Now that I’ve given up sewing (see My secret is out…), I am getting ready to try out a new thing: inkle weaving.
Originally I had wanted to get a big warp-weighted loom. But I don’t really have the room for one, and the financial investment is too high for something I might not like or be able to do.
While the big vertical warp-weighted looms were close to my heart because of their use in Viking culture, I’ve also been interested in tablet (or card) weaving and in inkle weaving.
I decided to go with a small inkle loom to see if I enjoy it and whether my arthritic hands can handle it.
Tablet weaving has a longer documented history than inkle weaving. Here’s part of what Wikipedia has to say about tablet weaving:
Tablet weaving does go back at least to the eighth century BCE in early Iron age Europe where it is found in areas employing the warp-weighted loom. Historically the technique served several purposes: to create starting and/or selvedge bands for larger textiles such as those produced on the warp-weighted loom; to weave decorative bands onto existing textiles; and to create freestanding narrow work.
This is what a tablet, or card, looks like:
About inkle weaving, Wikipedia says this:
Inkle weaving is a type of warp-faced weaving where the shed is created by manually raising or lowering the warp yarns, some of which are held in place by fixed heddles on a loom known as an inkle loom. Inkle weaving was referred to in Shakespeare‘s Love’s Labour’s Lost. A table-top inkle loom was patented by Mr. Gilmore of Stockton, CA in the 1930s, but inkle looms and weaving predate this by centuries. The term “Inkle” simply means “ribbon” or “tape” and refers to any warp-faced woven good made on any type of loom, from backstrap to box-looms.
Inkle weaving is commonly used for narrow work such as trims, straps and belts.
I’ve also read that inkle weaving was quite common historically in Scotland.
I should find out more about inkle weaving when I receive this book, which is the book everyone refers to as “the” book for inkle weaving instruction even though it was published all the way back in 1975:
Amazon says this about Helene Bress’s book:
Inkle weaving – beautiful, yet simple and practical – is one of the most popular forms of weaving today, for beginners and experts alike. With more than 200 black-and-white and 7 color photographs, this complete guide to inkle weaving provides information and instructions on everything from making a small, portable loom at home to working with a wide variety of techniques, including picots, fringes, slits, tabs, Ghiordes and rya knots, to creating individual projects.
Unfortunately I won’t get the Helene Bress book until the 19th, but meanwhile I’ve got some other books coming in, which I refer to below. I also plan to check out YouTube. I bet there are some instructional videos there.
I have watched some people do inkle weaving here in my local and regional groups of the SCA, and for a couple of years now I’ve been in an inkle weaving group on Facebook. Recently I saw a post on the Facebook group where folks were trying to identify a small inkle loom that a member was using on her lap while she sat in her recliner with her legs up.
Just my speed! 🙂
Several people thought the loom in the photo might be an inkle loom made by Gary Phillips, another SCA member. So I got in touch with him to see if he had any inkle looms for sale, and he did.
Gary and I chatted for awhile online about tablet weaving versus inkle weaving. He makes looms for both kinds of weaving. After we had been through the pros and cons, I decided to go with an inkle loom.
Gary had both mini inkle looms and larger table top looms to choose from. With a mini loom you can weave a braid, or trim, to a maximum of 6 feet long. I thought that sounded like a reasonable length to start out with. I can use a 6 foot braid as a belt with my Viking outfits or as trim for necklines and sleeves.
So Gary sent me pictures of the mini inkle looms that he currently had available. While they were all quite nice, I was captivated by the one made from curly maple, which is a favorite wood of mine. The ribs of my Renaissance lute are made of a type of curly maple called bird’s eye maple.
Plus the curly maple loom has a carving of a green man on the back! A definite winner, hands down. 🙂
My mini inkle loom by Gary Phillips arrived today, a very quick result considering that we had just been chatting about it starting last week.
I love the loom and the two shuttles that he included with it! ❤
You can find Gary Phillips (SCA name: Garren of Aston Tor) on Facebook. He is incredibly helpful and provides not only wonderful looms, but speedy service. ❤ Here is his Facebook page cover photo:
Meanwhile I’ve received a fascinating book about Norwegian pick-up bandweaving.
The designs in the book can be adapted to other kinds of weaving. I’m hoping I might be able to replicate some of them on the inkle loom. Here are some of my favorite designs:
I’ve also got another relevant book on order, which I should be receiving tomorrow:
The book is described this way on Amazon:
From expert weaver Anne Dixon is The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory–the ultimate resource for inkle weavers. Inkle weaving is a simple technique that offers ample opportunity for experimentation by beginners and experienced weavers. This book provides 400 patterns for loom enthusiasts and is the most comprehensive tool available to weavers.
- An overview of inkle weaving’s history and traditions.
- Instructions for loom set-up and simple techniques.
- An astonishing 400 woven patterns–some making their first debut.
- Illustrated samples and charts.
- Drafts provided throughout the entire guide.
An incomparable guide, Anne Dixon offers all of the tips, tricks, and techniques to these traditional and modern patterns and introduces a bounty of new, innovative designs as well. Inkles can be used for a variety of projects ranging from belts and braces to trims and neckpieces. They can be stitched together to make bags, mobile-phone purses, cushion-covers, table-mats, and much more.
Also included is a foreword by Madelyn van der Hoogt, the editor of Handwoven magazine and the author of The Complete Book of Drafting and The Weaver’s Companion (Interweave). She opened the Weaver’s School in 1984 and teaches weaving workshops throughout the United States and Canada.
So I should get a good idea from this book about inkle weaving! ❤