Getting started with tablet weaving #3

Now I probably started these posts on tablet/card weaving backwards and this should possibly be the first thing I should have covered… but well, I started with the practical set-up stuff first instead!

This post is about the basic concept of tablet weaving, which is that turning the cards causes the warp threads to twist around each other like you’re making cord. By pushing a weft thread in place between turns, the weft is captured and held in place by the twisted warp.

The twisty nature of it is what makes it a different way of weaving. It also means it is largely warp-faced (the weft is hidden by the warp) and dense because of the twists.

The quirk of this style of weaving – at least to this weaver! – is that I think you can grab some cards/tablets and a set of instructions / pattern and just get going. Of course there’s a lot more you can learn about how it all works, but it struck me as being dead simple to get started with!

Getting started with tablet weaving #2

There are a few different ways you can warp your tablets/cards, but it doesn’t hurt to thread one card at a time and get a feel for working with the four holes and your colours.

If you are warping for a pattern, remember to keep the colours in the right order as you move around the holes in the tablet (e.g. black, black, red, red), but remember that you can rotate the card at the end to ensure the right colours are at top and bottom. Essentially it’s the order that matters when you warp!

You can start with as few as eight cards/tablets, but many patterns ask for more.

Once you’ve warped, you need to adjust the cards in two directions. Two cards/tablets warpedFirst which card are angled to the left or to the right (more on this in a future post). Generally you want at least the outermost card on each side to angle a different way to the ones in the centre. Two is even better, but obviously that depends on how many cards you’re working with.

Why do this? Well, it stops your finished weaving from twisting in one direction.

Then you might need to rotate them toward or away from you to get the colours you want on the top. If you’re doing something simple, like a stripe, you can just align the cards so two of the same colour appear in the top two holes, but you might offset them to create chevrons, or something even more fun!

This is your starting position.

So, once you’re all lined up and you’ve got the ends of your warp tied and under a bit of tension, you can pull those tablets down toward where your hands are and start to weave!

Now, in tablet/card weaving the cards will all be edge-on like in this picture here. Tablets in position ready to weaveThe shed is made by the top and bottom holes closest to you and it’s always a good idea to clear the shed with your fingers before passing the weft.

You can tie your weft thread into a little butterfly if you don’t have a shuttle and, like in any loom weaving, you just pass it through the shed and then you change the shed. I beat after changing the shed, because the shed is quite open so the weft can spring out again otherwise! diagram showing card rotation

To change your shed, you rotate the cards a quarter turn away from you.

This means the hole that was on the top, closest to you, moves to being the hole on the top at the back. (In the diagram A would move to D’s position.)

In coming posts, I’ll talk about how the shed change works and how the angle of the cards affects the direction your threads are twisting in – yes there will be diagrams! Before that though, there’ll be a short post just on the way that tablet/weaving captures the weft (that’s a nice easy bit).

Getting started with tablet weaving #1

In some ways, tablet weaving is the simplest thing in the world, because you just need some yarn and a set of tablets/cards. You can tie the ends of your warp to pretty much anything and you don’t need a shuttle for your weft. You don’t even have to buy cards/tablets if you have a hole-punch and some cereal boxes.

Your tablets/cards should look like this:

a threaded weaving tablet
My tablets are about a 5cm square (2 inches)

And they shouldn’t be too small or too large, but there’s a fair range of usable sizes. You need to be able to turn them comfortably and you don’t want your shed to yawn too wide, but online I’ve seen them as big as a DVD (actually made from a squared off DVD/CD) and as small as a credit card.

What you do want is to have them as smooth as possible. You don’t want the holes or the edges snagging or cutting your yarn/thread.

Next you need to pick something to tie one end of your warp to – remember it’ll need to hold position under tension – and traditionally the other end would be tied to your belt while you stand/sit and weave.

Choose some yarn. You can use almost anything from sewing thread to chunky wool, but to see what you’re doing clearly and get used to turning the cards/tablets, it’s probably a good idea to start with something like a 4 ply knitting yarn.

Then you warp.  I’ll cover this in the next post!

Weaving patterns #5 – texture

There are quite a lot of ways to add texture to weaving. Ones I’ve already talked about are:

There are also “finger manipulated weaves” which I’ll cover in another post, but I thought here I’d talk about something you see in some patterns almost as a side effect…

a textured 4 shaft weave
This draft creates a raised texture as well as a colour pattern

So here the weft is skipping sections of warp and making a surface texture as well as a colour pattern. This is a favourite draft for me since I tried it! I was so excited to see the texture on the surface (bonus!).

4shaft draft from handweaving.net

In a serendipitous blooper, I put the colours the wrong way around the first time (the first image above). I got lovely chunky sections of raised colour against a flat, black warp, and that gives the cloth a different character.  Some time I’ll do this draft in all one colour just for the subtle texture.

I suspect a few of these broken twill patterns would yield a similar result, so I’m on the lookout for this in drafts now!

What happens when I’m not weaving…

So, it’s been a bit quiet on the weaving front for… well… 3 months. The main reason being that I’ve been putting all my non-bill-paying-job energy into working on my fiction. Three novellas and a short novel have been taking up all my time. That and watching some trashy TV shows!

This is always a challenge for my crafts… I spend a lot of time writing because it’s a time-consuming thing, but that often pushes my other creative pursuits to the back of the queue.

Of course, there was probably also an element of weave-fatigue by the time I got through the Christmas presents. I’d been weaving very solidly for 6 months by then! So, a break was probably needed.

Now I am ready to weave again. I have some lovely soft cotton I want to test out on the tablet weaving side of things and I have balls of yarn bouncing up and down wanting to be made into scarfs. I also have a backlog of posts for this blog that I’ve sketched out longhand (I write longhand a lot) which need typing.

I just need to find a rhythm that allows weaving and writing to co-exist!