6-Hole Diagonals

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Egyptian Diagonals, also called Double-Card Double-Turn Diagonals, is one of my favorite tablet weaving techniques. I can warp twenty cards in ten minutes, spend two minutes setting up, and start weaving beautiful bold and dynamic patterns right away. Whether I follow a pattern or just play, two-color patterns with lots of movement are the result—but I am limited to two colors. With the addition of two more holes, I can have the same bold patterns with three colors! I also get more options with band structure and color placement, as you will see. In this explanation, I will assume that you already know how to weave diagonals with 4-hole cards. If not, there are wonderful resources in TWIST, and I have an instructional pamphlet and DVD on diagonals available on my website for download or by mail.

The main difference between 4- and 6-hole weaving is the ability to add a third color, but first I want to talk about the sheds. Whether it is diagonals, threaded-in, or double-face, for all 6-hole weaving there are two shed options: 1) a single main shed, and 2) a double shed. Actually there are more shed options, but we will focus on these two. The single main shed produces a band with a compact pattern, more drape, longer floats, and a wider band. I call this the “On Point” shed because the point of the card is at the top.

The double shed option produces a more elongated pattern. It could also be considered a double weave structure in that you pass the shuttle through both sheds each turn: through the top, then through the bottom, and then turn. This produces a thicker, narrower band with less drape, but is much stronger. I call this the “Flat Top” shed because the flat edge of the card is at the top. Photo 2 shows the same pattern woven with both shed types.

Photo 2: Left band was woven with On Point, right with Flat Top.
Photo 3: Left band was woven with
AABBCC, right with AABCCB.

Going back to color, there are many more options with 6-hole cards. You must make these decisions before warping; however, while weaving you can play with which shed option to use and switch back and forth. With 4-hole diagonals, the two colors are always neighbors: light is next to light, and dark is next to dark (LLDD). You can do something similar with 6-hole as well, color A twice followed by color B twice and color C twice: AABBCC (Figure 2 right). This produces a band that appears to be an equal balance of colors A, B, and C, just as in 4- hole with an equal balance of light and dark.

With six holes we have another color option: we can border two colors with a third, like this: AABCCB (Figure 2 left) so that color B borders both A and C. Even though the proportion of color is the same as the AABBCC setup, the finished band shows colors A and C predominately, each outlined by B, rather than an equal representation of A, B, and C. Photo 3 shows a band with the same pattern woven with these two different approaches using Red as A, Blue as B and Yellow as C.

Figure 2: The AABCCB option is shown at left, AABBCC at right.

Now let’s talk about setting up the cards in their default color order, AABBCC. It is much the same as for 4-hole but we have two more holes. So instead of colors being one-quarter turn offset from the neighboring card, they are offset by one-sixth turn. The direction of the offset is determined by the card threading. Z-threaded cards are offset in the clockwise direction, and S-threaded in the counter-clockwise direction (Figure 3). If your pattern looks jagged on the top and smooth on the bottom, you have reversed either the threading or the offset. You can easily correct this by reversing only the offset.

Figure 3: Left, clockwise offset gives smooth lines for Z-threaded cards. Right, counter-clockwise offset does the same for S-threaded cards.
Figure 4a: pattern for 4-hole cards.

The weaving of 6-hole diagonals is much the same as for 4-hole diagonals except that one turn is only one-sixth of a revolution. It takes six turns instead of four to return to the home position. Turning all of the cards together in one direction causes our nice diagonal lines to flow in one direction; turning all of the cards the opposite direction causes them to flow in the opposite direction. But where is the fun in that?

The real fun is having different lines move in different directions. With 4-hole cards, we do this by moving two cards every two turns: double-card, double-turn diagonals. With 6-hole cards, we move three cards every three turns: triple-card, triple-turn diagonals! To adapt a pattern written for 4-hole cards to 6-hole cards, we replace each two-card group with a three-card group. This preserves the ratio of cards to holes. For example, if a 4-hole pattern has 24 cards (12 two-card groups), the equivalent 6-hole pattern has 36 cards (12 three-card groups). Similarly, wherever the 4-hole pattern shows a double-card double-turn action, our equivalent 6-hole pattern will have a triple-card triple-turn action: we will turn each three-card group three times.
Figure 4a is a 4-hole pattern that should produce a two color pattern similar to the one in the photos above. It is worked from the bottom up. Each row is two turns, and each column is a single card. Twelve cards are required (6 two-card groups). You can see that all of the card movement is in groups of two cards.

Figure 4b: pattern for 6-hole cards.

Figure 4b is the same pattern adapted for 6-hole cards. Each column is still a single card, but now in groups of three cards, and each row is three turns instead of two. The card count has increased to 18 (6 three-card groups). The great thing is that you don’t really need to rewrite the pattern for 6-hole cards; you can just change 2×2 to 3×3.

So far pretty simple, yes? But if you are new to 6-hole cards, here is a word of advice: turning one-sixth of a turn can be tricky and requires careful attention. The cards are almost round, which makes it challenging to know when you have rotated a one-sixth of a turn. Moving cards from a forward-turning pack to a back turning pack is tricky as well, as the cards want to turn as you move or shift them. The On Point shed with one main shed also has something odd. When a card reverses direction it takes three turns to tie down floats instead of the two turns we expect with 4-hole cards. So if you see a long float and you are using a single main shed, don’t let that scare you so long as it is tied down after three turns. The Flat Top shed has the familiar two-turn float. One last note about turning and sheds: if you turn the cards a little too far and then come back, you will have a cleaner shed which will make it easier to pass the shuttle.

Even with all of these provisos, I hope you will give 6-hole diagonals a try. The addition of a third color to the already bold patterns really does add a new dimension to weaving diagonals, opening a wonderland of new options to tablet weavers. Please excuse me now, I am off to try four-color diagonals with 8-hole cards. Wish me luck!

© 2018 by John Mullarkey http://malarkycrafts.com

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