Fabric · Pattern · Weaving

Inkle looming

Over Easter I had the chance to work with an inkle loom.

An inkle loom makes narrow (less than 6cm) very strong bands of weaving. Very 70’s I found patterns to sew inkle bands together to make some pretty psychedelic rugs. The warp is on a loop around the loom, tied to its adjacent thread. There are only two ‘heddles’, so patterns are made by varied threading or picking individual warp threads during weaving.

It seems like a complicated process at first, but it’s remarkably simple. Here is what a pattern will look like (though much more complicated than any I tried):

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Below is the inkle loom all threaded up, and half way through weaving my first strap. I am working with embroidery wool as this was my first (and experimental) piece. I wouldn’t recommend embroidery wool for the warp thread as they are very hairy and tend to catch during weaving.

Here you can see the two warps separated, one threaded through the string heddles and over the center dowel, the other going straight across the loom.

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This is what it looks like woven. The weft is black and only shows a little along the edges.

It measures 1.9 cm across, each pattern repeat is about 0.9 cm and the final length is 120 cm.

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My next piece was done in cottons, with the non-heddled warps all dark blue, and the heddled warps varying in colour. I tried a few different patterns, some of which worked, most didn’t. So the piece is a bit all over the place. It was hard to keep the warps in the correct order, especially all the dark blue ones. As soon as they got a little mixed up, my pattern would quickly fall apart.

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Though quick and portable, inkle looms have a rather limited use. The strong, pliable straps would be great for handbags or dog leashes, but really, how many of those do you need?

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Cache-laid: Masks worn in Paris in 1650 to hide a plain or unattractive face.

(Somehow it became fashionable to publicly flaunt that you considered yourself plain or ugly?)

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