I am weaving a piece that is as wide as my loom will allow. My heddles are distributed evenly on all eight shafts, but I'm not going to be using very many heddles on shafts 5 and 8. Should I remove them? Should I leave a few empty heddles between threaded heddles to evenly distribute them? If I leave them as they are, they will rub against the edge threads in the space they'll take up on both sides of the warp. How do I store them if I take them off?
I am not a fan of interspersing empty heddles between threaded heddles. If you do and a warp thread breaks, it is almost impossible to figure out which heddle to thread when you repair it. I have to admit that moving heddles is one of my least favorite tasks, but it would be the best solution for the extra heddles on shafts 5 and 8; simply take them off. When you do remove heddles, thread a string (or spring steel bar, if you have one) through the holes at both ends of each heddle to keep the heddles in order until you need to put them back on the shafts. It sometimes helps to have a second pair of hands for this task. A pile of heddles on the floor is not a pretty sight, though I've seen it more than once. (One of the reasons I like flat steel heddles better than inserted-eye heddles is that the flat steel heddles take up less space on the shaft.) Unless you are really weaving something as wide as the width of your loom, the unused heddles can remain in place on each side of the warp. I usually loop a loose cord around them on each side of the castle to keep them from sliding toward the warp and rubbing against it.