Sunday, 1 January 2017

Pinterest: Cataloguing the World: the bow loom and the inkle loom

Bow Looms.

Here are some images of bow looms in action.

I love this picture of a class in Taiwan all using bow looms with heddles. They all seem to be enjoying the experience.

A simple bow loom made from a rough branch.

Here is another picture of a bow loom with  heddles

This useful diagram shows how the bow loom works. A long warp can be used, as the extra warp is wound around the forked end of the stick.  The other end has an attached tape which could be used to tie the end around the waist of the weaver.

It is not the only image however. Here is a copy of a photograph of the artist Karin Larsson with one of her daughters.  She is weaving on a large bow loom which appears to be tucked under her left arm.

Carl and Karin Larsson with one of their daughters.  

The photograph is not clear as it is from an illustration in a book.

Bow looms do not have to be used with string heddles.  Here is a very simple bow loom for a tapestry woven friendship band. I bought a lovely little bow loom at Tacoma to use on a weaving open day for the Durham Guild.(see my blog for November 1st 2016 Durham Guild Open Day).

Small bow loom in action

My little bow loom was very popular.  I have warped it with more beads for my next demonstration!.

The complete loom

Close up of weaving with beads.

The beads are threaded onto the warp thread before warping the bow loom.  Half the beads are on one side and half on the other.  The beads are brought down to the fell of the band when needed.

It is very quick and easy to weave and a very good introduction to weaving for beginners.

Here is a link to an introduction to bow loom weaving. Bow Loom weaving preview:

Other simple looms.

Of course, these simple looms do not have to be bow shaped.  The loom can be a variety of shapes. Both these pictures come from Lithuania
a circular branch loom with a circular warp.


A forked branch used as a loom 

Weaver tensioned weaving.

It is fascinating to see how resourceful weavers can be.

Look at this picture of an Estonian weaver.  She is weaving a patterned band using a circular warp. The warp is tensioned by fixing one part to a hook on the wall and the other part goes around her left leg.  This means that she can alter the tension on the warp very easily and both hands are free to manipulate the heddle rod and shuttle.

An Estonian weaver in 1912

Here are two weavers in Cusco, Peru weaving in the Centre for Traditional Textiles. I took this picture in 2007. Here the loom is weaver tensioned.  The warp is attached to the fixed post and the other end of the warp is fastened around the waist of the weaver.  It is a backstrap loom.

Even with this simple equipment, patterns of astonishing complexity can be woven.  It was a joy to watch and a pleasure to support the weavers by buying textiles in the shop. I particularly liked the way that every textile for sale had a card with the weavers name on it. So often weavers are anonymous and yet their work should be celebrated.

Centre for Traditional Textiles, Cusco, Peru.

Here is a close up of the weaving.

Close up of the intricate weaving

An Early Inkle Loom?

Now for an update on my post about Pinterest. Click here to read my previous post about Pinterest: cataloging the World.  (July 1st 2016)
Here is the picture that I was trying to identify.  Is it an early illustration or a modern artists impression?

I asked members of the Braid Society and one member, Janis contacted Nancy Spies. Nancy kindly supplied the relevant links to the original illustration.

Here it is.  It is from Le Livre de bonnes moeurs de Jacques Legrand which dates to the 15th century. The probable date is 1490.  I have added the link address if you want to look at the other illustrations from this book.

"Le Livre de Bonnes Moeurs" 15th century, French, Chantilly (Musee Conde) OR Paris (BNF).  The web site is not clear, but apparently 77 pages of the MS are at Chantilly and 4 are in Paris.

Here is a close up of the inkle loom.

Close up of the early inkle loom from 1490.
It would be wonderful if someone could make a replica.  However, I think that a better quality picture would be required to see the detail. The original artist has depicted the threads and the wooden uprights so I would imagine that in the original picture the relationship between them would be more easily seen.


As I wrote in my previous blog on this subject, it is fascinating to see how ancient looms were depicted.  These images deserve to be examined more closely and compared to modern counterparts. Some surprising similarities and differences may emerge.  I do not yet have an answer to the mysterious depiction of the bow loom used for tablet weaving  illustrated in my previous blog about Pinterest. Here is the illustration again.

bow loom used for tablet weaving.  Where is this image?

If you want to see more images, do check out my Pinterest site.  One image can lead to another one on someone else's pin board. I am sure that you will love the search. Enjoy your own wander through 'a garden of bright images'.

Happy New Year.

Susan J Foulkes  January 2017


  1. Oh my, you have made my day! It's gray and snowy in vermont and i've been doing some tablet weaving, getting hard to be tied to a wall and i was noodling around the net looking for bow loom ideas, my keyword honing has worked! I am so delighted to have found your site, and gained advantage of your research. A whole slew of ideas and forms of looms i hadn't seen before, and a photograph of Karin Larson's daughter in the studio with her bow loom, and Karin herself. I saw the bow loom on pinterest, and will let you know how i get on. You have given me such a thrill, i am off to follow your links above. Thank you, Karen Jackson

    1. Enjoy the visual journey. I had great fun finding all these images. Weavers are so resourceful.

    2. hi susan, i am having so much fun with scandinavian band weaving and history, especially tablet weaving with complicated turnings and reversals. i am going to meet my daughter in england the end of may and we will fly to denmark, for two days in copenhagen and four days in aarhus. i speak no danish beyond hello and thank you and merry christmas (not to useful in may), and while i know there must be shops in both cities with books and tools to do with tablet weaving, i have not been able to google them out. do you have any recommendations of shops or craft centers you might share? i was able to find wonderful historical things mentioned in museums. thank you so much, and thanks also for your wonderful sharing in your blog. karen j

    3. Hi Karen
      I am afraid I don't know. I will try to find out for you. Aarhus is the European capital of Culture this year so there should be lots of interesting things to see while you are there.

  2. The photograph of the collective use of the bow is not from Japan. I was shooting in Taiwan when teaching.

    1. Thank you for the correction. Your classes look so much fun! The whole class is obviously enjoying the experience.
      best wishes


    2. I have been experimenting with various bows and having great fun. My samples are mostly of cotton and with 7 or 8 4-hole tablets end up making a band that is a quarter inch wide or so. Right now, my main challenge is finding a way to stablilize the bow in front of me so i can concentrate on turning the cards comfortably. I hope to run into more knowledge about this, thanks so much for sharing it. kj

    3. How fascinating. Thank you for the update on your experience of weaving with tablets.

  3. Good to see that photo from Taiwan. Only Aborigines use bow looms here, and not many people remember the skill. The people in the photo look like Han Chinese, not Aborigines. Judging from the width of the belt, I'm guessing this is Paiwan style.


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