Monday, August 07, 2006

Inkle Weaving

I've had a few comments about the inkle loom and I thought I may as well do a little blogumentary about it. :-)

Firstly, for everyone who hasn't devoured every weaving book and website within reach, a few weaving terms. A woven piece is made up of basically two threads at right angles to each other. The vertical threads are called the warp and the horizontal threads are called the weft. The warp sits on the loom and the weft sits on the shuttle. To create the piece of weaving, you lift alternate warp threads and pass the weft threads through the gap created. This gap is called the shed. This is a very simplified description! I know there are lots of variations but that, very basically stated, is the process.

The way all this works depends on your loom. On an inkle loom, the warp threads are wrapped around the loom's pegs in a continuous length. If you want to change colours, you tie the new colour onto the existing threads where they go around the very front peg. To make the longest possible fabric you wrap around every peg, for shorter lengths you wrap around less pegs. The fabric produced on an inkle loom is called a warp-faced fabric because the only threads you see in the finished piece are the warp threads. Once again there are variations but I'll stick to the simple! So, any fancy colour changes need to be on the warp threads to be seen.

One other thing needs to be in place for the loom to work and these are the heddles. On my inkle loom, and I imagine most others, the first thing I had to do after putting the loom together was make my heddles. Sounds scary! Its actually quite simple but time consuming. I used no. 5 DMC perle cotton because that's what I had. The idea is to create loops that you hook over alternate warp threads. The pictures show it far better than I can write it!

Once the loom is set up you're good to go! To weave, you lift the warp threads that aren't held by the heddles and pass the shuttle through. You then lower the threads, pass the shuttle partway through, beat (this isn't as violent as it sounds!) the previous weft thread with the edge of the shuttle and then finish passing the shuttle through. That's it! You just repeat the process until you have the length you want. Simple, quick and quite effective.

I'll put some links in the sidebar later.

The loom fully warped to give the greatest possible length. If you wanted a shorter length you would wind around less pegs. The first two warps I used only went around the outer pegs. The tensioning device is at the top right of the picture. As you weave the warp shortens so you need a way of releasing the tension to allow you to keep going.

A heddle made from DMC perle cotton. If you look at the picture above, you can see the heddles on the loom. When you warp it, you wrap one thread over the top peg and then around the tensioning device followed by the other pegs. The next thread goes between the top peg and the next one down. The threads that go over the peg are the ones you attach the heddles to and the others are the ones you raise and lower to create the shed.

The heddle is folded in half and looped over the warp thread.

Then its hooked around the heddle peg.

Ready to weave!

Here it is. The loom is warped with some acrylic DK knitting yarn I bought because I like the colours and then couldn't find anything to knit with it! Stash... see its a good thing! I'm using the same yarn as the weft. If you click and have a close look at the larger picture, you'll notice that you can't see the weft.

Here's one I made earlier! Its DMC Perle Cotton no. 5. The perle cotton is very nice to weave with. The fringe is made from the warp threads. The pattern is from Helene Bress' Inkle Weaving.

If you're tempted to have a go, I say do it! My inkle loom is made by Ashford and cost £40.00 from P&M Woolcraft (see Shopping Links in sidebar) plus £5.00 p&p. They also sell a smaller inkle loom called an Inklette which, if memory serves, is £24.00. The woman who collaborated with Ashford to design the Inklette was interviewed in the episode 5 of Weavecast.


Dixie said...

Oh dear! The results are lovely but boy does that look complicated!

It's all I can do to keep from impaling myself on an knitting needle! Heh!

Dawn said...

Oooohhh...thanks for the pictures. Might have to get the Inklette since it is more in my price range at the moment!

Rain said...

It all looks lovely, but I agree that it looks complicated

acrylik said...

Thank you for a really fascinating post, can't wait to see more of your inkle weaving.

Woolly Wormhead said...

Blimey, I've sooo much to catch up on - you have been a busy bee whilst I've been away ;)

You're weaving - yey!!