Category Archives: long-eye heddles

The Journey Continues

If you have been following my journey of getting my drawloom up and working after 18 or so years, you may recall I was re-threading the loom from 8 shaft satin to 5 shaft satin, as I was having trouble with the counterweights not pulling the ground shafts back to neutral.

More than one drawloom weaver advised me to change from an 8 shaft satin to something using 4 or 5 shafts, so the decision was made to change to a 5 shaft satin.

After pulling 1,024 threads of 20/2 cotton out of the long-eye heddles (ground shafts) and maillons (pattern shafts), I was back at the lease sticks to again thread the the loom.

All was going well until I found a maillon with no threads. Disaster! I thought I had been watching so carefully, and now this meant having to yet again re-thread 1/4 of the maillons, then the long-eye heddles, approximately 256 threads. I tried to think if there was a way of moving the pattern heddles around on the pattern shaft bars, but as each pattern heddle was already tied to a drawcord, that would have meant untieing 1/4 of the drawcords, too. I decided against that.

Also unwilling to remove loom parts at this point, it meant bending over the side of the long back extension to re-thread those tiny holes. I should have owned stock in an ibuprophin manufacturing company over the past month! My aching back meant I could only work on this for short stretches at a time.

Above, you can see the size of a maillon and those tiny holes.

Yesterday, I finally finished re-threading the left side of the loom, left of the
center cords. Today, I’ve been threading the long-eye heddles on the right half of the loom, a job which goes fairly fast, and thankfully, went without incident.

No threading hook is needed, just reach through that large eye with your fingers and pull your warp thread through.

There are 75 threads to go, and as I write this post and load in the photos, I’m on a stepstool moving heddles to the three shafts where I ran short. The re-threading will be completed in just a bit.

Yes, it has taken me quite awhile to reach this point (for the second time!). Yes, I want to weave on this loom sooner than later, but the more important goal is to understand the loom, the processes, what is happening and why (or why not), and figuring out what to do when things don’t go as planned. It’s been an interesting journey, and I’m looking forward to learning so much more.

Drawloom Progress

I should be weaving, I know I should be weaving, but some days I am absolutely driven to make progress on setting up the drawloom, and that’s what I’ve been working on again. Not long ago I had made 1,000 string (seine twine) long-eye heddles to add the 1,000 already on the loom.

A couple days ago I decided I needed to get back to making the pattern heddles. I previously had around 125 of them made, and in the last 48 hours I’ve made another 275 for a total of 400, 100 on each of the four pattern shaft bars. These will hold (if all are used) 2,400 threads, or 3,200 if I use all the holes in the maillons. More pattern heddles can be made if needed.

Tonight, I went back to making long-eye heddles again, this time for the opphampta attachment that is waiting to be added to the countermarche loom sometime this year. There were no heddles included when I bought it, used, and I decided again to make my own heddles. The long-eye heddles will then be able to be used on either loom as needed. When these are done, I’ll begin on the pattern heddles for the opphampta weaving.

Tomorrow I’ll be taking some old cords off the drawloom, to check on the condition of the long Texsolv cords that go from jacks down through ground shafts and to the lamms. Also, the cords that hang off the sides for the counterweights. As the loom is around 23 years old, some of the cords feel stiff and old, and I want to replace them next.

It’s also time to order something for the new drawcord warp. I need to remove the old, and take photos of how it is on there. There are also books like “Opphampta and Damask” by Lillemor Johansson to refer to, as well as advice from a few members of the CW Double Harness Study Group who also have single unit drawlooms. The adventure continues…

DIY Pattern Heddles for Drawloom

Now that there are an another 1,000 long-eye heddles on the drawloom ground shafts, it’s time to get back to making more pattern heddles.

Months ago I ordered 400 or so plastic maillons from Sara von Tresckow, The Woolgatherers, in Fond du Lac, WI. Each maillon has six small holes and a slightly larger hole on each end. The smaller holes are for fine warp threads, the larger holes are for assembling the pattern heddle. If you are working with 8 thread blocks, you can also use the larger holes on each end for warp threads.

Around 14 years ago I made some of these heddles using a fine, coated thread and as there is still plenty on the spool, it is what I am using again. There is no label in or on the tube as to what this thread is made of. It is not easily broken.

As I wove on this loom 13 years ago, so know these pattern heddles will work. I am using an old one as a guide, and cut the top and bottom threads (24″ each) tieing one thread to each end of a maillon. On the bottom, I add one lingo to each pattern heddle. The top of each pattern heddle is tied and hangs on the wood pattern heddle rods.

I have not yet been able to recall the adjustable knot Ken showed me, so am just tieing the top ends for now. A neighbor loaned me an older book of knots and I’m hoping to figure this out.

If I were to warp the drawloom at 60 epi x 36″ width = 2,160 threads (I’ll need to make a couple hundred more long-eye heddles, more if I go wider) divided by 6 threads per maillon = 360 pattern heddles needed. I’m using these figures as an example, and figuring this out as I go along. Now, I need to get busy and make about 250 more pattern heddles.

Then I’ll move on to replacing the drawcord warp. I have been researching and asking other drawloom weavers for advice/suggestions on this, and must go back and review their recommendations, make a decision, and place an order very soon. Unfortunately, the coated linen of the former drawcord warp is no longer available.

Adding Long-Eye Heddles to the Drawloom

Finally, a sunny afternoon and with extra hands at home, I was able to move 500 old string long-eye heddles to the back five shafts, on the drawloom, and add 800 of the 1,000 new string long-eye heddles (that I just finished making a few days ago) to the front four shafts.

All that is involved in adding heddles is removing the anchor pins in the jacks, one at a time, dropping the cords down through, removing and/or adding heddles to the shaft, then threading the cord back up through the holes in the jacks. A bobby-pin works great for threading the cord back up through the holes in the jacks, then put the anchor pins back in, making sure the shafts are level. (Note, this is for the older style Glimakra single unit drawloom, from 1984 or so.)

There is one shaft and accompanying jacks not on the loom. I am sure the shaft bars are upstairs, but I’m not sure about the jacks, so I will check for them tomorrow. Once they are on the loom I’ll be able to add the last 200 long-eye heddles.

Right now, I am making sure the heddles are not twisted, then adding the lower shaft bars back in. This is not a difficult task, just a bit time-consuming. I would rather do it properly now rather than encounter difficulties when threading or nearly ready to weave.

When the lower shaft bars are all in and twisted heddles are straightened out, I will add a long string to each lower shaft bar which will keep the bottom half of the heddles from slipping off the lower heddle bars. Pic(s) on that will be posted in a day or two.

The plaid towel is off the loom and upstairs along with another towel, next to my sewing machine. After the hems are sewn, a photo will be posted here. Right now, back to the heddles.

Linen/Cotton Towel & Drawloom Heddles

The first towel off this current warp is finished. I had hemstitched this one, washed it in warm water (in a front-loading washer), dried it on Normal, then checked dimensions. Off the loom, prior to finishing, the towel measured 30″ in length by 16″ in width. After finishing, the measurements were 22.75″ by 14.5″ losing 7.25″ (24%) by 1.25″ (8%). I was especially amazed by the shrinkage in length as I didn’t recall previously woven towels or runners woven with cottolin losing that many inches. (These measurements do not include fringe.)

I also noticed there seemed to be some tracking which I was not expecting. I’ve not had tracking occur occur before with cottolin but this weft is a single linen/cotton slub/flake type yarn. After sorting out the tangled fringe, the towel was spritzed with water, ironed with steam, then ironed again without steam. When fairly dry, I rotary cut the fringe leaving it 1.25″ in length.

I am quite pleased with this first towel and looking forward to weaving up more, varying the wefts and textures.

In addition to weaving and working on socks, I have been making long-eye heddles (using seine twine) for my single unit drawloom. Though I had started slow, I suddenly became determined to finish them so over the past few evenings, I have been cutting and tieing heddles. Last night I had 350 left to go, cut but needing to be tied, so I decided at midnight I would finish them all before going to bed. At 5 AM this morning I tied the 1,000th long-eye heddle. They are ready to put on the ground shafts, and I can go back to making more pattern heddles.

Now it is back to weaving and sock-cranking for awhile, along with some spinning but, there are two more tubes of seine twine on the way. About three years ago, I bought a 20 shaft opphampta attachment to add to my countermarche loom. There were no heddles included for either ground or pattern shafts, so after a reasonable break, I have two more sets of heddles to make.

Yes, I could use Texsolv heddles, but the cost of purchasing two thousand long-eye heddles would be around $340 plus shipping. That plus two more sets of heddles for another loom is an expense I could not make. Options needed to be considered and choices made based on funds available and other business needs and priorities. Also, the single unit drawloom already has 1,000 of the old-style string heddles on it and I just could not see replacing them as they work fine. So for the cost of a board, nails, and one tube of seine twine ($22), plus my time, I now have the 1,000 heddles I needed. I will do the same for the opphampta attachment. I have the gratification of not only saving funds on one item which will allow me to take care of a future need, but I enjoyed making the heddles. They were portable and I took them with me to work on when I had to wait, as well as working on them late in the evenings. One set done, two to go.

Learning to Use a Temple

I’m weaving away today, a simple plain weave towel, using a linen/cotton slub thread purchased awhile back from WEBS. It is a bit finer than the cottolin warp and I wasn’t totally pleased with the selvedges so decided to try a temple/stretcher. I’ve never used one before, and so far I am pleased, there is improvement with the selvedges along with keeping a consistent width.

Late last night I was making long-eye heddles again, now up to 75 of them. Not long before I was going to put this project away for the night, I discovered a way to make each one a little bit quicker.

I sit with the heddle jig standing upright in my lap, working my way from bottom up to the top. I found that with this longish thread, after the first section is on the heddle jig, if I cross the threads near the cut ends, to make the square knots, instead of further down each half length, I can work faster. I’ll be back at it tonight and am looking forward to making quicker progress.

Long-Eye Heddles

Now that I have my heddle jig for making long-eye heddles for the drawloom, this was a good day to begin. I had removed an old “string” heddle from the loom to use for placement of nails, and have left it on the jig to follow where to tie the square knots. Using seine twine, I’ve begun cutting lengths and tieing long-eye heddles.
I’m not sure yet how many I will need to make but figuring it will be 1,000 or more, as there are only 100 or so on each ground shaft right now. Yes, I could order Texsolv heddles, but I like having the old-style string heddles on this loom, so plan to keep it this way for now. I’ve also been making my own pattern heddles, as I did around 23 years ago. Also, the cost of changing over to all Texsolv heddles for ground and pattern harnesses would be significant.

I will be changing other tie-ups (shafts to jacks) over to Texsolv cord, as well as using Texsolv cords from jacks to treadles. In these cases, I prefer the Texsolv for making adjustments over tieing knots in the old way. Sometimes, convenience wins out.