Finally warped--now I can't see how to get the correct shed for my initial plain tabby (waste yarn, just trying a get those few throws at the beginning).  I lift 1 and 3, let heddle 2 rest.  I know I can use the sword to make a clearer shed, but I'm not sure how to place it.  When I look from the end of the loom, I see two possibilities; can't see how I will get plain tabby out of this.  The booklet I have to work from is David McKinney's.  For the second throw, I put 1 and 3 down, letting 2 rest again.

Anyone know of a picture or have a description?  I've tried googling, but can't seem to find what I need. 



Janet (not verified)


I would think that if you have 3 heddles you would need to have 1 and 3 up and 2 down to get a clear shed. Then, reverse it so 2 is up and 1 and 3 down. Have you tried that?  At rest, you have no shed from any heddle so it makes sense to me that if you want plain weave, all 3 heddles need to be somewhere.

See if that helps,


WeavesToo (not verified)

 Thanks-I've tried a few things but may not have done that clearly enough, so will give that a try.  It does make sense.  I keep thinking, "if he has #2 at rest all the time, what is it really doing???  I started trying to follow threads visually and now my eyes are crossed.  LOL.

WeavesToo (not verified)

 Well that wasn't it.  I am not getting tabby.  I don't get every other thread up.  I wonder why I wasn't happy just weaving with one heddle??  I"m fighting the idea that maybe I threaded wrong.  I get something regular but there are three to five threads (depending on section) between the two up/down threads.  Drat-that was the end of my weaving time today!

Caroline (not verified)

I've just read through McKinneys description of getting the 2 sheds. Its not terribly clear but here goes what I THINK it says ( can't be sure it will work!):

1st pick:  Raise heddles 1 & 3, heddle 2 just hangs and its weight keeps it in place, but you are probably only getting a 1/2 shed to insert the sword, which is why you have to use it. The warp will be raised to make the sheds, with the warp on the number 2 heddle going straight across.

2nd pick: Phycially lower heddles 1 & 3 so that they are below heddle 2, which doesn't move. Basically thetop of the warp will be flat, instead of raised. The shed created by lowering heddles 1 and 3 will make a tiny shed immediately underneath, and this is where you insert the sword to create enough space to put the shuttle through.

Heddles 1 and 3 do not "rest" in the neutral position that heddle 2 "rests" in, they have to be deliberately lowered below the level of heddle 2 to create the shed.

i assume that this is what he means - please excuse the rough drawings - I tend to get a bit messy - but you should be able to see where the shed appears. Hope this helps.

There is also the photo of heddles 1 and 3 in the up position on the front cover of his book.


This is super helpful discussion! Thanks for the diagram it made it easier to understand.

I compared this also to the Xenakis technique and the only difference is that McKinnon has heddles in this order: I, II, III (IV is through all slots). Xenakis is ordered: I, III, II (IV is through all slots). The Xenakis technique makes it easier to do the I-III lift. In the future, I'll thread according to the Xenakis technique.

WeavesToo (not verified)

Thanks, Caroline.  Great drawings-I should have figured out how to do that to clarify my question.  I won't get to weave until tomorrow.  The shed almost looks like it is evenly split, with a set of ends at the top, one in the middle and one on the bottom (when 1 and 3 are lifted.)  Maybe my #2 wasn't in a neutral enough position.  It seems like I shouldn't be having such a hard time!

Caroline (not verified)

You are never going to have large sheds - they are not large on a rigid heddle loom for starters, and you lose half of that by using the 3rd rigid heddle.

I'm beginning to think that perhaps its easier to put in continuous string heddles instead of using 3 rigid heddles to create the different shafts. There is less calculating to do, and you can follow the original draft and lift plan. I've done a twill on a frame loom like this, and it was not too hard following the order of lifting. It was slow, but I suspect that using the 3 rigid heddles is going to be slow as well.

Good luck!

WeavesToo (not verified)

My plan now is to use the pick up stick for a few throws, observing what the shed looks like for the two lifts, with the sword in place.  My hope is that I start to recognize the shed I'm after.  I realize the shed won't be great...but I have to get better at it or this project joins my history of "warps from h-e-double-hockey-sticks."  I'm thinking that part of the problem is ends sticking together where there are two in a slot, so maybe the header weaving will help.

I got one throw in last night, on to the next!

I hear you on the string heddles.  Right now I'm thinking slow with progress would beat slow with nothing to show!  I'd like David McKinney to publish a you tube or a great flicker set on his sheds!

bolivian warmi

Help me out here.......are you using three heddles so you can get a closer sett?


WeavesToo (not verified)

I'm using three heddles to do four shaft patterns, supposedly without a pick up stick ala the David McKinney bookleth


bolivian warmi

Thanks. I am following this with interest.

Caroline (not verified)

McKinney has a self-published book on using 3 rigid heddles to achieve 4 shaft weaves. Its fairly limited in its scope, and while it covers a twill sampler, it doesn't cover things like Rosepath  or the other overshot patterns, which I think is what most  are really after. I haven't had a chance to look at the Xenakis technique for creating 4 shed weaves, but suspect its just as difficult to follow.

WeavesToo (not verified)

Well last night in my 15min of weaving time, I did another throw, after threading the pick up stick through.  (again, my hope was that this would help me see the shed the heddles give.  So far, not so good!

I am beginning to think this simply isn't going to work.  I don't think it's helping that my warp is cotton not wool.  No extra stretch, no surprise.  If I tighten the tension, to try to get the ends to separate better in the heddles, where there are two ends in a slot, I can't move the heddles.

I'm really good at creating warps from H***.  I'll persist to 2in of header but I have my doubts.  I'll also see if anyone local wants to take a look.


I am weaving a sampler with McKinneys book.  I also had probelms getting a clear shed with tabby and had to use a sword to clear the shed.  After I finished working my way through all thetabby  samples I switched to twill and magically all my problems disappeared.  He does say in his book that tabby on a three heddle RH loom is the hardest to do and twill is the easiest.  I am on the last twill sample and will start the DoubleWeave this weekend.

claudia (not verified)

We would all love to see your samples. Please post pictures in your profile under "My Projects"or here.  How clever you are and how brave to give this a try.

Can you give us the full reference for the McKinney book?




The book is called Weaving With Three Heddles: An Introduction to Multiple Weaving Without Pick-Up Sticks by Rev, David B. McKinney, OVB.

I purchased this booklet off of ebay from him directly.  I believe that I recently heard others were still able to get it too from ebay.   I also have the Xenekis book but it is a lot harder to understand. McKinney's book is very clear and easy to understand and read.  The sampler just covers tabby with one and two colors, 2/2 twill with one and two colors, 3/1 twill and double weave.

I will try to post pictures of the sampler if I can figure out how to do so.  I did the sampler in worsted weight yarn which is what McKinney recommends using three 8 dent heddles.  I used worsted weight cotton in a medium blue and a white because those are what I had.  I am on a stash busting kick.  I hope that those colors will have enough contrast.

With tabby I also had problems getting a balanced weave.  My sett was 6 EPI with tabby but with both the 2/2 twill and 3/1 twill I did get the correct set of 8 EPI.

I am convinced that a RH loom set up with three heddles was designed specifically for twill.  My weaving guild had a speaker in who did research on very old looms.  She said that looms were designed to do one thing well and a weaver would have different looms to do different weave structures on.  I wasn't sure about this when I heard her talk last year but now I am a believer.


Good morning!
I am looking for a diagram/ picture of how to warp three heddles to do a 2/2 twill, can anyone help please? Thank you.