On the left is the sample I completed. After all that complaining, I realized it looks better off the loom than I thought it would, and I’m pleased with it, wavy selvedges and all. I’ve started a new one, all wool, and it’s also nice but doesn’t have the crispness that the cotton added. I altered the design somewhat so the bottom and top will match a little more. I’m thinking I can do several of these as bookmarks.
Is it me? Is it the heddle? Or, is it the combination of materials? Probably a little of all three.
I started an ambitious band design, something I found in the files of the Yahoo group, Bands and Braids. This design wasn’t charted, so I put it into a grid. Turns out it has 68 picks for one complete design… that’s a lot! You can see where I started and stopped and started again. I chose cotton for the background threads and wool for the pattern threads, and I found I had a similar problem to the previous band I completed: the cotton is saggier than the pliable wool, and that leads to tension problems. Plus, the wooden double-slotted heddle I bought has some snags here and there which are doing a number on the warp and it’s fraying quite a bit. I’m not totally thrilled with the heddle, but I’m willing to sand down the slots, which should help; however, I’ve gone ahead and ordered two different sizes of double-slotted plastic heddles and a few other doo-dads from Stoorstalka.
I’m anxious to try an all-wool band and set the cotton aside for awhile. I like the lacy and light feeling it adds, so I’ll use it again when I’m more experienced.
There are a slew of wonderful how-to bandweaving videos out there, primarily by weaver Susan Foulkes, who focuses on pick-up style Sami bands. She often uses a special heddle that has extra slots (a Sunna or Sigga heddle) or extra holes (a Beaivi heddle) for pattern threads; however you may also use any rigid heddle or even an inkle loom to create the same type of band. There are a number of great videos on her Youtube channel:
Five Ways of Weaving Narrow Bands:
Weaving Narrow Warp Faced Patterned Bands (This one uses a regular rigid heddle, not one with extra slots or holes):
My new favorite book is Norwegian Pick-Up Bandweaving by Heather Torgenrud (2014). It focuses on everything I like about weaving: the history, the color, the texture, and the process. Plus, there are dozens of patterns. If you have an interest in weaving Nordic-styled pick-up bands, well, here’s your book. Using a rigid heddle with a backstrap setup, this style of weaving produces sturdy, vivid, and cheerful bands which were once used around the house for things like belts, shoe laces, baby swaddling, package ties, and clothing decorations. Heather Torgenrud’s book is that type of reading that gets to the heart of an important style of weaving, a delightful discovery for someone like me, the weaver who likes to know.
I’ve had an interest in this style of band weaving ever since, over four years ago, I discovered a treasure in an antique shop, a Norwegian rigid heddle, or bandgrind:
Isn’t it gorgeous? Hand carved, it may have been a traditional courting gift from a young man to a young woman. It was most likely used with the decorative top hanging downward although I’m not positive about that. At the time, I wasn’t certain what it was other than a little loom, and it took some research to come across the explanation. Although you can use a band loom on a regular frame loom, they were normally used with one end of the warp tied to something sturdy like a doorknob and the other end secured around the weaver’s waist, backstrap style.
I love the portable nature of band weaving, and currently I’m looking forward to receiving a “slotted” rigid heddle, which is useful for weaving patterns. Although I love my antique band loom, I don’t dare use it, so in the meantime, I’ve been using my small Ashford Sampleit loom for some practice. Here’s a seven-thread band with embroidery and crochet cottons:
A great project for summer is inkle or band weaving using cotton. Here, I made a belt and a band for my new Tilley TH9. I used my inkle loom for the belt, but I prefer using a rigid heddle when doing pickup to be able to better see which strands to pick or drop. For a frame I used a Spears #4 loom and a little heddle I’ve had for years. Worked like a charm.
I’ve discovered if you know other language names for the words “weave,” “weaving” or “loom” you’ll find the neatest stuff on the Internet. Take the word “bandvev” for example. It probably means something like “band loom” in Scandinavia. If you search Youtube with variations of the term, you’ll find some really interesting videos. There are a number on the Norsk Folkemuseum channel that document weavers and craftsmen and women from the 1950s. You can find warp-weighted weaving in particular, but I was entranced by this one that shows a number of different ways bands are woven: on a loom, with a rigid heddle, and with cards.
It took nearly two bands done similarly to realize I wasn’t weaving warp-faced inkle bands. In fact, they are more of a balanced weave. Normally with inkle bands, the weft isn’t seen except for a snippet on each edge. It’s there to pull all the warp threads together. The threads of the warp are the only threads you see. But with the two bands I’ve just finished–the stained glass one and the green and white one–the weft is visible. I think I started doing this because I liked the look. Also, I had warped it with double and triple threads but only used a single for the weft. It created it a bunchy feeling when I pulled it in to make the warp-faced weaving. So, I started to weave it to be flatter and smoother. In the end, it’s not quite balanced weave (where the weft and warp show equally), but it’s closer to that than a normal band. Why all the fuss? I have a feeling these bands are probably weaker than a real warp-faced band. Also, I learned to weave on a rigid heddle and it makes sense that I reverted to this type of weaving. I also realize that the inkle loom is probably more versatile than I first imagined. I wonder if anyone does balanced weaving on these looms? (But why… when I have a bunch of looms designed for that sitting at home? Because it’s interesting, that’s why!)
This band reminds me of an old-fashioned wicker hamper. It's white cotton (two strands) and green embroidery floss. Soon, I'll be finished with all that vintage floss I found in a tin at an antique store. The only colors left are pinks and yellows.
But I only took one picture. I wove a very quick band out of black crochet cotton and a variety of purple and lavender embroidery floss. Some of the strands were doubled and some were tripled. I really like the stained glass effect it produced. I also made another long band I cut into some bookmarks, but honestly, it wasn't really worth a picture.
I’m so pleased with the Schacht Inkle Loom I found in a thrift store this week. Actually, my husband spotted it as I was leaving. He thought it looked kind of loom-like and asked me what it was. 🙂
I had tried weaving some Sami bands on the little Peacock loom, but it was only working so/so. I had to take off several pieces of the loom, and that didn’t seem quite right. I never considered getting a regular-sized inkle loom, however, because I did have a mini one that was really cute and I never used it. I gifted it to someone and figured that was the end of my band weaving. But never say never!
I have to admit, weaving on a decent-sized inkle loom is great. I knew how to tie the heddles and warp it already, and so I picked a very simple pattern from the Helene Bress book that came with it, and away I went, weaving a ladder band. For anyone who is interested, Jane Patrick has a great how-to video on warping and weaving an inkle loom that can teach the basics.
(The inkle loom is not very big, but it looks huge next to the tiny Louet in the next picture. I’m warping the Louet for a rep weave project.)