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There’s More Than One Way to Weave: The Inkle Loom

50 Mile Coat InkleBandWithElizabeth

Weaving is an ancient technology that is found around the globe. How people weave and with what tools changes from culture to culture.

In addition to using a floor loom, The 50 Mile Coat incorporates an Inkle Loom among its tool set. In this post our Inkle weaving coordinator Elizabeth, discusses how inkle bands were incorporated into the project.

curlyBraceDrawing
50 Mile Coat InkleLoom

Functional Decorative Bands

This is a photograph of the inkle loom we are going to use to weave decorative bands that will be sewn onto the sleeves of the 50 Mile Coat. This Canadian loom was made by Leclerc Looms whose history goes back to 1874. Inkle looms are used to weave narrow bands that can be used for straps or belts. Last year I borrowed this Inkle Loom from the guild and wove these bands on it. Functional decorative bands have been woven for thousands of years on all sorts of looms. The relatively new invention of the inkle loom has the advantage of being portable and small, yet strong enough to maintain the tension necessary for weaving structurally sound, strong bands.

InkleBands 50 Mile Coat

From an Alpaca and a Llama

For the 50 Mile Coat we need to weave a band two yards long and one inch wide. We are using fibre from a llama at the High Park Zoo and from alpacas from Alpaca Avenue. The colours of the llama and alpaca fleece will be combined in a stripe pattern that will coordinate with the coat. We will spin the fleece on our spinning wheels to produce a yarn that is strong enough to withstand the stress of weaving and sewing and many years of wear and tear throughout the life of the coat.

50 Mile Coat Lily and Acacia

panama the llama

The Delightful Charm of Objects Made by Many Hands

I am so pleased that so many people and two animals were involved in the construction of the inkle bands: combing, spinning, plying, dyeing and weaving. No warp threads were broken which is a tribute to the caregivers of the animals and the quality of our local fibre resources, as well as to the skill of the spinners. It was a bit sticky to weave and that could have been improved by picking guard hairs out of the llama. The band has the delightful charm of objects that have been made by many hands.

50 Mile Coat YvonneOnInkleLoom

Weaving in a Code

In honour of the Guild’s 50th anniversary and the 50 Mile Coat, I used 50 threads in the warp. I also used a code for the number 50 in the width of the stripes. I did some research into the significance of the number 50. One of the things I found was that number 50 had significance for the ancient Greeks.

There is a special right triangle whose sides are 3, 4 and 5. The Pythagorean Theorum states that the sum of the squares of the two short sides, in this case (3 x 3 = 9 and 4 x 4 = 16), is equal to the square of the hypotenuse (5 x 5 = 25). If you add the squares together you get 50. The number of threads in the stripes are multiples of 3, 4 and 5. (There is a visual and a much better explanation here.)

***Thank you to Elizabeth Evans for writing this post and supplying photos!