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Overshot Rigid Heddle Towels


Overshot Rigid Heddle Towels 

Designed by Christine Jablonski for Gist Yarn

Weave-Along: See the Weave-Along videos for this pattern at the bottom of this post!

A set of cotton and linen towels woven with Mallo Cotton Slub and Duet Cotton/Linen. This rigid heddle pattern uses a pick-up stick and a supplementary weft to create weft floats inspired by the Halvdräll Towels (a 4-shaft pattern) by Arianna Funk.

You can download an updated version of this pattern and purchase a kit here.


Project Notes

  • Tools Required: Rigid heddle loom at least 15" wide, 12 or 12.5 dent heddle, 2 shuttles & 3 bobbins or 2-3 stick shuttles, pick-up stick
  • EPI: 12
  • PPI: 11 in tabby, 18 in pattern
  • Width at Reed: 13"
  • Warp Ends: 156
  • Warp Length: 4 yards (assumes 26" warp length per towel plus generous loom waste, room for sampling, and about 18% take-up/shrinkage on length and width)*
  • Technique/Draft: Tabby and pick up stick for weft floats
  • Finished Dimensions: A set of 4 towels that measure approximately 11" W x 19" L after washing and hemming*
  • Finishing Details: Hand or machine sewn rolled hem
  • Care Instructions: Machine was cold, delicate cycle, tumble dry low, press as needed

Note:As written, this project will make four towels and leave you with plenty to make more. If you are working from your stash, assume approximately 100 yards of each yarn per towel woven to these dimensions.



1. Warp the loom using your preferred method (direct or indirect) with a total of 156 warp ends, 4 yards long, alternating 1" sections (12 ends each) of Yarn A and Yarn B. Begin and end with Yarn A, for a total of 13 stripes. Center for a weaving width of 13" and sley 1 end per hole and slot in a 12 dent heddle on a rigid heddle loom.
2. To pick up the floats:
  • Place the heddle into the “down” position. Behind the heddle, only the slot threads are up. Place a long piece of cardboard, like a section of manila file folder under the raised threads to help you see which threads to pick up (See photo 1)
  • Using your pickup stick, pick up the first slot thread, leave the next one down. Pick up the next slot thread, leave the next one down. (See photo 2)
  • Continue in this manner of 1 up, 1 down all the way across. Slide stick to the back beam. (See photo 3) 

Photo 1 

Photo 2

 Photo 3

Photo 4
3. Begin and end each towel with 2” of tabby using Yarn C. This will be folded under and hemmed. Adding a shuttle of Yarn A, weave the following sequence:
  • Pick 1: heddle is UP, weave with Yarn C
  • Pick 2: heddle is in NEUTRAL, pickup stick slides forward to heddle and turned on its side to create the weft float shed, weave with Yarn A (See photo 4)
  • Pick 3: heddle is DOWN, weave with Yarn C
  • Pick 4: heddle is in NEUTRAL, pickup stick slides forward to heddle and turned on its side to create the weft float shed, weave with Yarn A**

**A note on dealing with selvedges: with weft floats, it is important that you cross the wefts at each selvedge edge. Do this by crossing the exiting weft either over or under the previous weft. (See photos 5, 6, 7)

Photo 5

Photo 6

Photo 7

4. Repeat the four picks above nine times, then replace Yarn A with Yarn B and repeat sequence another nine times with the new color. Alternate these blocks of Yarn A and Yarn B until you have woven 11 blocks total (6 of Yarn A, 5 of Yarn B). Towel should measure ~26" in loom under tension. Finish with 2" of tabby using Yarn C. Weave a few picks with contrasting scrap yarn to in between towels, then repeat the above steps to complete 3 additional towels.

5. Cut yardage off the loom and zig zag stitch the edges. Machine wash cold on delicate cycle, tumble dry low and press. Cut towels apart at scrap yarn markers. Hem using your preferred method.



Before You Start: Introduction--what you will need and what you will learn

Day 1: Loom set up and how to get started with the pick-up stick (3 videos)
Day 3: Weaving and how to manage 2 shuttles (3 videos)
Day 4: Christine's favorite finishing techniques

About Christine Jablonski

In addition to being Gist's Operations Manager and Wholesale Director, Christine is a weaver and exhibiting fiber artist. She scampered down the rabbit hole of rigid heddle weaving several years ago as a way to use up her knitting stash and never looked back. In addition to very practical cloth woven to adorn home and body (tea towels are her favorite home linen projects to weave), Christine also weaves conceptual works that explore themes of mood and memory, strength and fragility, and often reflect on the current political and ecological landscape. Her work is held in private collections across the country and is shown regionally in New England galleries. To see more of Christine's work, check out her Instagram.