I recently tried my hand at another old craft. This time it was tablet weaving. Tablet weaving is a technique to weave more or less narrow bands with the help of punched small tablets. These bands have been made since 800 BC. The bands are often used as edge trimming for clothes, belts or dog leashs. But it is also possible to make bands of up to 30cm width.

Needle-bound hats (left) and tablet woven bands (right) made by Gabi

Gabi from my fencing club lent me a not completely historically correct tablet weaving frame and she also taught me the basics of tablet weaving. Since the first band will never be perfect, I practiced with sock wool. This wool is a bit chunky for tablet weaving, but the weaving goes faster. I wove a simple pattern from grey and brown wool with eight tablets with four holes each. By turning the tablets you create the pattern. For example turning all tablets alternately eight times forwards and eight times backwards.

My turning rhythm wasn’t very regular, first because I always lost count (and this with such a simple rhythm ) and then because I decided to try out different patterns. This is why there are diamond shapes, triangle shapes and a longer pattern made of four diamond shapes. I could also have made arrows, waves and everything else you can make from (parts) of a diamond shape. If you use more tablets and more different colours you can of course make even more patterns. And it gets properly complex if you don’t turn all tablets together, but each one with a different rhythm.

On Aislings Welt (it’s in German, but I didn’t find a good English page, maybe you can try here: http://www.weavershand.com/) you can see what is possible with tablet weaving. Aisling is weaving for example a lot of historical bands (also in German, but the pictures need no language ).

For now I am happy with my first tablet woven band. I have woven about three metres of band (the length is dictated by the tablet weaving frame in this case). And after a while I didn’t even lose count anymore, because I learned to see which part of my pattern I was weaving. And I also added a very helpful white arrow to the tablet weaving frame. I could turn it around to indicate in which direction I had to turn my tablets. So I remembered how to proceed even after a break.

I think tablet weaving is very fascinating. And since it only needs a bit of logic and not that much fine motor skills (like hand spinning for example), it was relatively easy to understand and learn for me. But for now it is a bit too much work to do it without a concrete project in mind.