The Ultimate Guide to Bead Weaving Using the Shedding Device

It’s been a long time since I’ve woven a wide bead piece using the Mirrix shedding device. I decided it was time to try this method of bead weaving again and to write a blog post about it since we often get questions about this process. I am always telling people that the set up is more complicated, but the actual weaving of beads using a shedding device is much easier and quicker. I am happy to be reminded after weaving this piece that it really is easier!

I asked myself the following questions: Besides the more complicated set up, are there any drawbacks that would push someone to just skip the shedding device? Was the final product as nice as a product made without using the shedding device? Is it actually faster to weave beads using the shedding device when you are making a wider piece? I have all my pat answers to these questions but felt I needed to re-explore this old territory and to update my opinions. I can happily report that my experience using the shedding device to weave a wide bead piece was absolutely positive. I really can’t imagine weaving a wide bead piece without it. That might be slightly particular to me because I tend to miss sewing through beads when not using the shedding device. That can be corrected even after the piece is off the loom by sewing through the beads correctly off the loom. But that is so annoying. One of the best things about using the shedding device is that it is much more unlikely that you will make any weaving mistakes. I did notice when I took this piece off the loom that there was one place where about ten beads seemed to be floating on the back of the piece. Why? Because I weave beads in sections and that particular section did not go into the shed. Rather it went behind the warp threads. I was able to sew through those beads and correctly attach them to the warp. But on a piece this long one little mistake is not bad. Had I not used the shedding device, there would have been many, many more mistakes. 

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Weaving a Crystal and Bead Bracelet Using the Shedding Device

A while back I wove a crystal and bead bracelet on a Lani Loom not using the shedding device. I loved the resulting piece but I have to admit I did not enjoy weaving it. Which was a problem because in theory I wanted to weave a lot of them. In practice, not so much. Why? You might ask. And by gosh, I am going to answer.

The crystals I was using were 2 mm. The beads were 11/0 Delicas. I alternated the beads with one row being: bead, crystal, bead, etc. and the next starting with a crystal, bead, crystal, etc. The holes for the crystals and beads were at a different level so when I strung up a crystal, a bead, a crystal, etc. and put it behind and in between the warp in order to sew through the beads on top, the sewing through part was not much fun. The needle is straight and the holes for the crystals and beads are not straight. So it was this battle to push the needle through the beads and crystals.

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How to Make Heddles for Your Mirrix Loom

While many Mirrix customers choose to purchase our Swedish-made Texsolv heddles for use with a Mirrix Loom with a shedding device, you can also make your own reusable heddles. 

First, what's a heddle? A heddle attaches your shedding device to your warp threads. They are used only when weaving tapestry and bead weaving WITH the shedding device. You will need to make as many individual heddles as there will be warps in your weaving.

What material should be used to make heddles? The thinner and stronger the string you use, the better. For bead weavers, cotton quilting or beading thread works great. For tapestry weavers, cotton crochet thread, linen warp or single-ply cotton warp works well.

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To Shed or Not To Shed . . .

Scroll down to see how you can get a free pack of Tulip Bead Weaving Needles with the purchase of a loom.

When most people think of weaving beads they think of the most common method used today where you place the beads behind the warp threads and then sew through them over the top of the warp threads. On Mirrix Looms, we refer to this method as "weaving beads without the shedding device". This way is actually not technically "weaving" beads because the definition of weaving is to go over and under a fixed set of warp threads.

Almost all bead looms you will find are geared to this very simple method of attaching beads to a fixed warp. The Mirrix Loom is the best loom for doing this because the most important quality of a bead loom is to provide even, tight tension so that you make sure to catch every bead when you sew through on the top.

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Warping for Bead Weaving With the Shedding Device and Two Colors of Thread

If you've woven with the shedding device on a Mirrix Loom, you know how fun and easy it can be. Instead of sewing your beads onto your warp threads (what we refer to as the "traditional method" of bead weaving), you use the shedding device to make a space between two layers of warp threads where you then place your beads.

The shedding device is connected to the warp threads with circles of cord or string called "heddles". 

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Tax Day Sale!

Our Tax Day sale has been extended through Wednesday 4/20/2016! 

It's Tax Day today! Normally taxes are due on the 15th, but because the 16th is Emancipation Day in Washington DC, public employees get the 15th (the closest weekday to the 16th) off of work. For Americans, this means a couple more days to get our taxes done!

To celebrate the end of tax season we are giving you the perfect way to spend your refund!

Today ONLY get 18% (see what we did there?) off any or all of the items below!

Use code taxday2016 at checkout. 

*Restrictions: Cannot be applied to past purchases. Cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts. Deals expire at midnight on 4/18/2016 4/20/2016. Only valid at Click here to learn how to enter coupon codes on our website

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To shed or not to shed

Sometimes you just want to weave slowly, picking warp threads with a needle as you go. For very thin pieces, this works just fine. It can be very meditative.

But most of the time, when weaving tapestry, picking each warp as you go can get tedious and very time consuming, especially with wider pieces. For this reason, even the very first Mirrix Loom was designed with a shedding device. The word "shedding device" is derived from the word "shed" which means the space between lowered and raised warps. It raises the threads for you so rather than have to weave under and over warp threads with a needle, you can simply engage the shedding device and raise every other thread all at once. The shedding device is attached to the warp threads with heddles, which wrap around the individual warp threads and are hooked onto one of the two bars on the shedding device.

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Introducing: The Double Shedding Device Weave-Along

Update: You can now sign up for (and learn more about) this weave-along here

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What is a Shedding Device?

The Mirrix Shedding Device can seem a puzzling contraption to those unfamiliar with weaving. Today, I hope to clear up what a shedding device is and why you might want one.

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New Loom Options!

Three of our looms, the 8" Lani Loom, 12" Little Guy Loom and 16" Big Sister will now come two ways. The first way: WITH the shedding device and the second way: WITHOUT the shedding device. That's that. The price will be reflected in whether or not you get the shedding device and, if you do decide not to, a shedding device can always be purchased separately.

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