Friday, 6 November 2009

Inkle weaving news

I did eventually got a warp onto my Mike Crompton inkle loom. It's actually easier and quicker to warp up than the smaller Ashford inkle loom, because it's less fiddly. I can stand next to it and wind the warp as easily as using a warping board. I also found it comfortable to sit at for weaving, and light enough to move from one room to another depending where I want to work.

The photo in my previous post about this loom did not show this hand tray in the loom's frame.

While winding the warp, I found it more convenient to hang my scissors from the front of the loom tray. I think I should weave a band for them to hang from as my next project!

The next photo shows my current favourite band weaving tools. For weaving a narrow band I used a Schacht 10" stick shuttle, and my favourite cake knife as a beater. I know many weavers use the shuttle to beat, but I prefer a separate shuttle. I'm not sure why this works better for me, possibly because I use both hands equally and I know not everyone does, partly because I use the beater to open a sticky shed and this is easier if it doesn't have thread wound around it.

When I came to weave a wider band I found that the cake knife was too small, so I used the cardboard bobbin (a cut down boat shuttle bobbin that I can wind on my mechanical bobbin winder) and used the Schacht shuttle as beater.

After the first warp, I made the small addition to my loom of a drawing pin in the end of the first peg. I can catch the thread behind when I start to wind a warp loop, and as the pin is angled it sits securely and I can pick it up when the loop is complete to tie a knot. I don't use continuous warps because I found that the warp waste is increased when a loop that doesn't pass through the heddles becomes one that does.

This photo shows part of the tension device - a peg set into a block that winds along a nylon screw (you can see the screw on the right of this picture).
The knob for adjusting the tension is under the tray.

I like the fine adjustment that is possible with this device, however, I have woven two bands now and unfortunately found a problem. The block that the tension peg sits in is loose in it's channel and also 1mm narrower at one end than the other. With the high warp tension needed for inkle weaving, the force on the peg pulls the block sideways, so the peg is then at an angle which means the outer threads are looser than those near the frame. When I wove my second band (approx 2" wide) this was more noticeable than on the narrow band, and so for a temporary fix I used a plastic plant label to wedge in the gap (left side of the block), and a rubber band on the end of the peg to stop the warp loops slipping off when I slackened the tension to wind on.

Fortunately we happen to have a suitable piece of mahogony wood that can be used to make a better fitting block for the peg. It will be longer and have guides to keep it straight in the frame, so this loom is in the workshop for now.

Here is the warp plan for the first band off the loom, and the band itself shown below Once again, I was using linen and linen mix yarns from GTM Sales.

I was interested to discover that I get about 20-25 cm loom waste, which is actually the same as on my Ashford loom. This is how close I can get to the heddles at the end of the warp, I estimate that's 10cmmore than if I used continuous warp threads.

To finish the ends of a narrow band I stitched the weft back through the last couple of rows of weaving.

I have found that the ends of the wider band need a bit more attention, such as over stitching the end or tying knots to make tassles in the warp ends.

The band below was one I wove before on the Ashford loom, but as I wanted to weave another band with a similar design, and I hadn't made an acurate warp diagram, I had to go back to it, count the threads and draw the pattern out. I need to be more systematic about my inkle bands and keep good records if I want to repeat things!

Based on that, here's the plan for the second band off the Mike Crompton loom:

I'm really pleased witht he way the pattern worked. The same evening it came off the loom this band went into service as a dressing gown belt.

Having discovered that I really enjoy weaving narrow bands, and with the challenge of my new Henning Loom, I decided it was time I joined The Braid Society. I was able to go along to their A.G.M. in Manchester a couple of weeks ago to attend the afternoon talk and deliver my membership application in person. It's an international society and the list of members has various people whose names I know as experts who have written books.

Their biennial exhibition was on at the same venue as the A.G.M. and I saw some stunning pieces of work, I'm not sure if I am more inspired or challenged by them, but one thing is certain, I need to keep practicing and get my edges neater. I do want to improve my basic band weaving skills before I start using the Henning Band Loom for fancy patterned work.

My Braid Society membership pack arrived in yesterday's post, and I wore my new badge all day long! I'm enjoying reading the newsletter, Strands magazine, and bundle of information about the society and it's members. They have an online discussion list enabling all the international members to participate, so maybe I'll learn some tips for improving my edges.

Yes the floor loom is sitting by neglected, I'm having to do exercises to strengthen my feet and ankles before I warp up again, but weaving a few bands and indulging in weaving books are keeping me amused. I'll tell you about the books another day, there's a small library on the floor around my sofa and I have plenty of thoughts for book reviews.


Meg said...

This is such a strange thing to think about, but a thought just popped in my mind while looking at your photos, Dot. Do people ever weave weft-emphasized bands, and what's the difference in strength/recommended usage for such a band? Hummm... This might go on to my "Think Later" list.

Life Looms Large said...

Your posts on this topic have finally made me understand inkle looms. I never really got them before. (Not that I truly understand - since I don't have one and have never woven on one.)

The bands you're creating are very appealing. I can think of a million uses for them....including a dog leash!!

I still love the cake knife as beater!!

Looking forward to your book reviews. You always do such a good job with that!


Barbara Blundell said...

Hi Dorothy,
What a smart Dressing Gown Belt ! Quite fascinating to see its development !
Hope you are feeling better and better as time goes on

Peg in South Carolina said...

Not another temptation.........sigh....... Even a group to join........

Dorothy said...

Meg - weft faced bands, not commonly woven but I have seen one. It was in the collection of ethnic braids, bands and narrow wares that Jennie Parry brought to the Braid Society AGM (she gave the afternoon talk). It was about two and a half inches wide, brightly coloured, and the patterns were just like miniature rug weave.

Hi Sue, when I take a band off the loom I tend to look at it and it is just a long narrow strip and I wonder why... but then at another moment in time there is a beautiful band to hand when I need one. Yes, they have many uses.

Hi Barbara, I realise I must be feeling better this week, as I've had more busy days and less rest days. My feet and ankles are getting stronger, so I can now go out for walks again so long as I walk steadily and no hop, skip, run. Boring but better than being stuck in with swollen ankles and painful tendons!

Hi Peg, if you can't resist temptation then stop short of peeking at the wonderful Braid Society web site (!)

Meg said...

Curiouser and curiouser. So bands/braids with weft emphasis exists! Thanks for that information. I wonder how they function when tying things, in knots, and ... in other functional way. I'd just have to make one, won't I? I do have a simple inkle loom, too, on long-term loan...

Anonymous said...

I love your color combination. And your selvedges look great!

You know, as soon as you talked about your big inkle loom being less fiddly I knew you must be right. I had been looking around on the internet for one, and I realized what was holding me back (along with "That's just a few pieces of wood! I could make that myself!") was the feeling that they all looked small. I like my equipment to hold it's own place, instead of me holding it, when I'm doing something with it. So far I have only found one manufacturer of standing inkle loom in North America, a LeClerc product which also functions as a warping board, and I'm not so keen on it, considering the price. From what you say, it sounds like precise craftsmanship is really necessary to keep the tension good. I continue to follow your band weaving adventures with interest! That tray is just sweet.

Dorothy said...

Hi Meg, very interesting thought about the weft faced band behaving differently. I suppose it will have less strength warp-way, so is maybe best for decorative uses and stick to the warp faced bands for straps, ties or handles.

Trapunto, a new box of drill bits arrived at our house today, several different sizes for drilling out holes big enough for inkle pegs. Very exciting. The first use is for drilling a hole in the new block for the tension peg.

Another large inkle loom that you can find in the USA is made by Glimakra. You sit sideways to the loom, and it has treadle operated shafts, see

Unknown said...

Hi Dorothy,
As usual your posts are informative and inspiring! I acquired an inkle loom from Devon Guild a couple of years ago and recently set to to try it out for the first time. I quickly realised it didn't quite "fit" with all the other diagrams of looms I have seen - not enough warp pegs. Probably why it was being sold off cheap!!It's a real pain to use and, coupled with having increasing problems with my wrist around then I gave up. I think I must have another go if only to see if it's me or the loom! I really want to make a headcollar for my young ram out of his own wool. My first attempt is promising enough to show it's possible. Thanks for your continuing inspiration!

Dorothy said...

Hi Lesley, I hope you wrist recovers well now. The fiddliest bit of inkle weaving is tying the warp knots tight, however, if you just aim to get all the threads roughly even tension, and put them on with the tensioner short of it's travel, you can use the tensioner to pull the warps tight.

One way to make the knotting easier is first tie one thread around the other with a slip knot, then pull the thread in the middle until the knot sits where you want it, then tie a reef knot.