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Why Weave With Two Heddles

I tell this story a lot: I once asked a farmer if you could milk a pig. (Don’t ask me why it made sense at the time.) His answer: You can milk a mouse, but the real question is—Why do you want to?

That stuck with me. We are insanely curious about all the possibilities available to us in weaving. I was happy for a very long time in the pretty yarn, heddle up/heddle down phase for a long time because there is so much there to explore. For me, the answer isn’t what can I do, but why would I want to.

Weaving with two heddles allows you three fundamental opportunities that aren’t available with one heddle: You can weave with finer fabrics, you can weave smaller floats, and you can weave a wider variety of structures.

I have a new video coming out from Interweave next month. If you have watched my previous videos, you know my style—I believe that less is more. My goal is not to just show you how do something, but to show you how to get past the part when things go wrong. I like to slow it all down and cover the information step-by-glorious-step. To me, that is the really interesting part—not just how to weave a given structure, but how to weave it well with joy in your heart. I know that last part sounds sappy, but when we know why things go wrong—and they will go wrong—all parts of weaving are fun even when things don’t go according to plan.


This first video—part one of a two-part series—covers the basics. Join me as I weave a Two Heddle Table Topper, a simple project that allows you to ease into using two heddles. We, of course, start with warping, using worsted yarn in two 5-dent heddles and the direct method, lingering on the parts that may cause you trouble. The chunkier yarn and sett selection allow you to see the action clearly. We cover heddle management, how do you mange two heddles and we explore a few structures you can weave with just the heddles. Then move onto adding pick-up sticks. Perhaps you haven’t used them yet, so now is your chance. I show you how to place and weave with a single pick-up stick and then how to add a section for even more structures. We end our discussion with twill, a weave that captures all weavers’ imaginations including how to use a temple to keep your edges from drawing in. The final lesson is devoted to fixing the inevitable mistakes that you see only when you take the cloth off the loom. We also cover starting and stoping wefts, using a heddle rod, managing your selvedges, and how to select a sett.

The second video will be out in May where we tackle the princess of two heddle weaves, doubleweave. With this structure, you can weave a cloth twice the width of your loom, a tube with no seams or interchange the layers. I will break it down in the same way I did in the first video.

Happy Weaving!


P.S. If you are curious about the chain, you will just have to watch the video . . .


11 thoughts on “Why Weave With Two Heddles”

  1. LOVE your videos Liz! I can hardly wait until they’re available! I’m a totally new weaver and I’m so grateful to have you for my teacher – and with the “teacher” on video I can work at my usual slow pace and you can painlessly repeat the lessons over and over until I “get” it! Thanks!!

  2. Bookmarked your site. Will check back for the videos.
    I weave on a Kromski with 8-dent, 10-dent & 12-den heddlest. I have a 2nd 10-dent heddle and have no problem in the warping. I can move the two heddles together if I just want to use a finer yarn for 20EPI. Beyond that, my problem is identifying the correct shed, since with the extra heddle, there are usually two possible sheds for any heddle position other than both heddles up or both heddlse down.

    • There are essentially six available sheds with two heddles: both up, both down, front up, front down, back down, and back up. The last one is trick as you need to need to bring both heddles out of the heddle block push the and front heddle down with your thumb and pull the back heddle up with your fingers. I demonstrate this in the video.

  3. I am just downloading Twice as Nice right now. I am in regional NSW Australia and have little contact with teachers etc. I love my rigid heddle and can’t do enough to learn about it. I do tend to weave with fine yarn, mainly alpaca and silk so two heddles are right up my need chain. Thank you for putting this one out there, can’t wait for the next one also.

  4. Liz,
    I’ve purchased both your Slots and Holes and Life After Warping Videos as well as your Weaving Made Easy eBook. So I was very excited to purchase this video, and it was great. I can’t wait until the part 2 video in May (but, I guess I have to).
    In this video you also showed a bread cloth that was beautiful, but didn’t really mention it again. Is that part of the second video due in May, or is it another project?
    Thanks again for all you have done to share the Rigid Heddle loom with the world. You and Jane Patrick are my heroes.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words and sorry you have to wait! We just included the one project in the first video. The project you are talking about is going to be in my new book due out in 2017 on weaving for the home (geesh, more waiting). The bread cloth is woven using the first two patterns I demonstrate in the first video using just the two heddles in Halcyon’s 16/2 linen which I adore. There are some tricks to weaving with linen which I will address in my next Knitty column.

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