Five Questions with Aarthi Neelakrishnan

Learn a bit more about weaver and designer Aarthi Neelakrishnan, including why she loves weaving diversified plain weave on a rigid-heddle loom.

Christina Garton Jun 6, 2024 - 6 min read

Five Questions with Aarthi Neelakrishnan Primary Image

Meet Aarthi Neelakrishnan, one of Easy Weaving with Little Looms newest designers. Photo courtesy of Aarthi Neelakrishnan

Welcome to the first installment of Five Questions With, a new series in which we’ll be asking Easy Weaving with Little Looms designers some questions to get to know them—and their weaving—a little better. To start us off, we’re talking to Aarthi Neelakrishnan who wove the incredible Timeless Shore Temple Vest for the Summer 2024 issue.

Aarthi wearing her Timeless Shore Temple Vest in front of the temple that inspired her design. Photo courtesy of Aarthi Neelakrishnan

When Aarthi first contacted me with her idea for a diversified plain–weave vest, I was immediately intrigued. It’s not a structure I think I’d ever seen woven on a rigid-heddle loom, but Aarthi immediately convinced me of her weaving and sewing abilities. After talking with Aarthi about her experience, and seeing her incredible finished project, I wanted to learn more about her and what inspired her in her weaving. Without further ado, here are my Five Questions with Aarthi Neelakrishnan.

C: Tell us a little about your journey with weaving, how you got started, and especially what drew you to weaving with small looms such as the rigid-heddle.

A: My journey with weaving began during my undergraduate studies in textile design. Initially, I didn’t have a clear idea of what the discipline entailed, but I quickly fell in love with weaving. My deep connection with weaving developed during my graduation project, which was sponsored by Shuttles & Needles, an experiential weaving studio and authorized dealer of modern looms from around the world. This project introduced me to the Ashford rigid-heddle loom, as Shuttles & Needles is the official dealer of Ashford’s products in India.


My task was to explore the possibilities of weaving garments using the rigid-heddle loom. Three years later, I am still with Shuttles & Needles, having started as an intern and been hired right after graduation. Under the mentorship of Kalyani Pramod, a senior textile designer and artist, and Naresh Ramasubramanian, the founder of Shuttles & Needles, I now weave for a living. My role involves exploring the capabilities of the various looms we carry and working with state-of-the-art yarns specifically designed for handweaving. Conducting beginner’s workshops in weaving and felting, as well as long-term weaving courses, has greatly boosted my confidence and skill with the looms. This hands-on experience is something I could not have achieved on my own.

C: I know you’ve done a lot of work with diversified plain weave—a structure I think even many multi-shaft weavers sometimes don’t know much about. What do you love about this structure, and what made you try weaving it on the rigid-heddle loom?

A: My fascination with diversified plain weave began when Naresh and I encountered it in the book The Best of Weaver’s: Thick 'n Thin. At the studio, we often enjoy the challenge of decoding different weave structures. I was particularly intrigued by the idea of adapting diversified plain weave for the rigid-heddle loom. I was able to develop a threading plan using two heddles, which opened up new possibilities beyond what a shaft loom could offer. The ability to pick up any pattern yarn throughout the warp width felt like having a Jacquard mechanism on a rigid-heddle loom! Diversified plain weave is complex yet so simple, and I love that contradiction.

Weaving diversified plain weave on a rigid-heddle loom requires two heddles and a pick-up stick, but the results are worth the extra steps. Photo by Aarthi Neelakrishnan

C: What inspires you as a weaver?

A: The constant opportunity to try something new with every project and never repeat the same thing. The endless possibilities and the creative freedom in weaving keep my passion alive.

C: What’s on your loom or looms right now?

A: Working at a weaving studio equipped with a variety of looms—including rigid-heddle looms, inkle looms, table looms, floor looms, and SAORI looms—I feel incredibly fortunate. I have several works in progress across different looms. One project I’m particularly excited about is a cotton-linen runner being woven on an eight-shaft table Loom using the crackle weave structure. I recently discovered crackle weave, and I am absolutely enamored with its stunning results.

Aarthi’s current exploration of crackle weave. Photo by Aarthi Neelakrishnan

C: What is on your dream-to-weave list—something you’ve always wanted to weave but haven’t yet.

A: On my dream weaving list is beiderwand, a structure that intrigued me because of its unfamiliarity. I first came across it in an article by Robyn Spady. I am an ardent fan of her work. Robyn Spady’s thorough explanations and detailed instructions make me eager to explore every structure she writes about. There are so many projects I wish to try, but beiderwand is at the top of my list.


While Aarthi’s Timeless Shore Temple Vest was her first project in Easy Weaving with Little Looms, it won't be her last. I’m so glad she could take the time to answer my questions, and I can’t wait to see what she weaves next. You can learn more about Aarthi and follow her weaving journey at her Instagram @aarthineelakrishnan.

Happy Weaving!