Mystery Weave 4: Lettering


Basic Concepts

The double-faced technique is used to weave geometric designs, pictorial images, letters, and symbols. The designs appear on both sides of the weaving, with the colors and image direction

American and British Terms
card = tablet
left-threaded = S-threaded
right-threaded= Z-threaded
turn away = turn forward
turn toward = turn backward
flip the card = twist the tablet about its vertical axis

Prepare the warp: Prepare a continuous warp. Use threads of two contrasting values. Put the background color in A and B, and design color in C and D.

Threading direction: After making a continuous warp, flip the tablets so the threading alternates, with the tablet nearest the edge of the table, right threaded.

Weave structure: Double-faced tablet weaving consists of two turns forward and two turns backward (F, F, B, B) with a weft after each turn. The resulting weave structure is three-span warp floats in alternate alignment. The interlacement is over three, under one for two threads of a tablet, and under three, over one for the other two. Warp twining occurs only where there is a color change.

Figure 1: Turning pattern of the main pack for double-faced designs (F,F,B,B). The background threads are in the two adjacent holes connected by the heavy line (A & B). Design threads are in the other two holes (C & D). When weaving, focus on the line, and disregard the letters. The design pack
always turns in the opposite direction of the background pack

Figure 1 shows the position of the tablets during the FFBB turning sequence. Repeating this turning sequence, with all the tablets in one pack and with the threading as shown in the above diagram will produce a band with the background color on the top and the design color on the bottom as the band is being woven.

Use a warp spreader: This device holds the warp threads and the tablets slightly apart. This makes it easier to turn the tablets and get a clear shed. It will also help you weave straight salvage.

Selvages: The double-faced structure will not produce a neat selvage, so add a warp-twined border. The border can be as narrow as just one tablet, but the border presents an opportunity to
add color to the band with no extra thinking during weaving. For simplicity, you can choose a border design in which all of the tablets can be turned together.

Reading the Graph

The graph is divided into three vertical sections: the design field, the turning direction field, and the tablet count field.

Each rectangle in the design field indicates one tablet in the horizontal direction and two picks in the vertical direction.

The turning direction field is a single column with a cell for each row which indicates the turning direction for the background pack (the design pack always turns in the opposite direction).

For graphs with geometric designs, the turning direction, alternating F and B, is already filled in. For graphs of letters, the rectangles are left blank. After you arrange the letters into the words you want to weave, fill in the blanks, alternating F and B.

The tablet count field is an aid to help arrange the tablets for weaving each row. The number in each darkened square indicates tablets which must be in the design pack, while each white square
indicates tablets that must be in the background pack.

Fine diagonal lines on graphs for geometric designs indicate the twining direction if there is a color interchange. These lines do not appear on graphs for letters.

Turning the Tablets

Weaving position: If you will primarily be weaving geometric designs and Roman letters, weave with the band on your left. When you weave letters or characters which read from right to left,
you can either weave the graph from the end to the beginning or weave with the band on your right.

You will use two packs to weave designs: the background pack, and the design pack. Tablets that weave the background are in the pack closest to the fell. Tablets that weave the design are moved into a separate pack, ahead of the background pack.

The graph shows how to arrange the tablets, and some tablets move from one pack to the other for each row of the graph. The only exception would be in cases where there are two or more identical rows. For each row, turn the background pack according to the F or B in the turning direction field, and the design pack in the opposite direction.

Border tablets: Keep the border tablets in a separate pack, ahead of the background and design packs. Turn them continuously Forward.

To get a clear shed: After you turn the packs, put your fingers into the shed between the packs and spread your fingers. This will widen the shed between the packs, and clear the shed through to
the front. Then put your hand in the shed between the main pack and the fell, and slide it back toward the fell. Put the shuttle in the shed before removing your hand.

Hints for Graphing your Own Designs

Straight lines going across the band: These lines always have a zig-zag edges if the tablets are alternately-threaded. The thinnest line is the result of two picks.

Straight lines parallel to the selvage: These lines have a slightly wavy appearance. The line will look a little better if two or more tablets are used.

Smooth diagonal lines: Smooth diagonal lines are created if the design moves over one tablet for each row. The thinnest diagonal, one tablet wide, has a different appearance on the two sides of the weaving. Diagonal lines with an even number of tablets look the same on both sides — one edge smooth and the other edge slightly jagged.

Diagonal lines with an odd number of tablets will be smooth on both edges on one side of the band, and slightly jagged on both edges on the other side.

Straight lines with any other angle will have a jagged appearance.

*Collingwood, Peter. The Techniques of Tablet Weaving. Robin & Russ Handweavers, 1996.
*Hendrickson, Linda. Double-Faced Tablet Weaving: 50 Designs from Around the World. Self-published, 1996.
*Hendrickson, Linda. Please Weave a Message: Instructions and Graphs for Tablet-Woven Calligraphy. Self-published, 2003.
*Staudigel, Otfried. Tablet Weaving Magic. Libri Books on Demand, 2000

* All books marked with an asterisk are available at the TWIST library. If you are interested in borrowing a book, please contact our librarian John Mullarkey

Reading a Pattern from Linda Hendrickson by Anne-Laure Janssen

Card setup

  • For lettering, put two background color threads and two design color threads in adjacent holes
  • Alternate Z and S threading Turning sequence
  • Fill the turning direction field alternating F and B.
  • Arrange your cards in a background pack and a design pack, according to the design field and/or the tablet count field
  • Turn your packs according to the turning direction field you filled in. The letter you wrote is the turning direction for your background pack, the design pack will turn the opposite way.
  • REMEMBER: ONE square in the graph represents TWO picks in the same direction (FF or BB)

Copyright © by Linda Hendrickson

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