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Weaving on the Inkle Loom





The Loom










Before you get to actually start weaving, you need to get your weft ready. In the example on the previous page, I created a design that had a white border on both sides. So, I'll use the same white for the weft. This way, the weft won't "show" at the edges. With a white border, if I used a black weft, the weft would be visible at the ends where it left a row of weaving to return at the next row. If you have a shuttle, wrap the weft thread around the shuttle until you have a good amount of weft on it. If you are not using an actual shuttle, you can either make a shuttle out of just about anything (like a piece of cardboard) or wrap the threads around your fingers to create "the butterfly". To do this start with the weft thread in your open palm. Loosely wrap the thread in a figure-eight motion around your thumb and pinkie. When you have wrapped enough, cut the weft and tie it loosely around the center of the butterfly. The untied end (that you originally laid in your palm) will be the beginning of the weft. The rest of the weft (the wings of the butterfly) will pull through the center tie. Yes, the threads can get caught on each other, but, if you don't have a shuttle, or anything with which to make a shuttle, this is your best bet.

Now your loom is warped, your shuttle is wound. But, don't start weaving just yet. Get familiar with your warp threads and how to create a shed. Using your right hand, pass your hand behind the heddles and under the warp. Raise your hand. Your hand will lift every other thread. The other threads will be captured by the heddles and will not be able to move up. You have just created your first shed. That is the open space in the warp that is in front of the heddles. It is through this type of shed that the weft will be passed from left to right. Direction is important.

Now, remove your hand and, using your left hand, pass your hand behind the heddles again but this time put it between the upper and lower part of the warp (so your hand is between the warp just like the top front peg). This time, push the threads down. The threads that pass through the heddles remain up because they pass over that top front peg. You have now opened another shed. It is this type of shed through which your shuttle will be passed from right to left.

Play with your sheds a bit using the correct hands and lifting or lowering correctly.

You are now ready to weave!

It's up to you to decide from which direction to start. It really doesn't matter. Open a shed. Pass your shuttle through the shed. Leave a tail of weft a few inches in length (about six to eight inches). Make sure the weft is straight and change sheds. This time, as you pass the shuttle through the shed, lightly push the previous row with the edge of the shuttle (or whatever you are using for beating the threads), just to straighten the weft. Continue to pass the shuttle the rest of the way out through the shed. Before you change sheds, you need to pull the two strands of weft that you now have hanging from the same side of the project. Pull both at the same time until you no longer see the weft in the weaving. For your first project don't get it too tight. Now change sheds again. As you pass the shuttle, again use it to pack down the threads to get them straight and tight. Finish the pass and pull this one a little tight to secure the other edge. With these three passes of your weft, you should have the warp threads pulled together at both edges and you should not be seeing the weft encased in the warp. Getting this right just takes practice. From this point, you can just keep changing sheds, passing the shuttle and packing the threads. You're weaving!

Some people use a skewer (or a few rows of facial tissue or scrap cloth) somewhere in the first passes of the weft. This keeps the pattern straight. There are times when I use it and times when I don't. It depends on the material I have chosen for the warp and how tightly I want to weave. It is purely optional.

When you run out of weft, weave until you have enough to make one more pass that will travel about three-quarters of the way through the shed. Without changing sheds, re-wind your shuttle and continue weaving in the same direction by starting in the same shed, overlapping the end of the previous weft and the new weft. Just be a little careful for the first couple of passes with the new weft until it becomes secure. Do not tie weft threads together.

If you break your warp don't panic. Just stop what you are doing. If your shuttle is in the shed, remove it and set it aside. Cut just about an inch off each of the broken ends of the warp (cut more if the ends are severely deteriorated). Cut a new section of warp and tie, using a square knot) to each of these ends, trying your best to maintain the tension. Clip these ties close to the knot and push them down so that they, and the knot, get buried in the warp with the weft as much as possible. This is the only way to fix a broken warp. Depending on the material used, it may or may not show.

When your weaving gets close to the heddles, you will not be able to open a shed large enough through which to pass the shuttle. When this happens, loosen the tension on your tensioning device. Then, using both hands (one on the top set of warp and one on the bottom set of warp), carefully slide the woven section toward you, passing it over the top of the front bar. It will then pass under the front bar and away from you following the path of the warp. After you have moved it, reset the tension and continue weaving.

When the weaving is completed to the point where the starting part of the weaving has traveled the full warp path and is at the top front peg, you have to stop. You will not be able to progress further. It is now time to remove and finish the strip.

© 2000-2005Tracy DeGarmo