Friday, January 11, 2008

Color Coding Texsolv Heddles

Barbara, Anna, and Leigh asked about color-coded heddles, and what I used to color them.

On my 8-shaft loom (a Glimakra countermarche with texsolv everywhere), I never bothered with the color coding, but when I got the 24-shaft loom, it seemed like a really good idea!

The color coding can be done in several ways. Some folks put a colored mark on the top or bottom bar of the shaft, others put a mark on the heddle. I marked the heddles, using a set of permanent acrylic ink markers made by Liquitex (the package is still on my supply shelf - after 10 years I'll bet that the ink is completely dried out so thanks for reminding me to toss 'em!).

Bonnie Inouye recommends using a cycle of 4 colors (red, blue, yellow, unmarked) to make it easier to thread networked twills. I found a set of markers that had 8 colors, so that's what I used. With 24 shafts on the loom, a cycle of 8 works out well.

I find that it does help me be sure I've grabbed a heddle from the correct shaft if I'm threading a fairly straightforward draft (straight draw, or 5-end advancing twill, etc.). However, nowadays I seem to be doing interleaved threadings that have no easy-to-remember sequence. So I use the "treadle your threading" method that's been discussed a lot on WeaveTech.

If you use a computer to design your draft, you can save a copy just for threading, and in the copy make the following changes:

1. Tell the weave software to "treadle as drawn in" or "tromp as writ." This makes the treadling identical to the threading.

2. Change the tie-up to a lift-plan-type tie-up, with each treadle lifting one shaft.

3. Take this copy of the file to the computer on the loom, and start up your loom driver.

4. Each time you press the treadle, the loom lifts the next shaft in the sequence. Grab one heddle, pull it over into place, thread it.

5. Repeat ad infinitum (well, until the end of the threading).

This is the most fool-proof method for threading a complex draft that I know about. My fervent thanks to Ingrid Boesel of Fiberworks PCW, who first mentioned it on the WeaveTech list. It's been a life-saver!

Here's an example showing the upper right corner of the draft I used to thread the latest Wood Series warp:


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info - I definitely plan on trying this marking the heddles- even though I don't have nearly as many shafts as you do (24 - makes me go dizzy) but as a new weaver I think this is a great way to help me with threading! even if it is only 4 shafts (for now)

Your work is lovely - and thanks again

Leigh said...

Thank you so much for this Sandra. Very helpful!

BJGVET said...

When I expand my big Glimakra to 10 shafts and go countermarche, I will definitely use this color coding technique to further reduce my threading errors. Thank you so much for sharing!


Anonymous said...

I still like 3 colors plus white (uncolored) for 16 or 24 shafts. The white is on the first shaft because some structures need more heddles on the first shaft or two. I use acrylic paints on my texsolve heddles because it is fast and I don't like the smell of markers. I dilute some paint in something disposable and I paint an entire bundle of 100 heddles (fat or foam brush) before putting them on the loom. The bundle hangs easily to dry. If needed I can split it into two bundles. Most parallel threadings become a sequence of paired colors: white, white, blue, blue, etc., but not Sandra's interleaved threadings.
Bonnie Inouye