Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Weaving on the Big Wave

Several months ago I purchased a "Big Wave" inkle loom from Gilmore looms.  I had an ulterior motive  (other than just wanting a new piece of weaving equipment).  The Big Wave weaves wide pieces - well, wide by inkle standards.  Judy at Gilmore looms showed me several pieces she had woven on the loom that were about 8" wide and I envisioned purses and hats, maybe table runners.  The new Gilmore inkles come with an optional leg that folds out so you can rest the loom in your lap while you weave - think demonstration loom that doesn't require the truck to transport it!  OK - that's two motives! 

I got my loom in time for the annual open house that the Sacramento Guild hosts every February.  I had done my prerequisite two samples before time to demonstrate, and had a four yard warp on the loom for the public to watch the process over two days - and I had another warp wound to use in case I ran out of weaving stuff before the open house was over.  (I forgot to mention that these inkles are like conventional looms  - think front and back beams, two shafts and texsolve heddles).  I did run out of warp, put on a new warp successfully without resorting to public tantrums and got it threaded, tied on and started weaving.

Originally, I had only purchased the loom with 200 heddles.  What was I thinking!  I needed to weave those 8 inch wide pieces.  I e-mailed Judy and told her that I needed more heddles - I'm thinking maybe another 300?  She told me she had 600 total on her Big Wave - so that's what I went for.  Let me tell you, 600 heddles fit on that loom snugly; would there be enough room to thread?  I wound four warp chains using leftovers on bobbins, smallish little cones of this and that, some red silk that bleeds, almost every odd and end I had of perle cotton, silk, tencel etc.  Two yards long.  Winding on the warp was slow;  that many threads, condensed in a smallish area don't travel easily through the cross.  Then I sat down to thread the six hundred ends.  I opted to thread from the middle of the loom out - probably could have threaded just as easily from one side or another.  It turned out that I had wound a few too many threads, so several were dropped from one side (not the two end threads so I wouldn't lose my tension at the end of the warp).  I also used a trick of  threading one thread of the next stripe before the last thread of the previous stripe to get little ripples in the design.

With this many threads, I didn't think I could actually tie them on to the front beam, so I tied knots in the warp ends and laced it.

Weaving was actually pretty trouble free, in spite of the fact that I had used a variety of weights of yarn and  for the weft I used some neutral colored silk that matched the two outside selvedges.  I really enjoy that I can rest the loom on my lap and weave.  The only inconvenience is having the phone ring and trying to relocate the loom carefully in order to get up to answer it.

I thought that I might make a purse out of the yardage, but after it was off the loom, I couldn't think about cutting it up.  Maybe a table runner?  I pressed it firmly with an iron because it ripples slightly due to the variety of yarns used.  It is also interesting to see that the multitude of colors I used in the warp, pretty much harmonize with each other.  Fun project and next time I really do have to try making a purse from my efforts.


  1. What a fascinating concept. I didn't care for inkle weaving because I didn't see the point of all that work for dogs leashes, plus it wasn't fun. That doesn't even look like an inkle loom. The cloth looks like inkle just the same. I hope to see one demonstrated some time.

  2. Great looking piece with some southwest flavour. It would make a great bag, or runner!

  3. Wonderful patience and excellent result.

  4. Really nice piece - I love the colors. I'm looking forward to seeing what else you can make with your new loom.

  5. Does regular Red Heart yarn work with this loom very well?

    1. I would think that it would work OK. You might want to contact Gilmore Looms and ask them. I haven't tried regular knitting yarns on this loom.