For plain weaving two heddles are used. The wire ones set in frames are the easiest for amateurs to manage, but string heddles with or without copper mail-eyes work very well. The number of heddles is usually rather greater than that of the warp threads or ends; half should be on each frame. The heddle frames are suspended from a horizontal beam crossing the top of the loom; usually there is a cord arrangement sliding on a pulley at each end of this beam, which allows one heddle to go up while the other goes down. In threading the heddle eyes it is necessary to know the number of eyes in each frame, and find the middle eye of each frame. The warp must also be counted and the threading must begin from the center thread. A small hook, called a warp hook, is inserted through the center eye in the front frame and the middle thread caught on it and pulled through. The next thread to the right is then threaded through the eye next to the right in the back frame - and this process is continued across the loom, taking each thread in succession. The work should be watched closely, as it is very easy to take two front or two back heddles in succession. The ends should be tied in small bunches in front of the heddles to avoid pulling backwards and unthreading. The last eight or ten ends may be threaded two together to form a selvage. The left side should then be threaded, starting from the middle. The mistake to be avoided is that of threads crossing in the heddles. These may be discovered by pushing down the front frame and looking through the shed, then pushing down the back frame. There should be a clear opening across the loom, but if there is a thread in this space a cross is indicated, and the heddles must be re-threaded to correct it; sometimes two threads only require re-threading. Before the ends are threaded through the reed it is well to examine the heddles straight across the loom to see if there are any errors. It is often necessary for a beginner to do considerable re-threading, or pulling in.
The batten is in front of the heddle and is a swinging frame containing the reed. The ends of the warp must be threaded from the middle hole or dent of the reed and go straight from the center of the heddles to the center of the reed. The threading should be done with the warp hook.
When the reed is threaded, and the ends tied to prevent their coming out, the harness must be carefully adjusted so that the threads will run horizontally from the back beam through the heddles and reed to the front beam. The heddle frames are attached to the treadles in a way to give a perfect balance, as shown in the photographs. The batten must swing freely, without striking the heddles or the front beam. This may mean careful adjustment.
Generally on the front beam there is a series of cords to which the ends of the warp are to be tied, with the knot shown in the sketch, or there may be a rod run through a piece of strong drilling called an apron to which the ends are tied. Before describing the actual process of weaving it may be stated that after the loom is once threaded it is not necessary to re-thread the harness for every new length of warp.
Putting On New Warp Without Re-Threading The Heddles
After the new warp is on the beam each new end is tied to a corresponding old end.
Tying Ends of Warp at Cloth Beam End.
When the warp is woven nearly to the end, instead of pulling out the threads it is better to tie them securely in small bunches in front of the reed and behind the heddles, so they cannot slip through. After the new chain of warp is put on, the new ends may be tied one by one with a weaver's knot to the old ends.