Brocade Tablet Weaving 101

If you have seen the video on Brocade Tablet Weaving, you will (hopefully) have a good idea how this technique is done. If you haven’t seen the video, you can go to it from this link:

If you would like to use the fragment of the Birka 2f pattern that I was using, you can print out my pattern here:

I probably should have colored the border cards blue, just to be clear…

The two outside cards are border cards and will be skipped. The inside cards are blue=background and white=silver foreground.

The blue yarn I used for the ground fabric is the Maurice Brassard 8/2 cotton. You can use two strings of 8/2 for the brocade, or use Maysville 8/4 cotton, or use all 6 strands of embroidery floss, whether a color or metal (or synthetic).

This pattern requires 13 cards–4 border cards and 9 pattern cards–and all cards are threaded alternating S and Z. It doesn’t matter if you start with S or Z, just as long as they alternate all the way across.

You also don’t need to have numbered cards or have them labeled clockwise or counterclockwise, or indeed labeled ABCD at all! You also don’t need to have AD at the top when you start the pattern. All threads are the same color!

This pattern is, therefore, one of the most forgiving in terms of set up.

Following along with the pattern, go OVER both of the threads in the white boxes and UNDER the threads (through the shed) where there are blue boxes. Drop the silver shuttle down at the border cards–the shuttle will not go through that shed. It will come up between the border cards and pattern cards, go over and under through the pattern cards, and back down before the border cards on the other side. This will create a sort of silver stitching on both sides of the back of the band, but not have the silver on the selvedge edge.

I had chosen to do just a small portion of the 2f pattern, but if you would like to chart out the entire pattern, you can do so yourself on grid paper (or an Excel spreadsheet, if you’re so inclined).

Good luck! And happy weaving!

Weave Along 24: Birka 2f

The last installment in the Laurel Kingdom series! Avacal!

I thought I would do one more Birka pattern to finish the set, this time choosing a design that I couldn’t find a pattern for. It gave me the opportunity to challenge myself to create a pattern from just a sketch. This is the sketch of Birka 2f that I found:

Birka 2f, found in Sweden, dated 8th-10th centuries

I used the Tabletweaving Draft Designer to create the patterns, which can be found at A video to help you navigate the program and learn some of the features can be found here:

4-hole sample and pattern:

It really didn’t turn out how I imagined. It’s not terrible, but I wonder if it would look better using finer threads? That’s something I’ll have to try in the future.
Birka 2f: 4 hole pattern

Skip hole sample and pattern:

This turned out far better! Skip hole pattern. The border is the same but the middle cards create a much narrower piece with more defined designs.
Birka 2f: Skip hole pattern

Avacal is the newest Kingdom in the SCA, formed from Saskatchewan, Alberta and a tiny bit of BC; the eastern slope of the Rocky mountains.  Their colors are yellow, white and red.

So there you have it! The final installment of the Laurel Kingdom series! I hope you enjoyed it and will start weaving up your own pieces and creating patterns of your own to share with others. I’m not sure what my next projects will be–perhaps I will go through Tablets at Work and learn all the different types of techniques that have been found through history.

Yours, the warped and twisted,


April Update

I’ve been doing a bit more weaving lately. Risking repeating myself (although, duh, I can edit it later), here’s what I’ve done recently.

Back in February, I finished the green “bees feet” weave that I did in really fine thread. It took me about two years to finish all of it.  What was I thinking? I dunno, but it turned out really great!

Then I warped up a couple pieces in blue and yellow in the Snartemo II pattern.  This is the period skip-hole weave that goes together really fast and is beginner-level EASY!  I really like this one.

After that, I did a woven piece for Baron Evrard in the Birka 22 pattern. I still need to get that to him.  This one is a more advanced level piece that requires following a particular order of turning cards in opposite directions.  It’s easy to get yourself turned around (get it…turned around?)

And I did another piece in WSU Cougar colorway…

Then I warped up a new piece (after I found my Applesies book again!), pattern #11.  This is listed as “challenging”.  This one has 50 steps to the repeat.

Fifty steps.


I’m not memorizing this ever.

The one thing I really need to do is make new kirtles for the camping season.  I need someone to measure me because doing it yourself is difficult/nigh impossible.


Recapping Weaving

OK…now we are at a current post.  For the moment, I’m going to stop going back and adding posts that are 2-3 (or more) years old.  So many of the photos are missing now that I don’t know what it was I was doing at the time when it says “Saxon weave” since I did a half dozen of them.  So what I’m going to do is post pictures of stuff I’ve done without all the blah-blah-blah that went with it them, but just grouping them together into styles with a brief description.  Now that I look at it, I did a lot of weaving in the last five years.

Skip hole weave


I really like this one.  I believe that it’s period (I’ll have to find the documentation again).  Super easy and looks great.  It was a test piece so it’s only a couple yards.

Threaded in Weaves



This one I did as a commission in 2012.  Unfortunately, she never picked it up and never paid me for it.


BUNNIES!  I made this for the Shire of Shittimwoode to put in their prize box.  This was from the Robin & Russ Handweavers’ book.


This pattern I think I found on the Loomy Bin.

tablet-8b  Variation of the Loomy Bin pattern

tablet-12a  From EQoS on Deviant Art

I love this pattern.  tablet-15a

I’m not kidding.  tablet-5b

Seriously.  tablet-4a

I really love this pattern.  tablet-12b

Really…really….  tablet-14a

tablet-11b Gorgeous in RED!

I love it even more with really fine thread.


Simplified version


And another one…


And another…


Yet another version…


tablet-13a  I think I made this one up.  Meh.


Anchors Aweigh!  This was for a high school buddy to be made into suspenders.


I drafted this “Tyr” pattern for Tyrssen of the Midrealm.  He was a middle school friend who I discovered was also in the SCA. 😀


Super wide band for Molly McGurn!  This was also my design, although to be honest, I kind of strung this up at random.


I think this one got donated to the Barony…An Tir and Aquaterra colors.

tablet-aq-2  A better pattern of An Tir and AQ colors.

an-tir-weave-1  Another with An Tir colors only


Prototype of a surfboard loom for teaching a class.  Mostly worked.


So I made a whole stack of surfboards for the class!


Got some six-hole cards.  Mostly didn’t work on the inkle loom.  I bet they’d work fine on a backstrap or Osburg type loom with a much longer working space.  I’ll have to try that sometime.

Egyptian Diagonals


This was assigned to me as a challenge by Master Fiacha.  This is super ugly, but I learned how the colors moved with the cards.


This piece was what I worked on after a failed attempt at a Dragon Head weave.  I gave up on the dragon heads and made more Egyptian Diagonals instead.  I love the dark blue and silver-grey together.

Ram’s Horn Pattern

tablet-10b 20141206_844

Not a period design, but very cool-looking and popular among the Historic Tablet Weaving folks!

20141206_773  Small test piece….just a bookmark.

Brocade Card Weaving


Didn’t like doing it.  That’s as far as I got before I decided it wasn’t for me.

Saxon Weaves

This next group has a few documentable pieces and are all double-sided patterns.  I want to get back to making more of these now that I have translated the GTT patterns onto a more easily-accessible Excel spreadsheet.

Saxon weave, 5-6th century, Cambridge.


Anglo-Saxon #8


Anglo Saxon 6a:  anglo-saxon-2

weaving-anglo-saxon-6b  Anglo-Saxon 6d


Tried using fishing spinners….with little success.

Snartemo weave


6th century Norwegian and really easy to make.  25 turns forward, 25 turns back.

Birka weaves






Birka 6 end-of-nov-2015-353

Applesies & Fox Noses








Still working on this one.  It’s also made of really fine thread and I’ve been working on it for about a year.

Advanced Card Weaving: Birka 6, the Kivrim Band

I’ve been working on an “Introduction to Card Weaving” post, but ran into some technical difficulties Several hours into creation, the computer shut down, and inexplicably, the post was not saved, despite my having clicked on the “Save” button numerous times throughout the process.  I have no idea what happened, but it was a significant set back.  Images gone.  Text gone.  My mini glossary gone.  In many ways, it was almost back to the first outline I created.  Seriously frustrating.  Hopefully I can get that back up to where it was and get it posted soon.

In the meantime, I will post a quick lesson on Advanced Card Weaving.  There are many different Kivrim patterns which apparently means “Bent” (although Google Translate doesn’t have the word in its dictionary for any language).  This is a split-pack weaving technique, which means that the cards will be turning in different directions, singly or in groups.  Proper threading and turning will result in some stunning patterns!  You can find several different varieties on the Loomy Bin, including the Egyptian Diagonals patterns.

This was a great lesson for me to learn how to read patterns that have no instructions–that is, those that have slashes in the boxes that change from left-leaning to right-leaning; from slash to back-slash.  I had never done such a thing before, so I feel like I made a huge leap forward in my tablet-weaving journey.

Here’s an example of one of those patterns…

Muster zum Brettchenweben: Diagonalmuster - Kivrim

Looks confusing, doesn’t it?  Well, my brain doesn’t like looking at it.  I prefer to have it written out, which can take some time doing the translation.  I had the same issue when I was learning to knit, so perhaps in time, I will be able to look at this kind of pattern and untangle it in my head, but for now…it’s long hand.

The pattern I decided on was Birka 6, one of several card woven bands found at Birka, a former trade site in Sweden which uncovered a great number of artifacts in an archaeological dig.
Birka 6
The bottom four rows are, of course, the threading diagram.  The cards are threaded DCBA, so face those cards left!  I chose two colors, a dark burgundy red and pale yellow for my project.

Looking at the diagram, you will see the first six cards are Z threaded, and the last five are S threaded.  Here’s a great diagram to remember how Z and S threading works:
Z and S Threading for tablet weaving
If you’re weaving along with me, go ahead and get out your thread, your cards, your loom, and warp up your cards!  I’ll just go make a cuppa and meet you back here….

Ready?  Great!

Through experimentation, I discovered that you start this pattern with the AD position on top.  For the first four quarter-turns, you turn the cards away from you, which will form the V formation as you see in the threading diagram.  We’ll call this motion “Forward” (since it appears to be the industry standard, although it feels backward in my mind…).  This first few rows will, of course, look sloppy and messy…as an experienced weaver, you know it always does at the beginning!

The next phase is looking at the boxes where the slashes change direction–that indicates a reverse in the card direction.  The author of this image made dark lines every two rows, which conveniently points out that the pattern of card-turning changes every two rows.  You will turn the cards two quarter turns, passing the shuttle for every quarter-turn, then adjust your cards for the next two rows.

Here is what I charted out (and you’ll forgive me for not following the pattern exactly and changing directions of the first and last cards on the selvage–I never liked the idea of two cards constantly twisting up in one direction while the others moved forward and back equally.  It does make the edges a little more rough, so if you want smooth edges, turn them only forward and you can always reverse to only backwards after a while.)  These directions are written so each “turn” is a quarter-turn of the cards, and the shuttle is thrown every quarter-turn.

A)  Turns 1-4:  turn all forward
B)  Turns 5-6:  1-6 Forward; 7-8 Back; 9-11 Forward
C)  Turns 7-8:  All Back
D)  Turns 9-10:  1-6 Back, 7-8 Forward; 9-11 Back
E)  Turns 11-12:  1-3 Forward; 4-6 Back; 7-11 Forward
F)  Turns 13-14:  1-5 Forward; 6 Back; 7-11 Forward
G)  Turns 15-16:  1-3 Back; 4-6 Forward; 7-11 Back
H)  Turns 17-18:  1-5 Back; 6 Forward; 7-11 Back
I)  Turns 19-20:  All Back

If you are doing the edges all one direction, the directions are:
A)  Turns 1-4:  turn all forward
B)  Turns 5-6:  1-6 Forward; 7-8 Back; 9-11 Forward
C)  Turns 7-8:  1 Forward; 2-10 Back; 11 Forward
D)  Turns 9-10:  1 Forward; 2-6 Back, 7-8 Forward; 9-10 Back; 11 Forward
E)  Turns 11-12:  1-3 Forward; 4-6 Back; 7-11 Forward
F)  Turns 13-14:  1-5 Forward; 6 Back; 7-11 Forward
G)  Turns 15-16:  1 Forward; 2-3 Back; 4-6 Forward; 7-10 Back; 11 Forward
H)  Turns 17-18:  1 Forward; 2-5 Back; 6 Forward; 7-10 Back; 11 Forward
I)  Turns 19-20:  1 Forward; 2-10 Back; 11 Forward

When the cards have twisted too far in one direction and it starts to affect your tension, reverse the cards 1 and 11 to Back, which will untwist them.  When they are twisted too far in the opposite direction, start turning forward again.

Here’s the finished piece!  It’s only 5′ 6″ (not quite 2 feet), but since it was a test piece, I didn’t want to make a full-length 4-yard piece if I didn’t find it fun or workable.

I hope these instructions help you to make your own Birka band.  Good luck!  I hope to see lots more period pieces made and displayed on garb at upcoming events!

Advanced Card Weaving: Birka 12

(Originally posted 6 Jan 2015)

Here’s another fun pattern for you history buffs!  This is Birka find #12
Ткачество на дощечках - Szukaj w Google
This person (Russian, if I figure it correctly) has already mapped out this pattern pretty clearly, it’s just a matter of knowing how to read the thing.

Warp your cards like it shows above.  Turn your cards to the AD “home” position.

Turn all the cards four quarter-turns forward, passing the shuttle between each turn.

When you have returned to the home position, you will split the deck.  Turn cards 1, 8-13 forward (away from you); 2-7 back (toward you).  You will do this for three quarter-turns.

Then…reverse!  Turn cards 1-7 forward; 8-12 back; and 13 forward.  You will do this for three quarter-turns, back to the home position.

Repeat the pattern–four quarter-turns forward, then the split pack.

As you can see, this means that the 1 and 13 cards are always turning forward…the rest of the cards will be turning four quarter turns forward at the end of every pattern.  This results in a great deal of twist in the threads, which you will have to eventually deal with.  About every yard and a half of completed weaving, I will untie the knots (one card at a time) and untwist.  It’s just the way this pattern works.  I often will turn the 1 and 13 cards with the cards adjacent to them, which still builds up a twist, but not at twice the speed.

Here’s mine, in progress…

And finished!

So I’m Weaving Along…

(originally posted on 14 Jan 2015)

…on this pattern, that weirdly, doesn’t look anything like the image…which is quite possibly a threading issue–I’ll have to try this again when I get to the end.  You know what they say–it’s not a mistake, it’s a new pattern!

…and something goes wrong.

The tension bar on the inkle loom that I’ve been using for 20 years finally died…the threading inside the wooden bit was not lined with a metal fitting; it’s just wood.  So after 1000 yards of trim or so, it stripped out.

I tried to use my cheap-n-scuzzy “surfboard” loom but the tension was unreliable and the bolt chewed through one of my threads.  It was time to move ahead to the next plan.

Not wanting to waste time, I went ahead and built this in two days:

While it’s not quite finished, it might work well enough for both tablet weaving and rigid heddle weaving with a few minor alterations.  In fact, I have an idea for a temporary improvement…ooooo….

In the process of building, I had a few set backs during the build…was locked out of some areas of the wood shop…

…but hand-held power tools were available and I made full use of them!

And on the third day…

…I added the front and back bars (only one pictured here, along with, for some inexplicable reason, the broken tension bar from the inkle loom).  I attempted to warp up the card weaving on the loom but didn’t have any luck doing so.  Eventually, I gave up because the tension was not consistent.

My dear husband went to the hardware store and in about 90 minutes had fixed the tension bar for the inkle loom, so now I am back in business!  It took a couple hours to re-warp the card weaving onto the loom, then had to take it apart again to adjust the tension again to accommodate the shortened length–this loom really needs TWO tension bars for card weaving.

I still have a quilt commission to finish and a bunch of uniforms to repair, but…you know… I’d rather be weaving. 🙂