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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Inkle Weaving

If you have always been fascinated with weaving, as I have, but felt it was too expensive or too time consuming, you might want to consider starting with an inkle loom.  They can be purchased for anywhere from $25 to $150+.  You can also find inkle weaving books that include complete instructions for making your own inkle loom.  Click here for an example of a good book.  For a free, online tutorial on inkle weaving, click here.  

What is inkle?  

Inkle is an old English word that referred to any narrow fabric.  It could be a band, strap, trim, braid, ribbon, belt, etc.  Obviously our language has diversified since then! 

The looms:

This is a medium-sized inkle loom. 

Notice the yarn shuttle near the front of the picture.  Inkle weaving has such elegant economy!  The yarn shuttle has a wide beveled section of wood along the lower side of it that is used to push the woven threads together.  On larger looms the shuttle and beater are two separate items as well as two separate motions. 

These are small, or maybe even tiny, inkle looms:

What can you weave with an inkle loom?


This sample is woven from variegated silk yarn. 
In weaving it's always called yarn, even if it's as fine as thread.

This sample is also silk, but solid colors were used.


This sample is woven with mercerized cotton yarn,
a solid blue for the background and a variegated for the pattern. 

Custom trim for a sewing project:

A strap for a guitar, suspenders, or bag:


Jewelry, a.k.a. wearable art:

The color choices here are quite vibrant, but you get the idea. 
The central purple band is the warp (the yarn that is wound onto the loom)
and the thicker variegated yarn is the weft
(the yarn that is wound onto the shuttle and woven through the warp). 
In woven jewelry, the weft is extended beyond the edges of the band in intricate patterns.

Just for fun:

Who wouldn't want their very own, handwoven princess shoe laces?

This is a project I am working on: 

This photo is from the back or underside of the loom.  As you progress through the weaving, you advance the whole piece through the loom until, when you are done, the beginning and end are very close together.  Again, this is an example of the elegant economy of inkle weaving:  there is very little yarn wasted. 

The yarn is all undyed llama, spun by my husband. 
This will eventually be the strap for a felted bag, knitted from the same yarn.

The loom was made from a pattern in the above-mentioned book.    

Don't forget, it's okay to take time every day to create something, even if it's just a smile.  :)

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