In a previous blog post, 6 Tips to Weaving Faster and Completing Projects, I shared that creating a string shed (or string heddle) can quicken the weaving process. In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a string shed using 2 methods.
What is a string shed?
In weaving, the shed in the opening between the warp yarns, in which the weft yarns are woven through- this opening is held by a flat shed stick.
A string shed is the opening held by the second set of warp yarns. Once opened, the weft yarns can pass through it in order to continue the pattern.
What is a string heddle?
A string heddle picks up the other set of yarns that the shed stick does not.
How to use a shed stick with a string heddle?
What is a shed stick?
A shed stick creates an opening between warp yarn for the weft yarns to pass through. Instead of only using a tapestry needle to move between the warp yarns, the shed stick can hold the yarns in place.
For example, if you are weaving plain weave, the yarn is woven in the over-under pattern until it reaches the end of the yarns. Weave the shed stick following this under-over pattern, and do not remove it. Turn the shed stick in a horizontal position and pass the yarn bobbin or shuttle through the opening. Lay the shed stick in a vertical position and slide it towards the top of the loom.
Now you can alternate every other row using the shed stick to create an opening between the warp yarns and using the tapestry needle to weave the yarn.
How to create a string heddle
Method 1: Create Bundles
I prefer to create these in bundles of 5 to 10 warp yarns. Instead of moving the tapestry needle in-between every warp yarn, the yarn heddle creates an opening (similar to the one created by the shed stick) with the alternate set of warp yarns in the new following row.
1. Take a new piece of yarn. Weave a row of plain weave (in the row after using the shed stick).
2.Hold out your index and middle finger.
3. Between each warp string, pick up a loop and catch it on the fingers. Remember to pick up the yarns not used in the previous pattern.
4. This next step is based on your preference. You can create small bundles of 5 to 10 yarns of warp or loop all yarns on a thin dowel.
Bundle every 5-warp yarns. Wrap the yarn ends under and around the loops then secure them with 2 knots.
5. Continue this to the end of the warp.
Before tying the final yarn in each bundle, check the pattern to ensure that the correct yarns were included. Moving the woven in shed stick down closer to the bundle will pronounce the yarns more and make it easier to check that you have gathered the correct yarns.
Method 2: Secure string heddle with dowel
1.Take a new piece of yarn. Weave a row of plain weave (in the row after using the shed stick).
2. On one end of the yarn create a loop and tie it to the end of a dowel, or thin, sturdy rod.
3.Hold out a dowel straight and close to the warp.
3. Between each warp string, pick up a loop and catch it on the dowel. Remember to pick up the yarns not used in the previous pattern.
4. Continue this to the end of the warp.
5.Secure the yarn and evenly distribute the yarns on the dowel. At the end of the warp, take the end of the yarn and tie it to the dowel.
Before tying the final yarn check the pattern to ensure that the correct yarns were included. Moving the woven in shed stick down closer to the string heddle will pronounce the yarns more and make it easier to check that you have gathered the correct yarns.
Once the string heddle is in place, it is ready to be used along side the shed stick. Alternate between the other to ensure that you are following the correct pattern. It should be easier to simply pick up the dowel or individual bundles and then slide the weft yarns through the two sheds.
Adding a string heddle to your frame loom will make weaving a bit easier and decrease the amount of time you spend moving the tapestry needle, bobbin or shuttle through it.