Inkle Bands Combine Math and Color

My love of weaving kitchen towels seems inexplicable. Why do I spend hours on my computer designing, hours at my warping board winding, and then hours on my loom threading, sleying, and weaving something that I can purchase for \$7.95 at a big-box store? I’m sure that it seems, to an outside observer, like insanity, but for a weaver, it somehow makes sense. I recently heard another weaver say that weaving satisfies both sides of her brain: the mathematical/logical side and the creative side. It’s math with color. Hooray for the handwoven, everyday kitchen towel that combines the two.

Why do I love weaving towels?

• Towels are a relatively small format but large enough to make a statement.
• Towels can be woven on a rigid-heddle loom or a 24-shaft loom.
• Towels are usually woven with cotton or linen, two wonderful fibers.
• Cotton and linen yarns that work well for handwoven towels come in a wide range of colors.
• Handwoven towels are completely customizable.

That last bullet point is why I became interested in inkle-band weaving. I started noticing that many commercial kitchen towels had a band on them for hanging. Then I saw a few handwoven towels with pretty bands on them for hanging, and I became more interested in weaving inkle bands. Just as I want to weave a towel that is both useful and beautiful, I want the hanging bands on my towels to be both, too.

Susan Foulkes’ Baltic Hearts Tea Towels have bands of hearts woven into them and an added bonus of matching hanging bands. Credit: Joe Coca

I don’t weave super-fancy inkle bands for my towels, but I do weave simple bands that either match or perfectly complement them. For a set of color-and-weave towels, I wove stripes of the same colors that I had used in the towels. For a set of white Ms and Os towels that I gave to a friend who recently became an American citizen, I wove inkle bands in red, white, and blue.

The matching hanging band for Susan’s towels. Credit: Joe Coca

Why do I love weaving inkle bands for handwoven towels?

• Inkle bands are a relatively small format but large enough to make a statement.
• Inkle bands can be woven on an inkle loom, a very portable, fun loom.
• Inkle bands are usually woven with cotton or linen, two wonderful fibers.
• Cotton and linen yarns that work well for inkle bands come in a large range of colors.
• Inkle bands are completely customizable.

If you, too, love to weave, love to weave towels, and want to add a special touch to your handwoven towels, try inkle-band weaving. They are like little math equations with color.

Weave well,
Susan

Featured Image: Inkle looms and cotton are a perfect match. Credit: George Boe