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. (Well some of us are. Honestly I was stuck at the pretty yarn, heddle up/heddle down phase for a long time.) 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.
P.S. If you are curious about the chain, you will just have to watch the video . . .