I always dread having to add or remove heddles on my looms, not to mention finding I have a few backwards in the middle of the harness! I have read about keeping them on strings so they stay organized, but that just doesn’t work well for me. They want to tangle and I have given up before and painstakingly put them on one by one.
Before starting a new project on my Harrisville 8-harness loom, I decided to take off each of the harnesses, count and inspect the heddles (I had managed to bend a couple), and get everything ready by counting out 90 heddles on each harness. If you have a Harrisville loom, you know that if you remove the harness frame, the cables attaching the swinging harness may slip off the roller if you don’t tension them. So I first decided to tie them down with a string to the back beam so they’d stay in place. Here’s a picture of one of these cables that held a harness frame, simply tied around the back beam to hold it in place until I reattach the harness. I do this with all eight cables (on the left of the loom, looking from the back of the loom). With other looms, this step most likely will not be necessary when removing the harness frames.
Now with the harness removed, I slid the heddle bars loose and was ready to slide sections of “good” heddles off on my bamboo skewer to hold them neatly organized while I accessed some bent or backwards heddles for correction. Here’s where the skinny bamboo skewers really helped. They easily fit between the heddle and the heddle bar making the transfer easy. Notice I put a little clip on one end of the stick. These clips are made by Clover and help keep me from inadvertently letting the heddles slide off the skewer. Once I slide those off, I’ll put a clip on the other end, both top and bottom and set it aside until ready to slide heddles back on. In fact, I’ve started to store my extra heddles on these skewer with the clips on each end.
Transferring Heddles from Heddle Bar to Bamboo Skewer:
All extra heddles are stored on skewers with clips on the ends:
Now, I have all harness bars ready with 90 heddles (divided in groups of ten) ready to go back on the harness frame and on the loom. Notice I put clips on the heddle bars too! You can tell I’ve had a few accidents!