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Tablet weaving

Hannah Fraza (NL)
Sarah Goslee (US) (from www.stringpage.com)

With tablet weaving you create very decorative belts. It’s supposedly very popular in the Viking period.

Requirements: 
Tablets made of wood, bone, leather or metal
Yarn, take at least two different colours for patterns
Two points to connect the yarn to (i.e. your belt and a tree)

Setting Up
The first step (after making cards, finding yarn and picking a project) is to cut the warp. The length of each warp string should be the intended length of the finished piece plus 20% for take-up, plus 50 cm for room for the cards, starting and ending knots, etc. This is important, so I'll repeat it:

warp length = 1.2 x final length + 50 cm

One warp yarn will be strung through each hole in every card. A card can be strung from left to right (Z-threaded) or right to left (S-threaded), but all four holes must be strung in the same direction or the card won't turn. When you look at the cards from above, the yarn will be on a slight diagonal, either in the same direction as the middle line of a Z, or the same direction as the middle part of an S. It's probably easiest to tie each set of four warp yarns together after you thread a card. When all the cards are threaded, tie a big knot at the beginning and the end to hold everything together.

The weft is the yarn that is passed back and forth between the warp threads, and holds the whole thing together. It will normally only show at the sides of the band. Take a fairly long piece of string (but not too long or it gets unmanageable) of the same color as the strings in the edge cards, and wind it around a shuttle or make in into a butterfly. Now you are ready to weave!

Weaving
Tie the far end of the warp to something sturdy, like a doorknob or a chair. Either hold the other end or attach it to your belt. The cards should all be in a pack with one set of edges flat towards you. Pass one end of the weft through the shed, which is the gap between the warp threads in the top holes of the cards and those in the bottom holes. Leave about 2 cm or so sticking out of the weft. Turn the entire pack of cards one-quarter turn, either forward (away from you) or backwards (towards yourself). The direction depends on the pattern. Pack the new shed towards yourself, wither with your finger or something smooth and flat, like the back of a knife blade, and pass the weft through again. Don't pull the weft all the way tight yet- leave a little loop sticking out. Now repeat the following steps:

1. Turn the cards.
2. Pack the shed.
3. Tighten the previous weft shot just to the edge of the band.
4. Pass a new weft shot through the shed.

Continue until the band is the length you'd like. Easy, isn't it?

Finishing
Trim can be cut into lengths and sewn on, as long as the ends are firmly sewn down. For straps or belts, you can leave extra and make tassels or braids, or hem the ends. Or for a belt, you may want to attach a ring to one end. Just don't forget to take the cards off!

This is only the very basis of tablet weaving. The biggest reason why we want to go tablet weaving is of course because of the beautiful patterns we can achieve with it. For further patterns, check the links at the bottom.

Images

Birka twine (Simple Birka Belt)
How to position yourself when tablet weaving.
Schematic rendering of tablet weaving
Example of simple pattern. (The belt in the...
Different ways of treading the cards; S...