When you first learn to thread two heddles, chances are you learned the standard threading first. This threading can be organized in many different ways to create the conditions for lots of weave structures: plain weave, Hopsack, lace, twill, doubleweave, and Summer and Winter.
This setup gives you the ability to manage independently, or in various combinations, four threading positions—front heddle hole (H1), back heddle hole (H2), slot between H2 and H1 (S1), and slot between H1 and H2 (S2). The only combination that isn’t easy to achieve in this setup without getting a split shed is lifting two ends right next to each other. For this, you need three heddles. More on that in another blog post to come!
While not a complete tutorial—there may be extra ends needed for selvedges and balances—this is a rough sketch of how the various weave structures are set up in this one powerful threading:
Plain Weave Lift and lower Heddles 1 and 2 without any pick-up sticks or rods engaged. The benefit of plain weave in two heddles is you can get much finer setts, ranging upwards to 30 e.p.i.
Hopsack Lift and lower Heddle 1. While this structure can be achieved in a single heddle by threading one end in a hole and cramming three ends in a slot. The autonomy over each threading position prevents twisting and you can finer setts to create some really interesting fabrics. The blocks are created by placing one or more weft pick in a shed. English Plain Weave is a Hopsack variation that only places a single weft in each shed.
1/3 Twill Working behind the heddle, charge a pick-up stick 1 up-1 down and transfer the up ends to a heddle rod. Behind the rod, place the other slotted end on a pick-up stick. This type of twill creates a weft-emphasis fabric on one side and a warp-emphasis fabric on the other. You can weave a variety of shed orders to change up the twill lines.
Doubleweave Uses two pick-up sticks set up so that don’t interfere with each other. To do this, pick up every other slotted end on a pick-up stick. Then place both heddles in the up position and slide the first pick-up stick to the back of the second heddle. Place the second pick-up stick in the shed behind the heddles. Now the two sticks will slide past one another. In this setup, you can weave a fabric twice as wide as your loom, a tube, or change the layers to create solid or half-tone blocks.
Lace Charge the pick-up stick in your desired configuration of ups and downs. Lace can show up as texture or spots, or you can weave lace that mechanically pushes the threads away to create space between the threads. Many of these designs are available on a single heddle, but our ability to scale down the motifs with finer setts allows us to weave delicate lace fabrics.
Summer and Winter Charge pairs of slotted ends on a pick-up stick up or down for your desired layout—up creates warp floats and down creates weft floats. With a single pick-up stick, you can create a grid design and translate it into your cloth (see example in the next section).
These last two weaves, lace and Summer and Winter, offer you incredible design potential that would otherwise take many, many shafts and treadles in a shaft-loom world.
Is a Standard Threading a Straight Draw?
In the weaving world, there are a number of threading and treadling orders referred to as draws. A draw is the overall way threading or weaving instructions (treadling) are ordered. Not all threadings and treadlings have a draw pattern, but many do.
For instance, a threading repeat of 1-2-3-4 is a straight draw.
While the standard three-heddle threading acts like a straight draw (another blog to come on that), the standard two-heddle threading is more flexible than even this most flexible of threading arrangements on a shaft loom. Because of our ability to manipulate the slotted ends with a pick-up stick in a double, or even single-heddle, setup, we can rearrange our stick midway through some weave structures to change up the interlacements, allowing us to weave different structures on the two-heddle version than the three heddle or a shaft loom weaver can on a straight draw—namely lace and Summer and Winter. Thus, the use of the word “standard” instead of “straight” as in a single setup that results in the widest variety of weaves in the rigid-heddle environment.
For instance, shown here is a Summer and Winter design that would take nine shafts and twelve treadles. It can be woven on a standard threading with a single pick-up stick. Each time the block configuration changes in the weft direction, the stick is recharged. This only needs to happen six times for the entire weave.
This isn’t the only setup on two heddles, you can thread 3-shaft or 3-threading position structures such as 1/2-point twill, Ms and Os, and Krokbragd. These are specific threadings that allow you, for the most part, to weave just that structure.
If you are interested in exploring the world of multi-heddle weaving, join the Yarnworker Patreon community’s current study group or check out my Long Thread Media workshops on doubleweave and multiple heddle weaving. I also have a video on my YouTube channel that walks through this setup and how it relates to shafts.