What’s old is new again…
Tablet weaving, also known as card weaving, has been around for thousands of years. This surprisingly easy to do craft can be used on as large, or as small a scale as desired. The patterns you can create are seemingly infinite, and it uses minimal equipment. That means it’s portable as well as useful – and a great way to introduce yourself to how weaving works. Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of talking to my friend and coworker Rose, who recently took up card weaving herself. For those of you who haven’t met Rose yet, there’s nothing she can’t craft, fix, or make (more about that soon!), and she can help you learn too. Her enthusiasm for the craft was so infectious, I asked her to write a little about her experience. Here’s what she had to say:
As far as I know, there is no 12 step program for craft addiction. I’ve managed to keep my love of crafts in check so far, but stepping into Halcyon Yarn for the first time, I knew I was in trouble. The possibilities are endlessly enticing. My first foray into weaving gave me a taste of the rigid heddle loom. I had a blast in that class! Most folks would probably dive headfirst at that point into loom weaving, however I went in the opposite direction when I became entranced by the beautiful book, Card Weaving by Candace Crockett. The history of the technique dates back to 4,000 B.C.E. and spreads over the globe.
I couldn’t help myself…. I purchased the Halcyon's Deluxe Card Weaving Kit and got cracking. This wonderful kit includes the book, the cards, a shuttle that doubles as a beater and enough yarn to get you started on your first project (and then some). Following a beautifully outlined history of tablet weaving, the book takes you on a brief, but clear, portrait of the craft itself. The tools are simple and the results can be lovely and surprisingly intricate. Turning to Chapter 3, I felt I could dive fearlessly into my first project. I grabbed my yarn and cards and followed the instructions to set up my warp.
Card weaving produces a warp faced fabric that is created by threading the warp thread through the holes in the cards. The most typical cards are square with 4 holes in the corners. These holes are where your warp threads through. I had no difficulty following the directions for creating my warp and threading it through the cards. A simple knot at each end, secure the end, line up the cards and I was ready to weave, lickety-split.
Turning the cards lifts your warp threads to create a new shed. Cards can be rotated forward or back, together or individually to produce a seemingly infinite combination of patterns. Tablet weaving clearly demonstrates how looms were the first computers! I was easily able to follow along with the pattern as instructed. Your first project is a narrow strap in three tones, woven into a simple pattern. I loved seeing it build so quickly before my eyes. Before I’ve even completed my first project, I’m already planning my next one.
This type of weaving doesn’t require a loom or any expensive equipment. And I can take it anywhere I go. All I need is a place to anchor the end of my warp threads. I can clamp it to a table or chair. A doorknob works great too, and I’ve even used my toe! The other end gets tied to my belt. So simple.
This type of weaving can be done with lots of different yarns, too. 3/2 Pearl Cotton Yarn is excellent, because it’s nice and slippery as well as strong. As you become more experienced with this technique, you can try other fibers, or even wire. The holes are big enough to accommodate a wide range of yarn weights. The comes with a beautiful Dovetail Woodworks Belt Shuttle with Handle, which is used for weaving your weft as well as beating the thread down. You can card weave without a fancy shuttle if you want, but the Northwest Loom shuttles are much too lovely for me to resist.
This is a fast project, so it is a great introduction to weaving with kids. I easily developed a rhythm and my strap grew quickly. I must confess that I’m a sucker for instant gratification and card weaving delivers. Plus, the possibilities for this type of weaving make my mind reel. I can see so many ways to use these bands… Bag straps, cuff bracelets, hat trims and button plackets come to mind easily, but my next project is definitely going to be a dog leash. A customer stopped in the shop and when we got to talking about card weaving she showed me the custom leashes she wove. Wow! Gorgeous! I have got to get cracking on one for my girl. Now that i’ve got the technique down I can even use the cards to weave her name into the leash. A matching collar would be lovely too, don’t you think? And if all else fails, you’re guaranteed to have one awesome headband:
If you’re itching for a fresh new craft, tablet weaving is sure to please. Folks new to weaving will find it simple to pick up, and experienced weavers will be delighted with the intricate design possibilities. If you’d like to get into tablet weaving, but don’t want to invest too much up front, you should check out our 4-Hole Card Weaving Cards (12/pkg), and just grab some stash yarn. For those of you looking for the full package, our Halcyon's Deluxe Card Weaving Kit is highly recommended. Tablet weaving may have been around for ages, but it’s not too late to give it a try yourself!