We don't want your questions to get ''lost'' over on the ''heddling devices'' page so please post them here so we can find them easily and try to help.



Posted on Tue, 07/21/2009 - 09:50

i came across a very interesting book while digging through the depths of the guild library.

studies in primative looms by H.Ling Roth (printing date 1978)

this book appears to be a scientific study of many verieties of looms that were held by various musiums around the world. in this text there are about 6 diferent backstrap looms set up with multiple heddles (mainly string, but one had a string and rigid heddle combination). they range in number from 2 heddles to about 6 on a single loom and appear mainly to have been used as an aid to pick up patterns (though the book seems to be written from the point of view of people who have only observed the weaving technique used)

has any one come across this technique before? are multiple heddles dificult to set up and use?

(the book also has alot of other information, such as set up methords for heddles and tie ons for warp beams, pick up patterns and alot of other information from around the world that i cant truly apreciate due to my limited practical knowledge of the subject.)

Posted on Tue, 07/21/2009 - 12:47

hi Jess, One of the simplest explanations of backstrap weaving can be found in a book by Rachel Brown: The Weaving Spinning and Dyeing Book. It should be available through your local library, but you may have to order it. She takes you through every step, from setting up the warp, to putting the whole thing together and weaving with plain weave then twill and pick-up. She has several projects, starting with simple ones, and moving on to more complicated designs involving several heddles and a pick-up stick. Once you have learned how to "drive" a backstrap loom, you can set any type of weaving up on one.

You can use multiple heddles on a backstrap loom - I actually found it easier and quicker to set up and use than a 4 shaft table loom or floor loom, although weaving will be a bit slower. Some of the most beautiful and precious fabrics that have ever been woven have been made on a backstrap loom in the past, and still continue to be made on one.

We get brainwashed in the Western world into thinking that the only way to weave is on a multi-harness floor loom - this isn't strictly true as there are other just as valid methods of weaving that can be far more suitable to our needs and lifestyle. Backstrap has the added advantage in that once you have set up your first loom, its very easy to set another one up again, and again, and you can learn advanced techniques on it as easily as you can on a floor loom. Probably easier, as you don't have to worry about treadle progression, and what you are doing is straight under your nose. As the weaver, you are in control at every step of the way.

There are several good books on backstrap weaving, but the Brown book is the most straightforward of them all. If you check the links thread, I have linked to a few web-sites that have instructions and excellent diagrams and/or pictures that should give you a good idea of the basics, just to get you started.

Posted on Tue, 07/21/2009 - 17:17

Sounds like your guild has a great library-lucky you. The most heddles I have used on the backstrap loom is two for my favorite pebble weave-in fact, that is the weave I do most of all as you only have to pick every second row and it's fast . Two heddles are no problem at all to manage.

There is a simple border design that  I use a lot and have been tempted to set it up with 5 heddles.Once I set up three but after a few rows abandoned that idea  as it was crowded and troublesome clearing the shed through the other two heddles and, as I usually do my pick up by the shed stick, the room taken up by the extra heddle it made me have to reach further-if that makes sense.

I would love to see someone in action with a six heddle set up. OK another book to chase up!



Posted on Tue, 08/18/2009 - 19:44

I'm curious - I was reading through the two weave-alongs, and the first one (stripes) shows the heddles in a little bundle tied with the red string.  The other one (double weave) has the heddles neatly tied to a stick.  Is there an explanation (maybe with pictures? ) somewhere showing how they get tied to the stick?  It looks like it would be handy! 

I've done a Bolivian-type double-weave before, but it was on an inkle loom, following some instructions in Collingwood's "The Maker's Hand."  My main mistake was doing it in royal blue and black - the patterning is visible, but only just.  I did end up making a set of 6 supplemental heddles to pick a four-strand braid pattern, and it moved along relatively quickly - not fast, of course, but much faster than when I was picking it one at a time!  I wouldn't want to do it with a much longer repeat, though. 

Posted on Tue, 08/18/2009 - 20:28

i have a series of photos on my Flikr page that shows how to make your heddles on a stick with an extra hitch for security-it's my all time favorite way to make them. Unfortunately the yarn I am using for heddle string is dark and didn't photograph too well but I know at least one member here who has used those photos to successfully make heddles on a stick. Here's the link.........[email protected]/sets/72157621462362178/

Picking can be tedious but I think the trick is to weave a lot of small different patterns on the one band so you are always interested to see how the next one is going to turn out. I did once succumb to the temptation to use more than two heddles to pre program a couple of the pick up rows but I found it a bit of a hassle working with the extra heddles. I was doing my pick up up at the cross sticks so had to reach all that much further with all the extra heddles in place.  i often use two heddles and a shed stick.

Well you learned your lesson with the color choices-shame to do all that work and not be able to see the pattern too well but I bet it looks good anyway.. What kind of design was it? Why don't you post it in our members' gallery? Many members here are also inkle band weavers and would be interested. I've seen your things on the project page and would love to see more.


Posted on Tue, 08/18/2009 - 20:49

When I'm doing the tablet weaving patterns, I follow the same philosophy - it's either a constantly evolving set of varying patterns (like lettering) so that it remains fresh and interesting, or else it's a simple geometric that I can easily memorize and repeat without too much thinking.

The double-weave piece was a four-strand Celtic interlace, kind of like this one: 

although mine came out more circle-shaped than diamond-shaped.  I'll have to see if I have a little chunk of it lying around somewhere, and see if I can get a picture.  This was... gosh, nearly twenty years ago. 

I loved the texture, it was REALLY stiff - like it would be good for a dog's collar, or for horse reins.  I also liked the idea that I could make pockets in it; I read somewhere about double-weave belts being used for money belts.  


Posted on Tue, 08/18/2009 - 21:31

Gorgeous design!

Double weave as woven here in Bolivia is nice and stiff with the way they go beating in the weft  although it doesn't need to be so. I have never seen it used as a moneybelt but there is nothing stopping you from doing so. When you just do a plain color with no pick up pattern you end up with a tube bound together by the borders and you could easily stuff money into that-nice idea! 

Posted on Tue, 08/18/2009 - 21:41

Is it ever worked in Bolivia with a single shuttle making a circular path?  That's how I did the sample I made, but I was just going off of a couple of little illustrations, not a set of instructions.  It made it double-weave all the way to the edge, which was nice, but I can also see the merit of having a single-weave edging.

Posted on Tue, 08/18/2009 - 21:53

Yes it is. That was the way I first learned it and made a bag strap. My second project with the same teacher was the bag itself-something you could use as a book bag- where we had 3 strips of patterned double-weave near the sides and down the center of a single weave piece. The tubular way is really neat-I made a strap for a charango with that.