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In my intro to rigid heddle weaving, I covered beginning weaving from a knitter’s point of view.

Since many of you fellow knitters are ready for more, here I go … making fancy dishcloths with lovely, drapey, Rowan Summerlite 4-ply … and deploying knitting-to-weaving comparisons to illustrate techniques I used to make six cloths from one warp.

GOALZ! Ecru, Coral Blush, and Anchor Grey Summerlite 4ply

Knitting-vs-Weaving: An Extremely Cursory Overview

Construction Weaving uses two sets of threads to do what one thread does in knitting. Warp is vertical, weft is horizontal, roughly equivalent to rows and stitches.

Knitting yarn vs weaving yarn The primary difference seems to be marketing and packaging. Yarn is yarn. However, when describing yarn weights, weavers speak a different language: YPP (yards per pound) or EPI (ends per inch). 

Gauge/EPI Ends per inch (sett) is the number of strands of yarn that make up one inch of warp. The finer the yarn, the higher the epi. No worries about needle sizes, the heddle size equals the epi and determines yarn spacing on the loom. Most looms come with an 8 epi heddle for worsted weight. Cotton, however, has its own sizing system and consists of two numbers. Summerlite is equivalent to 8/4. (And just to keep it interesting, in the rest of the world the numbers are reversed, so Summerlite is 4/8!) According to the internet, its epi is 10-12, so I will use a 10-dent heddle.

Casting On/Warping  Warping is how you get the yarn on the loom. There are lots of excellent warping instructions out there, many loom-specific. As with knitting (and life) there is always more than one way to do something!

Using my Ashford Knitter’s Loom, and a 10-dent heddle, I put on enough warp for four dishcloths, alternating two warp strands of each color across the desired width—11″ or 30cm. New math girl was afraid of running short on warp, so I added extra and ended up with 6 dishcloths! I used 3 skeins total of Summerlite. The yardage is generous, another 3 skeins and you could have matching hand towels!

I start with a hemstitch after the selvedge (in blue).

Row/Pick A pick is one pass of the shuttle with the weft yarn, like a row in knitting. For the houndstooth, I worked two picks in Coral, then two picks in Grey. 

When the first woven piece was 11″ I hemstitched. Then, leaving about an inch unwoven, I started the second cloth.

I varied the weft colors and repeats, since—with great yarn and colors—how could they turn out ugly?

After removing the piece from the loom, I machine zigzagged over the hemstitch on the ends of each cloth before cutting them apart. Belt and suspenders for the win!

Blocking/Wet finishing: As I considered the appearance of my first finished project, I was heartened to learn that weaving won’t look right until you “wet finish.” This is somewhere between felting and blocking, and like blocking, it works magic. (But not miracles, also like blocking.) So satisfying, and no pinning is involved!

aaah that’s better

For dishcloths I run them through the washer and dryer, since that’s how I assume they will live their lives. Press if you intend to send as gifts, or are the sort of housekeeper I am not.

One final thought, although weaving is not as portable as knitting, I do love that the rigid heddle loom is easy to store. Some looms even fold with the weaving on them, so you can easily move from spot to spot, take it out for coffee, or drop it on the ground upside-down while undertaking any of the above. 



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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.


  • Yikes. I have had one of these looms since it was given to me years ago. I’m eager to weave on it, but unfortunately the yarn it came with is the ugliest I’ve ever seen, so it was hard to keep my interest up. I was intimidated by warping new yarn, and totally overwhelmed by the (to me) confusing terminology. But with Mary Lou’s help and resources, maybe I can tackle it. Someday. I wonder if knitting is this confusing to beginners? I don’t remember being so overwhelmed by the knitting terminology, but I was a lot younger then!

    • I am living proof that you can do it! I bet you have ‘some’ yarn in your stash that will inspire you!

  • Ok. I’ll bite. Where does one get one of the little weaving wonders?

    • You can see if you have a LYS who sells them, or a weaver’s guild. Otherwise, plenty of online purchase options. Prepare to go down a rabbit hole! I got mine from a Mielke’s Fiber Arts, a small business in Wisconsin. They are often available used, as well. Good luck!

  • I loved this series. Thanks so much for doing it. Question: what is the difference between a “knitter’s loom” and a regular loom? I have a 20” Schact – regular loom.

    • No difference really, it’s a marketing thing.

    • I was so confused by that, too. As Martha said, it’s marketing. Ashford wanted to show knitters they could weave with the yarn they already had. The only difference with the other Ashford Rigid Heddle Looms is that it folds. They work pretty much the same as the Schact (my other loom.)

      • There is another difference. The knitter’s loom is finished, whereas their rigid heddle looms aren’t. Personally I want to keep the strength left in my hands for the creative stuff, sanding and rubbing in wax exhausted me when I had to finish my bobbin winder, so I’m glad I got the KL.

      • Ok so the width was 11″ but what is the length of each cloth ?

        • Depends on the warp, those threads/yarns you weave into. Most weavers warp as much as practicable so as to be able to weave something else when one project is cut from the loom.

        • Each cloth was about 11″ as well, before washing and drying.

    • I think it’s only marketing. Knitters Loom is an Ashford brand name. Maybe to make it less intimidating?

  • STOP TEMPTING ME!!!! Love these towels and how easy you make it sound…..
    (seriously though they’re gorgeous)

    • Oh my, this is so very tempting!! I love using my hand woven towels (purchased and gifted)…

  • As a devoted knitter and rigid heddle weaver this makes me very happy. More please.

  • I got bit by the weaving bug about a month or so ago. Be prepared to be totally confused by a whole new language. And how yarns are categorized is TOTALLY different. I have tried different textile related hobbies before but this seemed to be the biggest “jump” yet but I am hooked! It is worth it. And you just get to use even more yarn 😉

  • I have always wanted a loom. Maybe this will inspire me to *finally* go for it!

  • For those interested in learning to weave, you can learn how just by searching on YouTube for free! (I did.) Also do see what Handwoven (by Longthread Media) has to offer and definitely check out your local weavers’ guild! Plus, definitely get a used loom, as they are the fraction of the cost.

    • Yes, and Little Looms is the Longthread pub for rigid heddle and pin looms.

  • Thanks for a motivating column! I took a workshop on weaving for knitters about five years ago, and really enjoyed it. There were a variety of looms in the classroom (so that we could check out the options), and the one I used I think was the Ashford Knitter’s Loom. (I know it had “knitter’s in the name,) I liked it a lot. Maybe for my birthday next month…

  • Mary Lou just had to say the magic words: “…making fancy dishcloths…”. Kay’s going to need a bigger dishcloth drawer!

  • Hi! I have a rigid heddle loom and I usually use Trader Joe’s paper bag as a warp separator. I don’t like using the bags…what is the purple paper you used and where did you get it? I’d love to score some. Thank you!

    • It’s construction paper! I scored it from my niece’s art supplies!

  • I am a beginning double heddle (Cricket) weaver, and I love this post! I wobble along pretty well with the actual weaving (plain weave so far), but I struggle with the language of weaving. And the charts or drafts as they are known. How to read and follow the draft would be a great topic for me. Thank you Mary Lou and MDK!

  • Thank you for this very informative column! I’m planning on finding a in-person weaving workshop this fall and have enjoyed using my Cricket rigid heddle loom for several years. Has anyone been to a good class in the AL-TN-GA area that you would recommend?

  • Thank you for the timely article, Mary Lou. I decided to try weaving a couple months ago, as another, less “thumb-stressing” fiber activity (arthritis, boo). I’ve been plain weaving on the Schacht Cricket I borrowed from a friend, using some worsted wt yarn that wasn’t going to become a sweater, and it’s starting to feel like the interminable garter st scarf new knitters begin with. Your cloths are an inspiration! I may just hemstitch this baby and start anew with a two-color warp of yarn I like better. Thanks for the resources, too, and I’m going to check out your intro

  • My most favorite book on rigid heddle weaving hands down: Inventive Weaving on a Little
    Loom, by Signe Mitchell. Highly recommended! My loom is a Schacht, it folds, and I purchased the stand, too. Love it! More weaving ideas please!

    • Syne Mitchell,

  • Awsome! I’m working my first plain weave scarf. This is the exact information i need. I’m taking a class at the beginning of August and need to get the scarf finished and off the loom by then.

  • Love this article!!! Will bookmark it! Got a 15 inch Cricket for my birthday and am still really learning ( as I like to knit, sew, felt, embroider, etc) anyway, great article explaining the terminologies for a knitter! plus, Love the ” belt and suspenders” comment!! So many people in NH and Fl have no idea what that means!!!! Too funny!!!

  • Thank you for this article. I just moved from a 16 to a 24 inch Ashford Rigid Heddle. I agree with the others that the terminology is confusing. After making and gifting shawls, I plan to make some simple clothing. The Utube of Sarah Howard is helpful and I have ordered 2 of her patterns.

  • This is very very cool. I’m just trying to get my head around how it works. So you warp up the loom. Then weave for 11″. What then?? Leave a gap of a couple of inches?? And weave again for another 11″?? Do you cut apart at the end??

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