Natural fibres: more fun than a bowl full of bran!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
ER Heddles to the rescue!
As I was threading the warp I talked about a few days ago, I realized that I'd under estimated the number of heddles I needed on shaft 3, by a dozen or so. As luck would have it, I realized this once I had the warp half threaded and was at the centre of the loom near the treadle cords, where it's most awkward to add heddles without unthreading everything. It's possible, mind you, and I've done it but it's no picnic and usually requires about five hands and a fair bit of swearing.
Fortunately, I had a stroke of laziness and thought of a trick to try. It worked so well that I thought I'd share, in case someone out there hasn't already thought of this. One caveat: this works with string or texsolv heddles and on a loom with wide, wooden heddle bars, like a Glimakra. I haven't tried it on Joey so am not sure how it could be adapted to metal heddles on a skinny metal bar.
To make two ER heddles:
1) You need: two texsolv or string heddles the same size as those already on your loom and a safety pin. The pin should be at least as long as the heddle bar is wide but not too long - you don't want any more stuff than strictly necessary getting tangled up under there.
2) First, thread an end of Heddle 1 through an end of Heddle 2, then through the other end of Heddle 1.
3) Pull on the loose ends of both heddles to pull the slack out of the knot. As it begins to snug up, you'll see that Heddle 1 is forming a lark's head knot around the end of Heddle 2. Pull on the end of Heddle 1 to flatten it out, so that the two heddles together form a square or granny knot. It should look like Picture 3.
4) Pull the knot up tight, then drape the heddles over the top heddle bar with one heddle hanging in front and the other behind. Make sure they hang past the lower bar in the same configuration, then safety pin the bottom of the heddles together under the lower bar. This maneuver is easier if you've lifted the bottom heddle bar slightly to take the tension off the heddles.
Then just go ahead and thread the two heddles like they were on the bar normally. When I did this, the front one tended to sit slightly to the right of the back one, so I threaded that one first. When you're threading and there's no tension on the warp threads the heddles will shift up and down rather alarmingly but don't worry. Once there's tension on the warp threads, they'll want to find a happy medium and, since both threads are on the same shaft, they'll even themselves out.
As you can see from the first pic, I added 12 ER heddles all in one spot. You can see all the safety pins holding the bottoms of them. You'd think it would be especially problematic to cheat so much all in one spot and, had I realized sooner that I was running out of heddles, I would have spaced the cheater heddles out some across the width of the warp. Much to my relief, however, it worked so well that I can't even tell where they are when I'm weaving. Frankly, I'd forgotten all about doing this until today.
Here's the proof: these are same threads from the first pic. Can you see any unevenness where the ER heddles are? I bet you can't!
I am a handweaver, a teacher and a shop owner. I have been weaving since 1994 and teaching weaving since 2000. In 2004, I started my own weaving business, The Weaver's Palette, and I'm currently in the throes of starting The Bobbin Tree, where I will teach, weave, spin, and sell supplies and equipment for all manner of fibrous pursuits.
I am a member of the Sydney Weavers' Guild, the Unspun Heroes spinning group and the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design.