HOW TO MAKE STRING HEDDLES
You may wish to make your own heddles either to save money, or because you haven't found a suitable source, or you just want to do-it-yourself. Well, here is a description of one way of making heddles. (If you are unfamiliar with the term "heddles", a heddle is something like a needle. It is a device that is made out of metal or string and contains an "eye" at its center. A single warp thread (a long thread of your fabric) is passed through the eye so that the thread can be lifted or pulled down. The heddle is attached from both the top and bottom to a frame called a harness. When the harness is moved up or down, all threads which pass through heddles on that harness are lifted or pulled down, and this creates a "shed" which is an opening between warp threads. The shed allows the weaver to pass a weft thread (a thread at a right angle to the warp threads) across the warp.
You must first make a "jig" that will be used for making your heddles. It is a short board containing 6 finishing nails (brads are suggested.) Below is an illustration of this:
(Note: The jig is shown in a horizontal position rather than a vertical position.)
The length of your heddles can be any length that you choose. For the 2-harness loom, a heddle length of 9 inches is satisfactory. To make the jig, cut a strip of 1" by 2" (actual 3/4" by 1"1/2) 12 iches in length. Put 6 nails in the board as illustrated. In the example shown, each pair of nails are one-half inch apart. The dimensions may be adjusted for your particular needs. You may want to make the eye smaller, but if it is too small, it will be difficult to thread your yarn through it. The loops at the ends need to be sized so that a bar or rod will fit through the opening. The pairs of nails at each end are for forming loops on the ends of the heddle to be used to attach the heddle to a harness. The pair of nails in the center are for forming the eye of the heddle.
After making the jig, you are ready to start making heddles. You need to use a tightly twisted string such as tapestry yarn. (You may find other suitable materials by experimenting.)
1. For each heddle, cut a length of string. For the jig described, you will need a length of approximately one yard.
2. Fold the string in half, and place the fold around the top (leftmost) nail.
3. Tie the two sides of the string into a square knot below the second nail (right of the second nail in the illustration.)
4. Tie a second knot below the third nail.
5. Tie a third knot below the fourth nail.
6. Tie a fourth knot below the fifth nail.
7. Tie a fifth knot below the sixth nail.
8. You may cut off any excess string below the final knot.
9. You can remove your completed heddle by slipping it off of the nails.
Don't be discouraged if you find this tedious. You only need to make the heddles once. If you plan on making a piece of fabric that is 10 inches wide and the threads are spaced at 10 to the inch, you will need 100 heddles. You may need more or less depending on fabric width and number of threads per inch. For a 2-harness loom, normally one-half of the heddles are placed on each harness.
A finished heddle will look something like this:
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