14 November 2012

I haven't an inkling

 There are days when I really wonder why. Today was one of those. One of my best friends called me in crisis this evening, and I listened, we talked, and I think it helped, but I can do so little to help fix the situation, and ranting about it doesn't work. And it doesn't help that she's 5000 kilometres away, so mid-evening for me is almost bed-time for her.

While we talked, I wove, to keep my hands busy and my heart steady. The picture below shows the newest member of the fibre arts family at our home, an inkle loom which I've christened Miranda. The name seems appropriate, since (according to my favourite name website), it was created in the 1500s by Shakespeare, and the first recorded use of 'inkle' to describe narrow-woven tapes or bands dates from the 1500s. "Inkle" doesn't appear to be related to the word "inkling," from what documentation I can find from online etymology websites, but their similarity in sound is rather poetic.

Miranda, my inkle loom, warped, with a few inches woven
The loom itself may be a more recent innovation--I've found conflicting information stating that the inkle loom only dates from the 1930s, but another site had one purporting to be medieval. I don't particularly care, since I'm not in the SCA at this point, and this is a way to learn to weave that doesn't involve me tying things to a doorknob and tangling the threads up. I can do basic warp-face weaving on this, and I can use it for tablet weaving (again, skipping the tying it to a doorknob, although I may work up to creating a backstrap loom, using a strap woven on my inkle loom--I've yet to get my hands on a table loom, and these are more portable, after all). I'm learning the basics of using this before jumping up to tablet weaving, which is more complex, though very interesting.

I bought the loom on Craigslist, from a seller who was actually in my area, so I didn't have to spend a lot of time lugging the strange arrangement of boards and pegs on the bus. I did get questions, and I had fun introducing people to the concept of an inkle loom.

When I arrived home, I watched a video, read a few how-to's, and then warped my loom. I did the shortest warp that this loom does, using leftover dishcloth cotton for my warp, and crochet cotton for my heddles. Then I wound some more dishcloth cotton onto one of my flat bobbins (it didn't come with a shuttle) and started weaving.

My first two woven straps, made of dishcloth cotton. Number 1 on the left (brown warp yarn as weft), number 2 on the right (crochet cotton as weft).
I'm on strap number 3 at the moment--that's what's on the loom in the first picture. I'm using some leftover cotton-linen-silk blend yarn that has a beautiful mix of colours. I'm getting better as I go--each piece gets a little more even, although my selvedges are still messier than I'd prefer. Not sure if that's a warp or a weft problem. Or both.

At any rate, it's something to do with my hands that's rather different than the knitting. Which, of course, I'm still doing. There's the first of a pair of slippers sitting next to me on the table, and I was knitting on a sock whilst having tea with a friend this afternoon. The new thing for my making repertoire is exciting, even if all I can make right now are belts and ribbons.

And it helps when I feel useless. At least I can make something, and put well-wishes into the fabric as I create it.

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