Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy New Year!

For something new I finally unwrapped the tablet weaving cards I purchased 14 months ago. Despite the excitement of obtaining them and their enticing potential, I never got around to warping them up. I did so last weekend. For my first foray, I warped some black spool wool--a thrift store find--along with some parti-colored cotton chenile. I used the black wool for weft also, but since table weave is warp-faced (the long front to back threads), the weft (the side-to-side threads) doesn't matter that much.

Being my first adventure with the cards I didn't wind a long warp and I ended up with about 2 feet of usable band. The chenile is shiny and rather has the look of inlay--against the matt black of the wool. So I'm going to go to Paradise Beads (a touch of heaven in midtown) this week to get some bracelet clasps and make a few bracelets out of this:

The pattern is the first one given in "Card Weaving" by Russell E. Groff. It requires 18 cards and is called a "threaded in" design because the design is achieved by the way the cards are threaded with color. There are 4 holes in each card--one in each corner. Each hole can be a different color or not and each card is threaded with the yarn flowing through the holes from the top (printed) side to the bottom or vice versa. These are called "S" and "Z" threadings. "S" and "Z" being terms also used in spinning to denote direction of twist! I like this little connection between the two crafts.

New sheds (a space created by moving some warp threads down and others up; a space through which the shuttle carrying weft thread is passed) are created in the weaving by turning the cards forwards or backwards. The combination of colors threaded "S" or "Z" through certain holes, and the direction and amount of turns of the cards creates a pattern in the weave. For the above pattern the cards were turned forwards by a quarter turn 4 times, then backwards by the same amount 4 times. If the turning sequence were changed, the same threading of these cards would produce a different pattern.

The hardest part of this is warping (setting up the long threads which go from front to back on a loom)... only to keep the threads from getting all tangled up! There is an art to warping and the rules that have evolved for it have done so for a good reason!

Tablet weaving is very nifty and ancient. Do some Googling to discover the astoundingly beautiful weaves obtainable with cards. It can achieve writing... something that will most undoubtably find it's way into my adventure at some point.

There are a handful of different techniques used with tablets. "Threaded in" where the pattern arises from the threading of the cards and the combination of turns. "Double Face" where each card is threaded exactly the same (with 2 colors) and threaded alternately "S" and "Z". In double face weaving, not all the cards are turned in the same direction for every shed--some turn forward and some turn backward. With double face it's possible to "draw" animals, plants, leaves, everything! and letters. There is also "Brocade" which uses a supplemental and ornate weft to create highly decorative patterns on top of the foundation weft. There is "Egyptian Brocade" where the cards are all threaded the same but the sequence of turns creates diagonals, in and out, approaching and diverting, etc.

There's a lot in store for exploration!

Currently warped on my Kromski Harp is this pretty pattern called "Bow Knot", also a threaded-in design (from the same pamphlet mentioned above). I warped 8 feet or so, so I should get a good 2.5 yards of band. It's 2/20 cotton (thread!). It has been a lesson in warping--I learned a lot about those why's. Next time should go a little easier. It's weaving up fine though and it's quite a relaxing pleasure to sit by the plants in the front window creating new sheds and tossing my shuttle back and forth, giving due diligence to the selvedge, which in my opinion has improved a little since this photo....
Here's a view of the warp threaded through the cards. You can see how rotating the cards creates a new shed. Ingenious isn't it!? ...

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