Adventures in Inkle Looms

Adventures in Inkle Looms


Ashford and Schacht Inkle Loom

I started my adventure into inkle weaving, because I was looking for a way to make a decorative woven drawstring for a skirt. I also wanted to be able to tie in details from the drawstring along the seams in the panels. The complex look of the inkle patterns that I liked online made me a little hesitant, but what I found was that inkle weaving is actually a lot easier than it looks!

What is an Inkle Loom?

Inkle looms are a fun, easy way to weave narrow warp-faced strips. These bands are found in textile traditions all over the world and can be used as belts, hair ribbons, straps, decorative edging on garments, and more! 

What do I need to get Started?

Warp and Weft: You can use a variety of materials for your warp and weft. Traditionally, linen and cotton were used. For a beginner, I recommend starting with an 8/4 cotton for the warp and weft. In general, you want your warp to be sturdy rather than soft. The weft should be the same thickness and color as your warp, and--if you're using multiple thicknesses and colors of yarn in your warp--it should be the same size as the thinnest warp ends and the same color as the outermost ends.

Belt Shuttles: When you're weaving on an inkle loom, I found that it was easier to get a good beat when I used a shuttle that was tapered on one side. Both the Ashford and Schacht inkle looms come with a belt shuttle included.

HeddlesMost of what I read on inkle weaving when I got started recommended that you make your own heddles. The problem that I ran into was that, even though I was careful I ended up with some heddles that were slightly longer and some that were slightly shorter. That made my shed a little wonky because there was no consistency to it. When I started using Texsolv heddles, it made weaving a lot easier, and I learned to use uneven heddle length as a way to make weaving certain styles of inkle weaving easier.

Inkle Weaving Tips

  • You get a neater edge if your first and last ends are heddled than if they’re unheddled. 
  • Add your heddles as you go instead of waiting until the end. It makes it easier to get the heddles in neatly. 
  • Instead of making your own heddles, use Texsolv heddles. The heddles used on the Ashford table looms (green ties) and the heddles used on the Louet Jane and Magic (black ties) will work on both of the Inkle looms. The black ties are a little shorter than the green ties, and they give a larger shed. On the other hand, the green ties fit a little more loosely which puts a little less tension on your warp. 
  • If you’re weaving in a style where you have a mixture of pattern threads and background threads—such as Baltic style or South American Pebble Weave—it makes it easier to manipulate the heddled pattern threads if they’re at a different level from the background threads. I like to use a combination of the black ties and green ties to make that possible. I haven’t found any difference between weaving with my heddled pattern threads above the heddled background threads  (pattern threads in the green ties) or weaving the heddled pattern threads below the heddled background threads (pattern threads in the black ties), but having that separation makes it easier to see what you’re doing. 

Picking an Inkle Loom

The Ashford Inkle Loom has a maximum band size of 3.5” x 9.2’. It’s made out of natural finish silver beech hardwood , so it’s light weight, which makes it easy to pack up and take with you. There’s also a built in place for you to tie the beginning and end of your warp, which makes warping a breeze! It feels really stable when you’re weaving on a table or with something to prop the loom against, and it comes with a clamp if you need it for added stability. On the other hand assembly is a little difficult—you really need a hammer to drive the pegs in, and it requires some light sanding. I also do a lot of band weaving on the couch with a tv show on and my legs stretched out in front of me, which makes the Ashford loom feel a little less stable compared to having it propped against something. 


 The Schacht Inkle Loom has a maximum band size of 4.5” x 8.5’. It’s made out of unfinished hard maple, and all of the edges are smoothed and rounded, which give it a nice, finished quality. It ships mostly assembled, and what little assembly is required is a breeze. You can get bands that are a little wider, but they’re also a little shorter compared to the Ashford. It feels stable whether you’re weaving with it on a table, propped against something, or just sitting in your lap. On the other hand, part of that stability comes from the fact that it has a heavy base on the back end and it’s a little longer than the Ashford, which can makes it a little bulkier and—together with the weight of the heavier wood—makes it a little more expensive to ship. It also doesn’t have a place to anchor the warp when you start and end the warp other than the tension peg.  


All that is to say the two looms are very comparable, and it’s hard to pick between the two. In terms of mechanics of the loom, the big differences are the base and the location of the tension rod. The Ashford has two small feet (one near the front and one near the back), and the Schacht has one large base at the back of the loom. On the Ashford, the tension rod is towards the middle of the loom and has a shorter track. The Schacht has a longer track and it’s right at the front of the loom. The benefit of the Ashford’s tension rod is that you don’t have to start and stop your warp on the tension rod. Instead you have an anchored peg to work with. On the other hand, the longer track on the Schacht and it’s placement in the front of the loom makes it easier to advance the warp.  

Summary Ashford Inkle Loom Schacht Inkle Loom
Maximum Band Size 3.5” 9.2  4.5” x 8.5’ 
  • Place to tie off the beginning and end of the warp 
  • Flat packing, and less expensive shipping 
  • Light, small, and easy to carry around 
  • Feels stable on a table, and comes with a clamp for added stability if desired (I haven’t needed it for either warping or weaving.) 
  • Comes mostly assembled, and the remaining assembly is a breeze 
  • Feels stable when working with or without a table/ place to prop against 
  • Wide base makes it comfortable for weaving on your lap
  • Easier to advance the warp 
  • Assembly requires hammer, screwdriver, glue, sanding 
  • Feels less stable when weaving without a table  
  • Heavier when transporting 
  • No place to anchor starting or stopping the warp except the tension peg 
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