Card Weaving on Inkle Loom - Fishing Swivels

Card Weaving on an Inkle Loom - aka Fishing Swivels are Useful

A Technique for Dealing with Twist

Many beginning card weaving patterns are twist neutral, which helps the weaver establish a feel for the craft without having to worry about any building up of twisted threads in their warp. However, if one continues learning threaded-in patterns for card weaving, in many patterns one or more cards in the pattern may build up twist. There are various options for dealing with built up twist, but this method pushes the twist to the back of the warp and then displacing the twist using large gauge fishing swivels.

This video was how I initially stumbled across this method, and was invaluable for demonstrating how to tie the knots as well as how the method worked in practice. I would highly recommend as a resource.

Video Credit: KnowKnots

Supplies Required:

  • Warp Thread

  • Inkle Loom

  • Fishing Swivels, one per card in pattern

    • Size 4, or tested for 200lbs. A length of approximately 0.87"

    • Example here

  • Scissors

  • (Optional but suggested) Crochet Hook

Getting Started

I would only suggest using the technique with threaded-in card weaving patterns that are not twist neutral. Patterns that don't build up twist can be normally warped on an inkle loom, which will be a faster approach. The purpose of this technique is to displace built up twist in patterns, without having to flip cards, and being able to adjust tension on each individual card.

I use painters tape as simple clamp replacements to hold my warp threads as I warp. Once I have all four threaded through my card, I gather the threads and tie a tautline hitch to adjust the tension.

A crochet hook is a useful took for gathering all four of your card's warp threads through the fishing swivel.

A close up shot of the knot used for this method, the tautline hitch. This knot is generally useful because it allows you to adjust the tension for each card. See the video to the right for an illustration of how to tie the knot.

Video Credit: Scout Life Magazine

A video of myself tying the knot can be found here. I am unabashedly bad at knots and knot tying, and I somehow still manage. This knot, although adjustable by pinching the knot and sliding the knot up or down, can still hold up to strong tension. I weave with high tension and have never had an issue with slipping or loosening of the knots.

Attachment of swivel at both ends of the warp.

Image shows what warp begins looking like with more cards.

Video to the right demonstrates some other benefits of tying each swivel in a closed loop. Each card is independently adjustable using the knot as well as the general tension bar. Generally you'll want to keep an even tension across all cards, but if you notice one card is drooping or a little loose, you can adjust that card's strings.

Insert a weaving sword, beater, finger, or popsicle stick into the warp, with two strings on each side.

How the Swivels Displace Tension

As your weaving progresses, many patterns will have tension build up on one or more cards. To displace the tension and allow the weaving to progress, first loosen the general tension bar on the inkle loom (this will loosen all cards in the warp the same amount). Then, insert a weaving sword, or even your finger, into the warp on the other end of the card, the far side of the weaver. Use the beater to push the tension along the warping path of the loom, all the way to the end of the warp, where it meets at the swivels. Use the swivels to spin out the tension; if it proves tricky while the warp tension is loose, keep your beater in the warp, increase the tension using the tension bar, and then use the beater to push the tension to the swivels.

When the tension is displaced, reset your tension to your taste, and continue weaving. Using this method means that even complex threaded in patterns that create a lot of twist can be done on an inkle loom without any changes in tension.

Some tips and tricks:

Often in patterns only a few cards will habitually build up twist. I recommend trying to separate the strings slightly on the loom pegs when pushing back tension to be sure your twisting card doesn't grab strings from its neighbor and twist around them.

Go slow and work the twist along the warping path of the loom to the end of the warp, where it meets with the swivel. After displacing the tension, you can continue your weaving.

Separating out the twisted strings for easier displacement of tension.