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How to Read a Weaving Draft (in plain English)

Monday October 19, 2009

The initial understanding of a weaving draft is to imagine that you are hovering above your loom looking straight down at it.

There are 4 parts to a weaving draft: Threading Order, Tie Up, Draw Down and Treadling Order. 

Most weaving drafts (patterns) look like this. It represents a loom with treadles. To read it, start at the center of the cross point between each of the 4 areas and read away from that point.

Houndstooth Weaving Draft

This draft tells us that we would thread a dark warp thread through a heddle on shaft #1, then a heddle on shaft #2, etc. (using the colors in the color guide at the top).  Then you attach a chord from treadle #1 to shafts #1 & #2, a chord from treadle #2 to shafts #2 & #3, etc. When you weave, you press treadle #4 and throw a shot with a light thread,  then #3, then #2, then #1. You repeat the sequence 4-3-2-1 with a dark thread. This draft will produce a houndstooth twill.

The following draft is for the same weave but uses what's called a LIFT PLAN. This type of draft is what we need to use with looms that don't have treadles or only direct tie up (one shaft to a treadle).

How to read a weaving draft

Rather than pressing treadles to lift the warp threads, we manually lift the warp threads via string heddles on a rod. This draft tells us that the first thread has a heddle on it and the heddle is on rod #1. The second thread has a heddle on it and the heddle is on rod #2, etc. We would then lift rods 1&4 at the same time for the first pick. Then we would lift rods 3&4 on the second pick, etc.

Still not clear? Here's a video tutorial Smile :

Now, apply this to your RH loom FRAME by using string heddles:

3 harness draft

Here's what using heddle bars on an RH loom looks like to weave a 4 shaft draft. Note the lease sticks in the back (in this case I used BBQ Skewers) to keep threads in order. Basically this is exactly like a backstrap set up except you're using your RH frame as the catalyst to hold the warps.


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35 comments so far… Add yours! :D

Bety says:

Thanks for posting I’ve been weaving for a few years and still have issues reading drafts. I saw the video on the string heddle harnesses and love that idea. I’m going to try some weaving this weekend with your method.

Posted: Thursday October 22, 2009

PattyAnne says:

I am copying this and gonna give it a try TODAY!!

Wish me luck!!

Posted: Sunday November 29, 2009

Judi says:

You explained this perfectly! I just bought a rigid heddle loom from eBay (unknown maker, etc) and am reading everything I can about them. You just proved how versatile they can be, and now I am excited about what I can do with mine! I’m so glad I found your site. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Posted: Sunday October 10, 2010

Anne Kachergis says:

It is how to draw the drawdown on paper that I’m curious about. Thanks.

Posted: Saturday November 27, 2010

Joyce says:

I use the computer for that! LOL This is what I use:

Posted: Sunday November 28, 2010

Deb says:

Dear Joyce,

I enjoyed this tutorial, I would like to clarify what I think I am seeing here though.

It looks like you warped without the rigid heddle then create heddles in the warp by counting across, grabbing and creating a string heddle for(in this example) each #1 string for the ‘#1 heddle’, each warp thread #2 for the ‘#2 heddle’, etc. Then lifting the appropriate heddles for each pick listed on the side from top to bottom?

But in the 3 shaft plan we would string heddle warp thread 1, 4, 8, 11 etc for ‘#1 heddle’, thread 2,5,7,10 etc for ‘#2 heddle’ and thread 3, 6, 9, 12 etc for ‘#3 heddle’. then lift harness 2 for pick one, then harness 1, then3, 2, 1 etc?

We can beat with a weaving comb or the shuttle? What are you using to make the string heddles? I am assuming that it is pretty critical to keep the string heddles as uniform in size as possible?

Thank you so much for your guidance.

Blessings – deb

Posted: Monday August 27, 2012

Joyce says:

@Deb. Thanks. No, you don’t count threads 4,8,11 etc. You pick up a thread where there is either a block or number in the grid at the top, left to right. Starting at the bottom would be harness #1 (the one closest to you). Where there is nothing but a white space, you skip that warp thread.

For example, the 3 shaft diamond twill’s first harness is a repeat of pick up 1 thread, skip 2 threads, pick up 1 thread, skip 3 threads, pick up 1 thread, skip 2 threads, pick up 1 thread, skip 1 thread.

There’s several ways to make string heddles. For beginners who want to dive right in, making loops of threads, as I have done, is the easiest way. If you have an inkle loom, you can use the heddles from that. To make heddles all the same size, tie string around something like a coffee can or between the stems of a couple of C or Quick Grip clamps.

You can beat with either a home made reed, a comb or the edge of the stick shuttle. You will see me do that in the video.

Hope that helps. Happy Weaving.

Posted: Monday August 27, 2012

Lynn in Tucson says:

This is great. Thanks!

Posted: Saturday November 3, 2012

Samantha says:

In your video, “Fear Not the String Heddles,” is your reed a “slot and hole” reed, or simply a “slot only” reed? I think I’m trying to make things too difficult! ;)

Posted: Sunday December 16, 2012

Joyce says:

@Samantha It is a slot only reed. Like the kind you see in floor and table looms.

Posted: Monday December 17, 2012

Eileen says:

Hi Joyce,

In response to Samantha’s question above you answered that the draft was for a slots only reed. Do I need to warp the loom differently? I have an Ashford RH Loom. I learned to warp through slots and holes. If I warp in the slots only I would end up with two threads in the slots. Is this correct for this draft?



Posted: Sunday January 6, 2013

Joyce says:

Hi Eileen! Thanks for writing!

I don’t recommend using the RH for this but depending on the draft and yarn being used, maybe it will work for you. Do a sampler and see what happens. I found that I needed several threads in the same slot which made making sheds difficult because the threads couldn’t pass one another plus I got reed marks which was really annoying.

If you’re still determined to use RH, I do recommend a book on eBay called “Weaving with Three Rigid Heddles”. It will show you how to set up your reeds for 4 shaft weaving. I know people who have done it. It’s just not for me. I find threading all those reeds is just too tedious.

Hope that helps!

Posted: Sunday January 6, 2013

Eileen says:


What kind of loom is used in the above video? I thought that was a rigid heddle loom. Is an Ashford rigid heddle loom a different beast? I don’t understand the difference between them if both are RH’s



Posted: Tuesday January 8, 2013

Joyce says:

In the first video I am explaining how to read the draft. I was doing a demo for pick up sticks on Blog TV and had my Beka Child’s Rigid Heddle Loom warped when someone asked me how to read a draft so I did an impromptu tutorial while the loom was warped.

In the second video, I am using the same loom but without the rigid heddle. I am using a reed to keep the warps separated at equal distance (just like a floor/table loom). This makes it easier to achieve a balanced weave.

Keep in mind that anything that holds warps under tension is a loom.

The only thing that makes your Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom what it is, is the rigid heddle. Without the heddle, it’s a frame loom with roller bars. You can weave anything on it (inkle, tapestry, and even back strap style by using string heddles and a shed stick).

Hope that helps.

Posted: Wednesday January 9, 2013

Joyce says:

Oh, yes, nearly forgot…

You don’t need the frame to weave with a rigid heddle, either. Again, if the warps are being held under tension, you can use your rigid heddle on it.

Posted: Wednesday January 9, 2013

Eileen says:

Thank you. I will try it.

Posted: Wednesday January 9, 2013

Ronnie says:


Your tutorials are really helpful! I’m a student from London, and they’re really easy to follow.
I’m having difficulties drawing a lifting plan. do you have any tutorials on drawing one for a double cloth? I want to create a geometric fabric simpler to the one you’ve drawn above, but I can’t seem to be any good at drawing. I’ve downloaded the program you use, and it confuses me, so I’d rather do it by hand :)

Thank you!!

Posted: Saturday February 2, 2013

Joyce says:


Whether you draw it by hand or use Pixeloom, you’re going to have the same outcome. A draft is a draft whether you do it by hand or it’s done on the computer. This is why I don’t do them by hand. I figure, why spend all that time doing that when I could do it quickly with Pixeloom be weaving it. :)

Pixeloom will do double weave in lift plan mode for you. I recommend, but don’t support their product. See about checking their help files or support team for more information.

Best of luck!

Posted: Wednesday February 6, 2013

Judy says:

Thanks so much! Just learning—love overshot patterns—need to get a different heddle with only slots :-) You make it look so easy…

Posted: Monday March 25, 2013

Joyce says:

Glad I could help, Judy!

Hope you can find a reed that will fit your loom. If not, you can always make one like did.

Posted: Tuesday March 26, 2013

Bonnie says:

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!! Finally I understand the draft. The video is what did it.
Can I make the reed out of skewers. Did you make yours if not where can I get one. My heddle is a slot and hole.
Thanks for sharing your talent

Posted: Monday April 8, 2013

Joyce says:

I made mine out of bamboo BBQ Skewers and thin strips of wood at the top and bottom. It ends up being about 6 EPI. You can purchase stainless steel reeds in different EPI’s, try Craigslist, eBay and internet search.

Posted: Monday April 8, 2013

mondkind says:

thank you so much for this tutorial and the videos so very helpful for someone like me just learning , finally got around trying this wanted a scarf with this as the end borders , however the yarn I am using is a little wavy in itself so the pattern wont really show , so I was wondering if you could/would let me know what kind of yarns would be best to use so the pattern shows clearly , thank you :)

Posted: Monday February 3, 2014

Joyce says:

Greetings mondkind!

You’ll want to use solid colored contrasting yarns or whatever colors are indicated in the draft that you are using.

Hope that helps!

Posted: Monday February 3, 2014

Amanda says:

Is there a way to do 4 shaft patterns on a RH using 2 reeds? I haven’t tried the string heddles yet, they kinda scare me. I’m just wondering, since the doubleweave worked using 2 reeds and 2 pickup sticks.

Thanks for all your help and ideas!

Posted: Saturday March 22, 2014

Joyce says:

There is a way and it can be done, but honestly, rigid heddle is not the right tool for the job. You can do it with 2 rigid heddles and a heddle rod or with 3 rigid heddles. This is slow and tedious to set up as well as to weave and the drafts are different because you have to raise some heddles while lowering others at the same time. You can find a link to a book for weaving 4 shaft drafts with rigid heddle on this page:

It’s only natural to want to weave multi-shaft weaves once we learn to weave with a rigid heddle. My best recommendation is to either buy a new, used or to build, a multi-shaft loom. Here’s one that has the plans for free

If you are scared about any aspect of your hobbies, I have to ask, “Why?”. If anything, be scared of not trying something. :) Experience is your best teacher.

Posted: Saturday March 22, 2014

Dennis Gaffney says:

I am trying to learn how to use my kromski 32” harp with a second rigid heddle, but not interested in string heddles yet. Did I waste my money by buying the second heddle ? And why do they call it a heddle in the first place when it’s a frame/shaft with heddles ? Anyway the frustration that is intrinsic with weaving leaves me warped.

Posted: Tuesday March 25, 2014

Joyce says:

Second rigid heddle will aid you in doing double sett, double wide, double width and tubes. All of them, except for the double sett, will also require 2 pick up sticks to be employed.

If you felt you wasted your money, return it for a refund. :)

They call it a rigid heddle because, unlike a conventional loom, the heddles don’t move in the “shaft” (the frame) that they’re in. Originally these shedding devices (rigid heddles) were not very wide and were used primarily for creating narrow warp faced cloth (like inkle woven bands), they were not meant to be used as a reed for beating the weft into the fell of the cloth nor for creating wide cloth like we see today.

Posted: Tuesday March 25, 2014

Amanda says:

I’m confused about your previous statement about the reeds not being used for beating. I don’t know much at all about the way 4+ shaft looms work, but in the videos I’ve watched it looks like they’re using a reed to beat with. It’s not used as the heddle, but it’s still used as a beater. Can you clarify?


Posted: Thursday April 3, 2014

Joyce says:

Yes. With warp faced cloth, just like with backstrap weaving, weaver’s don’t use a “reed” to push the weft into the fell of the cloth. They use either the shuttle or a “sword” to beat it. Look to “inkle weaving” and “backstrap weaving” on this page or at youtube to see examples. There are many examples on youtube.

Posted: Thursday April 3, 2014

Amanda says:

Ok, a few more questions…

1). What is the maximum width I should stick to when I use the heddle bars on my RH loom?

2). What thread/yarn should I use?

3). When using the heddle bars like you’ve shown, can I use my reed as a beater or should I find something else?

I’m asking because when I tried your “S” pattern for inkle on my RH using worsted Red Heart, it came out even not warp faced. I set it up like you said to using my reed for the up/down motions.

Thanks for your advice and help.

Posted: Monday April 7, 2014

Joyce says:

1)The maximum width depends on the width of your front and back beams or how far you can reach to be able to throw the shuttle through the shed.

2)There is knitting yarn and then there is weaving yarn. Use weaving yarn for weaving. It's processed differently. It's a tighter twist and less hairy. Knitting yarn can be used with RH but it's not really the ideal stuff to use. It's like trying to hammer in a nail with the handle of a wrench. It can be done but you really should use a hammer. Use the right tools for the job.

3) I don't recommend using the RH to beat with. I recommend making or buying a regular reed to keep the sett. Since you'll need several threads going through the same slots on the RH, they tend to "stick" and it's difficult to get a good shed.

The reason your band came out as a balanced weave is because either you were a)using the reed to beat with or b)you were using the wrong sett for your yarn or c)you weren't beating hard enough. You want warps close together and the weft to be thinner than the warp. See Peggy Osterkamp's blog for articles about sett, it's all explained there. Then go to weavingtoday to get the Master Yarn Chart to help you choose yarns for different projects.



Hope this helps!

Posted: Monday April 7, 2014

Joyce says:

Amanda, I just had a thought…If you are on Facebook, you can get access to many “helpers” on the groups there too. Go to the main page of this site and you’ll see the Facebook links to “Like” my page and to also join the accompanying Facebook Group (over 1000 members).

Posted: Monday April 7, 2014

Amanda says:

Where do I get weaving yarn? I use what I can get from JoAnn’s since it’s local and I can get it kinda cheap. Is here a way to tell the difference between the types of yarns ie knitting, weaving? Or can I just assume standard craft stores won’t have weaving yarns? As you can tell, I’m still getting into this, so I don’t know enough yet.

As for the beating, what tool should I be using? I don’t have inkle equipment, nor any other reeds.

Also, in your opinion, should I save up to get a 4-shaft, or try to make it work with my RH? I’m still going to use it, but I’m starting to think I can do more with a 4-shaft loom.


Posted: Wednesday April 23, 2014

Joyce says:

Hi Amanda!

It's difficult to find weaving yarn in shops, mostly it has to be ordered online which is annoying because then half the budget is spent on shipping!

Some yarns found in shops like Joanne's can be used for weaving. Usually the cotton yarns like Sugar N Cream and Aunt Lydia's Crochet Cotton.

You _can_ use knitting yarn with rigid heddle...but it's processed differently so expect it to behave badly sometimes. It doesn't have as high a twist and tends to be more hairy. This means it not only tends to be more stretchy (which causes tension issues) it tends to be more "sticky" too (it grips itself which means trouble getting good clean sheds).

You can tell the difference by the label. If it's giving you sizes for needles or gauges or stitches per inch, then it's for knitting. If it gives you sizes like 3600 YPP (yards per pound), 8/2, 8/4, 20/2 then it's for weaving. Weaving yarn _usually_ comes on cones (but not always).

There's several places on the 'net like Georgia Yarn Company, Lunatic Fringe, Webs, Paradise Fibers, etc.

A good source of yarn on the cheap is to frog cotton sweaters that can be found at thrift stores.

For beating, you use the rigid heddle for that. Otherwise use a stick shuttle or sword. To get a balanced weave, gently push the weft into the fell of the cloth…don’t pack it in too tightly otherwise you end up with a warp faced cloth.

You can do much more, much more easily with a 4 shaft. You won’t have to deal with string heddles or pick up sticks to do more complicated designs. In some cases, a used floor loom can be had for as much as or cheaper than a brand new rigid heddle loom with the stand! Craigslist is a good place to look.

You can do any weave structure on anything that holds warp under tension. The mechanics is what makes it easier and faster to weave. Floor looms are way faster than rigid heddles, for example. Do you want complicated patterns to be loom manipulated or weaver manipulated (picking by hand)? I vote for loom manipulated every time! :)

Happy Weaving!

Posted: Wednesday April 23, 2014

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