shedding devices-rigid, string heddles, tablets

Time to open a new thread as the other is rather busy with all sorts of great stuff. Thanks to everyone who has posted so far..................

The title is self explanatory.....

Do you use string heddles? What's your favorite way of making them?

How do you set up your rigid heddle? Any DIY rigid heddles?

If you use cards, share your favorite threading method.

Links and, above all, PHOTOS, or diagrams of your own projects will be much appreciated!!.


Posted on Tue, 07/14/2009 - 21:32

I weave warp-faced projects and always use continuous string heddles. Some of my teachers use nylon string for the heddles. I am comfortable using the same 8/2 mercerized cotton that I often use for the warp and weft.

Diagram A  shows one way of making continuous string heddles. The heddle rod has notches cut into each end so that a string can be tied from end to end AFTER you have finished winding the heddles. This will stop your heddle rod from falling out as your roll up and unroll your loom and stop the heddle loops from falling off the rod as you are weaving. The string should be tied more tautly than the diagram indicates.

Diagram B shows another safety device for preventing accidents once your heddles are on the rod. Another notched rod can be clamped to the heddle rod by tying both together with string.

Diagram C shows my favorite way for making continuous string heddles-an extra hitch is added between each heddle loop to ''lock'' it into place.

STEP-BY-STEP PHOTOS OF THE METHOD SHOWN IN DIAGRAM C can be seen at this link to my Flikr page........[email protected]/sets/72157621462362178/


This how my heddle rod looks when I am done with method C.

If you are working with a narrow warp, there are simpler methods which other members are going to post about........





Posted on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 16:02

i ran across the below vidio on youtube of a the warping and use of a very basic rigid heddle backstrap loom


(disclamar; this is an intentional repost as requested by bolivian warmi )

also, when you say cards in the header of this page, are we talking about tablet weaving cards? or is it some other type of card shaped weaving object that i am not familiar with?

Posted on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 16:21

Thanks davasdu,

we are talking about tablet weaving cards which Caroline, for one, likes to set up on a backstrap loom.


Posted on Thu, 07/16/2009 - 02:45

Laverne asked me to post this picture from my blog showing how I make a continuous string heddle. This is from a frame loom project I did last month, but the string heddle is done the same way.


Here I am tying on the string heddle. Important thing to remember is to thread the heddle string through the shed first! Then start tying to the heddle stick. Here I am using a shed stick as a spacer to help keep a uniform length on the string heddle. I am pulling the string off the cone and through the shed so I don't have to guess how long the string should be for the string heddle.

The dowel on top of the shed stick will be the heddle stick. When done tying the heddle string, I remove the shed stick, leaving the dowel in the string. NOTE: In the future I will use a rubber band on each end of the dowel/shed stick pair to keep them together while I tie the heddle string.

The string I'm using for the heddle is Peaches N Creme worsted cotton color called Shades of Spring. I told Laverne I thought it was Gumdrop, but it's Shades of Spring. This the last of a 14 oz cone I used for color on some dishtowels I made on a rigid heddle. loom. I didn't want the last bit to go to waste, so I used it for heddle string.

Have a good day!

Posted on Fri, 07/17/2009 - 02:37

G'day everyone! I have just uploaded a set of photos to Flikr showing how I make the continuous string heddles for my weaving. Its actually MUCH much quicker than trying to get a floppy warp thread through the eye of a metal heddle, hehe!

If you have any questions, message me here and I'll try my best not to confuse you any further!



Posted on Sat, 07/18/2009 - 19:20

I would like to make a backstrap loom. I am thinking of buying an ashford Rigid heddle 24 inch, so I will be able to use it for smaller and wider bands as I hopefully become more competent.  what is of most use, a 10dpi or 12.5 dpi.  What thickness of yarn/cotton would you use for either?

I just think it might be easier to use than the string heddles, as I am not quite sure how it works. I can see how you hold the heddles up and open the shed but not how you go down to open the shed the other way. Does that make sense.  Sorry for complete lack of terminology as I am a complete novice.


Posted on Sat, 07/18/2009 - 21:50

Hi Karina,

I always weave warp-faced textiles, that is, all the warps are pushed close together so I favour string heddles. I have actually just bought a rigid heddle loom with an 80cm 12.5 dpi heddle for teaching Andean weaving to those who can't or don't want to use the backstrap loom. However, I have a feeling I will end up just using the frame and putting string heddles on it.

Esmecat, (Jen), who is a member here, has just finished her first piece on a rigid heddle backstrap set up and has blogged about it ......


I f I am not mistaken she used a 12.5 dpi heddle. Hopefully she will come visit here and have some tips for you. Caroline has also used a rigid heddle but she's in Australia now and fast asleep I expect at this hour!

Here is a quick diagram of how it works with string heddles. I understand exactly what you mean with your question. I have terminology problems too as my teachers spoke mostly Quechua so I still prefer to call heddles ''illawa''!!


So this diagram shows your weaving in profile. FIGURE B shows one shed being opened by pulling up on the heddle stick with heddle strings attached.

The warps in the OPPOSITE shed are passing over the top of the thick shed stick. To open this shed you slide the stick forward and this will force up all the warps that are passing over it. Each warp will be raised in the gap between each pair of heddle loops. FIGURE A shows the opened opposite shed. In warp-faced weave, because the warps are so close together you need to help form this shed by easing the warps up with your hands.




                          (1)                                                                     (2)

In these photos, the white warps are in the shed controlled by the heddle strings. In photo (1) ,I am pulling on the heddle stick and raising the whites.

In photo (2), I am opening the shed with the brown warps-those that are passing over the top of the shed stick. You can see how they are being lifted down through the heddles toward the weaving line.

I think that using a RIGID HEDDLE is a very good idea for a first project, Karina but, hopefully these pics will have solved the heddle string mystery for you!








Posted on Sat, 07/18/2009 - 22:15

Thanks Laverne

That does help my understanding.  I have seen pictures and drawings of backstraps but could not quite figure out what all the sticks were for.  I did see Esmecat,s blog via Ravelry and I love the outcome of her first backstrap weaving project..  One of the reasons why I am here wanting to learn.  Will have to make a list of what I need and then go hunting around the house/garage and see what I can find.


Posted on Sat, 04/03/2010 - 10:15

Dear all, I'm a temporary member of this grup - temporary, 'cos I want to do a mini-research about the difference between string heddles and  rigid heddles. I hope I can ask you all some dumb questions... :-D

As I understand it, the most usual type of backstrap weaving is warp-faced?
(I suppose this means that if one uses a RH as a shedding device, it can't be used as a beater, too?)

Apart from warp density - can one using a RH achieve all the patterns/techniques described here?

Are there techniques that can not be used on a RH LOOM, or are some  (or most?) dependant on the weaver being able to (easily) change the tension? If yes - is there a way to see/understand this without trying?

The bottom line: can I recommend this group (and Laverne's blog) to persons just starting out weaving on a RH loom, assuming they are new to the whole concept of weaving?

Kerstin in Sweden, looking for "different" ways to hook new weavers



Posted on Sat, 04/03/2010 - 14:18

Hi Kerstin,

I have used an RH on my backstrap loom only as a spacer and beater when I wanted to achieve a balanced weave.

I have never tried to do a warp faced piece using an RH as a shedding device either on the backstrap loom or on my RH loom. I have seen pictures of people doing warp faced on the RH loom using the RH as a shedding device and not as a beater - just forcing the warps to sit together and keeping the rigid heddle as far away from the weaving line as possible. I am pretty sure that Kristina has done some pieces that way. She would probably be able to tell you how difficut it was to maintain the warp faced structure while using the rigid heddle.

If Kristina found that it wasn't a problem , then I think that beginners could certainly handle the first and second tutorials here and the one on supplementary weft patterning that I have on my blog. i would leave the double weave alone though!

I have woven all of the warp faced pick up techniques including the double weave on my RH loom using string heddles just to see if they were do-able. I prefer the backstrap loom as it gives me higher tension and, more importantly, the ability to adjust it at will but that is not absolutely essential. It is just something that I have become very used to and so miss when it isn't there. I happily wove these tecnchniques for some time on warps strung up on my Navajo loom before I got into backstrap weaving.

Hope that this helps, Kerstin.







Posted on Sat, 04/03/2010 - 15:13

Kristen, Many of the belt-weaving techniques in the tutorials here are similar to techniques used on inkle looms - I found several similar techniques and patterns in the Helen Bresse  inkle book - and there are other patterns and techniques that have been successfully woven using Scandinavian hole and slot heddles - like rigid heddles but not so wide. While an absolute complete beginner may have a few problems initially, someone with a couple of weavings under his/her belt, so to speak, should be able to carefully work their way through the simpler techniques, though personally I would recommend not using the rigid heddle at all, even for a spacer - its just something else to get in the way while you learn to manipulate the sheds. In the end that will come down to personal preference.

As an aside, I have been working on three colour weaves, and managed to borrow a 4 shaft sample loom to see how some of the techniques were worked on a regular loom. I went to warp up this evening, and discovered I needed 6 sheds for a pattern that only requires 3 string heddles on the backstrap loom, and the instructions on how to organise and treadle the 6 sheds and manipulate the pickup on a multi-shaft loom were far more complicated  than the instructions given in Bolivian Highland Weaving for the identical project on a backstrap! And this was just for the belt pattern. If you wanted to add plain rep weave either side to make a wider piece of cloth, things got really tricky.

Encourage new weavers to experiment with hand-manipulated patterns! They will soon enough feel the lure of multiple shaft weaving and suffer shaft envy. This will help round out their weaving education and hopefully give them a better understanding of how cloth is made.

Posted on Sat, 04/03/2010 - 17:45


Hi Kerstin, I had my experiments with the RH soon abandoned, because I realized that I did not get the right feel for the technique and the pattern. Using Backstrap the pattern is manipulated by hand and can grow freely (like knitting), and the warp tension is adjusted with the body. This body-regulation, I have experienced as very important for the formation of a clean shed. With the RH it worked somehow, but I needed a little warptension to reach into the warp for pattering with the hand , and then  high tension to push the weft.
An alternative to the string heddles is weaving with  tablets/cards,  as Marijke van Epen shows in her books. This works on frame or inkleloom too and you can use up to 6 colors . You can see my cardband at the project page here:

and I made this with cards too:

With this technique you can weave all the patterns shown in this group or at Lavernes blog. It´s easy but you need a lot of patience.

But I think it´s nothing to start with on RH - but with inkleloom it will work .





Posted on Sat, 04/03/2010 - 18:50

I just thought of someone else who could weigh in on this. I am prettty sure that Karren has woven all her bands on a rigid heddle loom.

I feel like throwing a warp on my RH loom right now and trying this out!


Posted on Sun, 04/04/2010 - 00:03

I'm not saying it can't be done on a rigid heddle loom, you can weave almost anything on any loom if you try.

However the rigid heddle itself can be more of a hindrance than a help. Not all heddle positions on RH looms are nicely to the back of the loom! Some are about two thirds down the loom from the front beam, which creates a problem with getting a decent shed. Other RH looms have higher sides, which restricts accessibility for shed-making.  Some smaller RH looms may simply not be long enough from front to back. For example, the 12 inch Knitters Loom is a bit short for multiple sheds to be manipulated comfortably even with the RH moved and its stand put down, but I have another loom that is perfect - its a no-name that resembles an early Beka. 24 inches plus deep, low sides, and with the heddle stand almost on top of the back beam. Many of the modern looms do have low sides, and are long enough from front to back, it really will depend on what loom the student is using.

The techniques for the first couple of tutorials are very similar to those that beginner inklers are usually started on, so are ideal as an introduction to pick-up techniques. There are some projects in the Davenport books using simple pick-up to start the technique off. Once that is learned, remove the rigid heddle to introduce the string heddles and warp faced weaving; it should follow on quite smoothly and without too many dramas! I see no reason to restrict students who enjoy the technique from doing all Lavernes tutorials, and going on to more complicated double cloth and three colour techniques  in the Cahlander books if they have a mind to.

Posted on Sun, 04/04/2010 - 00:37

Hi Kerstin,

I have used backstrap with string heddle to make balanced weave items, but I also found during my research that most of backstrap appears to be warp faced.

I have used an RH for weaving a warp faced piece. Actually I started started a balanced weave piece and realized I needed it to be warp faced. So I used the RH for shedding, pulled the weft tighter and used a stick as a beater.

See my blog entries

Autumn Taupe Narrow Scarf on Cricket

Autumn Taupe Scarf Finished

I think backstrap works fine with string heddles. I haven't tried to weave on backstrap with rigid heddle yet, but I know many commercial backstrap kits are sold with RH.

I don't know if that helps or not.

Have a good day!

Franco Rios in Sacramento, Calif. USA

Posted on Sun, 04/04/2010 - 13:40

I have used both a RH loom and an inkle loom, the cat loom, to weave warp faced webs.  Here is the RH

warp faced weaving ona RH loom

I'm using two RH"s to increase the sett or density of threads to 20epi but the woven web is about 50 epi.  I have a knife edge shuttle that I use to beat.  And the little piece of cardboard under the web at the front beam has some guide marks for the width.





















Weaving warp faced bands is a very traditional use of RH, some times in the form of a paddle or a box or cradle loom.








Norway RH tape


I also use a cat loom, inkle style, for weaving warp-faced  cloths, here is a complimentary warp pattern (usually done on a backstrap loom):

cat loom

The shedding system is a variation of the shed rod/string heddles used in the backstrap loom.  The tension is fixed but I have lot of dowels to adjust the tension on this loom. Here you can see two different patterns on this linen warp:

two patterns

I hope this helps.



Posted on Sun, 04/04/2010 - 19:50

Great set of photos Karren. I would love to use these on my blog after I take my inkle loom class at CNCH. Would that be okay?


Posted on Sun, 01/22/2017 - 23:04

I know I'm ridiculously late to this post, but I hope someone will see this and know what's happening. I can't find any more appropriate place to post this.

I am a new weaver, and don't know all the correct terms. So far all I've done is a tabby/plain weave on an Ashford rigid heddle yarn loom, 7.5d. Using the same loom, I planned to make a twill with this yarn I fell in love with, and my weaving teacher assured me that I could do it with two harnesses. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to do it, and actually suspect it's impossible without string heddles. I ended up making four continuous string heddles per the pattern, and unfortunately, the farther the heddle is from the weaving, the more it pulls up the heddles in front of it. Pulling up heddle #4 was also pulling up heddles #3, #2, and #1.

I consulted a couple of people and decided that the problem was that the string heddles needed to be longer the nearer they were to the weaving, so that when pulling up heddle #4, the strings would be long enough on #3, #2, and #1 that the rods they were attached to would be pulled up by the threads from heddle #4, but the strings would remain loose. 

However, I just made individual string loop heddles for all of them (1.5" long for heddle #4, 3" for #3, 4.5" for #2, and 6" for #1), but while it worked when I only had a few threaded up for each rod, it completely failed to solve the problem when I had them all on the rods. 

Unfortunately I only have the loom (borrowed) for a short time, so I may not be able to use suggestions that are late in coming. In about 3 days, I will likely resort to re-warping it for a tabby weave, and if I'm ambitious, using a pick-up stick to do a couple of small sections of twill. I'm rather hoping to avoid that, though, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'd really appreciate the help!



Posted on Mon, 01/23/2017 - 20:55

I could see on a 2-2 twill that you could get as far as 3 lifts, where two of the lifts are simply raising and lowering a heddle, the 3rd lift would be a pick up stick in the back. Then the 4th would have to be string heddles to lift the opposite two "shafts" of the pick up stick. I looked at how two heddles might be used, but can not see any advantage, nothing to be gained in this example. Unless there  is a lift for 1 "shaft" and that 1 shaft is also threaded in a long slot so it can lift when the front heddle is neutral. Lifting the opposite two 2 is no more advantage than lowering one heddle that has the every other short eye and long slot alternating. Up raises them, down lowers them.