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Inkle Looms

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  • Inkle Looms

    Does anyone use Inkle Looms for weaving sashes/garters for pow-wow regalia? I know it's not as nice as fingerweaving, but how accepted is it as an alternative? I've been seeing them quite often on Voyageur and French & Indian War reenactors.
    J.L. Benet

  • #2
    Inkle looms... Dang, I haven't seen one of those since I was a work study for the art department back in my undergrad days.... I'm not even sure I remember how to set one up.

    To my eyes, the weave looks different. While both are warp-faced and it is possible to make a chevron pattern when inkle weaving, the line at the turning points where weft directions change is missing. (and not all patterns are chevrons.) But I'd have to get pretty close to tell between the two for sure. I can be pretty rude, but I draw the line at bending over and staring at some straight dancer's garters, LOL.

    Anyway, I have no clue about the acceptablity. I would ask the elders who taught you to dance.


    • #3
      It was my elders who originally showed me how to do it. They have unfortunately passed on. I suppose I could ask someone else in the tribe.
      J.L. Benet


      • #4
        inkle loom gear

        I've got several items made on an inkle loom.... my mom's a weaver (when she has time and the motivation to warp one of her many looms!). She made me a keen belt to tie on a bustle (back when i danced northern tradish), as well as two sets of side tabs for different straight dance outfits. (she also made me a set of sashes using Egyptian card weaving - that technique actually is closer to the finished product of finger weaving, but the designs are very different. Plus, its apparently a pain in the a$$! nonetheless, it might be worth checking out...)

        As OL Chemist said, the weave looks very different between an inkle loom (which is actually weaving - warp and weft, etc.) and finger weaving (which is actually an elaborate form of braiding - no weft, only intertwined "warps" for lack of a better word.) Hence, the best you can to is "fake" fingerweaving designs with an inkle loom. The bustle belt i mentioned above is a great example - my mom included arrowhead/ triangular designs, but they are done with a lift/drop of the warps. OL Chemist was describing something like tapestry (i think), but i've never seen that done on most belt, sash, garter-width inkle weavings.

        My mom has received commissions to make belts for a number of Pueblo folks we know, as inkle looms work very similarly to the old-school Pueblo back-strap belt loom. On those Pueblo belts, the design is created through a lift/drop of the warp, so my mom basically adapted that technique to garters, side tabs, etc.

        My two pairs of side tabs are really pretty simple - just straightforward designs of stripes and blocks, no lifts or anything fancy. The really cool thing that my mom did on those was that she basically wove two identical belts (1" wide) side-by-side on the loom for about 2.5 feet, then joined them into one section for about a foot, then went back to the two side-by side belts. The end result is that my side tabs each have four ends, but the part the hangs on my belt is one solid area (does that make any sense? thats the best i could describe it!)....

        One more thing that'd i'd highly recommend - for garters and side tabs, use a thin yarn for both warp and weft - my mom uses Maysville carpet warp (100% cotton, hard spun, and comes in a ton of colors, also some similar warp yarns are out there that are almost identical and in an even wider array of colors than Maysville). This keeps the weaving from being too bulky. Even when making a full-sized belt (like those Pueblo-style belts i mentioned), my mom will take 4-ply WOOL yarn, split it down to 2-ply and respin it to create a tight 2-ply. This allows a bit tighter weave w/o the "spongy" feel that the 4-ply poly or synthetic yarns can give. Using good materials can make all the difference between something that looks good and somthing that looks like crap.

        p.s. - I've had one set of my mom's inkle woven side tabs for like 17 or 18 years, and have never had a negative comment.
        Functionless art is simply tolerated vandalism.


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