Long Thread Podcast: Annie MacHale

Season 9, Episode 4: With more than a thousand guitar straps and two books under her belt, Annie MacHale has found no end to her fascination with bandweaving.

Anne Merrow Apr 20, 2024 - 5 min read

Long Thread Podcast: Annie MacHale Primary Image

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The call of complexity draws some weavers to more shafts, more structures, more hand-manipulated techniques. For Annie MacHale, refining the techniques and celebrating the artistry of very simple bands has been a lifelong fascination. Starting when she first picked up a shuttle and inkle loom in her teens, Annie has worked in wool, cotton, and hemp, creating practical cloth that’s just a few inches wide.

Any bandweaver has heard the question more times than they can count: “But what can you do with it?” Annie replies, “The uses are limited only by your imagination.” Her work has found an avid audience and market among guitarists and reenactors. The simplicity of an inkle band is its key to versatility as a strap or ribbon. “A woven band can be so many things to so many people, and in the world of weaving, it’s very simple, but it’s also very useful,” she says. “That’s what attracted me to inkle weaving.” (She has a list of uses on her website for anyone who weaves more bands than they currently have a use for.)

Although Annie describes her own approach to design as spontaneous, her first book contains an extensive directory of patterns and palettes for weaving inkle bands. In Celebration of Plain Weave can be read as a response to the idea that making plain bands isn’t real weaving. “It seemed to me there was this general sense that plain weave wasn’t all that interesting, that if you wanted to do something cool, you either had to learn some pickup technique or do card weaving. And I disagree with that,” she says.

Plain weave holds plenty to keep her engaged and exploring, but Annie also plays with pick-up in her work. Her second book focuses on an unusual and complex Baltic technique using three warp colors. She also loves finding connections between her bandweaving and traditional weaving techniques from around the world, from banded Chimayo designs to Scandinavian backstrap bands to Andean pickup.

Besides weaving miles of inkle bands on her own, Annie enjoys teaching inkle weaving, including basic skills, color and design, and several methods of pickup. “Have loom, will travel,” she says, referring to her upcoming classes across the country (listed on her website).

Annie MacHale’s website
Upcoming class schedule
In Celebration of Plain Weave
Three-Color Pickup for Inkle Weavers
“Inkle Weaving Basics” (free class on Taproot Video)
“Uses for a Woven Band”
Annie’s Instagram
Annie’s woven guitar straps

This episode is brought to you by:

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