From time to time I look at the site analytics for the blog and this time I was shocked to see that the top search that is bringing people here is “lap inkle loom”. How do they know? Is my home bugged or something? What you don’t know, because I never told you, is that just before Christmas I bought another inkle loom, I wanted something that was small enough to go on my lap so I could use it sat watching tv at night. That is usually my prime knitting time except that I’m not doing that much of it right now and black penguins don’t come out at night anyway. My existing inkle loom was too long front to back to successfully go on my knee and I can’t think what else I could be doing to keep my hands busy in front of the tv. As it turned out one top evening activity for the future could well be stringing beads onto thread.
This is the Ashford Inklette, it manages as a lap loom if you sit it on a cushion but if you were serious about it then you’d screw it to a wider base because it’s not exactly stable. That would make it less portable though and I imagine that would be why most people would buy it anyway, it’s only 3.5″ by 14″ so it’s a dinky little thing to carry around but I can make a 59″ braid from it. This has a flap for adjusting the tension rather than a sliding peg and I’m sure that I will stop hating it in time. When I’m moving the completed braid around the pegs the end warps have a nasty habit of sliding off the edge of the flap and getting wedged between it and the body of the loom. They can slide off the pegs as well because they are straight rather than having a bump on the end so I have been grumbling my way along the learning curve.
I’m a long way off using it while watching tv. I can knit without really looking at my work but my woven edges need constant vigilance if they are not to wander all over the place. The piece on the top was me watching what I was doing, the piece on the bottom (sadly it is part of the same braid) was me watching Doctor Who. Wool is a pig to unpick, I did try to unweave this section once John Barrowman had put his clothes back on but the weft was so caught up on the warp that it would have needed scissors.
I’m sure that I’ll be making another beaded braid at some point because when I mentioned that I had a thousand gold beads left from Iris, well I was wrong and it’s five thousand less the few hundred that I’ve used already. When I come to make another I will have forgotten what I learned this time unless I write it down so to save reinventing the wheel this is my how to on beaded edges. The tutorial is here, I used crochet cotton for the bead warps but in future I’d use the warp yarn if it was thin enough to pass through the beads. I wound two lengths of cotton roughly twice the length I was going to need (cotton is cheap and I didn’t want the worry of running out) and threaded beads on to each until I got bored with it. I wound the cotton onto card bobbins and weighted each with a handy Goodgrips peg (“Oxo Goodgrips magnetic all purpose clips” if you want to go looking). These are useful for no end of things, they have a rubber edge so will happily hang from a piece of yarn. They have a magnet on the back and a hanging hole, they are sold in the kitchen section but I use them whenever I want a spare hand for holding a piece of yarn. They have just enough weight to tension the cotton. I also use them for pinning the end of the yarn to the base of the loom when I’m warping it, it’s a continuous warp so when you are done you tie the two ends of the yarn together. If you are me and you knotted the start to the woodwork the chances are that you will be unable to unknot it when done.
The two cotton warps are treated just the same as the others, if the first wool warp went up then the cotton on the outside of it goes down. This meant making another heddle for one side that would open enough for the beads to pass through it. I started off with a floating warp thread where you pass the weft around it the way that it should go but I had to think what I was doing with that. Once the supplementary warp threads passed through heddles (or not) the same as the others there was no thinking involved because they all go up or down together.
When the beads ran out I unwound the cotton from the bobbin and threaded on some more until I was bored with it. Threading beads is much less interesting than weaving so my boredom threshold was pretty low, I had to rethread four times in all. I used about five per inch on each side so my braid used approximately 570 beads. I love the final effect but there’s nothing difficult about it at all which is why I suspect that I’ll be making more of these until the gold beads are all used up. I did hope that the colours would even out along the length but that didn’t happen, it stayed resolutely red on one side only. That’s what you get for using a self striping yarn rather than forcing it to stripe by changing colours.
The beaded band is going to be a bag strap, the other one is not uniform enough for that and I’ll need to get inventive to find a use for it. I suspect that scissors may be involved. This will be another bag strap because it is going to be straight. This is the one where I finally admit that a positive mental attitude is not enough to generate a straight band and I’ve started using a high tech weaving aid. It might look like a recycled Christmas card with lines on but this is what is going to keep me on the straight and narrow even when faced with interesting tv. I also got lucky with the striping on this one, it’s all one yarn but I managed to get it to begin and end with grey. I’m pleased with it already, let us hope that it continues for the next 50″.