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Making potholders as a kid, an activity I happily explored on the rare days I was deemed sick enough to stay home from school, was my first attempt at weaving. This time around, as a yarn-loving grown-up, I wanted to do more than just play with cotton loops. Yarn was at hand, and the pandemic and semi-retirement meant the time was at hand too. So I ordered an Ashford 12″ Knitters Loom—the name attracted me, it folded up, and came with a carrying/storage bag. Sold! 

Starting small

What to start with? During lockdown KonMari adventures, I unearthed a big bag of dishcloth cotton. I don’t remember buying it, or why I had it, as I don’t generally knit dishcloths. A class? A huge sale? Early MDK influences? While admiring my new loom, I had a eureka moment. I could learn to weave by making dishcloths! Who doesn’t love a good dishcloth? And if I make mistakes? It’s a dishcloth! 

Another win for the dishcloth idea: I could warp up for a few dishcloths, finish them, and warp for another set in a different color. Warping is how you get the yarn on the loom, the equivalent to casting on stitches. I decided that not only was I going to build muscle memory for warping; by golly, I was going to enjoy it.

So. Much. Fun.

I was surprised at what a big hit the dishcloths were. I started getting requests for them from friends and complaints from family. (Why did she get some and I didn’t?) My bodyworker even asked to give me a free session in exchange for a set of dishcloths. WIN WIN!

Bound for glory

Freedom to play excited my creativity. I could make whatever I wanted; I didn’t have to think about how to explain it to a class, write it down, or use yarn currently available. Weaving is a real stash buster, too, and allows me to mix yarn weights and test color combinations that I may use in future design. Plus, basic “color and weave” is shockingly easy. Vertical stripes! Houndstooth with no counting of stitches! 

I used Atlas for two scarves I dreamed up on the fly, and dreamy is the right word for Atlas. I love it for knitting, and it was just as wonderful for weaving. For one scarf, I decided to add weft colors in the same order I warped them, as an experiment. That makes plaid—who knew? (Lots of weavers, apparently.)

Atlas in Mallard, Sea Glass, Shale, and Natural

Knitters especially will appreciate the speed at which you can crank out fabric, use up your stash, and still retain the feeling of handwork. (Freeing you to buy more yarn, of course!)

A single-color, plain scarf in knitting is tedious, boring, and slow. In weaving, it’s a great first project! I timed myself with my first scarf; ten ‘rows’ with sock weight yarn took 2.5 minutes, including stopping to sip my tea.

Weaving also has me excited because my stash includes many skeins of lightweight yarns, especially “souvenir” sock yarns. Fine yarns work up quickly on the loom. Here’s a scarf made with Uneek sock on the happy recipient:

Here it is on the loom. The self-striping yarn turns into a magical sort of plaid.

Here’s a closeup glamor shot.

Weaving is not all beer and skittles, problem-free fun and games, of course. For instance, swatching is much slower than in knitting.

Overall, being a knitter and yarn lover made it easier for me to understand some aspects of weaving. Both use specific techniques to turn yarn into fabric. Knitters go through the loops; weavers go over and under. If you want to take the plunge, look for a local weavers guild or ask at your local yarn shop. 


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Photographs of modeled Atlas scarf © Gale Zucker 2023.

About The Author

Mary Lou Egan has been teaching knitting and designing for a long time. Teaching all levels has given her insight in ways to address the challenges knitters face—and the chance to practice tips and tricks on unsuspecting knitters.


  • I loved reading this! I dabble in weaving, and this makes me want to get my loom warped. It’s been too long since I’ve found the time! (You have to be warped to weave, after all.) I find weaving is also a great way to use my handspun yarn. Depending on the weight of my weft yarn, I use either sock yarn or Ultra Alpaca as my warp. A handspun weft makes beautiful scarves, and has been a great way of using up some of my early spinning efforts that frankly were too awful to knit with. I love the look of plain weaving so much that I have yet to branch out beyond that, but playing with yarn colors is incredible.

    My go-to resource is Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom by Syne Mitchell. That book lives in my weaving bag and is full of bookmarks of pages I reference regularly.

    • Thank you! I agree about Inventive Weaving, a wonderful reference book!

    • Thank you! I was looking for a good basic reference tome!

  • Thanks for sharing your learning-to-weave experience, it’s great to see so many fibers and weights shown (and shining!) in simple combinations.
    I’m sensing a run on looms today, Mary Lou!

  • I taught myself to weave on a rigid heddle loom and have never looked back. I make dish towels, placemats, pot holders, even an apron, mine and my husband’s shrouds. That’s what got me started. I want to have a green burial and weaving my shroud out of unmercerized natural cotton was perfect! I also learned to use an inkle loom and made the straps to tie the shroud closed, it was all great fun and a wonderful useful project. Knitting is still my first love, but playing with colors and patterns to make dish towels is such fun and everyone loves them! It was a perfect skill to learn to compliment my knitting skills.

  • I sense a rabbit hole opening up!

  • Now, I must add this to my (really-want) to-do list for retirement. In the meantime, I’ll continue to grow as a knitter. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Okay, this might be a good starting point for me on the loom! For some reason, warping scares me…

    • That’s why I started with dishcloths!

    • Take it slow, winding the warp is the potential for future fabric. I love to knit, I love to weave!

  • Thank you for sharing. Love any yarn/textile adventure.

  • I guess I need to haul out my rigid heddle loom again. I’ve already borrowed the Syne ebook from the library, thanks to an earlier commenter, and now I’m ready to review how to warp.. Oh dear, another start. But I do finish everything, in my own defense. And I need a little change from knitting. Anyway, thank you!

    • Happy to help! There are lots of online resources for basic warping, as well. Whatever loom you have probably has a video on their website.

  • I am a rigid heddle weaver, too. I have a 15 inch Cricket. I returned to knitting and started crochet after retirement. I learned weaving during the pandemic. I practiced by making scarves with acrylic yarn for my donation group. My last project was kitchen towels with a pick up stick pattern. So much fun.

  • Oh Mary Lou! Your dishcloths are magnificent! All these beautiful pieces really give me an itch to try this. You’re a natural!

    • Any praise for a dishcloth coming from you is high praise indeed! Thanks!

  • Must step up my efforts toward a weaving class! It’s been on my “want to do” list for a while!
    Thank you for the inspiration.

  • I’ve wanted to start weaving for years now, but haven’t had the space for a loom. I love the idea of these smaller looms & the dishcloths are a brilliant way to get going. Thanks for the intro….

  • So tempted by your persuasive writing, Mary Lou! I might have to get a little Ashford 10″ SampleIt loom, not sure I want to spring for the 12″ just yet. The possibility of using up all those skeins of sock yarn…

    • If you join the Weaver’s Guild, they have a rental program. Also you might spot a used on on their marketplace.

      • A great idea! If there is a guild in your neighborhood, they may have “yard sales”, and it’s a great way to score gently used equipment; that’s how I got my Schacht Matchless wheel.

    • I have a 16” Ashford that I bought as a retirement gift to myself, and a huge yarn stash! It’s fun and a great rabbit hole from knitting ( as is spinning!)

  • Thank you for the inspiration! I have been looking for an “investment” opportunity for all of my gift cards. And I have been thinking about this for a long time…

    Ever since I saw a loom for sale at an estate sale. Two pieces of advice that are always true…buy it when you see it and do not worry about where to put it.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! I bought a rigid heddle loom years ago after successfully making a scarf at a class at a knitting conference. That’s as far as it got. The idea of dishcloths first is so great. I’m excited to try the idea out. Very inspiring article! And glad of the references as well.

  • We appreciate the shoutout of our local guild directory (you might check out the professional directory if you’d like to find a teacher, too)! The leap between knitting and weaving can be a short one–after all, you already have the yarn! You can even dabble with a simple frame or cardboard loom (very diy-able) while you test the waters.

    • Love this comment! I inherited a floor loom from my grandmother and my local Handweaver’s guild has been instrumental in getting me going and encouraging me!

  • Such a breath of fresh air & inspiration! I, too, have a stash of dishcloth cotton and a 2-harness table loom my grandpa hand built. It never occurred to me to weave with dishcloth cotton! Brilliant!!

  • Are you using a Cricket Loom?
    Any book recommendations?

    Weaving is a great way to quickly use up yarn.

  • WHOA!!! GORGEOUS RESULTS!!!! Great pictures of BEAUTIFUL projects. Such a fun piece to read. And, cool stuff to daydream about…I’ll need a second “creative space.” EXCELLENT and thank you!

  • So glad to see some info on rigid heddle weaving on MDK! I started learning to weave on a rigid heddle loom in 2017 thinking I would use up my knitting yarn stash, but it has mostly added new options to my ever growing stash! I can highly recommend Debra Jarchow’s instruction (she was the first teacher of the classes I took thru Stitches) and Liz Gipson of the Yarnworker online school of which I am current student/Patreon. So happy to see more of us knitter/weaver combo crafters!

  • I’d always been interested in weaving (way more than, say, spinning) and can vouch for Angela’s class on Craftsy! I even used the BRIO loom that we gave our eldest for Christmas a whole bunch of years ago. Turns out I don’t love weaving — right now — I reserve the option to revisit someday when I have time to explore my interests more fully!

  • Wonderful to see interest in weaving here on MDK. I joined a local guild in 1981 and have never stopped weaving all the things. My advice: if you want to weave, do it now! Don’t wait for retirement or when you might have room for a loom! With rigid heddle looms, it’s an easy start. Often there are estate sales. Guilds are marvellous and now there is YouTube, blogs, books and magazine. All are welcome to the weaving world!

  • Love rigid heddle weaving. I bought a loom on sale many years ago and finally took a course at my LYS a few years back. I made 2 scarf, one for me and one as a gift. I never thought about making dish cloths, great idea!

  • My introduction to weaving was when I was in my professional training as an occupational therapist at Columbia University. At that time, the profession was at a crossroads for including/excluding crafts from the patient treatment plan. My school decided to give us a nodding acquaintance with some, and weaving was one of them. At the time, it was difficult, given our intense schedules and studies. However, I have often thought about weaving in the last few years.
    I love your dishcloths, Mary Lou! If I had a loom in front of me now, I would get started on one. Thank you for this lovely post.

    • I hope some of the crafts are still included! Many men became weavers after WWll because of VA therapy programs!

  • OMG! I love your weaving and yarn choices. So pretty & a interesting break from knitting while still getting to play with all the fibers & colors. Awesomeness!
    I really want to give weaving a try: I’m pretty much half-warped all the time anyway.

  • Your creations are marvelous! I’ve long thought that if the arthritis in my hands eventually makes knitting difficult to the point of being not fun even in short doses, I may be able to slide sideways into weaving as an alternative adventure. It’s nice to think about. And now I have your experience – and photographs! – for inspiration 🙂

  • Even though I don’t want to weave (right now) this makes me want to weave…RIGHT NOW!
    Also the dish clothes are so good,your people are right.

  • OMG! This came at the perfect time- for some reason- maybe yarn stash related- I ordered a 15 inch Cricket loom recently- slow going, so far- but you have inspired me!! Thanks! Your projects are amazing!!

    • Thanks! You’ll have fun!

  • I love RH weaving and own three of them. I originally thought I’d use weaving to reduce my monstrous stash but it doesn’t actually work that way…..

  • And, with perfect timing, as it happens, I’m starting a class in rigid heddle weaving this morning, from a friend, Weaving Guild master weaver, master spinner & knitter. And also master enabler! As you might guess, as she also started me spinning, too.
    This post is way fun and comes right when I started to think, “what have I gotten myself into?”

  • I am signed up for a rigid heddle weaving class in May—very excited to learn a new craft! This article just hit the spot.

  • Where are the instructions for the dishcloths?

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