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How Ends Travel in Multiple Heddles to Form Sheds

There has been some chat in the Yarnworker Patreon community about how to visualize what happens when you lift or lower heddles or engage pick-up stick and heddle rods when using multiple heddles. Because of the all-in-one nature of the magical rigid-heddle that determines sett as well as the order of the ends, the yarns have to wiggle in order to organize them in the way you wish to weave any given structure.

In the case of the standard two-heddle threading, this one setup can be transformed into many weave structures. In the case of the 200% density threading, the ends crammed in the slots appear clumped as they emerge from the heddle and one end is set apart. The end that is set apart is in the front heddle hole, the one we most often call “1”. Reading from right to left, the first end of the three crammed ends is a slotted end, the next end is threaded in the back heddle’s hole, and the third end is the second slot in the 4-end grouping.

An illustration of a single repeat of the standard two-heddle threading with the ends that emerge from the front heddle circled.
The standard two-heddle threading creates a 4-end repeat. The end threaded in the front heddle’s hole sits apart from the other ends.

When you weave plain weave, you are lifting both heddles up and down. The end set apart and the middle end in the group of three are the ends being lifted and lowered.

Two illustration of the standard two-heddle threading 4-end repeat with the plain weave sheds, the ends threaded in the slots, highlighted according to which end is up.
When forming the sheds, pay attention to the ends on the upper layer of the shed to spot check anomolies.

Each structure requires different sheds to form its distinctive look. 1/3 twill requires four sheds and the ability to lift each end individually. A heddle rod and pick-up stick are inserted to achieve all four sheds.

Two illustration of the standard two-heddle threading 4-end repeat with the plain weave sheds, the ends threaded in the slots, highlighted according to which end is up.
The four sheds of 1/3 twill illustrate the relative positions of the ends as they emerge from the front heddle

These are just a few of the structures possible for the standard threading. It gives you an idea of how to visually spot check for ends that may not quite be where they should or where you may have a threading error. Once you understand how the sheds are formed, it is easier to read your weaving if you get lost.

The same holds true of all threadings in multiple heddles although some clump and some don’t. If you were threading the standard threading at 100% density, the ends travel pretty much straight from the front to the back of the heddle because you are skipping holes to space out the threading although one slot has two ends in it. If you are threading three heddles the same ideas apply even if you are using a specific threading. For example here is the first shed of a point twill threading. Noice how when the repeats are lined up a pattern is formed on the upper layer of the shed.

Point-Twill Threading

An illustration of a point twill threading with two repeats and H1 and H2 Up ends highlighted in read text.
Two repeats of a point-twill threading illustrates how a pattern emerges on the upper layer of the shed as the repeats are lined up next to one another. It is this pattern that you can spot check as you weave. 

It can help to see the upper layer clearly by pausing to press up on the shed with a stick shuttle, if you are using one. If there is an area where the pattern of up ends is disrupted on the upper layer, it is typically in the crammed areas where an end that should be down is sticking to an end traveling up. If this happens, try adding a bit more tension on the warp overall, strum the warp to get the ends to settle down, and if need be either weight an individual problematic end or an entire layer by slipping a small rod under the layer that is giving you trouble and push the bar over the back beam  to add some extra weight to that layer. You may want to weave a few rounds of the structure in the header before you begin your project to help establish the sheds and do an inventory of what ends are up in each shed as you work through the repeats.

Photo of a warp on the loom in a point twill threading from the back with a rod slipped into the H2+H3 layer and slid over the back beam.
The middle end of a the crammed slot in a point-twill threading can often be a little problematic. To give this layer or any problematic slotted layer some extra weight, insert a small rod behind the heddle and push it over the back beam. Also shown here are weighted slotted selvedges.

Learning to recognize the patterns on the upper layer of the shed to enable you to identify that the right ends are up and in the right order.

Heddles Up!


2 thoughts on “How Ends Travel in Multiple Heddles to Form Sheds”

  1. Hi! I’m a beginning weaver, haven’t tried weaving with more than one heddle yet. Reading posts like this exposes new ideas and gives me food for thought as I think about advancing my rigid heddle learning. 🙂

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