The inkle loom, although not itself "period" to
the time study within the Society
for Creative Anachronism (SCA), is a useful tool for
style" strips or bands of hand-woven warp-faced cloth
or ribbon. The inkle loom, as we know it in the United States
today, is widely accepted as a tool imported in the 1930's
from England where it is reported to have been invented somewhere
between the 18th and 19th centuries. It is used within the
bounds of the SCA because it is portable and convenient for
inkle and tablet weaving. The strips that we can weave on
the inkle loom, called "inkles", are period in
style and function. Shakespeare mentions inkles three times
in his works. The earliest is in "Love's Labours Lost" (Act
III, Scene I) which was written about 1590. Costard says,
"Now will I look to his remuneration. Remuneration!
O, that's the latin word for three farthings: three farthings
-- remuneration -- 'What's the price of this inkle?'
-- 'One penny.' -- 'No, I'll give you a remuneration:'
why, it carries it. Remuneration! Why, it is a fairer name
than French Crown. I will never buy and sell out of a word."
The second instance of the word "inkle" appearing
in Shakespeare's works occurs in "Pericles, Prince of
Tyre" (Act V) which was written about 1608. Gower says,
"Marina thus the brothel 'scapes, and chances into
an honest house, our story says. She sings like one immortal,
and she dances as goddess-like to her admired lays; deep
clerks she dumbs; and with her needle composes nature's
own shape, of bud, bird, branch, or berry, that even her
art sisters the natural roses; her inkle, silk,
twin the rubied cherry..."
The third occurrance of the word "inkles" in Shakespeare's
works is in "The Winter's Tale" (Act IV, Scene
IV) which was written about 1610 to 1611. The character referred
to as "servant" says,
"He hath ribbons of an the colours i' the rainbow;
points more than all the lawyers in Bohemia can learnedly
handle, though they come to him by the gross: inkles,
caddisses, cambrics, lawns: why, he sings 'em over as they
were gods or goddesses; you would think a smock were a
she-angel, he so chants to the sleeve-hand and the work
about the square on't."
This type of weaving has been around for centuries.
In early times, these narrow strips were used as belts, headbands,
bag handles, or straps to tie and support things. When sewn
together, the strips could be turned into bags for gathering
and carrying. These strips were also used aesthetically to
decorate clothing. An inkle-woven strip has even survived
from the first century AD. The actual origin of the style
of weaving referred to as "inkle weaving" seems
to have originated in many areas of the world, wherever textile
arts have developed. For many centuries, this type of weaving
was done on looms such as the bow loom, the forked-branch
loom, or the back-strap loom.
For those familiar with Tablet (or Card) Weaving, inkle
weaving is similar to producing a tablet-woven band using
just two holes in opposite corners of the card and rotating
in such a manner: one-half-turn forward, one-half-turn backward,