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Books on Weaving:

Card Weaving
Candace Crockett

Inkle Weaving
Helene Bress

Weaving Without a Loom
Veronica Burningham

A Thousand Years of Brocaded Tablewoven Bands
Nancy Spies

The Techniques of Tablet Weaving
Peter Collingwood

All photographs and content ©2005 Robert Karl  

My oldest daughter took up inkle weaving in August 2004 and bought a loom from Trevor Davey. Warping the loom was a bit challenging for a 7-year-old, so my wife did all the warping and had so much fun she wanted a loom of her own (my eldest was very possessive hers). Rather than purchase another loom, I decided to build it myself using both my daughter's loom and the plans found in Helene Bress's book—Inkle Weaving—for reference and inspiration. I drew it in Visio, keeping a maple body and substituting walnut for most of the horizontal elements (rungs and tensioner). I sent the drawings to my friend Sean for review.

Sean has an eye for design, and I believe his focus on joinery contributes to the substantial-yet-elegant feel in his furniture. His first suggestion was to replace the simple board that formed the handle of the tensioning unit (in both my design and the loom built by Trevor) with a true knob. He sent A Modest Design Drawing (tm) and I knew I had to do it. Since I'd already decided on using contrasting woods as a theme, I added a maple cap with walnut doweling to the design and made the riser hex shaped as well.

His second suggestion was to widen the body and use complete half-lap joints to attach the arms. He voiced a preference for using dowels (rather than screws) to firm the joints. I changed the plans—adding two additional dowels to the base—and liked the look.

The final design change came after talking with my friend, Rayne, who is both a weaver and the sister of Trevor Davey. Her brother had built the loom we already had using a manufactured version as his guide. It turns out that the factory build model had a wider tensioning bar (actually a slightly shaped dowel) that she liked. On hers, the hanger bolt was inserted slightly off center, allowing the final turn of the tensioner to apply increased tension through mechanical advantage. With this as inspiration, I added a laminated walnut tensioner and dowelled it at the base to prevent torque from weakening the joint. Of course this required contrasting dowels to sustain the theme and the added visual weight complimented the wider loom body. Here is the result (click each image for a larger resolution and more detail):

image of figured wood on the far armThere was some figured wood that I carefully placed on the back for maximum effect
Image of the dowelled half lap joinThe halflap joints are tight-fitting and dowelled with walnut
Image of the handmade tensioning handleThe walnut handle is hex-shaped: capped with maple and dowelled with walnut
Images of heddles being cast onI used the most stable method of attaching heddles: they are cast on almost as if starting to knit
Image of the working endThe working end of the loom, where tensioner and heddles will produce newly woven fabric (with SWMBO's help)
Image of the back side of the loomThe design results in a smooth back, punctuated by the 1/4" dowels
image of the front side of the loomThe contrast of the walnut and maple is striking
Image of the loom from aboveThe tensioner adds visual weight and the cast-on heddles contribute to the finished feel of the loom
 The Aftermath