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Tablet Weaving

Page history last edited by Lynette 5 years, 10 months ago Saved with comment

 


 

Lynette's experiments

 

1 and 1.5. Green and tan chevron bands

Green and tan chevron tablet weaving

Materials:

Green and tan colors of Elsebeth Lavold Bambool wool/bamboo blend

(This stuff is fantastic for tablet weaving! No pilling or felting together while weaving, soft and shiny when finished.)

 

Equipment:

  • 8 cardboard 4-hole tablets, numbered and marked on the edges.
  • A belt and a C-clamp (because I'd lost my favorite toe rock from the Viking reenactor days)
  • A knitting stitch saver pin to hold the tablets together when migrating or untangling

 

Technique:

S and Z threaded selvedges, then bands of S threads or Z threads, constantly turned the same direction.

(This makes for a lot of tangling that needs UNtangling at some point. I plan to experiment with fishing line spinners to see if automatic untangling is possible.)

 

Time:

For an approximately 3 foot length, a few hours. (The approximately 12 foot length I started hasn't been finished yet, largely because the one-way twist produced insane hairballs that I have yet to untangle. See also the need to experiment with fishing line spinners.)

 

Lessons learned:

  • A portable loom really is nicer to work with than a rock and a belt, because it's so much faster to pick up and put down.
  • If you plan on doing long lengths of one-way patterns, a portable loom is a sanity saver even when you have really nice yarn to work with.
  • (1.5:) Fishing spinners really DO work for untwisting long segments on a loom. (Haven't tried them with the toe rock version yet, but it works great on a wooden loom.) You need as many spinners as you have cards (fortunately, not as many as you have threads). Tie all 4 threads of one tablet onto one fishing spinner (top end to top of spinner and bottom end to bottom) so that all the twist from that card gets worked out in one unit.
  • (1.5:) When you have a choice between tying your warp down with a square not or tying it with the non-pulling end of a slip knot, take the slip knot every time. Especially if you have long threads you're likely to need to untangle or retension frequently. Doubly especially if you started with a toe rock loom and are going to have to transfer it to a wooden loom in order to make it possible to complete the thing.
  • (1.5:) The Clareslair cat shaped inkle loom is good for tablet weaving too, and holds a LOT of warp (in the vicinity of 12-15 feet). I'd made too much warp for version 1.5 to fit on the 6 foot mini loom, so the cat loom gave me enough room to warp it all up and keep weaving.

 

2 and lots more: Brown, gold, and blue lozenges based on Gytha the Weaver's 1993 pattern

I have a belt with this exact pattern with maroon, tan, and blue color puddles that Gytha set up the warp for me and let me weave back in the day. I wanted to know if I could figure out how to set up the tablets well enough to do it myself, and thanks to Genvieve's adventures in tabletweaving, I got there!

Materials:

DMC size 5 perle cotton (7 25 yard hanks - fortunately they're just $1.50 each!) Each 25 yard hank produced enough 2-yard-long threads to fill 3 cards (or 12 holes across several cards) with, and there was about a yard left over. The colors in the centers of the lozenges took 12 threads for a full lozenge, so the math was quite convenient.

  • Brown: DMC #839, 3 hanks including weft thread (and I have about half the hank of weft thread left)
  • Cream: DMC #738, 1 hank 
  • Gold: DMC #729, 2 hanks
  • Blue: DMC #806, 1 hank (which appears to have been the last hank in town! I'd love to make 2 more yards of this and trim both edges of my brown cloak with it, but...)

 

Equipment:

  • A mini tablet loom in oak from Palmer Looms. Gary and Denise Palmer are SCAdians, very friendly, and very informative! I also love their color coding on the edges of the cards that they send with the looms, which makes it easy to see at a glance if you have the right cards in the right orientation.
  • 18 cardboard 4-hole tablets, numbered and marked on the edges.
  • A knitting stitch saver pin to hold the tablets together when migrating or untangling

 

Technique:

S threads and Z threads for selvedges, with mini S and Z chevrons repeating in opposite directions three times across the width of the material. It's mostly like Gen's pattern #2, except that Gytha (and I) added 3 more tablets to sharpen the points, filled the lozenge cores with different colors, and didn't have the alternate color spot recurring in the center of the lozenges. 

 

Time:

About 3 hours threading and 3.5 hours weaving for 2 yards - the combination of a back-and-forth pattern that didn't need untangling and a mini loom that could be picked up and set down in 3 seconds saved SO much time. If I'd been focused I could've gotten the entire thing done in the space of the drive up to Chicago, but I wanted to save some work for the drive back. (I think it actually took me longer to warp the tablets than to do the weaving...)

 

Lessons learned:

  • Size 5 perle cotton is just as easy to work with as the wool/bamboo blend, and MUCH easier to find in a wide variety of colors
  • 25 yards = 12 2-yard lengths, which is very convenient since the Palmer mini takes 2 yards almost on the nose
  • After the fact, I discovered that size 5 cotton is also available in crocheters' balls. You can get 25 yards of a zillion colors for $1.50 each -- or you can get 350 yards of a handful of colors for $3. So I picked up several balls of crocheters' size 5 cotton at Hobby Lobby, who seemed to have the best color range in town. I'm planning to use a lot of standard-color selvedges and wefts with occasional color-splash insets. 

 


3. Mulberry, evergreen, and jade lozenges in wool and silk

Following the scientists' rule of 'only change one variable at a time', I kept the same pattern, the same cards, and the same loom, and changed material -- this time to wool and wool/silk blends to see how much the wool's greater 'stickiness' interfered with tablet weaving.

 

I also wanted a somewhat wider weave in a different color range for the collar of my Viking gown, and I wanted to stick to wool and silk on my main showpiece garment because cotton wasn't used for decoration back then (if they could get it at all).

 

I wasn't expecting the wool and silk version to turn out pretty literally twice the size of the cotton version! The cotton version's about an inch wide. The wool/silk version is closer to two inches wide.

 

 

Materials:

Wool and wool-silk blends:

 

  • Wool-silk blend "Scrumptious" in a mulberry color and an evergreen color (found in the sale rack at Needleworks)
  • Fingering weight cream wool - Cascade 220 (lighter than the others, so I needed to double it)
  • Embroidery-type wool bundle (wildly variable lengths within a hank - one had 11 yards, another had 7) - DMC 7692.

 

Equipment:

  • A mini tablet loom in oak from Palmer Looms.
  • 18 cardboard 4-hole tablets, numbered and marked on the edges.
  • A knitting stitch saver pin to hold the tablets together when migrating or untangling

 

Technique:

S threads and Z threads for selvedges, with mini S and Z chevrons repeating in opposite directions three times across the width of the material. Same pattern as #2 above.

 

Time:

The warping took all week, between having the wrong weight of cream yarn and needing an extra bundle of jade to make 2 more warp threads with. But because the wool is so thick, I bet it's going to weave up in no time.

 

Lessons learned:

  • Don't use your expensive stuff for the selvedges, because then you'll also need to use it for the weft and the weft doesn't show anywhere but at the very edges.
  • Make sure your warp threads are all the same weight - I did a test weave of the half-threaded loom for color and size checking, and the fingering weight wool was so much lighter than the other strands that I had to double it in all those holes before I could weave with it.
  • A test weave before you've got the whole thing warped is a great way to check whether you like the colors, the textures, and the pattern. Test weaving half the loom set lets you see each color in context, but if you have something wrong (like I did) you have half as much undoing to do.

 


4. Mulberry and cream lozenges in wool and silk

Because the first version with the same number of threads turned out so wide, it wasn't flexible enough to curve around the neckline of the Viking garb the way I wanted it to. So I turned the first band into cuffs and started a second band for neckline trim - we'll see whether I can get it finished in time for Regional A&S!

 

This one is using the same materials as #3 above, but instead of having 3 interior lozenges, it has just one full lozenge in mulberry and half-lozenges of cream.

 

Materials:

Wool and wool-silk blends:

 

  • Wool-silk blend "Scrumptious" in a mulberry color and an evergreen color (found in the sale rack at Needleworks)
  • Fingering weight cream wool - Cascade 220 (lighter than the others, so I needed to double it)

Equipment:

  • A mini tablet loom in oak from Palmer Looms.
  • 10 cardboard 4-hole tablets, numbered and marked on the edges.
  • A knitting stitch saver pin to hold the tablets together when migrating or untangling

 

Technique:

S threads and Z threads for selvedges, with mini S and Z chevrons repeating in opposite directions once across the width of the material. Split down from pattern #2 above.

 

Time:

It took an absurdly long time to get this one warped right - for some reason I was getting the cards lined up upside down and/or in reversed-thread order, and I had to unweave my test weaves 4 different times and rethread things. I had to go back to two sets of online charts in order to figure out which way the cards should be arranged and which way the threads should be going through them; I'd thought I'd gotten a better grasp of it than that, but nope. It didn't help that I was trying to do it from memory and apparently picked out the memory of the thread patterning from the middle of the chart but the thread directions from the left edge!

 

Lessons learned:

  • If you've got any non-standard threading going on, don't trust your memory (or at least, don't trust MY memory).
  • Standard card order is laid out looking at them from the LEFT, not from the right. (Your card's face should be to the left and its back should be to the right.)
  • The top holes on your card in starting position aren't A and B. They're A and D. B and C are to the bottom. (On the Palmer Loom mini cards, the blue edge should be to the top and the Palmer Looms script should be to the left.)

Card layout rough diagram when looking from the left:

D
A
C
B

 

For a reversing pattern like the lozenges, the selvedge threads should be going into the deck, but if the bars are going backward from D to A then the body threads should be going AWAY from the center of the deck. (If the bars are going forward from A to D then the threads should be going TOWARD the center of the deck. Doesn't matter which way you do it as long as you get them both right.)

 

What I did this time (divider going back from D to A)

Card number (left to right) 1
2
3
4
5
6
7 8
9 10
Thread direction
S
Z
Z
Z
Z
S
S S
S Z
Hole A color G       G G       G
Hole B color G     G M M G     G
Hole C color G   G M M M M G   G
Hole D color G G M M M M M M G G

 

The other way of doing it:

Card number (left to right) 1
2
3
4
5
6
7 8
9 10
Thread direction
S
S
 S
S
S
Z
Z Z
Z Z
Hole A color G G
M
M
M
M M
M
G
G
Hole B color G   G
M
M M M G
  G
Hole C color G    
G M M G     G
Hole D color G    
 
G G       G

 

I'd ended up with the threading from chart 2 and the color pattern from chart 1, which produces an obscure mess instead of a lozenge when test woven. Once the threading was correct, though, the weaving itself was really fast... only a couple hours for a couple yards. I definitely spent more time threading and re-threading than weaving.

 


 

5. Attempt at Thora's threaded-in Birka (which I failed)

I tried and tried and TRIED and tried and tried to get this threaded-in Birka pattern to work. After rethreading the whole thing four times, flipping it twice, printing and dissecting the pattern, flipping individual cards, changing directions at different intervals, and everything I could possibly think of... no dice. I ended up with kind of a zig zaggedy maze thing. (Hrefna says I'm not the only one who has trouble getting that pattern to work, so I feel better about that.)

 

I'm thinking about cutting the broken weaving off and rethreading it on a plain 3/1 rather than offset 3/1 pattern just to see what I could do with 3/1 rather than 2/2 color blocks...

 


 

6. Brown, tan, and blue lozenges for Lady Alienor

Materials:

  • First test run of the flat-finished crochet cotton balls as opposed to the shiny mercerized cotton hanks
  • Specifically, Bernat Handicrafter crochet cotton in size 5

 

Technique:

S threads and Z threads for selvedges, following the lozenge pattern with contrasting fill above.

 

Time:

Went faster once the loom was warped. May have taken as long to warp as to weave. (ETA: This seems to hold true - I spend as much time warping as weaving these.) Begun and finished during Awakenings 26 at Baile, and we were home by 4:30.

 

Lessons learned:

  • Put the selvedges on fishing spinners so that you can turn them the same direction (forwards) no matter what. It makes the edges look cleaner.
  • Instead of needing to turn just the selvedges different directions, flip the selvedge cards when you start the backwards 4 turns. That way they keep having the same twist and you only need one turning motion.
  • As the tension on the loom gets tighter toward the end, I seem to pull the weft tighter correspondingly. There's about a 2 thread difference in width between the looser starting end and the tighter finishing end. I might need to both pull more on the starting end and finish a bit sooner so as to make sure the ends match up.

 


7, 9, 11. Woven-in double-faced tablet weaving

 

Somehow, woven-in double-faced tablet weaving never quite made sense until I made a mental connection to the motion of a bobbin in a sewing machine. Instead of thinking of it as "two forward, two backward," I have an easier time thinking of it in terms of "top" and "bottom", and the top color pair rocks forward and backward but never goes all the way under. Shelagh Lewins' Getting Started with Tablet Weaving page is really helpful for this, and so was re-reading Candace Crockett's Tablet Weaving book.

 

I'm terrible at following patterns, but good at figuring out my own patterns. I just started poking around with a set of cards with two red and two white threads, and then started inventing an alphabet. (Had to learn this today to be able to teach it tomorrow! Don't know if I'll be able to teach myself brocading in that amount of time, though I've found a really helpful YouTube video on card-turned finger-pinned brocading...)

 

Materials:

  • Bernat Handicrafter crochet cotton in size 5

Time & notes:

  • #7: Still in progress; I let people play with it at Coronation so now there is a kind of sideways giraffe that might've been meant for half an A and some checkerboard patterns in the middle. Also, I want to try this technique out with a finer grained thread to see if it handles better - I've got some crochet cotton in size 10 (thanks to JoAnn's awesome half off all crochet supplies sale) and I want to play with that.
  • Sir Ixtilitlochitl de los Indios' name in tablet weaving#9: The curse of having a weird mundane name is that you never, ever find your name in the personalized stuff in the store. All kinds of stuff for Amys and Jennifers and Karens, but nothing with my name on it. (My parents had someone make me a set of notepaper with my name on it in fifth grade. I was so completely thrilled that it became something I stashed in my treasure box and never used because I might run out of it. I STILL haven't used up the last of that paper.) So when I found out what Sir Ix's full Aztec name was, my first thought was "wow, he is NEVER going to find anything with that name already written on it!"  My second thought was "hey I should make him something with his name on it." (I re-checked the spelling at least 8 times in the process of the weaving. XD) The rest of the band is little random squiggles that are meant to look somewhere between jaguar spots and Mayan glyphs.)
  • #11: This is the first time I actually grokked what was going on with the double-face double-turn S/Z method, and when you can and can't change colors, and how to follow a pattern. I wanted to weave something for Baron Henry of Ayreton as a thank you for couriering a loom that was coming to me from Wyoming, and his design has white birds on a blue background and a blue bird on a white background, so double-face would work tidily for both... if I could ever get the loom warped.
  • I haven't worked out the right proportions of width to height to get the cells to match what I'm weaving. Somehow the birds end up looking a lot wider in the weaving than they did in the Google Spreadsheet design.
  • "Fast" warping only works if you have four balls and a LOT of thread wranglers to keep the threads even. And if none of your balls explode on you. And if you make sure to drop the cards in the right place every time -- AND if you remember that you can only drop them on one side if you want to put it on an inkle loom, which means you ALSO have to remember to set your warp posts at half the length you want your finished warp to be. None of which I had, so I learned empirically why you don't do each of these things, and I ended up going back to the two-clamp-and-table method because there was literally no way for me to fit the warp I'd produced onto a loom after multiple hours of cursing (and even recruiting my very patient neighbor Kathleen to help). So yeah, for me "fast" warping turned out much slower than if I'd just done it one card at a time. On the other hand, I did learn to work sideways; #11 was my first sideways-woven item. Which was handy because the pattern I made ended up running sideways too.
  • Google Docs spreadsheets work nicely for laying out patterns -- but the catch is they can't be more than 15 cards wide or else the bottom of your pattern drops off the bottom of your screen (or at least the bottom of my laptop screen).

 


8, 12, 13. Hallstadt-style Odin's Eye - two versions

 

Mistress Angharad took a look at my tablet weaving at Crown Tourney and said "You've got your tension and selvedges down well. Challenge yourself more next time - try a new pattern." So I did!

 

This isn't threaded in like the other lozenges; all A-B cards are blue and all C-D cards are white, and I could use the fast warp method to set it up. ...kind of. If I used fast warp, the card color edges were a total mess so I couldn't use them for a guide. I tried three different variations at pre-twisting and pre-flipping before card threading, and by the third I kind of almost had half the deck working but not exactly.

 

I also can't exactly give the pattern count for this, because I never managed to keep count in my head. I could tell by looking when I needed to change something up, but haven't figured out how to turn that instinct into an actual pattern.

 

Materials:

  • v 8: Bernat Handicrafter crochet cotton in size 5
  • v 12: White Wolf and Phoenix 10/2 cotton with a silk weft
  • v 13: Aunt Lydia crochet cotton in size 10

Time:

  • v 8: Three finished over the course of the Peoria Spring Offensive weekend June 1. (All blue and white, because I packed my threads as overnight stuff rather than day-trip stuff to take to the con -d'oh!)
  • v 12: One finished over the Tudor Tailor weekend. Because the WW&P cotton was much thinner than the size 5 cotton, it took longer to weave an inch. (The green and cream to the right used a shorter repeat than the blue and white above, and also had doubled selvedge rows.)
  • v. 13: Another blue and white variation, using the green and white's repeat.

Lessons learned:

  • Continuous warp is really fast to set up if you have four balls. (You can't do it without four separate balls.)
  • The speed you gain in warping is lost in the slower weaving, and it's trickier to keep track of where you are.
  • I'm really bad at figuring out how to describe tablet weaving in terms of turns rather than what threads you see.
  • I totally should have packed my threads as part of my day kit to take along to the con, rather than my overnight kit.
  • Wefting with silk seems to be worth it - even if it's loose spun silk that isn't sturdy enough to use as a warp, I think it still makes the finished product softer.

 


10. Brown, blue, and gold lozenges in single threads of silk

At RUM this fall, I met a merchant and artisan who was doing inkle weaving with single strands of Gutermann machine-sewing silk. I had to find out if it would work for tablet weaving too. I also wanted a finer-grained version of the color pattern I used on my hangerock.

Success! I've gotten about three inches woven so far, with no snapping yet. Also, OMG tiny eyestrainovision that will take a lot more hours than the bigger threads will, because it takes so many more passes per inch.

Materials:

  • Brown: Gutermann silk color 696
  • Cream: Gutermann  silk color 421
  • Gold: Gutermann silk color 968
  • Blue: Gutermann silk color 483

 

Equipment:

  • Palmer loom
  • 18 cardboard 4-hole tablets, numbered and marked on the edges.
  • A knitting stitch saver pin to hold the tablets together when migrating or untangling

 

Technique:

Same pattern as above; the variation is in the fragility and tension of the threads.

 

Time:

About 2 hours threading and yet-unknown number of hours 12-15 hours weaving for 2 yards, with about 8 inches of shrinkage over the weaving - I used the thread transfer method to speed the deck setup in a way that should've had it half the usual time, but the silk threads were so fiddly and tangly that it slowed me back down again.

Lessons learned:

  • Really tricky to get warped up and really, REALLY tiny. This is showpiece stuff, not everyday wear stuff, because it's going to take so many hours per inch. My next version with these threads is likely to be one of the broken twills in order to make it A&S compatible; this version is mostly to establish the working properties of the thread.
  • Thus far, no breakage.
  • Enthusiastic twist-tangling.
  • Did I mention tiny and sloooow? I'm probably going to have to make myself a silk chemise or something in order to have something fancy enough to be worth tiny and slooooow silk trim.

14. Applesies Finnish Carelian Iron Age pattern - double-faced 3/1 broken twill

 

Over Roana's bookbinding birthday weekend, I decided I wanted to try a pattern from the Applesies and Fox Noses book. I waffled among several patterns and several color options for a while before picking out blue and gold for the pattern and brown for the selvedges (thanks for the suggestions, Ro!)

 

Since this was going to be my first time following a pattern someone else had made, rather than one I'd made myself, I thought I shouldn't get too technically complex and should pick out something simpler than a double-faced 3/1 broken twill, which Collingwood et al say is about the most complex weaving type there is for tablet weaving. This pattern looked simple on the surface, with a fairly regular repeat, and I warped it up, and messed it up, and wove and unwove and wove again, and ended up leaving more mess-ups in place than I'm very happy with -- until I looked again at the back side of the band, and at the diagonals in the front, and realized that this actually is double-faced 3/1 broken twill. it's just a different method of diagramming it than the other books have used. So, er, nothing like diving in at the deep end? And I'm less annoyed at myself for the mistakes now. :D

Materials:

  • White Wolf and Phoenix 10/2 cotton

Time:

About 3 hours warping time (I couldn't use the fast warp if I wanted to use the colored edges as a sanity check, and I really needed the sanity check).

Weaving still in progress.

Lessons learned:

    Everyone diagrams this differently. If I can ever come up with a crosswalk, I'll feel like I've actually understood the structure... not quite there, but so close!


     

    The materials

    Tablets

    • Large cardboard tablets: Great for getting started with; great for 'sticky' yarns like wool that need more help to get pried apart to make an accurate shed. Numbering the cards was a LIFESAVER when I had a deck explosion mid-detangling.
    • Medium cardboard tablets (Palmer set): Cotton and non-sticky yarns do fine with this; these are best sized for the mini loom, and the colored edges are really useful.
    • Wooden tablets from Maidens: Unfortunately these aren't turning out very well for me. The holes are too close together to make a good shed, the card sizes are too uneven to turn well, and the edges of the holes are rough enough to snag.

    Fibers

    • Pure silk: Most authentic for decoration of the period, and also so expensive that I haven't dared try until I know what I'm doing better. ETA: Finally gave it a go after about 8 months of practice, using machine-stitching silk rather than embroidery silk.

      I still don't know of anywhere in Illinois that I can get a chance to touch and see embroidery silk rather than ordering it blind over the Internet, but JoAnn's has machine embroidery silk by Gutermanns that's eligible for the 40% off and 50% off coupons, so I've slowly gotten 4 colors. The results are so tiny that I'm not sure it's worth it -- it's trim that people would pass off as machine-made at a glance, and the extant tablet weaving samples I've seen are significantly wider than this.

    • Silk/wool blend (I found a variety called Scrumptious, with several balls of red and green found in the half-price rack at Needleworks): My attempt at getting closer to authenticity while still being able to shop locally and see the yarn and weight and spin method. Thicker than was commonly used for trim in period, from what I understand.
    • Wool (Cascade 220 Sport or Fingering are good weights for tablet weaving): Second most authentic, tricky to work with because it clings to other threads so readily. Larger cards makes working with wool easier, which also means a larger loom than the mini would be useful.
    • Wool/bamboo blend (Elsebeth Lavold Bambool): Not authentic at all, but beautifully easy to work with and lovely and lush when finished. It also gives a visual impression closer to wool and silk than to acrylic.
    • Perle cotton: Not very authentic (though better than acrylic), but available in a huge array of colors and very easy to work with. It's not as lovely to touch as the wool/bamboo, but the wide palette and the finer yarn makes the trade-off worth it to me. Crochet balls in size 5 are MUCH cheaper per yard, though more limited in color range. DMC size 5 perle cotton in individual hanks come in the widest range of colors, but are more expensive per yard.

    • ETA: Crochet balls in size 10 have smaller thread than size 5 and also come in a wider range of colors than size 5, though not as wide a range as the DMC cotton. Too bad I started collecting colors in size 5 to make them intercompatible with the DMC hanks before realizing that size 10 was what the Facebook weavers tend to recommend. Both size 10 and size 5 cotton tend to be closer to the weight of extant Viking examples than either the thick yarn or tiny single-strand silk versions; the single-strand silk might be more appropriate for later period stuff, though.
    • ETA 2: Size 10 depends on who you ask. Aunt Lydia's 10/2 cotton is nearly twice the thickness of White Wolf and Phoenix's, and I've recently discovered I really like the finished hand of WW&P tablet weaving when wefted with silk.

    Looms

    • The belt-and-toe-rock: Perfectly period. Cheap, portable, available nearly anywhere. Prone to tangling, and trickier to keep an even tension on than a mini loom. A yard and a half at a time is about all I can wrangle without producing massive hairballs.
    • The belt-and-C-clamp: Not period, but better than a toe rock in the winter, when you don't want to leave your shoes and socks off and have cold feet for hours at a time.
    • The Palmer wooden mini tablet loom: Not period (it's a modern tablet-specific modification of an early 20th century inkle loom design), but it's so convenient that I don't care that it's not period. Weaves 2 yards pretty effortlessly with an evenly reversing pattern... but it'd probably be harder to untangle this loom than the rock-and-belt method because you'd have to take the entire warp off tension for untwisting.
    • The fishing swivels definitely help with untwisting for patterns that don't automatically reverse. One card needs one fishing swivel; tie all 4 threads from that tablet onto the same swivel, and connect both ends together.
    • An as yet hypothetical larger tablet/inkle loom: Most of the looms sold online are actually inkle looms, which have an extra peg for holding some threads and often have less hand-moving space than the Palmers' tablet-specific arrangement. The Palmers sell larger sizes of tablet-specific looms made of hardwood; they look gorgeous.
    • There's also a lady on eBay that sells a cute cat shaped plywood inkle loom (and an amazing dragon one) which both have a nice big open triangle that looks very tablet-friendly. The cat-shaped inkle loom is mostly a success -- there's plenty of weaving space, and it came prewarped with an inkle project, and the pegs are long enough that I could tablet weave beside the inkle project with minimal trouble. The flaws are that the bottom left peg has come loose already, and the runs between the pegs are so long that it's hard to find halfway positions for when it's gotten too tight for all the rows but not yet tight enough to slip it off one of the peg rows. However, I suspect most large looms that aren't set with pegs on a diagonal will have that problem. (The diagonal set makes it easier to find rows of varying lengths to shift your weaving among as continued weaving makes your warp tighter.)

     

    Notions and sundries

    • The knitting stitch holder is a sanity saver when it comes to keeping the tablets together when you need to untangle or to shift the warp. I wish I'd known the things existed in 1993, because I'm sure I could've made a twig-and-string duplicate.
    • Fishing swivels are great to keep the extra twist under control when you're working on a pattern that doesn't evenly reverse, and especially for selvedges that should always twist forward.

     


     

    The resources

     

    Where I got started: Gytha the Weaver and the Norse Film and Pageant Society,  Gesithas Herred branch

    In 1993, I studied at Trinity College Carmarthen (Wales) and met a lifelong friend named Elizabeth Warren Corney, whose parents Terry and Gillian Warren were avid Viking reenactors. The Viking crew they 'sailed' with were the same people who were the extras in Braveheart, and while I didn't get to go on a movie shoot myself, I went with them on several camps and TV shoots. In order to be permitted to be on site, I had to have hand-made every stitch of clothing I was wearing - and I couldn't wear anything I hadn't made, including my glasses, my watch, and (sadly) my shoes, because those fields were chock full of nettles!

     

    They did let me speak, because I couldn't help my American accent, but I still tried not to speak unless I absolutely had to, because the rest of the encampment was so very authentic and so very focused in that particular period of time and location. They were the Viking equivalent of the Colonial Williamsburg crew, and I didn't want to stick out any more than I had to. (Plus I couldn't recognize anyone from more than 3 feet away, due to the aforementioned lack of glasses, which made it a challenge to have an intelligent conversation with a sequence of brightly colored blobs.)

     

    In the period camp, they explained my lack of shoes, red hair, excessive height (5 inches taller than Gytha and family), and a-bit-south-of-Chicago accent with the notion that I was a captured thrall from 'one of the islands off the west coast of Ireland.' For a certain liberal definition of 'off the west coast of Ireland,' it was even accurate!

     

    Gillian (Gytha the Weaver) taught me tablet weaving with a belt and a rock, and I made several pieces while sitting by the fire watching the collective pot simmer and telling stories of both sides of the ocean. She taught me how they could tell the difference between a man's sock and a woman's at the Viking archaeological digs, and wrote 'Kilroy Was Here' in futhark runes on a piece of slate and tossed it into the scraps to be sifted through, and she was an all around amazing person; I still miss her and her family, and I took my SCA name from theirs.

     

    When reconnecting with the SCA, I found my Viking gear in the basement, and thought 'hmm. I wonder if I can figure out how to do tablet weaving again.' I gave it a test run the day after Maidens 40, and seem to have found myself in the grip of a new addiction...

     

    And now there is the Internet

     

    The Internet makes research on tablet weaving so much easier than it was in 1993, when we barely had the Web and most online research was done via Gopher. Here are some of my favorites so far:

     

    • Phiala's String Page - http://www.stringpage.com/
      Phiala shows up everywhere, both in SCA tablet weaving references and in mundane references like Ravelry. She has a range of period information and modern information.
    • Shelagh Lewins' Tablet Weaving pages - http://www.shelaghlewins.com/tablet_weaving/tablet_weaving.php
      Shelagh is also a reenactor and she gives one of the best explanations I've seen of how to understand woven-in patterns as opposed to the threaded-in patterns I've shown above.
    • Thora Sharptooth - http://www.cs.vassar.edu/~capriest/vikresource.html
      Thora's pages are really awesome, and nearly of the same vintage as my last go at tablet weaving; I was just in the UK a couple years too early. She goes into amazing levels of detail about who did what types of stitching when and with what materials. I don't have the skills yet to even try some of her patterns, so I was glad to find this next resource too:
    • Genvieve's Adventures in Tablet Weaving - http://genvieve.net/sca/tabletweaving.html
      Genvieve's patterns are very similar to the ones Gytha wrote about in her 1991 article; I took her threading diagrams, added a couple cards here and removed a couple there, and have been happily paddling about in the shallows of threaded-in tablet weaving again, even though Thora says that threaded-in is much less common in period than two-color patterns created with different card manipulations. 
    • The Facebook Historic Tablet Weaving group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/418594251523979/
      They're active and enthusiastic and inspirational.
    • YouTube - particularly:

     

     

    At some point I hope to get ambitious enough to try out kivrim and two-hole weaving and woven-in alphabets, but that day is not this day.

    Comments (8)

    Anne McKinney said

    at 7:22 am on Feb 5, 2013

    Lynnette, you've put together a great resource! All this information and images are helping me get a better understanding of tablet weaving. And I didn't know you were on the set of Braveheart -- sounds like an amazing experience!

    Lynette said

    at 9:15 am on Feb 5, 2013

    Eeep - I wasn't personally on the set of Braveheart, but the rest of the crew was. I was on set for some much smaller reenactment events and film shoots for some mid 1990s British shows. I should fix that sentence some time when I'm not on the way out the door! Even though it wasn't Braveheart, it really was an amazing experience. Some time I'll have to explain how Viking Stew is made, and why it requires a chisel... :D

    Anne McKinney said

    at 7:12 am on Feb 8, 2013

    Is #3 a new one? I think you showed me the first 2 after Maidens, but my memory is fuzzy. They all look great!

    Lynette said

    at 11:47 pm on Feb 8, 2013

    #2 and #3 are both new; I started #2 last Friday and wove it on the way to and from Chicago last Saturday. I think I put #2 on Facebook though, which might be where you saw it? I'm having a ball; I'm debating whether I have the ambition to try any more complicated patterns yet, or whether I should stick with the easy relaxing patterns while I'm still doing materials and conditions testing.

    Anne McKinney said

    at 8:56 am on Feb 9, 2013

    I think it's just great that you're doing any of it. :-) Keep up the great work!

    Anne McKinney said

    at 6:38 pm on Nov 5, 2015

    Just a heads-up that some photo links appear to be broken on this page.

    Lynette said

    at 8:09 pm on Nov 5, 2015

    That's odd - nothing's showing up broken to me, and they're all hosted on the pbworks wiki server itself so it wouldn't be a cross site link lag thing? Which ones were showing up broken for you?

    Anne McKinney said

    at 8:53 am on Nov 6, 2015

    Right now, 1 and 3 at the top of the page. Last night, I thought I saw more. Maybe it's just a glitch.

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