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The Inkle Loom Face-Off: Ashford vs Schacht Detailed Review

  • 7 min read
Create woven bands and braids with inkle weaving (Image credit: Ashford)
Create woven bands and braids with inkle weaving (Image credit: Ashford)

Inkle looms are small, portable looms specifically designed to create strong braids and belts. They are commonly used for weaving narrow bands of fabric with intricate patterns and designs. Inkle looms typically consist of a frame with a set of pegs that hold the warp threads in place and a weaving surface where the weft threads are interlaced with the warp threads.

Weavers use tools such as belt/stick shuttles, cards (optional) and heddles to weave on the inkle loom, creating intricate patterns and designs by manipulating the warp and weft threads. The versatility of inkle loom weaving allows for the creation of a wide variety of warp-faced projects, including decorative banding for clothing, straps, trims, and more. With their compact size and simple design, inkle looms are a practical and accessible tool for weaving beautiful, strong braids and belts.

A Comparative Guide to Ashford Inkle Loom, Ashford Inklette Loom, and Schacht Inkle Loom

In this blog post, we will delve into the world of inkle looms, explicitly focusing on the differences between the Ashford Inkle Loom, Ashford Inklette Loom, and the Schacht Inkle Loom. Each of these looms offers unique features and advantages, catering to the diverse needs of inkle weavers.

Ashford Inkle Loom

The Ashford Inkle Loom, the larger of the two inkle styles Ashford produces, is a compact and versatile tool for creating decorative woven bands and straps. With its simple and easy-to-use design and overall functionality, the Ashford Inkle Loom is perfect for beginners and experienced weavers alike.

Ashford Inkle Loom (Image credit: Ashford)
Ashford Inkle Loom (Image credit: Ashford)

Here are the key features:

    • Material and Construction: The Ashford Inkle Loom is crafted from solid silver beech hardwood, ensuring durability and stability during weaving. The loom's construction is designed to provide a smooth weaving experience.
    • Size and Portability: With a weaving width of up to 75mm (3"), the Ashford Inkle Loom is suitable for creating narrow bands and belts. Its compact size makes it easily portable, allowing weavers to take their projects wherever inspiration strikes.
    • Warp: Warp lengths of 1.3-2.8m are achievable.
    • Tension Adjustment: This loom features an adjustable tension peg, enabling weavers to control the tightness of their warp threads. This is essential for achieving the desired outcome and ensuring the integrity of the woven fabric.

These design elements enhance the weaving experience and make the Inkle loom a versatile and user-friendly tool for creating beautiful woven textiles.

Ashford Inklette Loom

The Ashford Inklette Loom is the smaller of the two inkle looms offered by Ashford. Like the larger Inkle loom, it is also a versatile, compact weaving loom perfect for creating intricate and beautiful Inklette bands and straps. The difference between this and the Inkle Loom lies in the warp length and width that can be utilised.

Ashford Inklette Loom (Image credit: Ashford)
Ashford Inklette Loom (Image credit: Ashford)

Here are its distinctive features:

      • Compact Design: The Inklette Loom is notably smaller than its counterpart, the Inkle Loom. With a weaving width of up to 50mm (2") and a warping length of 1m-1.8m, it is perfect for creating intricate and delicate patterns in narrow bands.
      • Adjustable warp: The Ashford Inklette Loom has recently been redesigned to include an adjustable tension peg that allows for 25cm (10”) warp adjustment.
      • Portability: Similar to the Inkle Loom, the Inklette Loom is designed for portability. Weavers can take their projects on the go, making this loom an excellent choice for workshops or crafting sessions outside the home.
      • Affordability: This Inklette Loom is the most affordable Inkle Loom, making it an excellent introductory option for the beginner.

Whether you are interested in creating intricate patterns for fashion and accessories or want to explore a new and fascinating form of weaving, the Ashford Inklette Loom is a reliable and affordable option for weavers of all levels.

Schacht Inkle Loom

Schacht is a renowned name in the weaving industry, and its Inkle Loom is no exception. The Schacht Inkle Loom combines superior craftsmanship with practical design elements, making it a sought-after choice for weavers who appreciate form and function.

Schacht Inkle Loom (Image credit: Schacht)
Schacht Inkle Loom (Image credit: Schacht)

Here are the features that set it apart:

    • Maple Construction: The Schacht Inkle Loom is constructed from hard maple, offering a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing frame. The quality craftsmanship ensures longevity, making it a reliable tool for inkle weaving.
    • Adjustable Tension System: One of the notable features of the Schacht Inkle Loom is its tension system. Weavers can easily adjust and maintain the tension on their warp threads, ensuring a smooth and controlled weaving process.
    • Versatile Design: The Schacht Inkle Loom is designed to accommodate a range of projects. With a weaving width of approximately 11cm (4.5 inches) and a warp length of approximately 2.6m, it provides more space for creative expression, allowing weavers to experiment with broader designs.

The Schacht Inkle Loom opens up a world of possibilities, allowing you to create intricate and diverse woven bands easily and precisely.

Ashford and Schacht Inkle Looms Comparison Chart

This chart provides a quick overview of the differences in materials, weaving widths, lengths, finishes, and other features of the Ashford Inkle Loom, Ashford Inklette Loom, and the Schacht Inkle Loom. Weavers can use this information to decide on a loom based on their preferences and the specific requirements of their projects.

A comparison chart for the Ashford and Schacht Inkle Looms
A comparison chart for the Ashford and Schacht Inkle Looms

Choosing an Inkle Loom

As you begin your inkle weaving journey, selecting the suitable loom is crucial for a satisfying and successful experience. Let's explore critical factors to consider when choosing an inkle loom, addressing aspects such as portability, project compatibility, construction, and assembly.

  1. Portability: Inkle looms come in various sizes and designs, and portability is essential for many weavers. Portable inkle looms are typically lightweight and compact, making them ideal for on-the-go weaving or those with limited crafting space. Consider the weight and size of the loom if you plan to attend workshops or travel or need a loom that can be easily stored when not in use.
  2. Type of projects: Different inkle looms cater to various projects, from narrow bands to wider straps and belts. Before making a purchase, think about the specific projects you envision undertaking. Some inkle looms are better suited to narrower, shorter bands, while others provide a wider and longer weaving area for creating more substantial items.
  3. Construction: The choice of timber significantly impacts the strength and resilience of the inkle loom. Opt for looms constructed from sturdy hardwoods, such as oak or maple, which provide a robust frame and ensure longevity. The finish applied to the loom serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. A smooth and well-sealed finish enhances the loom's appearance and protects the wood from wear and tear over time. Most inkle looms come made from unfinished wood. It is recommended that most woods be finished before use, and most manufacturers will provide recommendations for finishing.
  4. Assembly: The ease of assembly is another key factor to consider, especially for those new to weaving. Some inkle looms are designed for quick and straightforward assembly, while others may require a more intricate setup. Pay attention to the assembly instructions provided by the manufacturer and choose a loom that aligns with your comfort level and skill in putting together weaving equipment.

What is the Best Loom for Beginners?

For beginners, a portable and user-friendly inkle loom is recommended. Look for a loom with clear assembly instructions and features like an adjustable tension system. Many manufacturers offer starter kits that include all the necessary tools and accessories for beginners to dive confidently into the world of inkle weaving.

Why Are There Heddles on an Inkle Loom?

Once you’ve wound on your warp, you can use heddles to pick up threads. Every second thread is heddled so that sheds 1 and 2 can be created to enable you to easily weave plain weave. Different coloured threads, cards, and pick-up sticks may be utilised to create more intricate patterns. Heddles aren't usually supplied with inkle looms, but they can be purchased for some looms; generally, manufacturers provide instructions to create your own from strong cotton or linen.

Can You Use Cards on an Inkle Loom?

While not an essential accessory for the Inkle Loom (Cards may even be used without a loom. See the article "Introduction to Card Weaving"), they can be threaded instead of heddles to enable the creation of more intricate patterns. Some tablet or card weavers prefer to utilise an Inkle Loom for their creations as you can use the loom to organise and thread weaving, as well as to fine-tune tension with the Inkle looms tension peg.

Do All Inkle Looms Use the Same Thread?

While there is no strict rule regarding the type of thread to use on an inkle loom, the choice of thread depends on the project's desired outcome. Inkle looms can accommodate a variety of threads, including cotton, linen, or wool. Thinner threads are commonly used for intricate patterns, while thicker threads are suitable for wider straps and belts.

Here are some examples of commonly used threads and yarns in inkle weaving:

1. Cotton:

  • Perle Cotton: A mercerised cotton thread with a slightly glossy finish, perle cotton is a popular choice for inkle weaving. It comes in different thicknesses, allowing weavers to create intricate patterns and designs.

2. Linen:

  • Linen Yarn: Linen yarn brings a natural and textured feel to inkle weaving. It can produce sturdy and durable bands, making it suitable for projects like belts or straps that require strength.

3. Wool:

  • Wool Yarn: For a cozy and warm feel, wool yarn is an excellent choice for inkle weaving. It adds a touch of softness to the woven bands and is ideal for creating projects with a bit of elasticity.
  • Wool Blends:Blends of wool with other fibres, such as silk, can offer unique textures and colour variations. These blends provide additional strength and may introduce interesting visual elements to your inkle weaving.

When choosing a thread or yarn for your inkle weaving projects, consider the desired outcome, the intricacy of the patterns, and the intended use of the finished item. Threads should be smooth and strong enough to resist snagging, as well as resist the stress and abrasion placed on them throughout the weaving process. Experimenting with different materials will expand your creative horizons and help you discover the unique qualities each thread brings to your woven creations.

If you want to learn more about inkle weaving and the yarns we recommend, read our article, The Complete Inkle Loom Weaving for Beginners Guide.We also have a range of inkle weaving books to help you enhance your skills.

Which Inkle Loom Do You Like Best?

In conclusion, the choice between the Ashford Inkle Loom, Ashford Inklette Loom, and the Schacht Inkle Loom ultimately depends on the preferences and needs of the weaver. Whether you prioritise portability, adjustable features, or a broader weaving width, each of these looms offers unique advantages. Exploring the world of inkle weaving with these versatile tools opens up a realm of creative possibilities for artisans and enthusiasts alike. Happy inkle weaving!

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