Tablet Weaving Gallery

Bands with Problems

These are early bands, each of which suffers from at least one serious flaw.

Diamonds

This first one is a threaded-in pattern which I designed wayyy BC (Before Collingwood), a time when I thought that threaded-in patterns were the sum total of tablet weaving. It was a bit of a faff to set up but easy to weave. It would have looked a lot better if I hadn't woven it using cheap fluffy knitting wool. Note the bobbly edges, which are characteristic of bands without a border. I think it probably dates from about 1990


First Try at Runes

I thought that you ought to be able to weave letters, so I had a go at weaving runes. I was groping towards the double-faced technique (see examples further down the page), but hadn't worked out the system. And I was still using fluffy knitting wool, which didn't help. I'd thought of adding a border, but not of always turning the border tablets in the same direction!


Too Much Subtlety

This was one of my first AC, or After Collingwood bands. I had bought some worsted-spun weaving wools, and had begun to realise that there were a lot of patterns out there which I hadn't tried. So I spent a long time weaving "Running Dog" in these lovely subtle harmonious shades. I learned from this to use colours which not only go with each other, but also have a decent level of contrast. You can also see that I was having trouble keeping the width of the band constant.

"Running Dog", also known as "Hound's Tooth", is a sort of half-breed pattern. The tablets are all threaded individually, making it a threaded-in pattern, but they are not all turned together every pick, making it a woven pattern. "Kivrim", or "Ram's Horns", is created by reflecting the pattern in the axis which runs along the band.


Woollen Bands

Wool is the classic North European fibre. It's warm in the wet (otherwise sheep wouldn't work), it's easy to spin and it takes colour well. It even grows in the British excuse for a climate! In earlier times, it was widely used for tablet weaving, both as starting borders for cloth woven on warp-weighted looms, and as decorative bands.

Diagonals

Woven in worsted-spun wool, this band shows some of the patterns you can make by setting up to weave two-colour diamonds and then playing around, turning them into diagonal lines and back again. The fringed pointy end is one way of finishing off a band you want to use as a belt.



Underneath of Diagonals

I originally put the band on the scanner the wrong way up. So this is what the underside of the Diagonals band looks like. It's worth knowing what undersides look like, because I still haven't figured out exactly how to tell which side of any band the pattern will come out of.



Double-faced Motifs

This is my second go at double-faced weave, a technique which allows you to freely design patterns in two colours. By threading the centre tablets with yellow and red rather than green and red, I introduced a third colour to the band.



Finnish Band

This is a Finnish pattern which I got from Egon Hansen's book on tablet weaving. It cleverly uses just 7 pattern tablets to make a series of characteristically Scandinavian "S and Z" motifs. This was woven in machine knitting wool from Silver Viscount. Oddly enough, although this wool was mostly pretty good, the dark green was horrible to use, since it was very weak and snapped very frequently.



Startemo

I'm trying to learn the Snartemo technique, in which all tablets are identically threaded with four different colours, and patterns are created using warp floats and turning reversals. Since this is a very simple attempt at the technique, I called it "Startemo". It's woven in the same machine knitting wool as the Finnish band above.



Birka 06

This band was woven using naturally-dyed wool which was left over from weaving a viking shawl for the Jorvik centre (I didn't weave the shawl! I bought the wool by purest chance while on holiday in Wales). The motifs are from the Birka band B6. The original band was brocaded, I think in silver wire on silk ground weave. I have woven it as a double-faced design in wool instead. It seems likely to me that warp-twined bands were woven with much the same motifs as brocaded ones, but fewer of them have survived.



 Køstrup

This band is based on a find from a small graveyard in Køstrup, Denmark. More information can be found in Hilde Thunem's article which includes detailed photographs of the band. Only two holes in each tablet were threaded in the ground weave, and I arranged my tablets all oriented in the same direction and with each tablet offset by a quarter turn from its neighbour. So if one tablet has threads in holes A & C, the next has threads in holes B & D. I wrapped the decorative wefts around the warp threads in blocks of two tablets at a time, to produce an effect more of soumak than brocade, because I felt this matched the photos of the original band better.

The band has twist because the tablets are all threaded the same way, but I reduced this by dampening the band and ironing it with a hot iron.

This band was quite a journey for me and I wrote notes on the process of weaving it which I hope will encourage other weavers who are struggling with a difficult band.



Linen Bands

I only know of one find of linen tablet-weaving from the Dark Ages, which is an Anglo-Saxon belt. However, there are quite a few viking finds which were originally interpreted as missed-hole technique, but are now thought to have been woven using some linen warps and some of wool or silk. The linen, being a vegetable fibre, has decayed while the wool or silk was preserved. I work with linen when I want a slightly shinier appearance than wool, and a machine-washable band. Linen thread tends to be strong and smooth, making it pleasant to work with.

Diamond patterns

This band shows again some patterns which can be made using variations on diamond motifs.



Birka strapwork motif

The motifs for this band come from one of the tablet-woven bands from Viking-age Birka. On the original band, the pattern was brocaded in gold wire on silk thread. This woven version of the pattern was can be found on Mistress Thora's site:

Birka Strapwork Motif

Indonesian double-faced

This band was woven using the Indonesian three-coloured double-faced technique described in Collingwood, with simple wrapped weft surface decoration running across the diamond motifs. It now occurs to me that the soumak wrappping would have showed up better if I had done it on the red and yellow sections rather than the blue and red sections.

By a strange coincidence, the green linen I used in the border was weak and hairy and horrible to weave. What is it with green dye?



Anglo-Saxon Belt

This piece is based on a fragment of linen tablet-weaving which was found in Cambridge. It dates from around the 7th Century A.D., and was attached to an Anglo-Saxon strap end, which preserved the textile and suggests that it was originally a belt. See Saxon Threaded-in Weave for the weaving instructions and further reading. I added an extra border tablet to balance the pattern, and turned it with the other pack to engage it with the weft (you'll see what I mean if you read the instructions). The pattern superficially resembles the well-known 4 forward, 4 back diamond pattern but is superior in several ways. The pattern on the back of the band is exactly the same as on the front, offset by a half-cycle, making it perfect for a belt with a hanging end. Although the edges of the diamonds are slightly less smooth than on the 4F,4B version, the points of the diamonds are clearer and no weft shows at the reversal points. The band is denser than normal tablet-weaving, with a texture which resembles webbing.

Grace Crowfoot wrote that there would probably have been a metal buckle at the far end of the belt, but Gale Owen-Crocker thinks not, as there were apparently plenty of graves featuring a strap end but no buckle. For this band I made a loop by wrapping the unwoven warp with the same thread with which I wove the band. Crowfoot thought that the original band may have been dark blue, with light blue diamonds bordered with white, although either or both of the blues may have been greens. My band is only a smidgen wider than the original, which was 1.2 cm wide, and is woven from quite thick linen thread, except for the weft which is a fine linen thread and almost invisible.



Silk Bands

Silk is the nicest material to work with, and gives the most impressive results. The Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons used it whenever they could get it, although I think the jury is still out on whether all the bands were woven locally (using imported silk thread) or whether some at least were woven in eastern lands.

Double-faced runes

This is my second go at weaving runes, *after* having read about the double-faced technique in Collingwood. The band shows the runic "alphabet" or futhark, and the name which I use when impersonating a viking (Ingaborg). The runes are the younger futhark, which only has 16 letters so you have to make some substitutions such as T for D and K for G. The Viking ship motif is adapted from Mistress Thora's site (have you guessed yet that I'm a fan of Thora's?)



Birka motifs

This is another motif from a brocaded Viking band found at Birka in Sweden. This time, I've woven it as a double-faced band, with a loop at the end which could have been passed over a button or toggle.



Birka 12 as woven pattern

This pattern is another adaptation of a Birka motif, this time of the band B12. The technique is very similar to that of the strapwork motif shown in Linen Bands above. This band is about 1 cm in width and would have looked better if I had pulled the weft tighter, in order to hide the red weft completely. The original band was I think brocaded in silver wire on red wool.

To weave this pattern, thread 10 pattern tablets with 1 red and 3 white threads in each. Arrange them all to be Z threaded, and arrange the red threads in a spiral so that you will weave diagonal stripes. The pattern is then woven by a repeating sequence of 8 picks. Turning schedule shows which direction to turn the tablets for each pick, depending on which way the diagonals go across the band, and also where to make the transition from plain diagonals to the pattern. The border consists of 5 tablets on each side which are threaded with just one colour: 1 tablet all red, 3 all yellow, and then another all red.



Diagonal stripes

To my mind, this band shows how effective a really simple pattern can be. Note that the band twists along its length, because the tablets are all threaded the same way and are always turned in the same direction. So it is fine as garment trim, but would not make a good belt.