I discovered bandweaving on an Inkle loom a long time after doing tablet weaving on it. The patterns in Inkle weaving are not as complex as they are in tablet weaving and the structure of the band is different, but depending on the use of the band you are able to design very colorful and good looking bands.
You may be reminded of the weaving you have done in school, but in fact, it is different. Like in tablet weaving your pattern is formed by the warp-threads, not like regular weaving with your warp and weft threads.
Your weft thread disapears almost completely into your band.
There are some pick up techniques that extend your abilities for patterns.
Please note: In general inkle weaving means weaving a warp faced ribbon. This includes different techniques as tablet weaving, different kinds of pick up and
plain weaves. To keep things easy, I will go ahead and name every technique by it`s own and compare them that way. When I talk about inkle weaving without stating a technique I talk about warp
faced weaving done one a loom with heddles or rigid heddles.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
This is my Inkle loom. There are some stores out there, where you can get them, but its also pretty easy to built them yourself. If you do not have all the right tools at home, ask at a wood shop if they can cut the pieces and drill the holes. Most likely they will help you out for a little tip.
Make sure, you are using some kind of hardwood. If you use softer kinds of wood, your loom might start to bend and that will result in bands longer on one side than the other.
Use wood with at least 1 inch diameter for your pegs. They will last longer and you will be able to do inkle weaving and tablet weaving on your loom.
This kind of a loom will become your all around friend. Its strong enough to handle the pressure of tablet weaving and it is all you need for inkle weaving.
I finish my looms with baby oil. The wood is absorbing it in nicely and fast and I do not need to pay attention to kids or any pets, touching it. If you use just vegetable oils, they may get rancid. Using baby oil makes sure, you know whats in it. In my opinion there is no need to buy the expensive wood finishing oils.
With the combination of some basic elements and an almost endless amount of color variations you will be able to design wonderful bands on your own.
As soon as you understand the basic principles, you will start to experiment on your own.
Now I am weaving with sewing thread, felting yarn and even my own hand spun yarns. Like I said, the possibilities are endless.
In order to weave a pattern, you will need a chart that tells you, which thread goes where.
You will find charts like the one below at most places that share patterns. This pattern is very clear and easy to understand.
This is the kind of chart I am using on my site. The top row shows the heddled threads, the bottom row shows the open threads.
With this kind of threading chart, you are able to get an idea about the pattern just looking at it.
Even if it does not look like it, this threading chart shows the same pattern, as the chart above.
The squares with the dot in the middle represent heddled threads, the squares without a dot represent the open threads. It is to be read from left to the right, from top to bottem. This method of writing a chart saves space, but I do not like, that you are not able to see what you get. It is fine if you just write down your own patterns and you keep a small piece of your band with it.
If you find any other threading charts for inkle weaving and you want me to put them here, feel free to message me.
This band is made following the threading chart above.
For designing my own patterns I use squared paper. There are also some templates to be found online.
For the two-colored patterns I just use a pencil for the dark color and leave the lighter color without coloring.
This is the shortest warp you can do on your Inkle loom.
Sometimes you may just want to try an new design or you just need a certain amount of band, this way you are not weaving 7 feet of a band when you may just need 2 feet of.
The most important part is, that your warp goes around the tension peg and both top pegs (heddled threads go over the left top peg in the picture, open threads go over the right top peg in the picture).
The longest possible warp on this loom. is 7 feet of weave, if you weave as long as possible.
Depending on your loom this may vary. If you built your loom yourself, you are not limited to a certain amount of pegs. The only thing you need to make sure is the little space between the top left peg and the peg underneath it. You will need that space to be able to move your open threads up and down.
I am going to show you every needed, to weave your first band, using the pattern above.
I am going to use green and yellow yarn. Green for the darker color, yellow for the lighter.
To be able to weave an inkle Band, you will need heddles. There is some special yarn for them out there, but its fine to just use the same yarn you use for your warp (as long as you are not working with super sticky yarn! Using mercerized cotton works well!).
Take your thread around the pegs like you see in the picture and knot them together. Do a double over hand knot and secure it with a single overhand knot. Cut off the ends (do not cut too close to the knot. It may open up after some time...).
You must secure your starting yarn. Some tutorials suggest to tape it to the loom, but I like this way much better.
Tie a loop to the yarn and put it over the screw of your tension bar (make sure, your tension bar is fully extended. You will need the space to move forward while your weaving makes progress).
The top row of the threading chart shows heddled threads, so you start with a heddled thread.
For the shortest possible band, your thread must go over the green marked pegs.
You want a longer band? Use as many of the other pegs as you like.
(I am not using all the possible pegs because I do not need a band that long!)
The second thread is an open thread and goes from the tension peg to the top right peg (blue marked pegs, for the shortest possible length).
The next thread is heddled again and then the next thread is open.
Remember, every other thread is either heddled or unheddled, depending on where you start counting/where your threading chart starts.
This is how you put the heddles on your threads:
Loop the heddle over the heddle holder peg, take your thread over the left top peg and pull the heddle over the thread, pulling it down to loop the heddle over the heddle holder peg again.
If you look closely you can see, how every other thread is run through the heddles.
To change the color of your thread, just tie the new color to the old.
This way the warp is almost like a very long thread and any little differences in tension will even out.
Cut the thread after you have done the last round and tie it to the thread you put on the screw of the tension bar in the beginning.
If there is no one around to lend you a finger to make the knots, tie a tripple over hand knot and secure it with a double over hand knot. The tripple over hand knot will not loosen up while you tie the next knot.
In the picture you also see how symmetrical the yarn looks on the tension bar. If thats not the case with your warp, you should check, if you followed the threading chart correctly.
It is better to check twice before you start weaving. It will save you a lot of work and yarn!
You do not need to cut off the ends. They will not bother you while weaving and you will cut the yarn after finishing weaving.
The loom with the warp, ready to start weaving.
To start weaving, you will need some tools:
1. A shuttle to hold your weft yarn and to beat down the weft.
2. Some popsicle sticks, tooth picks or strips of cardboard to set the width of your band before you start the actual weaving process.
I put some green yarn on my shuttle. You could weave with any other color, but if you do not have much experience with this kind of weaving, you should pick the same color as you use on the outsides of your band.
Moving the open threads up and down will create a shed.
Moving them down, creates the down shed, moving them up creates the up shed.
Repeat a couple of times and put popsicle sticks in the shed like you see in the picture.
Push the threads together until you do not see the popsicle sticks through the threads anymore.
4-6 popcycle sticks should be enough to make sure the threads stay close together.
After the last popsicle stick, change sheds and beat down before you go through with your shuttle. Change sheds and beat down.
To create a starting point of your band that does not unravel after finishing use the lose end and pull it through the next shed in the opposite direction than you go with your shuttle.
Change sheds and beat down. Then pull in the little loops you see in the picture above.
Take the loose end of your weft thread back and forth through the open sheds a couple of times to ensure it does not get loose.
You can see the loose weft thread hanging out of the band on the left side.
When you finishe 1 or 2 inches of your weave you can pull out the popcicle sticks. You do not need them anymore, because you already know, how wide the band is going to be and the band is now strong enough that you do not need anything to beat against anymore.
You can just cut of the loose end of the weft thread now. Make sure you cut it as close to the band as possible.
This is how far I can weave on the loom. I can not take the shuttle through the down shed anymore.
Its time to take the band off the loom.
You could just cut through the unwoven warp threads to get your band off of the the loom, but most likely the heddles will tangle.
I take off the heddles, loosen the tension bar and pull the complete band off the loom.
The longer threads you see in this picture are the former heddled threads.
I put one end on the other and then cut it with some good scissors to make sure the fray has the same length on both sides.
The finished band ready for its purpose.
If you have any questions feel free to comment below or send an email.