Are you into weaving?
Then you might give inkle weaving a try as well!
Inkle weaving is a versatile method to make braided tapes, band strips, etc.
In today’s article, we will go over the basics of inkle loom weaving and how to get started yourself.
What is Inkle Loom Weaving?
Inkle weaving is a form of weaving used to make inkles; a braided linen tape. These braided tapes can be used as belts, guitar straps, handbag straps, weaving necklaces and many other ways. You can even sew several straps together to make bags, skirts or scarves.
Best of all, these tapes are extremely durable!
Rather than a beginner weaving loom, a specialized inkle loom is used. These looms are normally up to 4 inches in width. Most inkle looms can be strung in several ways depending on the length of the strips you want to make.
— Maria Chiara (@chiaramucchi) 23 August 2017
What You Need to Get Started with Inkle Weaving
For beginner inkle weaving projects all you will need is a good inkle loom and the right yarn to start.
You could try to make a homemade loom yourself, but it requires some knowledge of woodworking or a nice person to help you out.
Of course, you can incorporate some other materials such as weaving beads once you get the hang of the basics.
Most yarns you can get your hands on can be used for inkle weaving. But keep in mind that you might want to avoid yarns with fray, very thin yarn or stretchy yarn since they might easily snap or break.
Especially when you are used starting out you might accidentally pull a bit too hard on a string here or there.
So as a general rule, start off with pretty thick yarn and then work your way towards thin yarn if that is your goal.
Also, don’t forget what you are trying to make. If the goal of your inkle weaving project is to make a belt, you better use some yarn that is strong enough to hold your pants up.
Read our article on choosing the right weaving yarn here.
An inkle loom can either be two-sided or one-sided. You might think more is better. But the two-sided loom is rather awkward to use. So we normally recommend a one-sided inkle loom.
Due to its big size, some inkle looms made out of dense wood might turn out to be surprisingly heavy. This can make them a little difficult to move. But on the flip side, they are very stable. Just go with what feels best for you.
We highly recommend buying either a Schacht inkle loom or an Ashford inkle loom. Both the Schacht inkle loom and the one made by Ashford are well known and very durable. If you buy one of these inkle looms, they most likely will last a lifetime.
How to Weave on an Inkle Loom
Just like a regular weaving loom, there are 3 basic steps you need to know to start inkle weaving.
First, warping is the process of stringing the yarn across your loom.
Then depending on how you pass the yarn through the warp threads, you can create different patterns.
Finally, to help speed up the process of pulling your yarn through the yarn, you can use a process called shedding.
Fortunately, the set-up of an inkle loom is pretty simple and fast since there is no reed involved.
How to Warp an Inkle Loom
Before we set up the warp, you will need to make some heddles. These will help you shed during the weaving process. You can use the first 4 pegs to measure the length of the yarn that is necessary.
To start warping the loom, attach the yarn to one end of the tension bar. You then loop the yarn around the pegs. You can do this in several different ways and there is no best way.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to use every single peg while looping the yarn. Especially if you are planning to do a smaller project, you can choose to only use 4 or 5 pegs.
Then for the second pass, you can start all over again with one small difference.
If during your first pass you used the first top peg, you now want to use the second top peg. You want to alternate using the first and the second pegs. So the first, third and fifth passes will go over one top peg, while the second and fourth pass will go over the other top peg.
Every time you go wind the warp thread over the top peg closest to you, add a heddle as well. Adding the heddles as you go is easier than adding them in the end.
You can repeat this process as much as you want, depending on how wide you want your tapes to be. But a warp with 36 threads and 18 heddles is normally a good number to start loom weaving for beginners.
Since the warp thread is an important part of the design of an inkle weave, you can opt to alternate the color of the warp. To change, simply tie the old color, cut the finishing end and tie the new color on as before. You can then continue warping.
The finish the warping process, untie the last knot on the tension bar and tie the ends together.
Shedding an Inkle Loom
Since you alternatively added heddles to your warp, you will notice that half of the warp threads have a heddle while the other half does not.
This is going to help you weave much faster!
Rather taking your weft yarn and going over and under alternating warp threads, you can use shedding.
To do this, pull down all the warp threads softly with your hand between the two top pegs. You will notice that all the unheddled threads will move, while the heddled threads stay in place. Of course, you can also push the same thread upwards.
You can simply weave by passing the weft yarn or your shuttle through the gap between the heddled and unheddled threads, change the position of half the threads, and pass the weft again.
From that point onwards, it is a simple rinse and repeat process.
Inkle Weaving for Beginners
If you are comfortable with setting up the warp and are comfortable with the shedding process, you are already halfway to becoming a master at inkle weaving.
But we have a few inkle weaving tips left to make things a little bit easier!
- Each time you pass the shuttle from one side to the other, use the shuttle edge to beat the weft tightly together. This will give you an even pattern and results in a stronger tape.
- If the heddles are getting in the way of your shuttle, it is time to loosen the tension bar a little and pull the warp towards you. Reposition the heddles and continue weaving.
- If you are running out of weft on your shuttle, simply refill the shuttle and continue weaving with both the old and the new yarn until the old one runs out.
- To finish, cut the upper and the lower warp threads. Either tie the fringes together and cut off the remaining parts or create tassels out of them.
Inkle Weaving Patterns
The most difficult part of inkle loom weaving is of course learning how to change warp colors, hide weft ends, beat the weft evenly and creating patterns that are aesthetically pleasing.
There are several ways to learn new patterns and designs.
First of all, be creative! Nothing is more rewarding than coming up with a new idea yourself and see it slowly take shape while you are weaving.
To help you out, you can use this inkle loom pattern generator to visualize what the result might look like.
Pinterest pages such as this one is also a great source of inspiration, see what others have made before, and get some free inkle loom patterns.