The heddles are loops of thread through
which every other wrap of the warp is passed. The purpose
of the heddles is to keep half of the warp threads stationary
while the other half is free to be shifted either up or down
in the creation of sheds. You can make your heddles out of
just about any thread or string that has no stretch that
you have handy. But, if you wish to create some fairly permanent
heddles, I recommend using waxed linen. My very first inkle
weaving project used heddles made from the same rug warp
that I used to weave the strip because I did not, at that
time, have waxed linen. It worked just fine for that project.
Just make sure that your heddles are made of a fiber that
will not stretch. I have used crochet cotton, cotton rug
warp, and waxed linen. The waxed linen is my favorite.
Making heddles will depend on the design of your loom.
The directions that follow are for the standard-style inkle
looms (see the photos and drawings in this site to get
an idea of a basic/standard loom design). To make the heddles,
you need to measure the distance from the bottom of the
heddle bar to the top of the top front warp peg. Divide
this length in half and add about one-half to three-quarters
of an inch. This is the "heddle
loop measurement". Take your piece of stiff cardboard
and make it that same length. The next step is to cut lengths
of your waxed linen that are twice the length of the heddle
loop measurement plus a couple of inches. The number of
heddles you cut is determined by your design. Using 4/2
cotton and creating a band about two inches wide will require
about 40 heddles. I have 90 waxed linen heddles in my inkle
weaving supplies. And, yes, I have actually made an inkle
band using that many heddles. Once you have the necessary
number of heddle strands cut, one-by-one tie the heddle
strands into loops using the piece of cardboard as a guide
so that each heddle loop is the exact same size. Tie the
strands using a square knot and using the same tension
and pressure on each one. Making heddles should be a one-time
adventure in weaving. Heddles are meant to be used time
and time again. The stronger the material out of which
they are made means that they will last longer and you
won't have to go through the tedious process again as soon
... or ever.
Another type of heddle that I use frequently is made by
taking the measurement from the heddle bar to the top front
bar and adding about one to one-and-a-half inches. I then
make my cardboard that size and make the heddles as described
above. The difference with these heddles is in their use.
They drape over the warp threads instead of the warp threads
being passed through them. See the image below.
Click on the image to the left to see a larger version
There are other techniques for making heddles as described
in various books. The methods above just happen to be the
ones I use. Books on inkle weaving will give you detailed
instructions for other methods of making heddles.