What is Heddle Weaving?

Christine Hudson

Heddle weaving is a very basic type of weaving done on a heddle loom. It is typically a good type of weaving for beginners to learn, as it requires few materials and can be picked up easily. The heddle loom holds the base threads, or warp, under tension to allow the weaver to interlace other threads in whichever design she chooses to complete the weave.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Many heddle looms are small enough to fit on a table, so they are simple to set up and easy to take down when not in use. Heddle weaving can be used to create many crafts, such as rugs or cloth, which are generally sturdier than knitted fabric. Designs that are not possible or are very difficult with other weaving methods can be made easy by heddle weaving.

The most common type of heddle loom is the rigid heddle. This a normally made of wood, and the heddle, which is used to push or settle the yarn tightly together, may be made of the same wood–it can also be made of metal or plastic. The thread used in weaving is commonly yarn, and this may be synthetic, natural, or blended yarn, depending on the weaver's preference and particular project.

Rugs, blankets, and clothing are all common projects which can be created with heddle weaving. Often times, the particular designs created are only achievable through weaving, and this sustains the practice's popularity. In addition to regular heddle weaving, there is Navajo weaving, which has been practiced by Navajo Indian tribes in America for many decades. It is recognizable by intricate geometric designs in contrasting, often earthen tones and is usually created using several hand-held heddles for settling the yarn.

Learning heddle weaving is not considered difficult, and many weavers can have their first project made in just a week or so. It is commonly said that the best way to learn heddle weaving is to sit at the loom and experiment. In some cases, though, it may be beneficial to enroll in weaving classes. Beginner's classes cover how to dress or prepare the loom and how to perform several designs for different projects, such as scarves and rugs. Once the basics of weaving are learned, there is a wide array of possibilities and project ideas that can typically be accomplished.

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