Troubleshooting Inkle Band Weaves

Every now and then I get the urge to make a small inkle band using my Ashford Inklette loom:

This loom is pretty affordable and great to do some small weavings when you want to have something you can take with you easily.  I wanted to weave something at this year’s MSKR (Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat) 2012, and though I could have taken my rigid heddle loom, I went for ultra, ultra portable.

What I am ultimately making these bands for – beats me. I just make them.

It’s funny how I wove two or three trouble free bands and then all of the sudden, errors kept coming up all on the same project.

First, if I leave an inkle band in mid warp, I tie the active yarn several times around the bottom peg to maintain the tension until I continue. Well I had done that but when I returned, I continued warping without realizing I still had the wraps around the peg. I finished warping and then realized those loops were still there, preventing me from sliding the band around.

My solution was to carefully, slip the warp threads ahead of the problem off and hold them under tension while I took off all of those wraps. I then, again carefully, placed back all of the warp threads in my hand.

Great, except now one of my warp threads was super loose. I decided the best fix for this was to cut that loop and tie it to the adjacent warp thread very tightly. Even after doing so, I still found it too lose so I resorted to the next best logical solution…

…scotch tape.

Then I was weaving happily along when a middle heddle flew off! I guess it wasnt tied all that well. Here I separated the warp as much as I could, loosened the tension, and tried to slip a new yarn in just the right position and tie the new heddle down. Here it is in mid repeair:

I can just say that the space I had to work in wasn’t very generous, but I did manage it somehow. Its still not tight but hopefully I can continue to the end with no further issues.

The lesson is, even when things go wrong, at least you get the opportunity to try learning how to fix them and know what to look out for the next time around. It’s the only way to become really good at your craft.

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Loom Day – Into the deep end

April 05th was recently deemed Loom Day – When I learned that Leclerc Voyageurs were fairly easy to get in Plessisville Quebec, and that picking it up in person would net you a discount, then how could I not resist?

I enlisted the aid, moral support of my good friend and road trip buddy Anik, and we left a bit before noon on a nippy Thursday morning.

We were on away to M.Brassard and Fils, who, apart from selling Leclerc looms, have an impressive selection of weaving yarn and accessories (not to mention friendly and helpful staff)

Here is where I would have inserted a picture of the building if it were not for my excitement in getting in and totally forgetting to do so. Shucks. There’s always the next loom purchase…

We walked in, perused, gawked, then I went to work collecting accesories for my loom: Etra heddles, shuttles, bobbins, warping sticks, a dorothy table, and of course some yarn.

We drove back and I had this very funny notion that I would stay up and weave a small sampler…

And then it dawned on me that I had 500 heddles to install. So on its side the loom went and it was off to work.

    There I was inserting each metal heddle one by one when it dawned on me that they were threaded in such a way that should in theory allow for easy transfer from the pack they came in to the heddle bars.

But it took a couple of more frames of heddle inserting to come up with the most efficient way of transfering the heddles.

By now it was 2 am and I had a couple of more shafts left.

Here is an image of the almost completed job. I am using a laptop to weigh down the bars so they don’t move:

I put back all the fames, tying them to the levels and…I couldn’t remember at what height they were factory installed at.

I normally would stay calm but at this point I was sleep deprived. I had to fix this.

I tied some strings from front to back beam, and moved the heights of the shafts like crazy. I tried to make the strings parallel and horizontal, I tried to make the upsheds even. But nothing I did would help.

I took a picture of the cross section and went to bed at 3am, or perhaps I passed out on the floor, I can’t remember which.

The next morning I posted it on Ravelry and get excellent feedback:

  The plan was to dress the loom fully with a small project and once everything was in place, I would play with the shaft height of each frame. The goal was to get the threads in the neutral position to stay as far down on the beater as possible, and when the frame was up, make sure all of the threads formed a nice, even shed.

I chose some crochet cotton, measured an arbitrary length of warp, and arbitrary # of ends, chose a set that I thought would be appropriate for patterns based on 2/2 twill, and went to work.

All I can say – it was not easy. I knew the motions, but I struggled to find comfortable positions, and making sure every end stayed nice, even and untangled.

Around midday, the loom was finished and ready warp was spaced out.

Meet my new voyageur loom, dressed (I wouldn’t show her naked…anymore…maybe) and in her temporary spot:

It was time to explore some multishaft patterns (with a straight threading)

I started with a 4-shaft 2/2 twill, in one direction first, then reversing directions.

I then moved to all 8-shafts, trying a draft I designed and then random ones found on handweaving.net

I was a couple of inches in when I spotted two heddle threading errors, and some sort of mistake on the far right.

My selvedge threads look a bit loose. I don’t know if I’m putting enough tension or its because they’re simply wrapped around the warp beam and not weighing them down any further.

But its a sampler. It’s my first multi-harness weaving. And I am smitten. I can’t wait to take the sample off the loom!

Warp length: who knows
No of ends: who cares
Yarn: #10 crochet cotton, probably found at a discount bin at Michaels

sett: 18 epi (I think its a tad loose)
warp threading: straight
draft: anything I want to try 🙂