Have Inkle Loom, Will Travel

As I write this from a hotel balcony overlooking a clear sky and beautiful scenery on Florida’s western coast, I can’t help thinking what a lovely, relaxing place this would be to weave. As my loom didn’t fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of me, and I can’t imagine the checked baggage fees, I am sans weaving tools and yarn.


However, I could get used to this for a couple of months, especially when the winter further north is like this one, even in North Carolina. Had we driven down, I don’t think the Baby Wolf would have fit in the car with the suitcases and golf clubs. But an inkle loom? Now that’s an excellent idea.

 

  A band on an inkle loom.
  Inkle looms let you create beautiful bands on a 
travel-sized loom. 

Inkle means band, and most inkle looms are small table top (or laptop) looms that accommodate a warp about 3- to 5-inches wide and 5- to 11-feet long, depending on the style. Inkle looms are generally used to weave warp-faced, plain weave bands, belts, straps, shoelaces, bookmarks or decorative trims, but if you sew bands together, you can make handbags, table decor or even clothing, I imagine.


Just because an inkle loom is limited to two weaving sheds doesn’t mean the weaver is limited to designing simple warp stripes. Careful placement of different colors in the ends bound by heddles vs. the alternating ends that move freely up and down to create sheds (the open, or unheddled ends) can create dots, wavy lines, checkerboards, horizontal lines, lozenges or any combination of those across the warp.


Then there’s pickup. I’ve never been a big fan of pickup on a wider project. On an inkle loom, however, you can hold the whole warp in your hands and manipulate which ends need to be raised or lowered with your fingers or maybe a tapestry needle if the threads are fine. It’s much more doable. Plus, because pickup patterns sit on top of a warp-faced band, you can achieve visually dramatic results.


If the inkle loom is on your lap while you lounge on a chaise by the pool, enjoying warm breezes and a fruity drink (keep it soft if you’re doing pickup), well that’s a fun vacation in my book. I suspect it would work just as well if you were cozying up to the fireplace in a ski lodge, or even in your favorite chair at home, waiting for the storm to pass…or melt.


Of course, if you’ve never woven inkle bands before, or have only woven striped bookmarks, you might want to take along a good book or video on the subject. Inkle Weaving A to Z: The Basics and Beyond, a video by Jane Patrick, packs easily and has all you need to know either to get started with inkle weaving or to experiment with new patterns or yarns.


Books are great, but Jane can show you how to pickup and weave a pebble pattern with a fraction of the words and time that would be needed to describe or comprehend the process written down. Lest you worry about getting bored with those possibilities, Jane offers many other inkle patterning ideas: weaving letters, using multiple shuttles for splitting the band into segments, weaving rep style, weaving tubes for shoelaces or jewelry, and weaving fringes for embellished trims.


I have a friend who travels with an 8-shaft, 45-inch Schacht standard loom warped for her latest yardage when doing demos or teaching workshops. She built detachable wheels for it, so she loads it into her truck and goes. Interestingly enough, she is currently teaching in the same town in Florida where I’m vacationing. I drove over at lunchtime to visit my friend and meet the local weavers. There was her big loom, set up on the garden patio of the local library ready for action.

Her workshop students were all happily weaving away on their projects, using an assortment of table and floor looms…outside in February! Yes, I could definitely get used to this, but I think I’ll stick with an inkle loom.

Oh, and thanks to the Weavers of Char-Lee for letting me crash their workshop.

 

Karen Donde

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