Some Comments on Texsolv
by Susanne Kallstenius
What is Texsolv?
Now and then there have been discussions about Texsolv on the Internet Weaving list. Among the topics have been "how to dye them", "cutting them apart or not", "replacing metal heddles", plus much, much more. I've seen that they are sometimes described as "braided nylon heddles" and that is, alas, not true, for neither is the material nylon nor are they braided.
The name Texsolv is very natural for us Swedes, for "solv" is our word for heddle. The material is durable polyester, which is heat treated to minimize stretching.
All Texsolv System heddles and cords look as if they are crocheted, so I wondered how on earth they could stand the hard use without becoming unraveled. One day I got the answer, when an apron cord on my second hand table loom broke and unraveled. The earlier owner hadn't melted the ends, which is what one should always do. The normal Texsolv heddles today have a ladder structure on each side of the eye to keep it open. The oldest type where the eye could collapse was sold out some years ago in Sweden, and they were never sold in America. In a hands-on seminar about warp leno at that time the teacher - a German Meisterweberin - recommended that we get some for they were perfect as doup heddles.
|Regular and long eyed heddles (units are cm.)|
So Texsolv System heddles are made from crocheted, heat treated polyester in joined, 100-heddle bundles. The strong, durable polyester is crocheted without knots. The open construction of the heddles makes threading easy and almost eliminates friction with the warp. Texsolv System of unique, crocheted chaincord and special, strong nylon couplers permits rapid loom tie-up.
|Two sizes of chaincord (units are cm.)|
The general chaincord consists of two parallel rows connected at 12 mm intervals to form a series of "button holes". It has a breaking strength of 180 lbs. The chaincord for connecting the apron bars is slightly wider. One measures the length by counting the number of holes. A way to cut and fuse the ends in the same time is to use a small soldering iron. The cords can be used for permanent or adjustable connections.
The anchor peg is used when the cord goes through a hole in some wood. The straight peg is used when a cord forms a loop. Then the end of the cord should go through a hole in the cord and the peg should be inserted on the end only to prevent it from slipping out.
Additional peg and heddle information and pictures here.
In fact one can do without the straight pegs here; I usually adjust the loop and secure it with a single or double half hitch knot.
One can form some loops without using any pegs.
How a running loop is formed
Here in Sweden I've seen dyed Texsolv heddles in only one weaving studio, and then only one end was colored. We don't want to dye any parts that might get in contact with the warp threads and possibly stain them. I can only assume that acid dyes for wool will probably work.
The reason for dyeing heddle ends here (very often used on the knotted string heddles) is to indicate different sizes. Most weavers use only 4 shafts and then there is no problem to see which shaft is being threaded.
For multishaft threading we don't recommend working with more shafts than can be handled comfortably at the time. It's easy to add and remove shafts on our countermarche looms, to do so saves work and helps to avoid many threading mistakes. So for a 3-block weave based on 5-shaft satin I would thread shafts 11-15 first (only these five shafts with heddles are on the loom to start with) and let the warp threads that belong to shafts nearer the weaver pass unthreaded between the heddles in the proper places. Then shafts 6-10 are hung up from the front and threaded, still the threads belonging to the front pass between the heddles. Finally shafts 1-5 are threaded.
I have never used a hook for threading, I just bend the thread into a loop and insert it in the heddle eye with my fingers.
I understand that most of you jack-loom weavers normally have all heddle frames in place, so it can be very hard to see where the thread should be. My 8-shaft table loom has frames and it's a pain to add or remove heddles, for it's so hard to open the frames. These frames can be taken out, but it's hard to put one in front of some that are already threaded, the loom is designed so that the shafts are inserted from the back. Recently I turned the castle 180 degrees, so that what was the back earlier became the new front and old left became new right. This also included moving the handles so they point to the front again. The rebuild seems to allow me to use the loom the way I want to, the frames are much easier to remove and insert from the front.
The normal procedure here is to remove all heddles not used, it's so easy with the countermarch looms we normally work with. Then we prefer to count them in groups of 100, tie in four places (as they are delivered when we buy them) so there will be no problem to hang them on the shafts again at a later time. On the table loom with frames, I just push the heddles far out on the sides.
Cutting the loops or not?
I know no rule for cutting or not cutting the loops. My first weaving teacher forbad us to cut. The makers say that they may be cut with sharp scissors and that it's easiest to make the cuts when they are on the shafts. I sometimes cut when needed, sometimes when they are still in bundles. If I miss a loop I'll cut it later. It is not necessary to melt the cut ends on the heddles, they are not as heavily handled as the cords.
Two neat tricks
With the soft textile heddles and shafts that consist of two parallel bars, one can easily insert a heddle when needed. A similar technique can be used for moving heddles, even between shafts.
- Put the new heddle(s) on the upper heddle bar end.
- Thread through heddles above the eyes until you come to the correction point
- Slide the entire heddle to the correction point.
- Thread back the other end through the heddles below the eyes.
- Slip onto lower heddle bar and
- Slide to the correction point. Re-adjust.
Normally we use looms where the shafts rise and sink from the neutral position in the middle. Then if one cuts in the middle of the "ladder" above the eye, the heddle will not be able to push down the warp thread, it can just lift it. This can be used near the selvages and is a way to "fool" the loom into behaving as if it has more shafts than it really does.
Special kinds of Texsolv
For drawloom weavers there are some special cords and heddles that are not sold in America, but Unicorn should be able to get them for you in the USA and Woolhouse Tools for you in Canada.
- Easy to mount long hanks to be used with maillons (we have two different nylon ones on the market.)
- A special cord to use for drawing pattern shafts or for the extra warp that is used with the single draw system. It's then connected to the pattern heddle with a metal paper clip. No more sliding knots!
- A warp cord that ends with a maillon heddle, the ladder serves as a maillon and is less clumsy than a separate maillon.
- A maillon heddle used for extremely tight warps of ultrafine silk.
A fine maillon heddle
I took a workshop last summer and we used ordinary Texsolv heddles and nylon maillons for silk warps that were 20000 m/kg (10,000 ypp) and 30000 m/kg (15,000 ypp). The first was opphämta in warp direction and was set at 50 epi in the tabby parts and 150 epi in the patterned areas. The other was a drougét (I don't know any English name for it) and was set at 80 epi. Neither the heddles nor the bigger type of nylon maillons caused any problems, so the weaves that need the extra fine maillon heddle are something really different.
The author acknowledges Birgit Ivarsson at Texsolv AB for help with facts and permission to use some of their illustrations. Please visit their website.
Susanne Kallstenius started to weave on cardboard looms in kindergarten, and has always enjoyed working with a variety of textile techniques. She learned to weave on floor looms in the early 80s, aiming at weaving multiblock linen damask, and investigated many interesting weaving techniques and materials.
She has until recently been responsible for the weaving section in a local textile guild where six floor looms must be dressed all the time. The weaving often requires long warps and fine threads (30/2 cotton). She is still responsible for the large, 15-shaft table cloth drall weave there.
She also is active in a workgroup for international contacts in The Association for Handweavers in Stockholm and Uppsala län, Sweden and a member of a select, invitation only, group of drawloom weavers.
Susanne Kallstenius is interested in weaving history, leading to pursuit of different topics such as Viking era textiles, how Tutanchamon's clothes might have been woven, and old Chinese looms and patterning.
Copyright © 1999 by Susanne Kallstenius. Please contact the author for permission to use any part of this article or for any comments.