Friday, September 18, 2009

Making Heddles

This was posted by Mary Alexander who has always been a source of wonderful and inspiring information told in her inimitable style:

Hi, Morgan, Rhonda, and others who have been talking about making heddles . . . I bought my Mirrix a number of years ago, even before Claudia made her wonderful video. At that time the instructions explained how to create a jig for making heddles.

I gave my dear hubby the exact measurements for placement of two finishing nails - these are slender with almost no nail-head, and not too long. He drove these into a handy board, then clipped the heads off with wire cutters and used a file to round over the tops of the clipped nails.

Yes, making the heddles was somewhere between maddening and boring at the time it seemed very time-consuming. Now I'm glad I have them. I kept the jig (of course!!) and have even made more heddles for another project. I used Pearl Cotton size 8 - cotton so it wouldn't stretch, and size 8 so it would be thin enough to work easily with tiny beads like Delicas(excuse me, size 11/0 cylinder beads) and size 15/0s.

A tapestry needle is a very useful tool as you make heddles. Cut the heddle string long enough to work with it easily - long enough to hold onto, wrap around one jig post, make a single overhand knot, and guide the knot back to the tying jig post. I cut pieces of thread at least doublethe length of the finished heddle. After I tied the overhand knot loosely, I stuck the tapestry needle into the center of the overhand knot. Then I used the tapestry needle to guide the overhand knot back till it was very snug against the heddle post. then I dropped the needle and pulled on each end of the heddle string separately with each hand - this tightened the knot firmly (very similar to knotting between pearls, if anyone has done

Heddles need to be the same length. After I finished making mine, I ran a strong piece of string through the loop ends, taped the ends of this"holding" string to my desk, and smoothed out the heddles with the knots pointing away from the "holding" string. any heddles that were too long or too short were clipped out of the collection. A sixteenth of an inch doesn't seem like much when you are looking at the heddles lying on a flat surface, but that much difference in heddle length will definitely preventa heddle from working properly in the shed.

Claudia gave me an excellent tip about using home-made heddles: as you put each heddle on the shedding device, put the heddle knots at the back, where the heddle goes around the small rod of the shedding device. if the knots wind up along the sides or at the front close to the bead/yarn work, the heddle knots can catch on each other and make it more difficult for the shedding device to move all the heddles and warps from one position to the other.

Using two different colors of warp threads will make this "stuck heddle" problem easier to spot. Another home-made tool I created is a "heddle checker." I cut a piece of manilla folder or mat board longer than my weaving and about the width of a ruler. This is better than a regular ruler because it's opaque. Anything that's long and flat, or long and round (like a dowel) will do.

Every so often, when I change sheds I slip the "ruler" into the V between the sheds - any "stuck"heddles are immediately obvious. I look at the heddles to figure our the cause of the problem. My two most frequent problems -
* Heddle knot in the wrong place, and catching on other warp threads?
slide the knot to the back of the shedding device again.
* Heddle knot has become too loose or too tight, causing one warp thread to stay in the wrong position?? GAAAH - once I cheerfully clipped and removed an ornery heddle because I thought I could easily replaceit. BAAAD decision; it took me forever to find the correct warp thread, and even *more* time to get the new heddle in the right sequence as I knotted it onto the shedding device rod amongst all the other heddles.
* Instead, leave the misbehaving heddle in place. try to tighten / loosen the knot using the trusty tapestry needle and perhaps a second needle, then re-tie the overhand knot while the misbehaving heddle is still
happily looped around its proper warp thread.
* If the heddle must be replaced, release the shedding device; move the misbehaving heddle upwards a little so you can follow the thread path easily; then put a long length of new heddle string in the same thread path. when you are certain you've got the right thread path around both the warp thread AND the shedding device rod, then clip the old heddle and tie the new one.

Note from Claudia:  After spending quite a while talking to customer who had not purchased heddles and needed to make some really quickly (with no hammer or nails or wood) I came to the conclusion that she could cut  piece of cardboard to create a gig around which to wrap the threads to make heddles.  The width of the cardboard would need to be 3 1/8 inches.  Or any material would do.  A thin piece of wood, a piece of heavy plastic.  The point is simply to create something you ca wrap the string around to get a uniform circle.  Claudia

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