Spanning the Continents with Inkle Bands

  Karen's Inkle from Anne Dixon
  Karen's very own Anne Dixon
inkle band 

You never know who you’ll meet in a conference workshop. After two or three days sharing the challenges of warping a rented loom on-site, helping each other follow weaving directions in a busy round-robin, plus dining and enjoying post-workshop liquid refreshments, workshop participants can learn a lot about each other. Personal connections may grow into occasional email correspondence or lifelong friendships. Then one day you open your Handwoven magazine to find your workshop mate is famous.


I met Anne Dixon the day before a three-day round-robin workshop at Convergence 2006 in Grand Rapids. She was at the loom next to mine warping huck lace, and I was warping waffle weave. Incidentally, a few looms up from us Barb Butler, my current studio partner at Sutherland Handweaving, was warping honeycomb in 30/2 silk. Having only just met Barb, I remember asking her, “30/2 silk for a workshop?” But that’s a story for another day.


This was my first Convergence, so I was a bit surprised to find workshop participants who, like Anne, came from around the world. Anne is from England, where, she told us at dinner, she had been teaching inkle weaving. She also had been working on a book, weaving lots of different samples and dealing with photography and publishing details as it neared completion.


“Oh,” her dinner partners said politely, still marveling at the small inkle bands Anne had given everyone in the workshop. “Please let us know when it comes out.”


Some months later, Barb and I, who had become weaving buddies by then, ordered our copies of The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory as soon as it was available from Interweave. Our jaws dropped, as we were simply amazed how much work this friendly, unassuming British woman with a sly sense of humor had actually done. The book has more than 600 four-shaft weave drafts, with samples for all of them photographed in living color.


“Bravo!” we emailed Anne humbly. Her book has become an invaluable resource for jump-starting our weaving designs and sharing with students and study-group members.


Fast-forward to earlier this year when I learned from the Handwoven editors that Anne would have a new inkle weaving book out soon. I jumped at the chance to sing Anne’s praises in a Weaving Today post, in hopes I might get my copy early. As often happens in publishing, delivery was pushed back a few times. I waited, most of the time patiently.


Like many weavers, I have an inkle loom. I have taken a few inkle workshops and used it at demos. I even wove a nice wide inkle band for the warp pickup sample I needed for the Handweavers Guild of America (HGA) Certificate of Excellence in Handweaving. I don’t think I’ve picked up the inkle loom since, and that was 2008. Still, I can’t wait to see Anne’s new book.


The day before this post was due, I received a preview copy of The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory via email. There was only enough time for a quick mouse-click through, because the book is 176 pages and filled with beautiful color photographs of another gazillion of Anne’s woven samples. Okay, maybe a gazillion is a slight exaggeration, but you will not believe what this talented, focused woman can do with an inkle loom.


You’ll hear more about it from me after I’ve had a chance to get my hands on the actual book. In the meantime, both Barb and I are looking forward to getting together with Anne in July when she’s in western North Carolina for a workshop at our local weaving guild. The next week we’re all off to Long Beach, California, for HGA’s 2012 Convergence.

This time I’ll be teaching a workshop and a couple of other classes as opposed to taking them. But as Convergence fans will attest, making connections with people from all over the world who share your passions is at least half the fun. I wonder who I’ll meet next.

Karen Donde 

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