How To: An Inkling of Inkle Weaving

7 May 2024
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This piece is co-authored by Zoe McDonell and Tamra Prior. Our sytem doesn’t allow for shared bylines, but we wish it did!

If you’ve ever wanted to try weaving, inkle weaving is one of the easiest and simplest ways to begin. Both ancient and modern, its origins are most likely prehistoric: “Simple enough to be discovered and forgotten innumerable times.” Inkle weaving is popular throughout the world today, and in Canada it holds special cultural significance with many Métis communities. Many traditional Métis weavers use inkle looms to create narrow sashes and hatbands for regalia (see this article from the Métis Museum [PDF]).

Originally, the word inkle referred more generally to a woven band: “A colored linen tape or braid woven on a very narrow loom and used for trimming,” according to Merriam-Webster. The word remained popular until being phased out during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when manufactured ribbons became commercially available.

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Copyright © Zoe McDonell except as indicated.

About Zoe McDonell

Zoe McDonell, MSc, RPBio, is a Vancouver-based textile artist and ecologist of settler-descent specializing in dyeing with plants, windfall lichens and mushrooms. She has been teaching workshops, lectures and demonstrations on natural dye techniques and other fiber arts since 2003. She studies how forest communities can be managed for conservation.

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