Deciphering Tablet Weaving Patterns


As a self-taught tablet weaver, I have read many websites and books on how to tablet weave – and they all use a different method to notate the patterns and describe how the tablets are set up for
weaving. When I was asked by my local Guild to run a workshop on tablet weaving, I had to find a way to describe and then overcome this problem.

So, as a teaching aid, I wrote this guide.

First, let us establish what we know about how the cards move and how that creates the twist in the warp, irrespective of left/right-facing cards, or how the holes are labeled:

So when we find a pattern that doesn’t specify if S and Z refer to slant or thread, or what it means by ABCD (if marked), then we can use what we know to work it out. See figure 1 as an example.

Figure 1: what to do with a graph without conventions?

S & Z – Slant or Threaded?

Looking at the start of the pattern, find a tablet that turns forward a few rows. Look at the direction of the twist on those first rows of that tablet: Tablet 1 turns forward and has an S twist. Knowing that an S slant card (Z threaded) produces an S twist when turned forwards we can establish that the S/Z notation refers to the threading of the tablet

What about ABCD?

Again, look at the start of the pattern and identify a tablet that turns forward but has two or more colors: Tablet 2 turns forward for four rows and has two colors. Knowing how the warp moves when turning forward, we can establish that tablet 2 is warped like this:

Which means that in the setup grid:

A is top, furthest from you
B is lower, furthest from you
C is lower, nearest to you
D is top, nearest to you

With the information we now have, we can apply it to how we like to work. Be prepared to redraft the setup grid so that it is easier for you to work from. I like to work with right-facing cards with A & D at the top, and with S & Z referring to card slant, so this is how I would redraft the starting setup:

The example pattern I have used is Hallstatt 3 (variant) drafted by Bull-Sveen ( Used with permission.

Copyright © Anne Hughes

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