Warping a Loom For Card Weaving

Yesterday I made a comment on how “someday I would make a post discussing continuous warp vs. warping each strand individually, but today is not that day”. Apparently today is that day instead. So here we go:

To begin this essay/post/wordthing is going to be looking specifically at warping an inkle loom for card weaving. I love using inkles looms for two reasons:

  1. I don’t have to deal with a back strap set up.
  2. I can put it down and walk away at any point in the weaving process. This is big since I am easily distracted by the internet and other projects.

An inkle loom is one of these:


Normally these are set up with string heddles to weave inkle bands (hence the name). Confession: string heddles and actual inkle weaving confuses the heck out of me  so I don’t do it. I have a book of over 400 beautiful inkle patterns that I (currently) can not weave.Some day it will click but today is not that day. MOVING ON!

An inkle loom works by wraping your warp around the pegs. Different configurations give you different length bands. An inkle warped for card/tablet weaving looks like this:


So how do we get from point A to point B? There are two main ways:

Way 1: Warp Each Thread individually.

This is a time consuming method. You thread a single warp strand through one hole in one card, make a slip knot around the first peg. Warp to desired length, undo the slip knot, tie the beginning of the strand to the end, cut the string, and repeat. For every hole, in every card. This is the easiest to teach, also the easiest to fix if you mess up, just untie the offending string, fix your mistake, and move on with your life. Straight forward and painless. Just time consuming and repetitive. This is the best method if you’re weaving a complicated pattern with a lot of color changes.

Way 2: Continuous Warp.

This is a method that only works with card weaving. It does not carry over to warping any other type of weaving from my understanding. It’s much (much) faster than single thread warping but does require a little more initial set up. This is fastest and easiest using two colors so that’s how I’m going to explain it. You have Color A and Color B. This explanation is also assuming you’re using standard 4-hole cards. If your cards have more/fewer holes, just adjust the number of yarn balls accordingly.

  1. Divide both colors into two equal balls.
  2. Make a stack of your cards, making sure the holes line up and the labeled edges (if applicable)  are all in the same alignment.
  3. Thread color A through two holes on the whole stack.
  4. Thread color B through the remaining two holes of the whole stack.
  5. Using all 4 strands make a slip knot around the first peg.
  6. Pick up the whole stack of cards
  7. Let go of the first card
  8. Using the rest of the deck warp your loom to the desired length
  9. Loop the whole deck around the first peg
  10. let go of the next card

Repeat steps 8-10 until all your cards have been dropped. Make one final pass with your remaining yarn until you reach your beginning peg. Carefully undo your 4 strand slip knot, tie your 4 end stands to the 4 starting strands, cut your remaining yarn loose and weave.

Continuous warping is easier and faster once you get past the initial pain that is dividing your yarn. The down side is it is harder to correct a mistake since the whole thing is one big long strand there’s no convenient untying point to fix a strand, you have to cut your warp. Or weep. Or make it a Design Feature.

Most people I’ve talked to who have learned both swear by continuous warping. It works best for simple patterns and double face (reversible) weaving. And since double face gives you nearly endless design possibilities there are some people who see no need to ever warp individual threads again. I don’t blame them. Warping isn’t exactly the fun and exciting part of weaving. Getting it over with means getting to the good part faster.

Here is where I make a confession:

hate continuous warping. I feel like it’s a pain in the butt, I can’t get the tension right, I hate how the beginning looks with the four beginning threads crossing over the whole warp and the one big honking knot with the end of the warp, and I hate having to divide my yarn. I feel like I waste so much more of it because I can never get my yardarge exact in every ball. It irks me. Warping a single thread at a time means I don’t need to wind off of my cone, I waste about an inch of yarn per warp thread (and that’s only because I trim the fringe to be neat and even), it becomes almost meditative, and I have control over exactly what color goes through what hole. It just feels less finicky. And it transfers over to other looms/styles of weaving, which makes me less frustrated with warping for other projects because I already know warping takes forever, I’m used to it.

So there, go forth and warp in whatever manner pleases you.

5 thoughts on “Warping a Loom For Card Weaving

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