I gave an overview of reading weaving drafts in my last rigid heddle post, to help you identify 2-harness (or if you prefer, 2-shaft) table/floor loom drafts and figure out how to thread them on your rigid heddle loom with just one heddle.
When you add a second heddle, the possibilities multiply.
For starters, you can use a yarn that is twice as fine -- warping both heddles as described by Ashford here and by Schacht here lets you use both together. So, if you have 8, 10, and 12-dent reeds, besides being able to use yarns that are 16, 20, and 24 wraps per inch (plain weave sett/ends per inch is typically 1/2 the wraps per inch of the yarn; thicker will be more tough, in both senses of the word, and thinner will be more gauzey -- the technical term is sleazy, as the threads on too loose a sett will slide over one another), you can now use yarns that are 32, 40, and 48 wraps per inch -- that would make a wonderfully thin, drapey stole or fine silk scarf. Aaahh.
But it turns out, there are a whole host of interesting 3-harness (3-shaft) patterns out there, with names and everything. I was flipping through the May/June 1989 Handwoven (thanks to blogless Kathy, a local weaver extraordinaire), and lo-and-behold, an article about 3-harness weaving!
My first foray into 2-heddle weaving on my Glimakra Emilia rigid heddle loom was a basic 2/1 twill, though I turned it into a point and reversed treadling order half way through, so it looks like the wave-echo of a center diamond, a bit like this: <<<<>>>>
Of course, given it was woven at a very loose sett and fulled, and I used a multi-color handspun 2-ply, that diamond design is a bit lost. But, it's there, and if I looked closely I could see it.
Now, the draft of a 2/1 twill looks like this:
You can see that it uses just three harnesses, and has a straight tie-up.
So, when I threaded the heddles, I threaded the front slot (to match harness 1), the front hole(to match harness 2), and the back hole (to match harness 3). Anything threaded in the front heddle goes through slots in the back heddle, so they are only raised and lowered by the front heddle. Also, anything threaded in the back heddle's holes must go through a slot in the front heddle. See the Ashford and Schacht writeups mentioned above for good pictures of threading the front heddle's threads through the back heddle's slots.
For the treadling, first I had to lift harness 1; since it was the slot thread, I "lifted" it by lowering both heddles to the down position. Second, lift harness 2, which is the front heddle. And third, lift harness 3, the back heddle. So, it was both down; front heddle up/back heddle neutral; front heddle neutral/back heddle up; repeat until woven.
Other interesting patterns you can do in a 3-harness weave include:
- point twill: turn the twill around, so you go 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-... repeating across, and treadle the same way (1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-...). Leigh has a nice post on 4-harness twills showing how they turn into point, rosepath, and broken (herringbone) patterns.
- rosepath, which is an extended point twill that looks like a path of roses; this is pretty as a stripe in an otherwise plain-weave tea towel.
- herringbone twill, another extended point twill
- a basic waffle weave -- this is interesting because it does not have a simple straight tie-up, so you would need to work out the lifting/lowering pattern to ensure the right warp threads were up. But you can do that -- read on for advice :)
- summer & winter -- Ashford's 2-heddle writeup shows how to do this, along with its cousin, Taquete.
- Bronson lace -- this lace is interesting because it uses the first harness on a multi-harness loom at the "tie-down"; so you can have lace with just 3 harnesses. Other related laces (huck and Swedish lace) move the tie-down around with the lace pattern. Here's a Margaret Atwater article, The Bronson Weave Four Ways, talking about having 3 spot positions with 4 harnesses -- with our two heddles, we have "3 harnesses" so can have 2 spot positions.
- Spot Bronson, cousin of Bronson lace -- this has a nice texture, I've made some washcloths with it.
- Krokbragd -- a weft-faced weave from Norway, traditionally woven with three colors.
- warp floats and their cousins, deflected warp -- if you put your warp floats on the back heddle's holes, then you can control when they float and when they don't. By weighting them separately from the rest of the warp, you can also deflect them for even more visual interest in your weaving.
- Front heddle slot is harness 1
- Front heddle hole is harness 2
- Back heddle hole is harness 3
- both up: harnesses 2 & 3 up
- both down: harness 1 up
- front up/back neutral: harness 2 up
- front down/back neutral: harnesses 1 & 3 up
- front neutral/back up: harness 3 up
- front neutral/back down: harnesses 1 & 2 up