Teaching tablet weaving

I’ve only ever been to one tablet weaving class, about 20 years ago. After that I used materials from various online sources and books to improve skills.  I still feel like a beginner, and hadn’t considered teaching tablet weaving before. So, when Catlin asked me to teach her, I felt honored and rather nervous in equal part.

Starter kit

I made a small kit for Catlin, that included items I use when working on a band:

TW-kit

  • tablets – about 5cm square, made from plastic chocolate tubs.
  • sticks – around 8cm long, cut from thick(ish) wooden bbq skewers. (They’re thicker than cocktail sticks). I use these at the very start of a band, to double-check threading and to help set the width.
  • leashes – 3 fingerloop braids, around 18″ in length, for attaching both ends of the warp to posts and securing the cards between weaving sessions.

I also gave her a handout – not for the class itself, but for the braid that she wanted to work on eventually.

The class

The session happened at a shire event, so we didn’t have a set time limit. This allowed for a relaxed approach, where I could demonstrate each step, and then Catlin could carry on on her own.   We covered:

  • How to wind a warp, and what can be used for this.
  • How to thread cards, either as you wind the warp or afterwards.
  • Attaching the warp to two fixed points (in this case , two pegs on an inkle loom)
  • Card orientation,  threading direction and setting up for horizontal stripes.
  • Starting to weave, and setting a consistent width from the start.
  • Tensioning.
  • Rotating the entire pack forward to create horizontal stripes
  • Advancing selected cards individually to move from horizontal stripes to diagonals.
  • Flipping all cards to untwist warp and/or reverse diagonals
  • Flipping half the cards to change the pattern from diagonals to diamonds.
  • Flipping individual cards to smooth out a line.

Catlin was working with quite a firm warp tension. This made flipping cards challenging at times. I honestly can’t remember if we covered rotating cards backwards as an alternative to flipping them. If I didn’t mention it, I should have!

Catlin’s band

After we’d spent a couple of hours or so playing with string, Catlin finished off the remaining warp on her own the next day, with no pattern to guide her. Below is an extract from a picture she took shortly after taking the band off the loom.

Catlins-band1-01Catlin maintained consistent tension throughout the piece, resulting in evenly sized diamonds all along it. The edges are uniform in appearance, with little to no weft showing. The width is pretty constant; there’s a tiny bit of variation (we’re talking mm), but that’s quite normal. The band has the characteristic ‘curl’ at the edges where she reversed/flipped all the cards at the same time. In a finished piece this effect can be reduced with a steam iron (especially on bands made of cotton).

Catlin did a fantastic job with this.  I’m looking forward to seeing what she tries next!