Weaving on an inkle loom is often the first step for a beginning weaver. An inkle loom is a small, tabletop loom used for making a narrow band of "warp faced" weaving, or weaving in which only the lengthwise threads show. The "weft" threads, woven over and under, are hidden from view.
Inkle looms vary, but often consist of a flat base with three uprights. A series of dowels attached to the uprights hold the warp threads. "Heddles," or plain cotton string loops, are used to hold alternating warp threads creating a "shed," or opening, for the weft thread to pass through. There is also a tension device.
Common inkle weaving includes hat bands, belts, trim and purse handles.
Create the heddles. Measure the distance between the two dowels of the middle post of your loom, then cut a length of strong cotton thread that will make a loop half that distance. Tie with a square knot, then loop over the lowest dowel on the middle post. Create half as many heddles as the number of your warp threads.
Warp the loom. Run your first warp thread over the front dowel, through the space between the second set of dowels, then over the top of the back dowel and around the outside. Bring it back to the beginning, adjust for tension, then cut and tie in a bow knot.
Draw the second thread through a heddle on the bottom dowel of the middle post, then over the top bar, around the back dowels and along the bottom to the front dowel. Cut and tie as before. Repeat steps two and three alternately until all your threads are in place.
Prepare the weft thread. The weft thread can be looped around your hand in a butterfly shape, or around a stick to make passing it through the open shed easier.
Weave your project. Press the non-heddled threads down with your hand to create the "down shed," or opening. Pass the weft thread through. On the first pass, leave a tail the width of your weaving to pull through the next "up" shed to prevent unravelling. Continue moving the non-heddled threads up and down, passing the weft through each shed.
Move the weaving around the loom when the work nears the second set of dowels, adjust the tension, and continue working. The work is finished when your bow knots reach the second set of dowels.
Finish the ends after removing the work from the loom by hemming, tying knots, or leaving ends as fringe. If you leave the ends free, weave the last bit of weft thread through with a tapestry needle to keep the weaving from unravelling.
Choose a yarn for the inkle loom that is strong and smooth. Avoid anything fuzzy. Save your heddles for the next project.
Common errors include too loose or too tight weaving. Beat, or press, the weft threads in evenly and at right angles to the warp. It takes some practice.