A selection of craft information for artisans of the HFS.

    Beginning Inkle Weaving

    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir
    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir

    Posts : 28
    Join date : 2011-06-02
    Age : 51

    Beginning Inkle Weaving Empty Beginning Inkle Weaving

    Post  Dame Katrin Karlsdottir on Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:19 pm

    I. Introduction

    Welcome to beginning inkle weaving. I
    will guide you through the process of basic plain-weave inkle weaving, starting
    with the design process and ending with simple finishing techniques. My
    directions and illustrations apply to the table style of inkle loom. I will not
    go into the history of inkle weaving here.

    II. Terminology

    Inkle weaving produces a type of weave
    that belongs to the “bound weave” category of fabrics. Specifically, inkle
    weaving typically produces what is known as “warp-faced” bands. That is, only
    the warp threads, the length-wise threads,(the threads that start out on your
    loom) show in the final woven piece. The weft, or horizontal-wise threads, (the
    thread on the shuttle) are completely hidden by the warp, except at the very
    edges. See the picture below for some additional terms that I refer to
    throughout these directions. The red lines show the path your warp threads will
    take on your loom, with one thread passing through a white heddle.

    <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:center;mso-layout-grid-align:
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    III. Design

    I keep an engineering notebook for all my
    inkle projects. This kind of notebook has regular ruled paper on one side, and
    graph paper on the other. This is really handy for keeping design info. For
    each project, I note the date I started, what materials I plan to use, colors,
    and any other relevant info. Later, after I finish the project, I usually print
    a color picture of the finished piece and tape that in as well. On the graph
    paper side, I use colored pencils to chart out my design.

    I usually start my design by browsing
    through my yarn stash, and grabbing whatever catches my eye. This is generally
    just based on color choice, and a bit on texture. I then select colored pencils
    to match the colors I chose, and start graphing possible woven designs.

    In plain inkle weaving, there are only
    two possible arrangements of your warp threads, up or down. In weaving
    terminology, this is referred to as having two “sheds,” the space in the warp
    where you will pass your shuttle back and forth. What that means when you are
    designing is that you only have two rows to color. Go ahead and color in two
    rows of squares in colors you have selected, each square representing a thread
    of your warp. Mark one row with an “H” to signify a “heddle” warp, and the
    other row with an “O” to signify an “open warp,” which we will talk about more
    later. When you are done, color in some repeats of those two rows to get a
    bigger view of what your finished weave will look like. The graph paper rows
    stack up just how your weaving will be produced. For this first piece, I
    recommend using no more than three colors, and designing your rows to be no
    more than around 25 threads wide. For now, make sure you have a border on both
    edges in the same color. This will end up being the color of your weft later.

    IV. Preparing to weave

    Heddles – Before we can start winding the warp
    onto your loom, we need to prepare some heddles to have ready to hand for that
    process. When we wind on the warp, every other warp thread will pass through a
    heddle. If you designed a draft that was 25 columns wide, you will need 25
    heddles ready.

    <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:center;mso-layout-grid-align:
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    The first picture shows you the three
    pegs to tie around for a full length “folded” heddle on a standard table loom.
    Tie a length of your heddle fiber around these three pegs and knot securely.
    It’s important that this knot doesn’t slip out. The second picture shows the
    two pegs I tie around for a slightly shorter heddle. I prefer the shorter
    heddle for use in other techniques, such as pick up work. Either size is fine,
    but it’s a good idea to have them all be the same, so pick one or the other.

    Warping – Once you have enough heddles, you’re
    ready to start winding on the warp. Look at your draft, and find the lower left
    corner square. That color is the color we will start with. Adjust your tension
    bar about ¾” back from fully extended. This will give you a little more
    tightening room after we’re done winding on the warp. Turn the loom so you are
    facing the pegs. Take your warp thread, and, leaving about 12” for a tail, tie
    it in a single overhand tie to the tension bar, close to the back of the loom,
    that is, up against the frame. You need to be able to untie this with one hand
    when you’re done warping. Then, take the tail and wrap it around the tension
    knob to keep your single tie from slipping. Now, if you look at your draft,
    your lower left square should be in an “H” row, that is, it passes through a
    heddle. Go ahead and slip one of your heddles onto the heddle peg and lay it
    over the back of the loom. Bring your warp thread in front of the heddle and
    pass over the top left peg with your right hand. With your left hand, pick up
    the loose end of he heddle from behind
    your warp thread and fold it forward over the warp thread, slipping this end
    over the heddle peg. Now, keeping the tension on, pass the warp thread over and
    around the top right peg, and so on around the warping pegs until you come back
    around the tension bar again. This next warp thread, looking at your draft, is
    in an “O” row, that is, it’s “open” or doesn’t pass through a heddle. Bring the
    warp thread between the top left peg and the middle left peg, then over and
    around the top right peg again, then follow the same path you took with the
    first warp thread, until you come back around the tension bar. Continue in this
    manner, heddle warp, then open warp, until it’s time for a color change. When
    it’s time to change colors, cut off the last warp thread after you come around
    the tension bar, leaving two or three inches extra on the end. Line up your
    next color to this tail, and tie them together in a simple overhand knot,
    trying to keep the knot over the tension bar. Once the new color is tied on, go
    ahead and clip the tail. (When I try to do them all later, I almost always
    accidentally cut a warp thread.) Continue to wind on your warp as before with
    the new color. Work all the way through the draft, changing colors when
    indicated by your pattern. Remember to try to keep the warp thread you are
    working with under constant tension, even when
    are changing colors. Even tension throughout makes for a nicer weave later.

    When you get to the last warp thread,
    bring it under and around the tension bar, and clip as if changing colors
    again. Turn the loom so you are facing it from the front, and while holding
    that last warp thread in your right hand, unwrap the first warp thread from the
    tension knob with your left, and undo that tie. Make sure that the first warp
    thread passes over the TOP of the tension bar. Bring the last warp thread over
    to the first from underneath (it will be on a diagonal under the warp) and tie
    it to the first warp thread in a secure square knot. Try to line this knot up
    with the others. Clip the ends so they are even with the others. Almost ready to

    Beginning Inkle Weaving Clip_image006The shuttle – Now it’s time to fill up your shuttle.
    In inkle weaving, the shuttle usually doubles as the “beater” and is ideally
    tapered along one edge. Using thread that matches the borders of your warp
    design, begin to wind onto your shuttle in the obvious manner, around the
    center between the two slots.

    When it starts to fatten up around the
    center, distribute some of the bulk by also winding in an “X” around the
    un-tapered edge of the shuttle. Keep going, shifting from the center to the
    edge as needed to keep the bulk as evenly distributed as you can, until you
    think you have enough weft wound on to make it through this project. Too much
    is better than too little! You can always use the extra weft for work later.

    V. Weaving

    Advancing the warp - Turn the loom lengthwise so you are
    facing it from the front, with the tension bar directly in front of you. First
    we will advance the warp so the knots where you changed warp colors are on the
    bottom. You will start weaving right up against the tension bar, so advancing
    the warp will also give you room for a fringe at this end of the finished
    weaving later. Loosen the tension knob and allow it to slide away from you a
    bit, maybe an inch or so. Grasp the warp threads firmly with your right hand,
    and pull them gently and slowly forward, sliding the whole warp forward around
    the pegs. Keep an eye on the back pegs, making sure that none of the warp
    threads slide off the ends of the warping pegs. The warp will tend to spread
    out on the pegs whenever you advance. Continue to pull until the warp knots are
    about one inch away from the heddle peg on the bottom, or further if you want
    the finished fringe to be longer. Snug up any warp strands that have spread out
    along the pegs now, this is much easier to do when the warp is not under
    tension. Pull the tension bar firmly forward again and tighten down the knob to
    put the warp back under tension again. To brace the loom for this, you can
    either brace the tension bar against your chest as you pull forward on the bar with
    your hands, or, you can swing the loom down to the floor and brace the back
    pegs with your feet while you pull up on the tension bar. As you weave for
    extended lengths of time, you’ll find that you re-position yourself for bracing
    and weaving often. For these cotton fibers, you’ll want the warp to be pretty
    snug. Remember the adage about bouncing a quarter on a well-made bed? About
    that snug. Different fibers will work better with different tensions, as you’ll
    find when you encounter them in your weaving. Now, look at your warp from the
    side again. Notice how the heddles moved forward with warp. Facing the loom
    from the front again, simply push them back as far as they will go with your
    thumbs or your hands, to give you plenty of weaving room. Whenever you advance
    the warp, you should beat back the heddles before you begin to weave again.

    1 st shot – Now we will begin to weave. Reaching
    behind the first column of pegs with your right hand, pull up on the open warp
    threads. The space thus created between the two layers of warp threads is
    called the “shed.” While keeping this shed open, pass your shuttle through this
    space, right to left, leaving a strand of your weft thread laid in at angle
    tilting away from you, um, up at the left edge. Each pass of the weft across
    the warp threads is called a “shot.”

    Change sheds – Now, push down on the open warp threads,
    creating a new shed. This switching the open warps up and down is called
    “changing sheds.” Place your shuttle in this space without pulling it all the
    way through.

    First beat – Now we’re going to beat down your first
    shot. Pull the shuttle firmly towards you, snugging the first shot down against
    the tension bar. Start to push the warp threads together as well, so there
    aren’t any spaces between them.

    2 nd Shot – Now pull your shuttle out to the right.
    You’ve just laid in your second shot. Keep the weft thread laid in at an angle
    up to the right this time.

    Change sheds – Now change sheds again, pulling up on the
    open warps again, locking your second shot into the warp. Place your shuttle in
    the new shed again.

    Second beat – Beat down your second shot against the
    first. After the beat, pull the weft thread firmly to start to even up your
    edges. You can use your fingers to finish evening out the distribution of warp
    threads. Don’t worry if these first few rows look a little wonky, you won’t be
    able to tell later after you work the finishes. The important thing is to get
    the warp threads all lined up nice and even in these first few rows so it’s
    smooth sailing while you weave the bulk of this piece.

    3 rd Shot – Now take your shuttle out to the left,
    laying in your third shot at an angle again. Always lay your shots in at an
    angle, this keeps the sides from drawing in as you get further along in your

    Change sheds – Leaving the weft at an angle, change
    sheds again, and place your shuttle in the new space again.

    Third beat – Beat the third shot down against the last
    one again. Congratulations, you’re weaving.

    The secret to even edges - After your third row of weaving, you’ll
    notice that the weft leaves a tiny little loop on the opposite edge from your
    shuttle because of laying in your shots at an angle. That’s good! Simply pinch
    the loop firmly between thumb and forefinger and pull on the weft thread from
    the other side. You’ll be able to feel the loop slip up against the edge of the
    warp. This is the secret to even edges. Do this after every beat, you develop a
    rhythm for it very quickly. Also, don’t be surprised if one edge looks better
    than the other for a while, they both even out with practice as you become
    accustomed to working with the fibers. Uneven edges also tends to be a symptom
    of uneven tension when you were warping. Practice makes perfect.

    Advance the warp - After you have woven 4 or 5 inches,
    you’ll need to advance the warp again to continue weaving. Leaving your shuttle
    in the shed after your last beat, loosen the tension knob and allow some slack
    on the warp. Pull the warp forward with the shuttle until you have room to
    weave again, pretty much until the shuttle is up against the tension bar again.
    Keep an eye on the warping pegs again, making sure that nothing slides off the
    ends, and snug those warp threads back up on the pegs once you’re done
    advancing. Pull the warp as tight as it will go and re-tighten the tension
    knob. As you weave, the tension bar will come forward less and less when you
    tighten the warp due to take-up. Now, push back on the shuttle to beat back the
    heddles, and continue weaving.

    Getting to the end - As you get towards the end of your
    weaving, and the knots in your warp come up over the top back peg (or top right
    peg, if you look at the diagram earlier in this document) you’ll be able to see
    where you tied the first and last warp threads together floating on the top of
    the warp. Be a bit more gentle with changing sheds and beating at this point so
    that knot doesn’t separate: it’s under more tension than the rest of the warp
    threads. Try to keep weaving until the unwoven length at the end roughly
    matches the unwoven length from the beginning. This will become the fringe on
    the other end. Once you reach that point, you’re ready to cut the weaving off
    the loom.

    Cutting off the loom - To cut off the loom, release the tension
    and allow some slack on the warp. Turn the loom so you are facing it from the
    warp side again. Cut the warp behind the knots as close up against them as you
    can. Then, pull the other end towards you off the loom, heddles and all, and
    cut off the knots at the ends. Now the heddles will just slide off the end, and
    you can save them for your next project.

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    VI. Finishes

    How you finish the ends will depend a lot
    on how you plan to use it. If you’ll be using it for a trim, I recommend using
    a sewing machine to run over the ends with a zigzag stitch several times before
    trimming off the cut ends. You can try working some overhand stitches by hand
    around a cut edge, too, if you like, but the weaving may tend to pull out if
    you’re not thorough about sewing into the fibers rather than between warp

    There is also a huge range of fringes
    that you can work into the ends. If that will suit your purpose, look at some
    macramé materials for creative ideas on that. In the mean-time here are three
    quick ones. I usually leave my weft ends long, and just work them into the
    fringes with the warps. If you plan on working fringes, line up the two inkle
    ends together and trim off the loose warps so they are the same length on both
    ends before you begin.

    Simple knots – Knot the ends into simple overhand knots,
    right up against the finished end of the weaving. After working the knot, pull
    sharply on each warp strand in the knot to really tighten it down evenly.

    Braided fringe – Work the warp ends into braids and knot
    at the ends. You can try counting out the warp threads to make sure all the
    braids are the same width.

    <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:center;mso-layout-grid-align:
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    Twisted fringe – A third option that looks nice is a
    twisted fringe. To make the twists that make up a twisted fringe, begin by
    separating out two equal bundles of threads for twisting together. You can
    either eyeball it, or actually count up the number of threads and divide it out
    so that each bundle is exactly the same. Twist up one bundle of threads between
    your thumb and forefinger. I usually twist left to right, but it doesn’t matter
    which direction you go. Now, tuck the twisted bundle between two other fingers
    while keeping it twisted, to free up your thumb and forefinger to twist the
    next bundle. I usually use my other hand to help with the twisting.

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    Twist the second bundle in the same direction as the
    It might take a
    try or two to figure out how to hang on to everything. Once done, knot the
    twisted bundles together at the ends, keeping tension on the twists. I knot
    onto the twisted parts, not the ends past where my twist ends. Once the knot is
    in place, let go, and the strands will counter-twist back on each other. Pretty
    nifty. Twist up the rest of the warps, trying to line up your knots as evenly
    as you can. Next time, try twists with 3 or even four bundles of threads. It’s
    a challenge to hang on to everything, but well worth the result. Try adding
    beads or gewgaws, too.

    VII. Some Last Thoughts

    Once you have the mechanics of basic
    weaving down, experiment with other fibers and techniques. Silk is fun, it
    squeaks when you change sheds, it can be a little unnerving. Some novelty yarns
    and fuzzy or handspun fibers can be used as well. Play with tension to see if
    that helps.

    Try weaving a “tubular warp.” Instead of
    passing the shuttle back and forth as for a flat weave, come back over the top
    and pass the shuttle in only one direction, and tighten the edges together as
    you go, forming a tube. It really works!

    Try winding on a “basket-weave” warp.
    When winding on, do two heddle warps, then two open warps, instead of singles.
    When weaving, do double stranded shots to achieve a basket-weave effect.

    Try adding beads! You can either thread
    them on the warp strands and beat around them as you weave, or thread them on
    your weft, and drop them in at the edges or randomly within the weaving.

    The possibilities are endless. Good luck
    and enjoy.

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