Theo Moorman with Two Heddles

Theo Moorman technique uses tie-down warp threads to lock in a secondary weft, allowing the weaver to create a vast array of freehand designs. Unlike inlay weaving, this method holds the pattern weft on the surface of the weaving. In other words, the reverse side of the fabric will show only the plain weave. Look at the image below. The heart is visible through the fabric, but it does not come through to the back side.

It’s important to note that this is a double heddle weave and therefore not a beginner project. It requires extra care when warping to ensure that everything is in the correct place. It is however, an extremely creative method and the design possibilities are worth the extra effort.

You will need:

  • Rigid Heddle loom – we’ve used the Kromski Presto – equipped with 2 heddles in a size appropriate for your yarn.
  • Two thicknesses of yarn, the same color. When choosing yarns for this type of project look for a ground warp and weft that is heavier than the accompanying tie-down warp. Generally, a similar color that will blend in looks best if you want the attention to be on the pattern design, but of course it’s up to the weaver to choose.
  • 2 Pick-up sticks

For our Valentine Wall Hanging we’ve chosen a medium weight cotton yarn (commonly used to knit dish cloths) for the red ground yarn. The tie-down yarn is a red 3/2 mercerized cotton yarn. The heart shape was made with thin strips of Kromski Polish Merino roving (White Milled Rice #34). We warped the entire width of the 10″ loom.

Choose a heddle size appropriate to your ground yarn or slightly larger. For this project we used the 8 Dent Heddles.

Warp the loom with the threads as follows:

REAR HEDDLE: 2 ground/thicker and 1 tie-down/thinner per slot. And 1 tie-down/thinner per hole.

FRONT HEDDLE: 1 ground/thicker and 1 tie-down/thinner per slot. 1 ground/thicker per hole.

To warp using the direct warp method, begin as usual by determining the length of your project and placing the warping peg at the correct distance from the loom. The Valentine Heart Wall Hanging warp is 1.5 yards long.

Place both heddles on the loom. Beginning at the left, warp as follows: Through both heddles at the same time.

  • One loop of ground/thick and one loop of tie-down/thin together in the 1st slot.
  • Then bring one loop of the ground/thick yarn through the next slot.
  • Repeat these 2 steps across until the full width of the project is threaded.

The next step is to wind the warp and transfer some of the threads to the holes. If you are using a Presto loom, raise the front heddle and attach the string to hold it in place. On the Harp Forte, lay the rear heddle down by resting the bottom in the neutral position and the top of the heddle will rest on the cross support.

Again we begin on the left.

Take one ground/thick warp from each slot in the front heddle and move it to the hole to the right.

Bring both heddles back to neutral.

Remove one tie-down thread (from both heddles) from the slot farthest to the left. Move it to the hole to the right of the slot in the rear heddle and through the corresponding slot on the front heddle. It’s easiest to insert the heddle hook through the slot on the front and the hole in the back at the same time. Grab the yarn and pull it through both heddles at once. Continue across the warp.

Tie the warp to the front of the loom as with any weaving project.

The Theo Moorman technique requires one pick-up stick placed as follows:

  • Set both heddles in the down position.
  • Insert one pick-up stick in the front of the heddles, picking up every other group of slot threads in the front heddle. These threads include the tie-down thread from the hole in the back heddle.
  • Use the other pick-up stick to pick up just the tie-down threads.
  • Remove the 1st stick.
  • Turn the remaining stick on its side to lift the threads.
  • Insert the 1st stick into the shed created behind the heddles. Make certain that the threads are not crossed between the 2 heddles.
  • Remove the front stick, keeping the stick in the rear to use during the weaving process.

We are now ready to weave!

With contrasting waste yarn, work several inches of plain weave to serve as a header. Plain weave is accomplished by raising and lowering both heddles together. Once the header has spread the warp and the gaps are closed, switch to the main color weft yarn.

For the Valentine Wall Hanging, weave 2″ in red ground yarn using plain weave. Before beginning the heart design, sew the hem as shown in the post Hem Stitch for Weaving.

The Theo Moorman pattern repeat is as follows: Use only the ground yarn. The tie-down yarn is not used while weaving.

  1. Both heddles DOWN – yarn travels to the right
  2. Rear heddle UP – place roving under the threads needed for the design
  3. Both heddles UP – yarn travels to the left
  4. Both heddles in NEUTRAL – Bring the pick-up stick forward. Flip it on edge. Continue with design.

To create the heart, begin on step #2 buy placing the roving under the 2 center threads. Use the extra pick-up stick to push the roving in place. On the following pattern step (#4), place it under an additional thread on each side. Continue in this way until the heart is as wide as desired. Then weave several passes straight up the sides of the heart before adding an another strip of roving to make the humps. To finish, fold the roving back on itself in the final pass. This will give it a clean end.

Finish with 7″ of plain weave. Add the hem stitch before cutting the project from the loom. Fold over the top and stitch it down so that a dowel can be inserted for hanging. Twisting the fringe will give your piece a finished look.

Here is an example of the same technique used on a Christmas wall hanging. In this project we used the same type worsted weight cotton and thin crochet tread. The pattern was created with the cotton yarn rather than roving.

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