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.

Inkle Loom

A very small percentage of my stash. Photo credit: George Boe

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.

Weave well,

If you are interested in inkle weaving, some or all of these products might also interest you:

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