Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tablet weaving experiment

I learned about tablet weaving a few days ago. This is an old style of weaving decorative and strong bands. The bad news is that it's rather labor intensive. The good news is that you can make intricate designs and it requires few materials.

For my experiment I cut twelve 2.5" cardboard squares then punched a hole in each corner. Each of these cardboard beauties is called a tablet. And that's pretty much all you need in the way of equipment. You have to anchor each end of the band. I used c-clamps which is fairly standard. If I do this again, I'll find a better way :-)

We have yarn galore, but I wasn't about to play with Kim's good yarn. I found some acrylic in the basement at the bottom of the sump well. Under some shoes. I decided to use that.

Other sites, like this one, explain the mechanics better than I can, so go there to learn more.

Here's a picture of my first attempt.

It looks ok, maybe. But I knew I didn't manage the tension well so I undid it (took forever) and did it again.

Much better. I tried to keep the tension the same all the time. You can see the pattern getting smaller as I ran out of room - the tension was increasing. This would be less an issue on a band that's a little longer - this fiber is HUGE compared to what is normally used for tablet weaving.

Here's another pic, this time showing the entire setup.

You probably know roughly how a loom works - the machine pulls some threads high and the weaver passes a shuttle of thread through the shed - the space between the low threads and high threads. Then based upon the pattern, different threads are lifted and the shuttle is passed through the shed the other way. Repeat ad nauseum. Tablet weaving works off a similar principle. The holes in the tablets form the high and low threads. Then, the tablets are rotated causing some threads to be move downward and others to move upward. This is functionally identical to the loom raising threads. You can see the shed in the previous photo - the V shape just to the right of the tablets.

The design I wove is drop-dead simple and involves 4 rotations of the tablets one way, then 4 the other way, repeat. So the mauve pattern widens 4 times, then narrows 4 times forming the diamond. I have 4 complete diamonds so I turned the tablets 32 times. The symmetry is common - and fairly necessary - because as you rotate the tablets the thread acquires a twist. Going the other way removes the twist.

1 comment: