January 07, 2012

Tablet-woven Hearts and New Belt Tools

Happy Distaff Day!

I have been card (tablet) weaving four inch long samples for enclosure in a weaving guild newsletter.  The jumbled pile in the photo shows two warps that started out about four metres long each.  I have another warp to go.

The pieces are mostly pink with a repeated motif in off-white that is supposed to look like a heart.  As I wrote in my observations of the Jerusalem Garter museum piece, when you thread alternately one card S and the other Z across the pack of cards you get little chevrons.  The white chevrons stand out against the pink chevrons.

The cloth beam is new.  My father looked at the cloth beam I'd had custom made for myself this past spring and he told me that by specifying the tool be made all in one piece, I had created spots where the grain of the wood could split.  I took the specs from a tool used for making belts by a weaver named Feodora Seledkova in an old documentary film and I didn't give any thought to the woodgrain.

Made sense when he pointed it out, and was a bit of a concern given the amount of pull the tool has to stand up to.  I secure the far end of the warp to an immovable object, tuck the cloth beam's closer prongs into a sash or belt loops at my waist, and lean back when beating down the warp to create the weft-faced cloth.  At the last guild meeting, I tied the warp to a cart holding a stack of folding tables, the heaviest thing in the room.  I forgot the cart was on wheels.  A couple of friends were watching me weave and without telling me (until after) they leaned on the cart quite hard to counter my pull and keep the cart in place.

My dad made me a dozen new cloth beams with the grain of the middle pieces running perpendicular to the long pieces and Robertson screws holding the three pieces together.  My dad would particularly like you to notice the Robertson screws, as they are very Canadian.  Most of the cloth beams are made of maple from trees that grew on Vancouver Island and if memory serves the darker wood is local alder.

ETA: directions for making cloth beams are in a post here.


  1. Wow! Those cloth beams are awesome! It's wonderful to have a handy relative around that can help you out. Your card weaving samples look great. I tried that once a very long time ago and it didn't end well. I was trying to do the thing where you tie one end to your belt and the other end to something solid and stationary. Unfortunately, that made it difficult to get up and do something else (like use the bathroom); the project didn't travel well; and it made my back hurt. I haven't tried the cards again, although I've used my small rigid heddle loom to do some warp-faced weaving, which has sort of a similar look. I think you can get more interesting patterns with the card weaving. I haven't done a great deal of research on either, so I'm not sure how they are related. At this point I prefer the loom and just skipping the cards.

  2. thanks, Gwen! I plan to post directions for making the cloth beams.

    I find my back hurts less when the far end is attached to a high spot because the steep angle brings the weaving closer and I don't hunch over.

    The main difference between warp-faced weaving on a rigid heddle loom and card weaving is that card weaving is warp-twined (usually): the four warp threads in each card spiral around each other as you turn the pack and the warp slants which you don't get with heddles. The fabric is thicker. The four threads rise to the surface in turn so if they are all different colours and you change the threading S or Z (changing the slant direction) as you go and you change the direction you're turning (forward, back, quarter turns, half turns, turns on points to create two sheds) and you turn cards individually then there are many pattern combinations and fabric structures possible.

    Not that I have tried these! I have been reading Peter Collingwood's book. You'd probably like the book because you're in the SCA: he cites archeological finds and museum pieces in it.

    I find that when using the cloth beam, card weaving is as portable as my spindle. Everything fits in a grocery sack, even C clamps for warping. But for SCA reenactment, I would like to see someone string the warp between the posts of an Oseburg loom or similar loom as pictured in two Books of Hours (page 31 in Collingwood's The Techniques of Tablet Weaving). I hear there are looms like this that are easy for a woodworker to make and that come apart easily.


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