Thursday, January 17, 2019

Bands and Straps and Bracelets

yardage and matching trim
Often our ideas of weaving are dominated by textiles produced on harness looms.  Sometimes we overlook the value of techniques using simpler and much older technology.

Remember the head bands, guitar straps and colourful belts from the hippie days?  If that was before your time you may recall the friendship bracelet craze?  Many of these items were made on a simple inkle loom.  Weavers with long memories might still have one stashed away in a dark cupboard.  Don't throw it out just yet!

inkle loom with cards

In general, inkle woven bands are warp faced plain weave textiles that depend on the colour order in the warp to create pattern.  The resulting bands can be quite beautiful but complexity of the design is somewhat limited unless you use a pick up technique.  The introduction of cards (tablets) into the weaving process allows for individual groups of warp threads to be raised or lowered.  The design possibilities expand exponentially.

card woven bands

Card weaving is an ancient technique that has been around since the iron age.  The process of card weaving twists the yarns and produces a much strong textile than plain weave.  Perhaps it evolved in part because of its superior strength as well as its decorative value.

Card weaving consumes warp far more than plain weave so if you want to make yards of trim a normal inkle loom won't hold enough warp.  (Expect a "take up" of 30% or more.)  You could consider a purpose built loom for weaving bands or you could use the front and back beams of a table loom to hold the warp and replace the heddles with cards.
using a table loom
painted warp card woven
So what can you do with yards and yards of narrow woven bands?  One obvious use is as a strap for a bag.  Instead of the straps being an after thought you can design the finished piece so that the straps are a major design feature.  A custom trim can lift a simple fabric out of the ordinary.  You could give friendship bracelets an adult look.  Or you can sew bands together and use them as the fabric for a bag.  Imagine the possibilities!

designing with trim

Members of our guild have recently formed a card (tablet) weaving interest group.  If anyone is interested in learning more about card (tablet) weaving or would like to share their experiences with the technique then contact us at Qualicum Weavers and Spinners

beaded band bracelets