Tablet or Card Weaving

Tablet weaving is an easy and cheap way to weave. This is a great way to get kids started or to bring a portable project with you. If you don’t bother with the big hunk of wood, it is absolutely portable in a pocket. Even with the hunk of wood, it’s pretty easy to bring with most places.

This is my set up:
tabletweavingsetup

  • The Wood is some really old 2×4 that I scrounged up in the cellar. The same place yielded the big nails. If you are going to do this, the wood and nails need to be tough because they’ll be under pressure. If you have time to go out and get something (instead of feeling like you NEED to do this NOW and can’t leave the house) you can get good clamps and have a more adjustable weaving stand. – None of this is absoutely necessary. I’ll explain later another method to hold your weaving.
  • The “tablet” is a set of 12 cards that came with a set of toys the girls got. The cards are fairly useless and I couldn’t figure out why they came with the toy at all. I did find a much better use of course in this application. I used a hole punch and made one hole in each corner of each card. They don’t line up perfectly but that’s not entirely necessary. What is important is that the holes are good and round and they’re not spaced too off from one another.
  • Here is what your card should look like:
    tabletcard
    *EDIT – I messed up the card. the letters should go around clockwise like the card now shows.

    Notice that the holes around are marked A through D. If you can remember the positioning, you don’t need to mark them this way. If you can’t, then you probably want to mark them and also number your cards. If you don’t want to make your cards, you can buy them from many retailers. I don’t carry any in the store but it looks like The Woolery has a custom set.

    In the least, I think it’s helpful to have the cards front and back marked in some way. Whether you are using playing cards and there is an obvious front and back or if you are really crafty and have made a set out of thin card board and have marked something to differentiate the front and back. The reason being, your weaving won’t work if you thread some cards from the back and some from the front. You don’t want it twisted in the middle. This statement will become clearer as we go.

    I’m going to give you the pattern for the belt as I have it:
    tabletweavingsample
    This is what the pattern looks like on paper.
    twpattern
    What it means is:
    All the holes in card 1 are threaded with grey.
    All the holes in card 2 are threaded with burgundy.
    All the holes in card 3 are threaded with grey.
    All the holes in card 4 are threaded with red.
    In card 5 – Hole A and C are threaded with Grey, Holes B and D are threaded with Burgundy.
    All the holes in card 6 are threaded with red.
    All the holes in card 7 are threaded with grey.
    All the holes in card 8 are threaded with burgundy.
    All the holes in card 9 are threaded with grey.

    To do this pattern you will need:
    8 of your set length of red.
    18 of your set length of grey.
    10 of your set length of burgundy.
    This makes up your warp threads
    When deciding how long you want your project to be, remember to add in 12 inches that will get used up in knots.

    You will also need weft. Colors don’t matter much for this because it won’t show much except a little at the edges. Even though I have shuttles I wanted to make this a totally DIY project so I cut a flap from a box and made it like a little stick shuttle and wound it with several yards of red.

    When threading, lock the kids in their closet find something constructive for the kids to do so they don’t bother you, then thread one card at a time making sure not to tangle the threads and stacking them up in the right order. My cards look like:
    tabletweaving_cards But since you can’t see the yarns too well, they all went in like this:
    tabletcard_loaded
    This is what the cards should like like on their side.
    oneside
    and a sketch because the real life photo isn’t too clear
    cardthreading
    The threads are all gathered in bottom and top with the cards on their side. Either way is correct. One way is called S and the other Z. You just want to make sure in the weaving you are doing that they are all going the same way. So all threaded S or all threaded Z.

    When you have the whole set done, tie the cards together. You don’t want them to twist amongst each other, you want them to stay just like they are, You are going to need to fiddle with tying everything up so it’s safest to tie your cards in their stack so they don’t get messy.

    Gather all the strings at one end. You need to tie a knot in the end and tie it to something stable. You can tie it to a handle, a doorknob, your husband if he’s sitting still for any length of time…. Something stable and this is why I made my board, I figured it was the safest place to have a stable place to hold my weaving.

    Your weaving needs to be under tension in order to work. The front part of the strings you want to tie to your belt, or the other end of your board like I have it. You want the tension to be tight. You can see on my picture above that to keep the cards all sticking together once I got it all on the board, I put a barrette there to hold it. I didn’t want little fingers getting at it and messing up the cards in any way.

    Once you get this far, you are ready to weave. If you tied it up or held the cards in place in some way, you want to release that and start weaving. Your shed is the empty space between the top threads and bottom threads. You see it here: tw_shed2
    and here:
    tw_shed1
    Put your shuttle through that triangle of empty space. Holding the end of the weft thread beat/pack the thread in using your hand or your shuttle inside the shed.

    tw_packbeat
    I actually find it easiest to pack/beat once I’ve changed the shed. So how do we change the shed? You rotate the cards one quarter of a turn forward. I know, this sounds like the part that seems impossible. But it works. Grab the cards firmly and start to turn. In the picture I’m sort of pointing in the direction I’m turning.
    tw_startqturn
    and this is when the turn is done.
    tw_qturndone
    It happens fast and way easier than it might initially sound. Once you do it, it will seem easy.

    This is when I pack, and then I put the shuttle through again – you know that you don’t want to keep putting the shuttle through in the same direction right – you want to keep going Left to right then, right to left then, left to right etc etc. I knew you already knew that, but I wanted to make sure. Then you continue making forward quarter turns, packing and passing the shuttle. Also note that you want to keep the weft tight. If not you’ll end up with little bits showing at the edges like mine does. I’m so used to weaving on a loom where you don’t pull tightly that I keep forgetting.

    Some patterns will call for you to make larger turns or backward turns but this pattern we just keep going forward. Not that you can’t go backwards at some point or try other larger turns if you want to. Eventually turning all one way will get your far ends all twisty. Twisty isn’t a problem until it keeps you from being able to make your forward turns.

    tw_twisty
    One way to take care of this is to band your cards together so they don’t get all messed up, then untie the ends that are tiwsted. Untwist them, retie and continue weaving. Or you can choose to turn backwards at this point which will untwist them.

    If you want to know more, there are a ton of good sources of information online. And many patterns.
    This one is especially good. It’s also where I snagged the 2×4 idea from.

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    26 Responses to Tablet or Card Weaving

    1. Wendy says:

      Thanks for that really clear explanation! I tried this a couple of years ago and had no success, too many cards, too many strings, no good anchor spot, not good enough instructions. Maybe I’ll try again with DD! She loves weaving.

    2. Weaver says:

      SPECTACULAR!!!! Love it and that and box weaving may just be what saves me while dealing with all my “helpers” once we move and I’m trying to unpack. Thanks a million!

    3. Jennifer says:

      That is so darn cool!

    4. Sara says:

      I am totally going to re-read this after having my morning coffee… I *think* I get it, but better to have some caffeine first! What a fantastic project, though… I think the kids would get a kick out of watching me do it!

    5. wendy says:

      You’re amazing!

    6. Robin Marie says:

      This is great! Wonderfully explained! I really, really don’t need another project to get hooked on, but I might have to give this a try.

    7. anj says:

      wow. WOW. That is an amazing tutorial. Really really good.
      Thanks!

    8. Lauren says:

      That’s a great explanation! Much clearer than some of the ones I’ve seen. Thanks for posting this!

    9. Karen says:

      Wow, that is so cool! I’ve never heard of this before. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.

    10. Erynn says:

      Great tutorial! The whole process makes more sense now! Can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks!

    11. Juno says:

      OK, that is cook. When you rotated the cards forward it made my head go kinda wonky, but it makes sense now.

    12. Juno says:

      or possibly, you know, COOL.

    13. Lucia says:

      I’m so glad you posted this, because I really need another craft to get behind on.

      No, seriously, I’ll have to try it sometime. After (sigh) I finish the belated gift knitting.

    14. Amy says:

      way cool! I think I see how it works now. I might have to give this a try

    15. lamina says:

      deck of cards= brilliant!!
      (btw I got my wheel all decorated and put together- whee!! thanks!)

    16. KnitSteph says:

      I love card weaving. I am learning double face tablet weaving now. I do mine on my inkle loom. It’s pretty portable that way too. :)

    17. ricki says:

      is there anything with fiber you can’t do? ;) you are incredible!

    18. Erica says:

      That’s very cool! I think I’m going to have to give this one a try. Thanks for the instructions!

    19. Arleta says:

      That looks so cool. Too bad I have so much to do, I’d love to give that a try.

    20. Terry says:

      Many!! years ago while in junior high (that phrase vs. middle school shd. date me) my art teacher had this as an option. I found these cards really engaging – lots of concentration, fun to see the project evolve, actually simple and complex at the same time. I’ve always wanted a set after all! these years – thanks for the link, now I can get a decent set. And the tutorial is great!

    21. Sherie says:

      Amy, is there anything at all that you can’t/don’t do? I was just surfing the internet getting information on tablet weaving and found your tutorial (which is the best and clearest one I’ve yet seen). Thanks for these great instructions and the DIY information too. Wanted to try it out, but didn’t want to spend any money!!! This is perfect. DH’s work-shed will be invaded tonight.

    22. hanane says:

      Hi! I have a quick question and perhaps I missed it in the tutorial.
      But do you thread your cards front to back or back to front.

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