Monday, October 8, 2012

Knitted Heddle Workshop

Last month we had a workshop on making knitted heddles ....requested by Penny Lacroix, who was restoring a barn loom and wanted to make the kind of heddles that were correct to the period of the loom. I had inheirted an antique heddle making frame a few years ago and another historic textile enthusiast, Wendy Regier, had asked about learning to make knitted heddles this summer. Norman is one of the few people left who knew how to make knitted heddles so he taught Alison, Lynnette and I so that we could continue to pass on this lost art. When Penny emailed me to ask if she and two of her friends, Laura Busky and Diane Howe could come and learn how to do this we said "Yes!"
The procedure is actually quite simple ....once you know how...and involves tying two sets of loops around
a dowel and joining them together to form the eye.  This type of heddle/harness arrangement is made with a pre-determined ends per inch for a specific project and the exact number of heddles must  be tied in each inch section.  It is a slow tedious process and gives one a taste of how skilled the harness maker was how valuable the finished harness set was to them.  I have many old sets with the reed still attached and in some cases the woven fabric that would have been woven with them.  It was heart warming to be a part of continuing a long, lost tradition.
Alison demonstrating the setting of the loops and joining the two loops together.
Tools of the trade....19th c. ~  seine twine and harness frame....21st.c....the digital camera and the cell phone!
Here are Diane and Laura working on tying the heddles on my frame.

Penny working on a frame that belongs to Diane.

Alsion checking the "Oracle"...aka Google...about where to find netting needles to use in tying the knots.

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