Sunday, 1 July 2018

Making a warp and threading the 9 pattern slot heddle.

There are many different ways to make a warp for weaving narrow bands with a rigid heddle.

Warping Frame.

I have a warping frame made by Harris looms in the UK

This warping frame is very versatile as it can be dismantled. It can be used on a stand or hung on a wall.  The pegs can be unscrewed.  When I am not using it, it hangs flat on the wall.

Some rigid heddle looms like the Kromski harp have an integral warping frame which is ideal.
Another method of setting out the warp is to use two warping pegs attached to a table,  The distance between the two pegs is the length of the warp.

A warping frame from Pinterest
This warping frame is similar to mine but does not have a stand so has to hang on a wall.

Making the warp.

The start of the warp will be the weaving end.  Here the warp is taken around 6 additional pegs as well as the beginning and end pegs.  It would make a very long warp.

The warp plan

The warp plan is very important.  It shows the number of warp ends of each colour and the order in which the warp should be made.

This warp is for a Braid Society workshop. As I am going to be discussing design for patterned bands with 9 pattern threads,  I thought a colourful warp would show the way colour can be used to enhance pattern.

Using the warp plan you can make the warp on the warping frame.

  • Start with the dark red thread.  Tie it to the starting peg. take it around the number of pegs you want for the length of warp. 
  • At the bottom of the frame you need to take the thread over one peg, under the next then around the final peg. This makes one warp thread. Two red threads are needed. Take the warp around the final peg then under and over the next two pegs.  This is the start of the singles cross. Follow the path back to the beginning. 
  • You have now made two warp ends. Tie the thread to the starting peg and choose the red thread.  Continue this process until you have made the warp. 

The singles cross

The singles cross

Note that for this warp, the pattern threads are a single thicker yarn. For the first pattern thread, attach the black end to the starting post. take it around the warping frame. At the final peg leave it hanging.  You can take this pattern thread back around the frame when you come to the second pattern thread on the warp chart.

There are an odd number of pattern threads. The final pattern thread will end up at the non-weaving end of the warp. You will need to  make a loop at the end and slip it over the final peg.

Non-weaving end of the warp

You can see the loop for the last pattern thread on the final peg of the warping frame.

When the warp has been made on the warping frame of using warping posts, the ends should be tied.

Tying the end of the warp 

It is important to secure the end of the warp.  The warp ends should not slip through this knot when you are threading your heddle.

Tying the singles cross

Take the warp carefully off the frame. Now the non-weaving end of the warp needs to be secured for threading and weaving.

Four warps showing the non-weaving end with loop.

Here are four warps showing the non-weaving end.  The loop of strong tape is taken through the end of the warp.  It is this loop of tape which will go over the G-clamp or warping post when you are ready to start weaving.

The Singles Cross

Now look at the four ties for the singles cross.  The singles cross is a guide to the order of the warp threads in the heddle.

four temporary ties

Of course, you cannot leave the ties in place.  Use two sticks or two rulers and place them through the singles cross.

Two cross sticks

Now the ties can be removed safely.

The ties have been removed. Weight the non-weaving end of the warp with a book.

Trim the warp ends at the weaving end so that there are no loops and the warp threads are the same length.

Check the threading chart and divide the warp in half. The centre black pattern thread is in the centre of the picture.  You will need to count the warp threads so that they are divided accurately.

Threading the heddle.

The best position for threading the heddle is to have it held upright.  You can see both sides of the heddle and the warp threads. For the holes you will need a needle threader or the warping lasso which is supplied with the Sunna heddle.

There are different ways of securing the heddle in an upright position.

Using a purpose made stand

It is easier to thread the heddle if it is upright. You can make a stand for the heddle. This is a simple design.  It rests on a non-slip mat.

using two clamps

Here is another way of holding the heddle upright.  The two plastic clamps and the heddle rest on a non-slip mat.

The warp is neatly divided.  Look at your threading chart and then thread the heddle. I always start threading in the centre of the heddle.

Threading Chart

This threading chart is for the 9 pattern slot Sunna heddle.  There are 10 border threads on each side. The final long slot and hole are empty and are indicated in grey.

The background and border threads are 2/6 cotton in five colours.

The pattern threads are a single strand of  2/3 cotton in black.

The weft is the yellow thread so an attractive dotted pattern will show at each selvedge.

Threaded heddles.

Here are some of the threaded heddles. Only two more heddles to thread!

Woven sample

close up of the band sample

This a sample that I have woven for the workshop. The close-up shows the yellow weft at the border. Look closely at the centre of the band to see the pale yellow warp threads next to the centre black pattern thread. the yellow weft shows up at this point adding an interesting variation to the band.

Other ways of making a warp.

Of course, not everyone has room for or needs a warping frame. Here are some very informative and beautifully made set of videos made by a Finnish weaver.

They are very clear for the basics of setting up and starting to weave using a backstrap.

1. Making a warp with a singles cross

In this video the weaver is making a warp with a singles cross.  She is using two chairs to make the warp.  The singles cross is carefully tied so that the ends remain in the correct order for threading the heddle. You do not need warping posts or a warping board.  Chairs make an excellent substiture.

2. Another method of making a warp.

In this YouTube video the weaver is making a warp by collecting all lthe warp threads together.  She is cutting the warp ends so that they are all the same length.  She shows how the warp is threaded through the slots and holes of a rigid heddle.

3. Threading the heddle.

In this video she is showing how to thread a warp through the slots and holes of the heddle using the singles cross which has been carefully tied after making the warp. She demonstrates how to save a warp so that it does not get tangled.

4. Weaving a narrow band using a backstrap.

In this video she demonstrates weaving a simple narrow band.

5. Winding the warp onto different shuttles. 

In this video she demonstrates how to wind the weft onto different shuttles and how to start weaving a narrow band.  She weaves a simple band first and then demonstrates how to weave a patterned band

Happy Warping!

In the months of September, October and November, I will be presenting a series on patterned band weaving with 5, then 7 and finally 9 pattern threads. There will be a free pattern for each session.  I will answer any queries on the blog. If you are interested in learning to weave these lovely patterns do join in.

 These blogs will accompany the publication of my book with Schiffer Press which is due at the end of July in the USA and the end of September in the UK.

Susan J Foulkes July 2018


  1. I just received your book, Weaving Patterned Bands. Where can I get a pattern heddle like yours? Also, I have found some lovely wooden ones but am unsure of the episode that I need. Thanks.

  2. very informative post

    Thanks for sharing such a valuable information..

    weaving equipment


All comments are moderated before being posted. There will be a slight delay before your message appears.