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Threading Part One: Four Threading Options for the Same Twill Structure

Over the next couple of posts we will look at the threading quadrant in a rigid-heddle environment. One of the challenges of writing a clear-eyed approach to structures for the rigid-heddle loom is that you can arrive at the same structure with many different setups. This is true of many looms, but especially true for the rigid-heddle.

Your choice of setup can depend on your available equipment, heddle block style, and personal preference. 

Here are four ways to set up a 1/2 twill (a 1/2 twill is one in which the weft travels under one warp end and over two):

  • Cram the slots with two ends and place a single end in a slot, then put one of the slotted ends on a rod and one of the ends on a pick-up stick (at left). The stick and rod are placed behind the heddle and the stick should be behind the rod so it doesn’t interfere with the rod’s threading position.
  • Thread two heddles and either place both heddles in the down to access the slotted position, or place it on a pick-up stick to lift the slotted ends up (middle two figures). This may make it easier to manage the heddle sequence.
  • Thread three heddles eliminate the need for pick-up sticks and/or heddle rod (at right).

One thing to wrap your head around early is that the “1” position isn’t always the front hole, as shown here. It could also be assigned to a slot. This is true of the other threading positions. What matters is that you achieve the threading order you need to achieve the structure you want.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each setup. The single heddle setup doesn’t require an additional heddle or a multi-heddle block, although there are ways you can work around the heddle block issue by letting a heddle hang free of the block. However, cramming the slots in a single heddle can result in more twisted ends behind the heddle. While the triple heddle eliminates the need for rod and stick, your heddle block may or may not accommodate a workflow that suits you. For instance, in the three heddle set up you may need to let one heddle hang off the block to stabilize another. There are lots of variables at play depending on your loom style and how you like to weave.

Whichever path you choose, you still land in the same place. Shown here is a 1/2 color-and-weave twill scarf from last Winter’s weave-along.


A scarf in a 1/2 twill with alternating colors of light and dark green in warp and weft.

Then there is the issue of warping method. If you are interested in exploring these kinds of structures, it is a good idea to learn the indirect warping method. This structure is based on 3-end repeats and this can be tricky in the paired system of the direct method. I wrote a blog post a few years ago that breaks down how I think about deciding which method to use.

The good news is we have choices.

Heddles Up!




Liz Gipson Widgets
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