Simple Board Loom

She who dies with the most looms wins. At this point I think I have 5 looms. The simplest looms I have is this board loom. Aside from the backstrap method I believe it’s probably the simplest loom to build at home.

My husband made my board loom from a 1×6 of quilted birch. The base is 5.5″ x 18″. The blocks at the end are each 2″ x 5.5″. The ends each use two carriage bolts long enough to go through all three pieces of wood, two washers and two wingnuts. Because of the width of the blocks on the end (ie, the warp sits at about 2 inches above the base board) this loom works best with fairly small tablet weaving cards. I use the wooden cards I purchased from the Etsy merchant Ampstrike. The cards are about 2.2 inches square.

Each end has wood/wing nut clamps. I add additional temporary tension to the warp by inserting small wooden blocks under the warp on either end.

I use a separate warping board to measure out my warp and to add large white cord to maintain the crossover(helps to keep the strings in order).
If my tablet weaving pattern builds even tension (ie, 4 forwards/4 back) then I will chain up the excess warp and simply pull out more warp as I advance the weaving.
If my tablet weaving pattern builds uneven tension I will butterfly up each individual card and then spin the butterflies to relieve tension as I advance the weaving.

Wooden cards: Wooden Tablet weaving cards I love the size and feel of the wooden cards from the seller Ampstrike on Etsy. Well worth the cost. I have purchased these in Walnut(2 sets), Padouk and Oak. The different colors make them easy to setup on the loom to make counting out a pattern very easy. The wood is very smooth and working on them is a total pleasure.

Making Butterflies

Making Butterflies

Starting at one end of the warp, wrap the warp threads for one card around your fingers until you get to the place where you want the bundle to hang(upper left).
Then pinch a loop from the warp thread, twist it twice(upper right).. and put this loop around the center of the bundle of threads you just made of the rest of the warp (lower left). Tighten the loop down until the bundle of threads looks like a butterfly handing from the end of the warp. (lower right)

With the double-twisted loop I’ve found this to be fairly secure.. and fairly easy to remove the loop, carefully pull more warp out of the butterfly and then re-secure the loop.

This works for securing the excess.. but not for providing tension. If you need tension you may need to add weights to the butterflies and treat the loom like a warp weighted loom.

Tabletweaving Technique: Weft management

This past weekend I ended up doing some tabletweaving in the park during our weekly fighter practice. Someone watched me for a while and then commented that although they’d done tabletweaving before they hadn’t dealt with the weft the same way that I I figured it might be worthwhile to document how I deal with my weft.

I honestly don’t remember where I originally learned about this method. I’ve been using it for the last 9-10 years. This is what I do to keep my band width consistent and to keep my weft from peeking out too much at the edges.

Simple Diamonds.. err Chevrons

IMG_20130716_173705_578simple_chevron_threading_diagramOn Friday my love reminded me that on Sunday we would be helping with a demo in town.. and that “people really like to see things being woven on a loom” and asked me to have a project ready for the demo. I needed something quick (so it would be warped up and ready-to-weave in less than a day), simple (I expect to have to start/stop a lot in the middle of weaving as I explained things and I also expect to let children and parents try it out so simpler is better) and beautiful (Well duh, beautiful weaving is more alluring then f-ugly weaving).

Project Summary:
Thread is size 10 cotton crochet yarn. This used 8 pattern cards (yellow, black, black, black) and 3 border cards on each side (solid black, solid white, solid black) setup according to threading diagram to the right. For a total of 14 cards used to weave this.

The weft is size 10 cotton crochet thread in black.

This was woven on my simple board loom.

Turning Sequence:
All cards are turned forward for the whole band.

GTT file
Continue reading Simple Diamonds.. err Chevrons

Knighting Tunic Trim


Over the weekend I started weaving the trim for Fearghus’ knighting tunic. I couldn’t just choose an “easy” trim(4f4b), no, I had to choose something that I’d never woven before in a challenging pattern. Now I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that I have enough time to finish it.

The trim pattern is based on a picture from the book “The Willful Pursuit of Complexity”(p. 62) using the “Icelandic Vacant-Hole Technique” and “Warp Float Brocade” by Teresa Taylor.

28 pattern cards and 6 border cards, 3-thread missed-hole “Icelandic” method with long floats. I’ll see about posting a picture of the weaving in progress once I finish a single repeat. The warp is size 10 cotton crochet thread and the weft is white size 8 crochet thread. A bigger, fluffier weft emphasizes the textural empty space between the two white warp threads.

On the pattern to the right, blocks indicated with a yellow thread were threaded in white and the blocks indicated with a white thread were actually left empty (I find it easier to =see= the yellow on the pattern so I drew it up in yellow instead of white). The cards are threaded as empty, white, green, white. In addition to the pattern shown I also threaded 3 border cards on each side (for a total of 6 border cards). The border cards were threaded with 4 white, 4 green and then 4 white. The border cards are turned continuously in one direction until the twist build up is too much (about half the pattern) then they are reversed.

threaddirS vs Z on the diagram indicates the thread direction. See the image to the left for a visual (Thanks to Phiala from whom I lifted the image).

The weaving is setup like this:
[Weaver] [finished band] [active weft] [cards][the rest of the warp]

On the pattern, blocks shaded grey are turned “away” from the weaver. That is, the hole that is on the top, closest to the weaver is turned so that the hole is still on the top, but is furthest from the weaver.
Blocks which are shaded white are turned “towards” the weaver. That is, the hole that is on the top, closest to the weaver is turned so that the hole is still near the weaver, but is on the bottom.

The threading is such that turning all of the cards “away” from the weaver will result in arrows pointing in the direction in which the cards were turned (that is, pointing away from the weaver).

Progress Notes:
– I want to make enough trim for the wrists (36″) + ~neck (36″) + hem (100″). (After weaving a few repeats I see that this is probably not possible in the time alotted so I will opt to either leave off the hem trim or do a much simpler weave for the hem.)
– Three yards of thread measured on a warping board and then wound on the loom on Thursday/Friday. Three yards should be enough for the neck/wrist trims plus loom waste. (4/25)
– Last night(4/29) I finished 1 repeat of the trim for Fearghus’ knighting tunic. One repeat measures in at 8″ long.. and the first time through it took me about 6 hours (I expect to get faster as I get more experience with it) and I can spot two mistakes (which I didn’t unweave). It’s lovely.. even in this first sample I learned a lot about weaving using this method. More importantly, Fearghus likes it.
– Tuesday night (4/30) I finished a second repeat of the trim. It took just about 6 hours. This was interrupted by dinner and about 30 minutes of unweaving when I made a two different mistakes.
– Sunday night (5/12) I finished the fourth repeat of the trim. It does feel like it’s getting faster.. but it’s still taking quite a while for each repeat. That said, I feel like I’m making fewer mistakes.
– Tuesday night (5/14) I finished the fifth repeat of the trim. That puts me 50% done.
– Thursday night (6/13) I finished the thread on the loom. I’m hoping that’s enough trim. I should know soon.
– This morning (6/20) I cut the trim off the loom. I count 8 repeats.

Special thanks to Swift Moon Photography for the really excellent pictures of me weaving from the Civil Unrest event this past Saturday(4/27).

Final measurements used for knighting tunic.
Body, two pieces at: 36″ wide x 52″ long. Shoulders nipped in 6.5″x18″
Sleeve, two at: 26″ at armseye, 16″ at wrist x 25″
Gores, two rectangles cut into triangles at: 36″ x 15″
Gussets, two squares: 8.5″x8/5″

Originally I wanted to try a new pattern for this tunic. I made a sample of the pattern in a different fabric.. and after it was tweaked I started making the final tunic in the white linen I’d set aside for this project. I was totally on schedule to finish the knighting tunic in plenty of time..until the Sunday the week before the knighting when the parade of tragedies started.
Tragedy 1:
I finally had the tunic together enough for Fearghus try it on Sunday night. It looks like somewhere in the fitting/fiddling with the new pattern I flubbed it up. For some reason on the new white tunic the under arm just came out HUGE. Huge to the point of unwearable (and in the short-term unfixable). Unfortunately we finally figured this out at 9pm on Sunday. So after messing with it for a while to see if there was a quick fix I had to admit defeat and we agreed that early on Monday morning we’d run get some new fabric and I’d make a whole new tunic based on our tried-and-true tunic pattern and go from there. So instead of being 75% done on Monday and having just a little bit more to do.. instead I was back to 0% done and spent the rest of the week rushing to try to catch up.

Tragedy 2:
On Thursday night I had the new tunic all together and I started trying to add the trim. I had finished a bit over 8 repeats of the trim before I ran out of string on the loom. After futzing with it for a while I finally figured out that I had just about 3-4 inches too little trim to be able to do both the neck and the sleeves. There was just no way I was going to be able to stretch the trim to fit the needed length.. and there was no way I’d be able to finish the tunic AND weave even more trim to make up the shortfall before he needed to wear the tunic on Saturday morning. I finally decided it was more important to have the trim on the neck opening.. and I spent about an hour pinning and fussing with the straight trim at the neck to get it to fit the rounded neck opening. After about an hour I sat back to look at the trim and realized it looked like crap on the neck. I was nearly in tears.

Tragedy 3:
olympic_embroideryThe trim is tablet woven using Icelandic Missed Hole technique with long floats.. long floats meaning long strings sticking up at the surface of the trim.. long strings that really looked like crap when I tried to bend the trim to get it to fit the curve of the neck line. After having a minor freak out I sat down to consider my options. Finally I decided the only option would be to use the trim on only the sleeves and to do “something different” at the neck. Then I remembered the “Olympic ring” embroidery from Oseberg finds and I believe has also been found at Birka (image to the right). I decided this would be simple and elegant and perfect for the neckline.

Tragedy 4:
Unfortunately I had to work all day on Friday..and there’s no way I could do the embroidery and work at the same time. My mother came to the rescue.. she volunteered to sew the circles at the neck. This totally saved my bacon. The rings were sized to fit a US quarter executed in two-strands of green cotton size 10 crochet thread with a white tie-down.

Finally, Friday night, during the Vigil I and my mother were able to finish the last of the tunic hem and decorative stitches. Sewing the night before the deadline sucks. I got done sewing at 3am. The Vigil completed at 4am. The tunic looks gorgeous and looks great on him.. but next time I’ll try harder to be done LONG before the deadline.

Malan, Linda and Leet, Linda, The Willful Pursuit of Complexity: self published. Print.
– – Instructions and background about the Icelandic missed-hole technique. To get a copy Contact Linda Malan She sells the books. You would need to check with her about shipping.The cost of the book is $30 + $whatever the cost is for priority mail. Then you send a check to: Linda Malan @ 636 Daley St. #7, Edmonds, WA 98020.

“Directions for making many sorts of Laces”

A long time ago I started working my way through the fingerloop braiding recipes in “Directions for making many sorts of laces” by E.G. Stanley in Chaucer and Middle English Studies in Honour of Rossell Hope Robbins. My primary goal is to work through these recipes and create a sampler so that I can easily sort through the recipes in the future if I want to make more of the same time of braid. Intially I did this by re-writing long hand the recipe in more modern english and tacking the braids to pages in a little booklet. Unfortunately my handwriting is atrocious. I think the goal is still valid.. but I may end up moving these to something with better handwriting.

Regardless, I was describing my sampler book to a friend and she asked if I wouldn’t mind putting pictures of it up on my site. So, here they are. Please disregard my handwriting.

Red Yellow Missed-Hole Tablet Weaving Spiral

I found the design for this here:

I’ve seen some very lovely examples of missed-hole technique with cards and I wanted to give it a try.

Turning Sequence:(read from the bottom up)
8 picks all backwards
4 picks 1-10 forwards 11-20 back
8 picks all forwards
4 picks 1-10 back, 11-20 forwards

GTT file

The final band is about 5/8 inch (1.58 cm) wide.

This was woven in #10 cotton crochet thread. It took probably 3 evenings to weave it up. Most of that was spend un-doing mistakes.. but once I caught the rhythm of the pattern it was very easy to weave.

I used a white weft for this. The weft is the same size as the warp threads. A lot of sources suggest using a bigger diameter or softer thread for the weft to emphasize the hole left in the threading sequence. The weft peeks out on the edges. On the next piece I do I plan to add border cards the same color as the weft to hide it.

The “white” thread in the threading diagram is actually left empty.
This pattern uses a balanced turning sequence and is therefore twist neutral.

I plan to use this as trim on a black tunic for Fearghus.

Viking Whipcord

Interlocking or Making a Viking Whip-cord


Bast fibers

Fibers that are extracted from the stem of a plant are called “Bast” fibers. Flax, hemp, ramie and nettle are “soft” bast fibers that were plausibly used in clothing worn in the SCA period(600-1600 CE).


The fibers of linen are made from the plant, flax (linum usitatissimum). This plant goes through a complex process that creates soft strong fibers that are then spun into thread. There is some indication that wet-spinning didn’t start until after 1800.

Linen is a very strong cloth that becomes softer the more you wash it. It feels cool to the touch and creases easily. It is prone to wrinkling (wrinkles are period). Flax fibers will rotate clockwise when wetted. It wicks moisture away from the body so it will feel cool in the summer (cooler than the equivalent garment made in cotton).


Hemp fibers are made from the plant, cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.). Hemp is another member of the nettle family. Hemp fibers will rotate counterclockwise when wetted.



Ramie is a fiber extracted from a plant closely related to stinging nettles(with out the stinging part). This fiber was widely used in China. There are some references to it’s presence in “Eighth- and ninth-century grave finds from the northwestern tip of the Caucasus mountains” (“A Medieval Handweaver’s Bibliography”).


Protein fibers


Wool comes from the fur of sheep. Wool fibers have small hooks in them that cause one fiber to cling to another. These hooks also cause wool fabric to shrink.

Wool can absorb up to 30% of it’s weight of water before it starts to feel wet.

Fulled wool, worsted wool, wool gaberdine, wool flannel.


Silk is the fiber that is made by silkworms to form the cocoon that the worm used to metamorphosize from worm to moth. In most cases the worm is killed in the process of extracting the fiber.

Raw silk is silk that is woven of silk fibers that still have seracin on them. This is -very- hard to find modernly. The fabric that is modernly refered to as “raw” silk is usually either china silk or silk noil.
China Silk
Silk Noil
Tussah silk is a silk fiber that is gathered after the moths emerge from their cocoons. This is “crewlty-free” silk.

Embroidery on Clothing


Embroidery for Clothing – Anglo Saxon

Thread Numbering

what does 60/2, 20/3 etc mean?