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What goes in my weaving class?

I mentioned on a tablet weaving mailing list that I was teaching a five-day tablet weaving and sprang class. One of the readers asked what on earth goes into a five-day class, so I thought I’d post my outline. This could be a two-day class with experienced and knowledgeable participants, or a full five-day class all by itself (or considerably longer, if we explored all the ramifications and permutations). The outline isn’t something I fuss about, though: we cover as much or as little material as the students wish.

Look like fun? You can still sign up.

(Note: Not sure what’s up with the spacing, but don’t have time to fix it just now.)

Section A. Tablet Weaving

Part 1: Two-color Tablet Weaving

  1. Overview of tablet weaving

    1. Terminology

      1. Warp, weft, shed, pick

    2. Three kinds of tablet/card weaving

      1. Threaded-in patterns: warp twining
      2. Turned patterns
      3. Surface decoration: brocade, soumak

    3. Goals for the class

      1. Be able to set up your equipment
      2. Understand how tablet weaving works
      3. Be able to follow a written turning pattern
      4. Be able to design your own patterns in several techniques

    4. Playing with the big tablets

      1. S and Z threading

        1. Mixed threading doesn’t work

      2. Forward and backward turns

        1. First Law of Tablet Weaving: The thread that crosses the top is the one that shows.
        2. Second Law: An S-threaded tablet turned forward is the same as a Z-threaded tablet turned backwards.

          1. If and only if the color sequence is the same!

      3. Hole positions

        1. Why ABCD is a bad idea
        2. How to describe the hole positions properly

          1. Warp end / cloth end
          2. Top (face) vs bottom (back)

  2. Setup

    1. Equipment

      1. Tablets/cards: many options
      2. Tensioning device

    2. Warping

      1. Discontinuous warp – cut and thread
      2. Continuous warp – the fast way

    3. Selvage tablets: 2 on each side, turned all forwards

      1. Always a good idea, and required for many weaves

    4. Loom types

      1. 2 C-clamps; pegs in board; inkle loom;

    5. Using the frame loom

      1. Tying a bowline
      2. Tension adjustment

  3. Weaving basics

    1. New skill: turning the tablets
    2. New skill: making a secure beginning by weaving the weft end in
    3. New skill: leaving a weft loop to create neat selvages

      1. One pick == one pass of the weft

    4. Start: tablets all the same position, all S-threaded: horizontal stripes

      1. Note the twist in the cords: can’t make true horizontals but can make true verticals
      2. Warp twining

        1. Need to accommodate twist build-up

          1. Periodic untwisting; weights; swivels

    5. Switch to diagonals

      1. How to get the right diagonal?
      2. Experiment with turning forward and backward
      3. Don’t forget to look at the back of the band

    6. Switch to diamonds

      1. Check on getting right diagonals
      2. Experiment with turnings forward and backward

    7. New skill: making a secure ending by weaving the weft back in with needles or extra string loops

  4. Diagonal patterns (“Egyptian” diagonals)

    1. New skill: using two pattern packs

      1. Could also flip tablets

    2. Block patterns: changing four cards every four turns

      1. Don’t include selvages!

    3. Advanced version: change two tablets every two turns
    4. First pattern: start at left edge, work across

      1. Don’t include selvages!

    5. Second pattern: start at each edge, work to center and back
    6. Experiment as desired

  5. Double-face

    1. Overview

      1. Easiest way to draw pictures
      2. Fewest limitations on pattern types
      3. Drawback: blocky style, no smooth diagonals

    2. Weaving

      1. Tablets with color in same position

        1. Start with both dark threads on cloth end

      2. Can be SZSZ or all the same

        1. Use SZSZ here, as on pattern

      3. Turning sequence: FFBB, all tablets the same
      4. To change color, turn four time the same way: become out of synch

        1. Method 1: split into two packs, one going FFBB, the other BBFF
        2. Method 2: flip tablet, keep in same pack (Second Law)

    3. New skill: following patterns

      1. Bottom to top, so matches cloth growth
      2. One row represents one pick
      3. Each column is a tablet
      4. Pattern shows turning direction

        1. For doubleface, use brick graph paper
        2. Can shade in bricks to build pattern

      5. Work from sample pattern

    4. Pattern drafting

      1. Shade entire bricks; reverse turning pattern for those tablets

  6. 3/1 Broken Twill

    1. Overview

      1. Same turning pattern as doubleface: FFBB
      2. Tablets staggered – adjacent tablets not in the same position or turning the same way.
      3. Can have S-twill or Z-twill; direction must match diagonal color changes

    2. Weaving

      1. All tablets S-threaded
      2. New skill: reading the tablets

        1. Tablets start in different positions: need to look at pattern to figure out how to set them.
        2. Remember First Law of Tablet Weaving!

    3. Patterns

      1. New skill: following a turning pattern
      2. Slash for turning direction matches twist direction when tablets are S-threaded

        1. Forward slash / = forward turn
        2. Back slash \ = backward turn

    4. Pattern drafting

      1. Fill bricks to create a pattern
      2. Each tablet follows the FFBB sequence, but out of sequence with its neighbors
      3. Turns on either side of a color change must be in the same direction as that color change
      4. Both turns within a brick must be the same direction EXCEPT:

        1. You want to change the twill direction (change blocks in alternate tablets).
        2. Parallel color changes are separated by even numbers of blocks.
        3. Perpendicular color changes are separated by odd numbers of blocks.

Part 2: Two-hole Tablet Weaving

  1. Review from Part 1

    1. Questions?

  2. Differences between two and four holes

    1. 2 gives MORE possibilities because there are fewer constraints
    2. Harder to work with because of uneven support of tablets
    3. Adjacent holes or diagonal holes give different possibilities

      1. Play with giant tablets

  3. Warp twining – method 1

    1. Setup: diagonal holes, all tablets aligned
    2. Requires half-turns, not quarter
    3. Stripes and diagonals

      1. Note difference in angles

  4. Warp twining – method 2

    1. Setup: diagonal holes, tablets staggered
    2. Quarter-turns

  5. Plain weave

    1. FBFB
    2. No warp twining == warp-faced plain weave

  6. Andean pebble weave

    1. Overview

      1. History: used in the Andes, not traditionally tablet-woven
      2. “Pebbles” anchor floats

    2. Weaving

      1. Tablets all threaded S
      2. Tablets all start in same position: background color in top hole on cloth edge
      3. Quarter-turn back to bring up pebble color; quarter-turn forward to bring up base color

        1. No warp twining

      4. MUST keep hold of the tablets!

    3. Patterns

      1. Follow the pattern; turn appropriate color to top

        1. Make sure to use the correct turning direction

    4. Pattern drafting

      1. Pebbles all the same color
      2. Connect diagonally-adjacent pebbles by filling in the intervening pair

  7. Hochdorf pebble weave

    1. Overview

      1. Very early – European Celtic

    2. Weaving

      1. Tablets all S-threaded
      2. Tablets manipulated in pairs – ALWAYS
      3. Each pair turned FFBB; pairs alternate (next pair is BBFF)
      4. Background color in cloth-edge holes of first pair; warp-edge holes of second pair

    3. Patterns

      1. Condensed patterns: each square is two tablets and 2 picks
      2. Change color by turning a pair 4 times in the same direction

        1. Match slashes to color change; fixed sequence within solid areas

    4. Pattern drafting

      1. Direction of color changes must match turning direction

  8. Working from loom weaves

    1. Tablets threaded in adjacent holes
    2. Can create all possible sheds

      1. both up; both down; either pair of one up-one down

    3. Work through a weaving draft by pairs
    4. Check threading direction and right/left arrangement


  • Collingwood, Peter. 1996. Techniques of Tablet Weaving. Robin and Russ. ISBN: 1566590558 (Paperback reprint)
  • Crockett, Candace. 1991. Card Weaving. Interweave Press. ISBN: 0934026610 (Paperback reprint)
  • Weaver’s Hand


3/1 Broken Twill

Two-hole Patterns

3 Comments on “What goes in my weaving class?”

  1. #1 String stuff | It's a Dangerous Business
    on Jun 21st, 2012 at 8:49 am

    […] What goes into my weaving class?  Philia outlined it for us. And just a reminder that this is a dangerous time sink of a site. Love what she has here. […]

  2. #2 Douglas Grant
    on Jun 21st, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I have to admit to a bit of envy with people that can make tablet weaving work…

    I read the directions in my books with great attention to warning and advice, I carefully lay out my threads, gingerly thread everything with assiduous attention to my threading diagram (I’m an old hand at loom weaving), and neatly tie off everything.

    Then I start weaving…

    after 2 turns, it’s a snarled mess, after 10 turns I throw my hands up in exasperation over the mangled mess I’ve made of such an easy craft…

    My advice – take this class, learn everything you can and make friends with someone that knows what they are doing!

    Dughall-Eoghann LeGrannd
    Shire of Spiaggia Levantina
    Vivant Atlantia!

  3. #3 Kara
    on Jun 21st, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Thank you for sharing your class outline! The class looks amazing, and reminds me of how very much I still have to learn about tablet weaving. I wish I could take your workshop!