Monday, 1 January 2018

Cataloguing the World 3: The Inkle Loom.

Do you remember this image from my previous bog about inkle looms from January 2017 .  Whilst on holiday in Finland in September we visited Turku, the old capital of Finland.
Turku castle was restored after the war and is a must see sight for anyone visiting the town. 

Turku Castle, Finland

The dining tableau.

In one room, the displays were captivating. The centre of the room had a tableau of mannequins in period costume. The information was extensive. Displays around the room had various artefacts relating to costume. One had this picture as a backdrop.
I did not expect to see an enlarged picture of the inkle loom.

It is from Le Livre de bonnes moeurs de Jacques Legrand which dates to the 15th century. The probable date is 1490.

The close up gives the detail of how the weaving is threaded around the posts.  Unfortunately as the weaving has not started, the process is unclear

Inkle looms now come in various shapes and sizes.  There is a wonderful variety available, particularly in the USA.

In this upright model the weaver has a good view of the woven band. 

Double sided looms are also popular.  The pegs will not bend in use and the whole loom is very stable.

This one is illustrated in the Estonian band weaving book. Again with a removable side, the pegs will stay level and will not warp.

This crescent shape is so elegant.

You can even make one out of a cardboard box!

Another home made loom. 

This loom was made by Margaret Parker and her husband out of waste water pipes.

They made it following the instructions in the link to an Interweave Press booklet on band weaving, but it was difficult to understand how to get the two sheds. The geometry of the loom, the path taken by the warp and the position of the heddle and shed sticks seemed to make this impossible. They made some modifications: .

- made the heddles at least twice as long which means there is  nowhere on the loom which can be used as a former for  making them.
- tied the shed rod firmly once we had got it in place.
- use hand manipulation to get the two sheds

Although it seems bow shaped it works well. As it is not as rigid as a wooden inkle loom it can become a bit skew whiff (or wonky!) with use but it is easy to straighten it all out again from time to time and make it all the angles sit at 90 degrees. This does not seem to affect the tension across the width of the weaving.
Inkle looms are expensive, so this cheap alternative is ideal for someone who would like to try this craft. York and District Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers have planned an informal workshop for people interested to make their own from this plan.

Floor inkle looms

I have a floor inkle loom given to me by a friend.  It is not in the best of conditions but it works. The earliest floor inkle I have found is from Scotland.  It is dated 1688. My floor inkle loom has a sliding peg in the centre collumn so that the tension can be altered.

A Scottish floor inkle loom dated 1688

Floor inkles also come in a variety of shapes. Some give the opportunity to make very long band indeed. This is being used for tablet weaving but is also designed for inkle weaving.

This lovely floor Cendrel inkle by Leclerc looms is an updated and very practical design  What I particularly like is the fact that it can be used as a warping frame as well.

The Cendrel floor inkle loom and warping frame

These two versions are very attractive and allow for a very long warp. They look very stable and there is plenty of room for the weaver's legs. 

Here are two Swedish band looms which give the weaver the choice to weave as an inkle loom with heddles or with two shafts to make the sheds. 

This is my Swedish band loom with my own handy brackets for warping.

Finally, I found a picture of this tape loom.  It is not an inkle loom but has two rigid heddles operated by foot treadles.

It is a fascinating version of a tape loom from the Landis Valley Farm Museum, a museum that documents Pennsylvania German culture and history. This museum looks wonderful and I would love to visit it.

I was particularly interested in this unusual design because of the picture in the frontispiece of a book from 1524.

This is a page from the  Ein new Modelbuch by Johann Schönsperger the Younger (German, active 1510–30) and dates to 1524. You can see the large loom on the bottom right of the engraving which shows a woman weaving a narrow band using a rigid heddle. Examine the original image here:

She appears to have two pedals to use but there is no connection between the pedals and the rigid heddle. I suspect that the artist was depicting an early version of the loom from the museum in America.

Tablet weaving

Of course there are also some very creative designs for tablet weaving.

A table tablet loom with a very long warp.

An elegant design for a short warp.

This looks very stable and ornate with the horses head carving.

A magnificent tablet loom which looks as though it should have been used by the Vikings.

This is a very interesting variation.  This design allows for the warp ends to be untwisted when weaving with tablets.  The warp can be as long as will pack onto the warp beam at the front.

A big thank you all the Museums, Universities and Galleries who are taking the time to digitise their collections and to Pinterest for providing a way for people with similar interests to share their finds.

Happy New Year to everyone.  Enjoy your weaving.
Susan J Foulkes January 2018


  1. Happy New Year Ms. Foulkes,
    I enjoyed your gallery of inkle loom set ups and wanted to add my comment using a different loom for cardweaving.

    I enjoy cardweaving on a horizontal, warp-weighted loom. There are plans all over the internet. It is a home-made affair -- basically a 6 inch by 4 foot long oak shelf with cabinet pulls mounted on 6"x2"x2" blocks at either end. Raising the handles on these blocks provides depth to the loom for the cards to move easily. One handle serves as the warp beam and the other is the cloth beam. The warp beam is mounted at the very end of the board and has a piece of split, corrugated cable retainer spread over it to help spread the individual warp bundles. The extra warp then suspends over the edge of the board. Individual warp bundles are secured to 85 gram tama weights, which I re-purposed from my braiding equipment. I have woven up to 4 meter long warps with extra warp wrapped around the tamas. I have found that the tama weights are wonderful for this purpose as they do not tangle like some other jury-rigged weights that I have used, such as fishing weights and small bottles.

    It is exceptionally easy to release the built up twist on individual warps with this method. First I clip the cards being worked so that they do not get out of alignment using a knitting stitch holder, then I select the twisty warp bundle and just lift it up so that the tama weight is clear to spin. The twist empties out. Since I do a lot of double weave projects, the selvedge cards build up twist far quicker than the design pack and background cards. This differential twist buildup affects shed quality if it is not removed. I find that releasing twist is vital to making it easy and enjoyable to card weave.

    Another advantage of this set up is that correcting mistakes is facilitated because I can literally spread the warp to see down into a faulty spot to diagnose the problem. It is easy to put my hand between warps and gently spread them with my fingers as each thread is only under 85g of tension -- just enough to stop the tangling but not enough to strain the hand.

    One further important consideration is that this set up reduces warp abrasion because twist can be removed conveniently and often and this allows the cards to slide freely without abrading the warp. Also, as I mentioned, in making corrections, the individual and gentle weighting of each warp bundle means that the rest of the warp is not disturbed when a few threads are corrected. This translates also to less abrasion overall.

    One disadvantage of the set up that I use is that it eats table space. I need a footprint of 4 by 2 feet to comfortably weave, and I sit to the side of the warp weaving from left to right, keeping an eye on the words as they are woven. The tama are also expensive, as one needs an 85 g weight for each card. Before I had braiding equipment, I used fishing weights, but these tangled and I had to use a small cardstock bobbin to store extra warps.

    Thank you again,
    Susan San Martin

    1. Thank you for this comprehensive and informative reply. the information is very useful.

  2. Dear Mrs Foulkes,
    Thank you very much for your informative blog. I watch your youtube videos as well. The bug of band weaving has bitten me and I am enjoying exploring this craft. At present I am trying Bolivian band weaving. I have bought two of your e-books from Blurb and am waiting for another in hard copy to arrive,as well as a heddle etc from Stoorstalka. They may arrive, or perhaps not, depending on whether or not the post is working. In South Africa nothing is assured except the drought. However, the reason I am writing to you is that in the N/D 14 Handwoven the pattern for the Baltic Tea Towels is given , but not the pattern for the band. I have gone into and they want $3.99 for the pattern of the towels, but there is no indication that it includes the pattern for the band, so I am reluctant to spend heaps of ZAR and get what I already have. Where may I find the band pattern? I do like the Sideways hearts on the band.

    1. When the pattern was published in Handwoven the band pattern was also given as part of the project. I have looked at the details given with the download and it says 'You can also weave up and sew on a set of optional hanging tabs using the traditional pick-up techniques'. This means that the band pattern is given as part of the tea towel pattern.
      I am so pleased that you have taken to the craft of patterned band weaving. If you join the Yahoo group Braid and bands there are many more patterns which you can download form free from the online workshops that I have run. it is free to join the Yahoo group.
      happy weaving


  3. Thank you for this information and for your extraordinary blog. You give so much interesting and valuable information. Being so far south, armchair travelling becomes an obsession and you do certainly supply satisfaction there, besides the weaving. Your Sami Band Weaving book arrived today and I am thrilled to have it. At least this time the post took but a month! I have ordered the Moraband book, but have already made a band from your instruction and I do love the weave web that 3 warp ends make.So thank you again from the bottom of my heart, and the bottom of Africa. Lin.

  4. I was wondering if you would consider putting a course together for teaching how to draft band weaving. I have been trying, but feel I don't have the necessary knowledge to do this. I wont go into how isolated we can feel down here, but I'm sure you understand that travelling to courses in other parts of the world is very expensive for us.Lin.

    1. In October I ran a free online workshop on Braids and bands the Yahoo group for the Braid Society. As part of this workshop, each week there were exercises for participants to complete which were structured to take them through the process of drafting patterns. The notes are available on the yahoo group. For joining instructions go to the web site

      happy weaving

      Susan January 2018

  5. Thank you. I have found the relevant course and it is immediately clear how to design a band. Your information is always very clear and precise. This is greatly appreciated.

  6. Hello Susan, Greetings. I am working on a 17 pattern thread design and would like to make my work a little easier. Where can I find a printable dotted graph paper like the one you have in your courses?

    1. Hi Lin
      I design my own and print them. The ones for 13 pattern threads are in all of the workshop notes on Braids and Bands. If you have joined the yahoo group I could send you a pdf with the blank charts

  7. Yes I have joined. I would be so pleased if you would do this. However I'm not really savvy with technology. If you do so,please tell me where to find it. Lin.

    1. I have uploaded a file into the files section of the Braids and Bands yahoo group. Open the files section at the top of the page. You will see a list of folders. Open the folder labelled 2017 Band Weaving workshop. The pdf of blank pattern charts is in there.
      Happy Weaving

  8. Many, many grateful thanks. Lin.

  9. I love the display of inkle looms. If possible, could you tell me the maker of the one pictured below the three castle photos? I'm very interested in obtaining that one.

  10. It is available on the Etsy shop Inkleloomshop. It is made in solid maple wood and looks amazing. It is made in the USA but they do not ship to the UK. Check out my Pinterest board on weaving equipment to see more.


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