We were fortunate recently to have Sandra Brookes come and teach a workshop on this ancient craft (which is also called card weaving). Astonishing things can be made using just a few square cards with holes in each corner.It’s a very ancient craft, she told us. Examples have been found in Europe from as long ago as 800BC, and the Vikings knew all about it. Here is a drawing by Daniel Reeve of some spinning and weaving tools found in the 8th century AD Viking ship burial at Oseberg in Norway.
Sandra showed us how manipulating the cards in different ways gives different patterns, and soon we were each harnessed to our (pre-assembled) set of cards, learning the basics.
Then we started making simple patterns, some of us better than others.
After lunch it got harder. She showed us how to thread a warp, and then set it up for slightly more complex patterns. Her enthusiasm was catching even if some of the complexities seemed terrifying.
Threads were determined to tangle –
– and had to be brought under control and each threaded through the right hole in the right direction. There are S and Z directions in tablet weaving, just like in spinning!
But when we got things organised, more pattern possibilities opened up –– and more –