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.

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.

Tubular Tablet Weaving

From an email from
Henshall, A. 1964. Five tablet-woven seal tags. Archaeological Journal
5. Multicoloured tablet-woven cord
The charter is by John (de Balliol), King of Scotland, to Nicholas de Haia, of thelands of Erroll, etc. Granted at Lindores, 1 August 1294.
Material. Warp: silk yarn, 2-ply twisted S, dark blue, salmon pink (mainly faded to buff), white and pale yellow-green (white except where protected from the light). The white and green yarns are finer than the others, and the green has been used double.
The weft appears to be of the same white yarn as is used in the warp.
Size and condition. The diameter is 1.5 mm; the remaining length is about 46 cm. The condition is good except that it is somewhat faded.
All the ends are torn and the seal is missing.
The weave. The cord is worked on eight 4-hole tablets (ie 36 warp threads). The weave is plain, all the tablets being given a quarter turn in the same direction for each weft. The weaving is even and closely beaten, there
being about 40 weft threads per inch (16 per cm). All the tablets have been threaded in the
same direction with one exception, the 4th tablet on the diagram, with the result that throughout the cord these
4 threads are twisted in the opposite direction to all the rest. The cord is woven in the same way as a normal braid [band] except that the weft instead of passing backwards and forwards is always passed through the shed in the
same direction and pulled up tight to make the weaving tubular. This is, in fact, quite easy to do.
Reversal of the direction of the twists occurs at intervals of between 1.75 and 2.75 inches, and can be plainly
seen on three of the cords in the photograph.
The pattern. The pattern consists of two vertical rows of small squares, one blue and the other pink, with a green dot in the middle of each, and separated by white lines (unfortunately only the dark blue squares show on the
photograph). This pattern is achieved by the order in which the tablets are threaded with the different
coloured yarns:
1st tablet: 1,2,3 holes pink, 4 white
2nd tablet: 1,3 pink, 2 green, 4 white
3rd tablet: as 1st
4th tablet: all white
5th tablet: 1,2,3 blue, 4 white
6th tablet: 1,3 blue, 2, green, 4 white
7th tablet: as 5th
8th tablet: all white
The work twists spirally of its own accord if the direciton of the spiral made by the weft coincides with the direction of the twists of the tablet threads; for instance if the tablets are giving the threads an S twist then the weft must be
threaded through the shed from right to left and the cord will automatically twist in the opposite direction, Z-wise.
Comment. The method of making a tubular cord by tablet weaving with a spiral weft has not previously been recorded. It is, however, a simple way of producing a smooth cord suitable for seal tags.

Tablet Weaving: Dad's Belt



Turning sequence:
Turn forward until you see 5 triangles. On the 6th triangle reverse half way through. Turn backwards until you see 5 triangles.

Using 32 cards of size 12 cotton crochet thread this piece came out to a width of just a little over 2.25 inches. The size 12 cotton crochet thread was sticky. This was the toughest band I’ve made yet. I practically bruised my chest trying to beat it.

It’s a little bit wider than the belt should be.. I guess I could have pulled the weft tighter. Someone else has suggested that it’ll stretch/tighten with wear. I hope so.

This band completed: 11/3/2002

Anglo Saxon threaded in pattern

Band completed 10/23/2002

What it is
This tablet woven band is woven using 18 tablets each with 4 strands of size 10 cotton crochet thread (a total of 72 threads) using the method described as “Pack Idling” by Peter Collingwood in The Techniques of Tablet Weaving using Thora Sharptooth’s threading sequence from her website ( The final band wove up to just under 0.5 inches (~1cm). This pattern is naturally double sided. In essence with the pack idling method you are weaving two bands simultaneously which are attached at the selvedges and tied together by the common weft. The “back” of the bands is sandwiched in between the front and back bands and hidden from view. Because of the alternations, this band weaves up narrower and a little more dense than it normally would with only 18 cards.

Band is the same on front and back

Threading diagram
for use in Gutram’s Tablet Weaving Thingy

Turning sequence:
This band is turned only in one direction using a technique Peter Collingwood calls “Pack idling”[2]. Separate the cards into a pack made of even numbered cards and a pack made of odd numbered cards. Insert the first weft from left to right. Turn only the even cards, beat, and insert the next weft from right to left. Leave a little loop on the right-hand side of the weaving.
– Turn only the odd cards, beat, pull the last weft thread taut. Insert the next weft from left to right leaving a little loop on the left-hand side of the weaving.
– Turn only the even cards, beat, pull the last weft thread taut. Insert the next weft from right to left, leaving a little loop on the right-hand side of the weaving.
Alternate turning the packs alternately: even, odd, even, odd until the weaving reaches the desired length.

Since weaving this belt I have learned a method from Shelagh Lewins which will allow me to more easily release the twist build up allowing me to make a longer weaving. I have not yet tested this method.

Historical Notes:
Original band was found in St. John’s Cricket Field, Cambridge and resides in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge. This band was described by Grace Crowfoot in an article in 1951. The article states that the original was made of a bast fiber in blue, white and dark blue. The article describes the band as being “firmly adhered” to a strap end, embedded between the bars in the strap end.
The original article dated the find as being Saxon, late pagan, which would be around the fifth or sixth century A.D. More recently, because of the shape of the strap end and the lack of charring on the object (which was found in a cinerary urn) Penelope Walton Rogers disputes the dating of this piece and instead place it in the medieval period (Rogers, p. 125). Ms. Rogers further notes that “the technique of the patterned linen strap, with staggered rotation of the tablets, is a standard in late medieval linen girdles.” Finaly she notes that this is the only known example of a threaded-in band used as a belt in the Anglo-Saxon era.

Collingwood, Peter, The Techniques of Tablet Weaving. McMinnville: Robin & Russ Handweavers, Inc. (2002), p. 122.
Crowfoot, Grace. “Textiles of the Saxon Period in the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology”. Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society 44 (1951):26-32.
Lewins, Shelagh. “Anglo-Saxon Belt Weaving Instructions.” Shelagh’s Website. 2008. 8 October 2012.
Priest-Dorman, Carolyn, Pikestaff: The Arts and Sciences Issue (December 1990), reprinted at .
Rogers, Penelope Walton, Cloth and Clothing in Early Anglo-Saxon England. York: Council for Brithish Archaeology. (2007), p. 125.

Other Resorces
Anglo-Saxon Belt Weaving Instructions by Shelagh Lewins

First Tablet Weaving: Double Diamonds

I found the design for this here: (site no longer active)



Threading diagram for use in Gutram’s Tablet Weaving Thingy

Turning sequence:
8 forward
8 backward

Using 36 cards of size 10 cotton crochet thread this piece came out to a width of just a little over 1.25 inches. The size 10 cotton crochet thread made this so easy. No stickiness. The threads just slid together.

I’ve since this learned how to keep the weft even and my next pieces are much better.
I think if I were to do this piece again I would turn the three selvelge cards on each side all in one direction to keep it nice and even. This would build up twist but I bought some swivels for that.

This band completed: 10/10/2002