How to Weave with Pick-Up Sticks

by Liz Gipson

We have all done it, introduced a little skip in our weaving that creates a float in a place we didn't intend. Floats are the basis of so many weave structures, but we want to create them on purpose. (I'm also a fan of the flaw—it makes weaving more interesting.)

One of the most efficient ways for rigid heddle weavers to do this is to use a stealth tool that allows them to make a third or fourth shed, and break the over/under configuration of plain weave—the pick-up stick!

When weavers hear the term “pick-up”, they often think of working patterns in front of the heddle, picking up the pattern each time. You can also place the stick behind the heddle and leave it there, engaging it only when necessary. 

how to weave with pick up sticks

Understanding the Basics of Weaving with Pick-up Sticks

To place a pick-up stick, place the heddle in the down position so only the slot threads are up. Then you pick up the configuration you want behind the heddle. In this case, I'm picking 1 down/1 up. This is called “charging” the pick-up stick.

Once charged, you can slide the stick to the back of the loom and continue to weave plain weave.

Understanding the Basics

Weaving Warp Floats and Weft Floats

You also have two additional shed options that allow you to weave weft floats or warp floats.

To weave a warp float, place the heddle in the up position and slide the stick towards the heddle. In addition to the yarns in the holes being up, the stick is also lifting up the threads that are on the pick-up stick, up.

weaving warp floats

To weave a weft float, you place the heddle in neutral and tip the stick up on its edge so just the yarns on the stick are up.

weaving weft floats

Adding this technique to your weaving know-how allows you to branch out to a lot of different structures. The next step is learning how to read a rigid heddle pick-up pattern. I cover that in this blog post.

Weaver's Playbox for Rigid Heddle Weavers

The Rigid Heddle Weaver’s Playbox is a collection of three boxes filled with yarn from North American mills and dye houses, paired with an in-depth PDF guide that will help you expand your rigid heddle weaving skills. These boxes were designed to help beginner and intermediate rigid heddle weavers deepen their learning and think creatively as a weaver.

Two of the boxes, PlayBox #1 & PlayBox #2 both include a simple warp float pattern that you can try. These projects are easy ways to start making floats on purpose.

Weaver's Playbox 1

Weaver's Playbox 1

Weaver's Playbox 2

Weaver's Playbox 2

For a deeper dive, check out my latest class at the Yarnworker School,  Weaving 301: Pick-Up, I teach you eleven essential structures that utilize these two positions AND begin to dive into the world of drafting and design as it relates to the rigid-heddle loom. Gist Yarn blog readers can get 10% off the class using the code: GISTJOURNAL. If you are interested in joining the Yarnworker School Patreon community to get more benefits, you can check that out  here. The School wouldn't exist without the amazing support of this community. 

Liz Gipson


About Liz Gipson

Yarn is a big part of who I am—growing it, spinning it, and then making it do tricks, particularly the over/under kind (i.e. weaving). Passing this love on to newcomers is what makes my heart happy. I spend my days weaving, writing about weaving, teaching others to weave, and enjoying this thing called life. I host Yarnworker, a site for rigid-heddle know-how and inspirations. I dream-up, films, edit, and hosts the courses myself from my home in central, New Mexico.



You might also like:

Also in Weaving Resources

Twill Weaving Sample
Basic Weave Structures: Twill

by Amanda Rataj

This post is the second in a series introducing you to common weaving structures. You’ll find many patterns in Gist’s pattern collection that feature twill structures, and, like plain weave, it’s another foundation weave that has a lifetime of new and exciting combinations to explore.

tapestry weaving with array yarn
Introduction to Tapestry Looms and Tapestry Weaving

by Sarah Resnick

If you are looking to try out a new art form, or if you are a multi-shaft or rigid heddle weaver interested in exploring another facet of the weaving world, this blog post introduces the equipment and yarn you'll need to get started with tapestry weaving.

Basic Weave Structures: Plain Weave
Basic Weave Structures: Plain Weave

by Amanda Rataj

Plain weave is a fundamental weaving structure in which the weft travels over and then under adjacent warp ends. The weft does the opposite in the next row, traveling under/over a warp end it previously went over/under. Plain weave creates a smooth and strong cloth.