Card Weaving

From April 2012 –

A couple of years ago (how sad that this project took so long to get going) Mom gave me a card weaving “kit” consisting of 28 cardboard cards and Candace Crockett’s excellent book Card Weaving. It sat on a shelf patiently waiting its turn for the top of the queue, and now its day has arrived. Below you see my first effort using silk fingering weight yarn (dyed with the last batch of bookmark yarns back in July) using Candace’s Sample Band A pattern. Not at all bad for a first effort – look for it to become a hatband sometime in the near (or far) future. 10 cards (40 threads – 4 holes per card) were used for this sample –

The basic premise of card (or tablet) weaving is that the threads are secured at the far end by being tied to something stationary while the near end is secured to your belt, a bit like backstrap weaving without the backstrap or any sticks. The cards turn, opening the shed, the weft thread is passed through, the cards are turned again, the weft is beaten in, another thread passed, the cards turned, and so on. Very simple. The pattern emerges as the cards are turned towards your body (four turns in this case) and then turned away from your body (four turns, also for this pattern) in a prescribed fashion. There are infinite variables and patterns possible and you can use almost any kind of thread or yarn, depending on the effect you want to achieve. A simple tutorial can be found here and a site to help you design your own patterns can be found here. You can even weave your own labels to put on your card woven (and other stuff) bands. Amalie at Adventures in Historical Tablet Weaving is exploring the techniques and duplicating historical bands – quite an interesting project!

I quite enjoyed the process and portability of card weaving and after doing a bit of online research to see what others were doing and pattern possibilities (not that there’s any shortage of lovely patterns in Card Weaving) I embarked upon a guitar strap using a firmly spun wool yarn and 28 cards (that’s 112 yarn ends for those paying attention) –

What a nightmare to get the cards threaded and the loose ends untangled. This is my only gripe with card weaving – the yarn is all measured and cut, held in a bundle, and the cards threaded one by one, color by color and the end tied in a knot. Then, the yarn must be “combed” to sort out the un-tied ends and the cards worked back and forth to get everything moving smoothly. There has to be a better way, and when I figure it out I will share so you don’t have to be tortured, too.

The wool yarn was not easy to keep tensioned for weaving so I tied it onto the back beam of my loom, straitened the threads and tied the near end onto the front beam to take advantage of the loom’s tensioning system. Worked a treat and I could walk away from the weaving for a break without untying myself from the weaving.

The band came out wider than intended, but the tension is very nice, giving it a nice, firm hand – perfect for its intended use.

Many people use inkle looms for card weaving, or floor looms for wider pieces, or a special card weaving loom like this from Ursula’s Alcove

There are many card weaving looms available if you prefer not to be tied to the work. If you prefer to keep  your project as portable as possible, a rubber band to hold the cards together and a small bag are all you need. A very portable project with huge design possibilities! Expect to see more about tablet weaving here – the next project has been threaded with handspun to test the effects of a fuzzier yarn and working with a “skipped holes” pattern.

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