Posted by: bschutzgruber | August 12, 2014

Weaving a Tablet Border

On August 8-9-10, 2014 the Michigan League of Handweavers Summer Workshops were held at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.  I received a learning grant from MLH to take the Tablet Borders Woven Simultaneously With Loom Weaving workshop taught by master weaver Inge Dam.

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Originally done on a warp-weighted loom, this type of weaving goes back to Iron Age Scandinavia (500 BCE – CE 800) and combines the use of tablets/cards to weave a band at the same time you are weaving fabric.  Inge’s book Tablet-Woven Accents for Designer Fabrics: Contemporary Uses for Ancient Techniques is a wonderful combination of history and how to.

There were 15 of us in the workshop.


We arrived with a 6″ wide warp already on our looms.


Day 1  (3 steps forward….. 4 steps back)

We began with winding out the warp for the tablets.  Buckets and reeds were used help keep the 4 balls of yarn from tangling.  34 tablets were threaded 1 yarn in each hole.

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Next we wound our warp between 2 clamps  – dropping 1 tablet with each pass until all 34 were in a pack on the table.

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At this point the words “Rubber bands are my friend!” became an important mantra to keep the pack together and in order as we now moved the tablets & warp onto our looms….

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The warp yarns were then threaded into the reed in groups without shifting the order of the tablets or dropping any of them onto the floor!


The warp ends were tied securely to the front breast beam rod and water bottles were attached at the back to tension the warp.


At this point we were all ready for a lunch break!

After lunch, life got much more exciting for me.  I forgot to rubber band the tablets when I loosened the front ties in an attempted to correct some tension issues and 1/4 of my warp yarns were pulled back through the reed and those tablets fell to the floor = NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  Luckily the warp yarns stayed in the tablet holes and with Inge’s help, I got the tablets gathered together and the warp reattached to the front rod = whew!!!  The rest of the afternoon was spent untangling the mess of warp yarns I had made.  By the end of the day I finally had everything sorted out.  Time to quit and have a fresh start in the morning!


Days 2 & 3  (much smoother sailing!!)

To weave the fabric (cream color) & tablet border (blue) at the same time, one shuttle is used to carry the weft across both sections.  I work the loom as I normally do and the cards are rotated by hand 1/4 turn with each pass, either forward or backward, depending on the pattern.  I soon got into a rhythm and was ready to start on the samples/exercises to embellish the tablet border.

1) Making loops to attach fringes.

(bottom)  2) Tassles   3) Twining   4) Beaded Edge  (top)

(bottom)  5) Bead Brocade   6) Selvage Loops  7) Wraped Warps   8) Brocade  (top)

There were breaks throughout each day as Inge talked about the history of tablet weaving….


explained the samples we would be doing…..


and gave us a chance to see her fabulous woven garments up close.


It was a fantastic set of days with a fabulous group of weavers!





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