddle Loom (and use up your stash!) class and was instantly hooked. Her teaching style was clear and concise, yet she was understatedly funny too… and patient. Ohhhh so patient. Before becoming a queen of rigid heddle weaving, Deborah was a commercial weaver with a studio in Southern California filled with giant floor looms and floor to ceiling racks of yarn. She’s worked on every kind of loom, and really knows her craft. On Deborah’s website, you’ll find the list of places she’ll be teaching in the coming months, from Stitches to guilds and local yarn shops around the country. She also offers a couple of classes on Craftsy, if you prefer on-demand, virtual learning. I’ve taken two of her Craftsy classes and have revisited them several times when I’ve forgotten how to do something. Even my husband learned to weave with Deborah’s video (photo below). For a glimpse of his one and only weaving project, see photo at the end of this post... not too shabby, but weaving wasn't this thing (ha ha)!
If you’re a book learner, Deborah’s book, Rigid Heddle Weaving Basics & Beyond, is an invaluable resource published in 2022 by Ashford Handicrafts, Ltd. (the maker of Deborah’s preferred portable loom, the Ashford Rigid Heddle). I truly believe she took every class she’s ever taught and put it in this book, making it my new go-to weaving resource that I’m sure to refer to time and time again. From plain weave to inlay to hand-manipulated lace, it’s all in there, accompanied by stunning photography. Work through all 30+ projects and you’ll undoubtedly be a rigid heddle weaving expert!
Projects and Inspiration
For inspiration, whether you’re just starting out or have been weaving for years, I recommend Long Thread Media’s quarterly publication, Easy Weaving for Little Looms. Each quarterly issue is chock full of patterns (20+) for scarves, shawls, table runners, placemats, tea towels, toys, and a whole lot more! The holiday issue, in particular, is full of great gift ideas. Click here to browse Little Looms issues in stock in my shop.
If it’s kits you’re after (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a kit for taking the guesswork out of choosing yarn!), I have two reliable resources. The first is Deb Essen's website. Deb is another well-known weaving instructor who has written several books and created her own line of kits for both rigid heddle looms and pin looms, as well as larger standing looms. If color is your thing, you’ve got to check out the gamp kits at Lunatic Fringe. Learn about gamps (like what one is!) from their blog post, then shop the kits, which include 10 to 27 color versions as well as a grayscale version. Their USA-sourced cotton yarns are also a personal favorite, so check those out too!
Weaving Guilds in Southern California
Finally, if you’re in SoCal like me, there are a few weaving guilds that are worth checking out. Guilds are not only an educational resource but wonderful for connecting local weavers to one another (networking and sharing trade secrets) and for sharing their craft with the public at large. The Southern California Handweavers Guild meets closer to Los Angeles, while the South Coast Weavers and Spinners Guild meets in south-county (I’m a member!). For those even further south, there’s the San Diego Creative Weavers Guild. These guilds are all very active with monthly meetings, demonstrations, lending libraries for members, and the like. For a longer list of related guilds in California, visit the SCHG website.
I hope you find the above useful as you begin your weaving journey. Please know that I have not received compensation from any of the above for their inclusion in this post. These are simply my personal recommendations based on my own experience.
Cover photo courtesy of Ashford Handicrafts, Ltd.