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The Inkle Loom















When purchasing an inkle loom, be sure to select one that is made of a hard wood. Inkle looms are under stress during their use and the softer woods will distort under those pressures over time. Look for smooth sanding of the pegs to avoid snagging the warp. Pegs that have been coated with a modern finish such as polyurethane, are very nice to use. Check the tensioning device for heavy duty hardware. The bolt used in the tensioning device is also under a great deal of pressure. Be sure to pay the extra money for the higher quality loom. Keep these things in mind too if you choose to construct your own loom. Plans for inkle looms can be found in books on weaving in the library. Check the index of weaving books. Many will have a chapter or part of a chapter on inkle and card (or tablet) weaving. Another thing to consider when purchasing an inkle loom is how long of a strip you will be able to weave on it. This is determined by the path that the warp threads will take when you warp the loom. The finished length will be shorter than the actual warp path due to two things. One is that you cannot weave the entire length. It's impossible. When the beginning part of the weaving reaches the top front peg, the weaving must stop because the warp straddles that bar. The other reason you cannot weave the full original warped length is due to an effect know as take-up. When the warp threads travel over and under the weft threads, this effectively shortens the path of the band. That is why the tensioning bar is part of the loom. You make the adjustments as the band shortens. Take-up is greater as the diameter of the weft increases. Most manufacturers will indicate the approximate maximum length of band that the loom will produce.

Inkle looms come in a variety of sizes but there are two basic size categories of inkle looms. The smaller ones are known as table looms (some are small enough to be called "lap looms") and are the most common ones that you may see at SCA events. These ones generally will weave bands 90 to 110 inches in length, depending on the number of pegs and the height and length of the loom. To be able to weave greater lengths, you need to consider a floor loom. The design concept is basically the same as the table model. It is just larger. Another way to get much longer lengths, but on a table-sized loom, is to obtain one of the newer looms that will take a non-continuous length of warp. It accomplishes this via the same technique employed in a fabric loom with the warp ends tied and wrapped at the back of the loom on a warp beam and then wrapped onto a cloth beam in the front as the weaving progresses.

© 2000-2005Tracy DeGarmo