The inkle loom, small and easy to move, was and is used to weave narrow bands of fabric. Throughout history, this weaving was used as braids, trims, belts, straps and other pieces both practical and decorative.
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A linear history of the inkle loom is hard to pin down. The name comes from the Old English word "inkle" for a drawstring or band. Spellings throughout the 16th century include unckle, incle, yncull and ynkell. The loom on which these bands were woven came to be known as an "inkle loom."
Even the modern history of the inkle loom contains conflicts. The modern tabletop loom was developed in the past 100 years. Earliest years of 20th century manufacture range from 1921 to the 1930s.
There is debate about the earliest record of the inkle loom. Fabrics such as those woven on the inkle loom date back to early Egypt. However, such evidence is no guarantee the loom itself dates back that far.
Unlike other looms, the inkle loom has a continuous warp (the threads that run the length of the loom). It uses a heddle (or leash) method to make the shed, the space between two or more sets of warp threads that allow the shuttle to pass through.
The 1960s saw a revival of interest in the inkle loom, with weavers making such items as guitar straps and clothing trim. It remains popular with living history re-enactors, although the modern inkle loom isn't considered authentic for 18th century re-enacting.
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