I’ve been trying a few other methods of weaving to demonstrate at the convention craft market coming up in June.
I first saw this method in 2005, at a traditional crafts display on one of the Orkney Islands. The example I saw used twigs with holes carved in one end for the warp yarn to be tied to. There are lots of tutorials on the internet of a similar method using straws, suggested as an easy way to teach children. A bit of fiddling later and I had a hybrid method going. I’ve had another idea to simplify it further. I’m hoping to have some straws and yarn on hand so people could give this a try, but I’ll test it out on friends kids first to get an idea of what age group it suits best.
This involves threading yarn through four holes at the corners of square cards, then turning the cards one way or the other to twist the yarns around each other and the weft yarn. The far ends of the yarn are secured to something, and the near ones tied to a belt around your waist. Imagine several barber poles lying next to each other, the stripes lined up so you get diamond or chevron patterns, then binding all together with string threaded through holes along the sides of the poles. The effect is rather similar to friendship bracelets. I found this method rather tedious and prone to tangling, so I won’t be in a hurry to do it again.
‘Inkle’ is another kind of woven tape. I’ve been thinking of buying or making an inkle loom for a while and the demonstration was a good incentive to look into it. While searching for instructions I came upon some other looms used for making inkle tape: tape looms and knee paddle heddles. The paddle heddles gave me an idea. Ages ago, when I was trying to thing of a way to make a mini loom I could take on a plane, I was a bit stumped on how to make a heddle for it. It occurred to me that ‘afro’ style combs look an awful lot like heddles. I bought one and got Paul to drill holes halfway down the tines, but I never got around to making the loom. (The tensioning was the bit I couldn’t find a good solution for.)
Afro combs look spookily similar to paddle heddles. So I dug out my DIY heddle, stuck a piece of tape across the top of the tines, cut some yarn and threaded it. Like with the card weaving, one end the yarn needed to be secured to something and the other to me – I pinned it to my waistband – then it was just a matter of lifting or dropping the heddle to make the shed and weaving the weft yarn back and forth. The effect is a warp-faced fabric – basically the yarn woven back and forth is pulled tight enough that the long lengths of yarn crowd together and hide it.
This was so much easier than card weaving – beautiful in its simplicity and quite addictive. It’ll be a good way to use up longer lengths of loom waste (yarn that is left on the loom after a project is cut off). And if I substitute another clip for the safety pin, I can probably take it on a plane.
I still want to make an inkle loom, for the sake of adding knowledge of how to use one to my repertoire and because it’ll enable me to make wider tape. As for the rigid heddle and table looms, I’m thinking of setting up a basic scarf on the former and letting people try out weaving – perhaps offering up the result as a prize or charity auction item at the end of the con, and do something more complicated on the latter to demonstrate the potential of looms with more shafts.