I sit here, almost 12 years after I originally made the piece, looking at my Double-faced Tablet Woven Band with at least a small bit of amazement. When I made it I had some free time and an almost limitless amount of confidence in my ability to make things involving textiles and fiber. I was mostly self-taught. Only one formal crafty sort of class to get me started on tablet weaving – the basic principles of tablet weaving and how to cut down playing cards to create cards for weaving. I searched used book stores and libraries for books – fairly rare finds and most of them full of patterns that looked amazingly like my guitar strap from Junior High School (the 60’s). The original class that I had taken mentioned that tablet weaving was a very ancient technique and hinted that there might still be some surviving pieces of historic tablet weaving around, so I started looking for sources, and to this day I have been adding to my collection of books and academic articles on tablet weaving and many other topics.
I really wanted to make a belt for my husband for Christmas, so I started experimenting. I chose the materials – medium weight crochet cotton (cheap and available in LOTS of good bright solid colors) and started experimenting with graphing patterns. Somewhere along the way I had come across two self-published brochures by Marcus Caiaphas of York (Brian Eng), one from 1995 (Cardweaving Patterns) and one from 1996 (Double-Face Double Turn: A Variable-Pattern Tablet Weaving Technique). The 1995 brochure was interesting, but I had already had a considerable amount of experience with geometric patterns. But the second one, now THAT was cool. I have to admit, as I reread some of his instructions I can feel my eyes starting to cross, the same way as they did all of those years ago, but the ability to create shapely vines and leaves and such was just too much of a temptation – I HAD to learn to do this. One of the things that he provided in his book was a picture of elongated graph paper, so, with the help of our home office copy machine I copied, and then pasted and copied some more, until I had a strip of graph paper of a respectable length to be able to graph at least part of a belt. Using a legal size sheet of paper to allow me to work even longer, I got started.
I would graph a piece of a pattern and then analyze it to see if it looked the way I wanted it to. When I wove the design was it elongated or foreshortened? If so how did I need to change the way I turned the cards in order to fix the problem. I kept track of all my experiments on graph paper, so that I would know exactly what I had done. I find that this saves a LOT of time in the long run. Lots of crafty people say “Oh, I will remember what I did!” but the fact is that you may not, especially if it has been a while. Did I make 1, 2, or 3 turns for every box on my graph? Write it down and put the paper in a file folder for that craft. When you come back six years later you will be able to replicate your project or technique with very little effort instead of having to waste your precious time figuring it all out again! In fact, when I went to my tablet weaving folder in the filing cabinet – there it was – at least part of the notes and graphs. Now I will admit that some of the pieces are missing, but we have moved four times since then and I still have most of the information. Almost a little scary…
Anyway, the scan of the graph page shows the original pattern graph for the first section of hops vine, with the actual turns that I made noted on the side. The variations in the color of the black marks shows where I decided to change the pattern as I went along to achieve better lines and curves. Along the edge of the graph you can see a series of letters – F equals forward and B equals back. The notations were there because interruptions were a regular part of my existence (still are!). I had a daughter at home (high school aged), my husband and I had a consulting business that was very active, and we had a dog and three cats running around the house. Although it took a little time to make the notes it also meant that I could walk away from the loom, come back later that day, or the next day, and start right back to weaving. That was a very important bit of comfort for me – I do not like having to “figure out where I am”. I can do it, but I don’t like it. So, I kept notes.
The words “on an elongated rather than square grid” are left over from the original graph paper provided by the brochure. Today I would do a neat scan of the page, pop the scan into a fancy picture processing program and eliminate anything that I didn’t want. But this was the era of cut and paste. I actually have a few more pieces of notes besides these, but you get the idea. And this is the result! The belt is not perfect, but I like the way the vines turned out. I included both the foliage and the fruit of the hops plant in the design.
The selvages are straight, but I can easily see a few counting errors outside of the design area.
This picture shows the reverse of one of the vine areas. See how the colors are reversed – the vine is white and the background is green.
The “woven in words” on historic belts and Cingulums (religious regalia) are almost always in the center portion of the belt – so that is where I put my husband’s name.
If I had to do over again I would be more careful to make the letters the same width (I am picky like that!). At the time my biggest concern was that people would be able to recognize the hops vine – which of course most modern people can’t do anyway! Just goes to show you how your own knowledge base can affect what you perceive and expect others to perceive. The center portion, or perhaps I should say the words, is really the only portion of the belt that is not reversible. Well, it is, but the letters are either backwards or upside down, depending on how you look at it!
The ends of the belt are my least favorite part. For some reason, which I do not currently remember clearly (see that is why we should always write things down!) the two ends are not identical, either in the width of the bars or even the number. I suspect that I was either running out of time, or weft, or both.
I did simple knotting patterns in the fringe to keep things from unraveling and included the end of the weft in one of the fringe bundles. The width of the belt is about 1 ¾ inches and the woven portion of the belt is 59 inches long, with another 8 ½ inches of fringe on each end. I keep looking at the fringe and considering whether I could reweave at least one end of the belt – I still think it would work better with a loop on one end. But not today!