More on Heddle Direction

Handwoven Magazine Ask Madelyn

Dear Madelyn,

I was quite interested in Leslie Megill’s question about the direction of the heddles because I received a table loom for Christmas with “organized” heddles. I noticed that while the heddle eyes are all the same direction on the shaft, the zigzag and flat ends alternate all the way across. The eyes will nest together but the tops and bottoms of the heddles don’t nest so it’s easier to separate them; they are prevented from sticking together.

I just checked my heddles again and made another discovery. The slant of the eyes is one direction on the first and third shafts and the other direction on the second and fourth. It seems like you’d have to pay attention but maybe it’s supposed to help identify which shaft you’re threading.

My “new” loom is at least 20 years old so I don’t know if it came this way way or if someone organized it like this. Either way, it seems very clever! I’ve just started threading so I’ll find out if it makes a difference. If it does, I might have to reorganize my other looms!

––Keitha Brannick

Hi, Keitha,


  Moving heddles during threading –– NOT a good idea!

Many of you suggested this reason for the alternating zigzag/flat heddle ends and it makes very good sense. I don’t think that alternating the direction of the eyes from shaft to shaft is a good idea, however, because it truly is easier to thread if they are facing in one direction, rather than the other. (Plus I would hate to keep trying to remember: shaft 1, left facing; shaft 2, right facing….

I do have one suggestion that falls into the “Do as I say, not as I do” category: Count your heddles before you start a project to make sure you have enough. It is not fun to add or subtract heddles after you have run out of them toward the end of threading. You might not have to have your heddles all lined up like perfect little soldiers, but you don’t want them to look like this.


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