Friday, 25 September 2009

linen yarns and inkle weaving

In August I got out my linen yarns, warped up the loom and wove Janet Phillip's twill sample blanket in linen. I shall write about that soon, in another post (or two). I loved the look and feel of the linen so much I went off to GTM Sales to buy more of their lovely yarns.

When I got back, I got side tracked. I had four colours of yarns that looked so lovely together I wanted to weave inkle bands. Inkle weaving is warp faced (i.e. the weft is hidden) is a great way to show off a special yarn.

I love that American English expression, "it followed me home..." here's a group of lovely yarns all waiting to get in my workshop..

The queue trails back down the stairs...

That's a job to sort this weekend, before it gets in the way of the work we are doing around the staircase - as you can see the walls need finishing.

My first two inkle bands had somewhat random thread order, just to see what happened.

Here's another photo, so you get the idea of how the bands look in different light.

The loom I used is a little Ashford Inkle loom, a really nicely designed loom, made of N.Z. beech, see next photo.

If you look at the shuttle next to the loom you can see that I have wound the weft thread on it in a figure of 8 pattern. This works so much better than winding round and round, if you use a stick on a band shuttle at all, do try it and see! I learnt this from someone else's blog, and I didn't bookmark the entry and now can't find it again.... whoever it was, thanks very much.

Other essential equipment for me are the lolly sticks and cotton heddles, which I made from a dk knitting cotton, in the manner demonstrated below. Well, umm, this heddle was tied around the pegs as shown when new, it must have streched a bit in use.
First heddle around a warp thread (they loop over alternate threads, all the threads that go over the first peg - the threads in between miss that first peg). Here's the first heddle going on. Note that since I wove this band I have changed technique, I put the heddles on each thread immediately after it is tied on. It's less fiddly like that and none get missed out (oops! yes, been learning by my errors again).

The next three photos show how a "shed" is made on this loom to pass the shuttle through in front of the heddles. Unlike other looms, the threads in the heddles stay put while the threads that are free are raised or lowered.

A nest trick I have learnt to get a neater start to the braid is to commence by putting a couple of little sticks in the warp, one in each shed, just as you'd weave a header row on a floor or table loom.

The same little sticks are useful as beaters and for lifting the threads either for opening up the shed or for weaving pick-up patterns.

My third band was properly planned out before I wove. Partly because I read Kaz's post about design for inkle weaving,
(thanks Kaz!) partly because I was looking for a more organised pattern.

I have Karisma coloured pencils which make lovely bright soft coloured marks on paper. One morning I sat down and tried a few patterns. Then I wrote out how many threads of each colour were needed, in order, so I could warp up without errors.

I like inkle weaving. I've also tried out tablet weaving recently, no room to write about that here, I'll tell you about that another day.

Last week I made enquiries about a floor standing loom. I've been thinking of getting a larger inkle loom for wider or longer braids, not least because I think it would be more comfortable to work at. I went to look at one a year ago, it was Dryad make, and turned out to be much smaller than I expected, so I could not see how I would sit at it comfortably. I think it was something like 2 foot tall. I've been looking at Harris looms and other odd makes that pop up on ebay, but wasn't sure they'd be much better. Some seemed to be designed as a warping frame that you could weave bands on if you liked, which to me is a compromise not worth making.

Then I discovered the Mike Crompton floor standing inkle loom in my Frank Herring's catalogue. I googled "Mike Crompton" and "weaver" and found out that he is a tapestry weaver living in Yorkshire. That seemed a good start. I looked at the black and white photo in the catalogue, and liked the proportions of the loom. I discussed it with my boyfriend, who loves working with wood, and who had offered to make a loom. (I like to remind him I need more of those nice warp sticks for my table loom, first, which nobody sells. He makes a few every now and again.). I phoned Frank Herring's and asked about the total height of the loom, (90 c.m. at highest point) and the max. warp length (5 m). It all seemed just right, so I rang and placed my order on Monday morning, and my loom arrived on Thursday and it is beautiful Photos another day, soon.

On Monday afternoon, an e-mail arrived in my inbox with the subject "band loom needs a home" from a sender I'd never heard of. I stared at it, surprised. I opened the message. A friend of a friend has a most unusual Swedish band loom to give away to a good home. It is like an inkle loom, but with warp rollers, two shafts and... a drawloom attachment behind the shafts. Oh wow. I'm going to pick it up tomorrow.

In my post about the Weavemaster loom I said I had 3 looms. I'd forgotton the little inkle loom which was resting on top of a bookcase. Now, we add to the list another inkle loom and a Hennings band loom with drawloom attachment, made by Brunne Snickeri of Kramfors, Sweden. And I still have to re-organise the yarns and put my new cones of linen away. Am I in control of this weaving workshop, or is everything in it self-replicating in an out of control fashion? Except the weaving... ah, yes, weaving, that must be the best way to organise my yarns. So, the next warp is prepared ready for my floor loom, and on we go!


Laritza said...

I love band weaving Inkle and Tablet alike. Yours came out really nice.

charlotte said...

Your bands turned out really lovely. Thank you for posting all this information on inkle weaving, this is something I plan to learn.

deborahbee said...

I was entranced by Inkle weaving at our recent guild open day. I will buy an Ashford Inkle someday. So it was just right that you have posted such a topical subject for me. I'm not sure what to use all the beautiful braids for, though I own a lovely norweigan traditional cardigan with red and green braid, which is one use for them. down the front
I havn't dared weave with linen yet. Everyone is always saying how difficult it is, and yet the end product is the 'business' and so beautiful.
Your next loom sounds wonderful....good luck with it

Peg in South Carolina said...


Laritza said...

I just saw this week's WeaveZine article it is on adding beads to the selvedges in band weaving! way cool!
I don't like the loom that I have, might have to find a floor one.

Trisha said...

Could you post a picture of the Mike Crompton floor standing inkle loom? I couldn't find one online. Thanks!

Dorothy said...

Thanks for all the comments, glad some of you are tempted to have a go. The little Ashford loom is very portable, and it's surprising how fast you can weave a simple band.

Deborah, you'd not believe how many uses inkle bands have! I like them everywhere, e.g. bookmarks, tying bows around presents, wear as a sash or belt. I plan to use them with hand woven cloth for bag handles and fancy trim on clothes. I've seen pictures of pretty little bags you can make by sewing strips side by side.

Trisha, it's not easy for me to post photos. I can't post them from home tried everything, it might be that our ISP and blogger won't talk, or something to do with our firewall settings. All my blog posts are well planned and I have to book a computer at the local library. I will post pictures when I'm ready. In the meantime, the easiest way to geta picture of the Mike Crompton loom is phone Frank Herring & Sons (01305 26449 / 267917) and ask them to send a catalogue. If you do that, they have just started stocking a range of weaving yarns, so it might be worth asking for a shade card too.

Meg said...

I love the photos of your cones waiting in a tidy queue. If only mine did the same... Mine look like the inside of a Tokyo subway at 8AM!

I can't wait to see detailed photos of your band loom with draw loom attachment, either. How fascinating!!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it fun weaving inkle bands! I'm fortunate to have a very large floor inkle loom on which I have once put an unbelievable 14-foot warp. It's a custom loom, made similar to the design by Seymour Bress.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention -- I also use my inkle loom for tablet weaving.

Life Looms Large said...

Wow - lots of good things making their way into your studio these days. That means that lots of good things will be making their way out of your studio in the future!

I'm very intrigued by the drawloom attachment.

Plus I'm happy to see some one working with linen. I just acquired some linen at our guild yarn table, and decided that I'm going to buy a little more of a beautiful blue color the seller has available. I've only done one tiny sample of linen - so I have a lot to learn on that front!

The new green colors you brought home are lovely!!


Dave Daniels said...

Ok, add me to the list of The Inspired. I've got a handmade inkle loom, and I have yet to start using it. Seeing your steps here makes it seem less daunting.

Leigh said...

What a great use for stairs!!!! I need some. :)

So far I have managed to avoid inkle weaving, but gosh your bands look inviting. Maybe if I can ever pick one up for a song ..... (or if one ever follows me home, *LOL)

What is intriguing though, is that Swedish band loom with drawloom attachment! Who could resist that!

Barbara Blundell said...

What lovely bands and gorgeous colours ! Were I a weaver I think I would find your posts informative comprehensive and good reference material Why don't you write a book ?

Dorothy said...

Meg - I'll get the camera out, pics will be here one day soon.

Spinninglizzy, that sounds like a lovely inkle loom :) aren't you lucky!! I love my inkle looms and weaving and I have just started to play with tablet weaving.

Sue - I was nervous of using linen to weave, but it's really lovely to work with. The main difference to other yarns is you need really careful attention to the tension, I'll write more soon.

Dave - it's only the start that's daunting, once you get your first warp going it all makes sense. It's not so different to other weaving. I didn't like the results with wool and recommend a yarn with less stretch, e.g. cotton, linen, rayon.

Hi Barbara, told my boyfriend you said I should write a book, but that as a jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none, I'm not ready for that. He was kind enough to suggest the word "polymath" instead. I'll be ready to write a book when I decide on a topic (or theme) and have researched it inside out! One day.

Leigh, you could make an inkle loom, they don't have to be expensive. Oh except you need the tools to make it with, something to drill holes big enough to put large dowel in. Failing that you can use a backstrap loom.

Dorothy said...


My blog is locked and blogger are threatening to delete it, it seems it has been identified as a possible spamming blog. I think that is due to the number of people who have logged on to see my Henning Band Loom.

I have asked for a review, however, blogger may delete everything in 20 days time (20th Oct.?)

Enjoy it while it's here...


Annie MacHale said...

Yeah for inkle weaving! Thanks to Dot for promoting this simple but useful tool.I am working on my list of uses for a woven band. You all feel free to comment and help me out! Here's were to find it.
I am trying to find something about the history of inkle looms. Does anyone know the origin? Where did they originate?

Bed Linen said...

This is fantastic

Trapunto said...

Hello there, Dorothy, I'm back looking at your inkle posts because I just got a standing inkle loom and am about to warp it up. It is a hulking homemade beast, roughly similar to your Mike Crompton in the shape of the frame, though with a different warping pattern and not as beautifully finished. I discovered when I got it home that it only holds about as much warp as a Schacht tabletop (8 ft)! Oh well! At any rate, it will be comfortable to sit at, I finally have a a way to tension warps for rigid heddle and cardwoven bands that will keep me from having to tie myself to the newel post.

I have Lavinia Bradley's book from the library, but there are a few things she doesn't show in her illustrations--so thanks again for your wonderful blog!

Hope you're doing well,