Barn Frame Loom Reconstruction Adventure | Part II: Making String Heddles July 24, 2019 17:00

Part II: Making String Heddles

It's been a crazy spring and busy summer, but don't fret-- we haven't forgotten about our Barn Frame Loom Reconstruction Project!  While we wait on getting some parts, our designer has been slowly making replacement string heddles for the loom (read more about heddles and their function in Part 1 of our Barn Loom Reconstruction series). If you are a hand weaver and are interested in making your own string heddles, or if you're just interested in general (because it's neat!) we've created a small tutorial for how we've been creating ours.

1| Gathering Supplies

The first step is to create a small jig to make the heddles on.  A narrow piece of wood, 6 nails, a hammer, and a ruler is all you need! There is a good description of how to construct a jig here.  Once you have your jig, you'll need some thin but strong cotton twine and a pair of scissors.

2| Making Square Knots

Square knots are used to make heddles! If you're not sure what type of knot a square knot is, follow this tutorial on how to make a square knot here.

3| Starting the Heddle

To begin the heddle, first cut a piece of twine - 3 times the length of your jig should be enough.  Fold the piece of twine evenly in half, and drape it around the top-most nail, as pictured in diagram 1.  Next, tie your first square knot around the bottom of the second nail.  A close up of this knot is shown in diagram 2.

4| Making the Middle Eyelet

The 3rd and 4th nails are what make the heddle's eyelet.  This is what holds a warp thread on a loom.  To create the eyelet, tie a second square knot under the third nail (just like you did under the second nail), as shown by the red arrow in diagram 3.  Make sure the twine is kept taught.  Next, tie another square knot under the 4th nail, creating a small circular opening with the twine (diagram 4).

5| Finishing the Heddle

To finish the heddle, we're going to tie two more square knots! Tie one underneath the 5th nail (location shown by the red arrow in diagram 5) and a final one under the 6th nail (diagram 6).  Trim off the excess twine when finished - we like to leave a small tail, just in case.

6| Counting Strings and Finished Bundles

As you make more and more heddles, it can be useful to keep track of how many you have. Using a contrasting color string, tie off the heddles in bundles as you make them (we like to do bundles of 10 to keep it simple).  We've found that about 40 heddles fit on our jig, so 4 bundles of 10.  We'll need a lot more than 40 heddles for our Barn Frame Loom, so until we get enough we're storing them in tied off groups, using safety pins to keep the ends in order.

We hope you enjoyed this string heddle tying tutorial! Stay tuned over the next couple months and we'll share how it goes installing the heddles we've made onto the barn frame loom.