Pick-Up Inkle Weaving~
Inkle weaving is weaving narrow bands of cloth on an Inkle Loom. The loom usually but not always has two wood upright structures, and a series of thick pegs. Generally used to produce strong and decorative narrow bands. These bands can be useful for any number of things including: guitar strap, tension band, belts, trim for garments, straps for bags or totes, cut up and or joined to make pouches and bags. The uses are limited only to our imagination and what can be gleaned from books and the internet. They’re decorative, and warp faced; only the warp shows on the finished band. The nature of warp faced weave limits the design possibilities, so manipulation techniques are sometimes used to expand these limits.
One family of warp manipulation is called, Pick up. Pick up Inkle weaving can take on many forms; traditions from different parts of the world contribute their uniqueness to this technique. With the Pick-up techniques, warp threads are moved from their natural position in a shed and placed into another. While it’s nearly always called “pick up” there can be a fair amount of “drop-down or push down”, but that would be a mouthful. This technique expands our design possibilities from chains, checks, spots, bars and stripes, and adds diagonals, curves, nearly unbroken meandering lines, and even lettering. The regions and countries that contribute to these techniques each have unique patterns; traditionally their bands are used in national costuming and tracht.
One pickup technique is called “Monks Belt” and gets it name from the geometric patterns found on monks belts. This technique uses thicker pattern threads from the thread used for the ground cloth. The pattern threads are all heddled and always an even number. The monks belt technique creates bold designs and is well suited to geometric shapes. The pattern threads can be the same size as the ground threads as long as they’re at least doubled. The pattern threads do not contribute to the structure of the band, but are extra heddled threads between two heddled ground threads. If these threads were omitted, the band could still be woven, but it would be plain.
A technique that can be woven as a plain weave and/or with a pick up pattern is one that is warped evenly. An alternating pattern of heddled and unheddled threads all the same size. This band can be woven in a plain or tabby weave. Warped with the colors strategically placed, a pick up pattern can be formed to create a variety of designs. Having two or three colors in the design area, the weaver is able to pick up the desired warp into the shed or push one down. A pattern results from the carried over warp. This creates warp floats and care should be taken to avoid overly long floats that could result in snags on the finished band. Pattern threads are the same size as the other threads and are distinguished by their color; they can be heddled, unheddled or both. Lettering can be used and many national costumes are decorated with bands woven with this technique.
A technique used for a great deal of national costuming in the Baltic countries (and my favorite) is called Baltic style or Basket-Weave. This of course originates in the northern European countries. The term basket-weave comes from the pattern that results when it’s woven tabby. Its pattern threads are thicker than the ground threads (or same thickness double or tripled) and are part of the structure of the weave. The pattern threads are warped alternately heddled and unheddled with two ground threads between them. Baltic pick up patterns are warped with an odd number of thick pattern threads, as few as five. This technique produces and sturdy band with bold designs, and is useful in lettering and meandering lines as well. The pattern threads generally contrast with the color of the ground threads.
There are more types of Pick up, namely the The South Andean Pebble Weave, but I’ve had too much fun with what I’ve gotten myself into already. I just haven’t had the time to give that one a try – yet. I do love the look produced by the pebble weave, perhaps I’ll put one in my queue. Pick up is a technique that brings you closer to your weaving, whether you’re following a published pattern or creating a new one. Manipulating each pick makes us take a breath and enjoy what we’re doing; it helps keep us in the moment doing what we love to do. When we take pick up one step at a time it’s not as daunting as it appears. Just find a pattern, study the warp diagram, warp it, and each pick is spelled out. After a couple of repeats you realize it’s easier than it looks. After all, this technique developed over the centuries without the benefit of a computer while dinner simmered on the stove.