Madelyn is busy teaching this week, and so we bring you a classic Ask Madelyn, published March 28, 2012
Would you do something on easier ways to count heddles—like marking every 10th one or inserting a different style heddle every 10. You must know about every trick in the book. (BTW, I love Weaving Well.)
Did I neglect to say in the Weaving Well video that I hate counting heddles more than any task related to weaving? Oh, I'd much rather run out of heddles at the middle of threading and have to wrench the heddle bars (this always turns out to be on shafts that are in the middle, not shaft 1 or shaft 8, say) out of their sockets and have all the heddles on one end of the bar fall off so that I then get upset and go away and then after I've recovered I go back and cut the ones that fell off and got bent off with wire cutters and wrangle new heddles onto the bars and force the bars back into the sockets and then still need a few more heddles because I still didn't count right so have to make some string heddles and then. . .
I'd much rather do that than count heddles.
Seriously, I think you just count them. If you mark every tenth one, the day will come when you need one of those marked ones in a place where it will be out of order and pretty soon it's all awry. Some people color the heddles for each shaft, too, so that it's easier to identify the shaft you are threading. But sooner or later, you'll need twice as many heddles on one shaft, and you'll move some orange ones onto the yellow shaft and then. . .
If I were a really good person, I would figure out how many heddles I need for any draft and then count mine on each shaft. I would also do all my threadings from the center out so that I would have half the heddles on one side of the center pin holding the heddle bar (on the looms that have center pins) and the other half on the other side. But I am over-challenged by having to thread one side backwards.
And I always just want to start threading, so I look at the shaft and say: I'm sure there are enough heddles.
I hope you'll do as I say and not as I do.