Learning to Weave on an Inkle Loom is Totally Worth it
For the first 9 months of my time as editor of Handwoven, I passed an inkle loom every day on the way to my desk. It really bugged me. Someone had warped it with icky, thin yellow yarn and woven about 2 inches with the same yarn. For a weaver like me, it was creepy in a horror-movie-creepy kind of way. Finally, one day, I picked it up, grabbed a belt shuttle from the supply room, and took the poor thing home. I also brought home The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory for a reference and the brochure that comes with the Schacht inkle loom.
First I snapped a picture just in case I couldn’t figure out from the books how the warp traveled around the pegs. (I am sorry to say I no longer have that picture, or I’d show you just how ugly that warp was.) Then I cut the warp off but saved the string heddles. I have a generous stash of 8/4 cotton carpet warp, so I picked 3 colors and started warping. At first I used the saved heddles but quickly ran out, and after consulting the book and realizing how easy they are to make, I started making my own using white carpet warp.
I have watched videos about warping and weaving on an inkle loom, and once a very long time ago I took a short workshop on inkle weaving, but this was the first time I really dove into it and warped and wove without assistance from friends or a teacher. It finally became clear to me how the sheds worked, what people are referring to when they call some of the warp threads heddled and some unheddled, and how giving a little tug on the weft on a closed shed keeps the selvedges tidy.
Knowing how to inkle weave feels great. For a long time, I’ve admired those little tags some people put on their handwoven towels, and now I know that I can make my own. I’ve seen some cute dog collars made out of inkle bands, which are inspiring and tempting, and even though I don’t currently even have a dog, I know lots of dog owners who would like them. I also love those little purses made out of several bands sewn together like Allison Irwin’s Baltic Zigzag Bag in the March/April 2017 issue of Handwoven, and I’m ready to design my own.
I put the loom back on the same shelf and pass it every day, but it no longer bugs me. I wonder if it bugged me partially because I didn’t know how to use it. In any case, it’s no longer creepy.