Wednesday, October 7, 2009

card weaving step by step

Creating woven messages has been a goal of mine for ages. I'd practically given up trying to learn how to do it. It took a broken foot to slowed my life down enough that I could concentrate on it. Then I discovered it's really quite simple once you break it down into section .

All the videos I found and all the books I read were great at showing me how to make a loom and thread the cards. How to turn them remained a mystery.

This post assumes you already know about card weaving, how to thread the cards and how to set up the loom.If you've done threaded-in designs with card weaving but want more, this is the place to be. It is intended to be a visual reference for how the cards need to be turned in double faced card weaving.

Double faced card weaving is where the pattern you work on the top shows up in reverse on the other side. It usually involves two different colors of thread. You can use this method of weaving to create pictures and works in your bands.

In this case the two colors are green and white. I drafted a simple leaf and vine pattern with a repeating pattern. You use any pattern you like but for learning it's best to start with something simple. My pattern will be on the blog as soon as I can get it there.

In the photographs the blue line you see is drawn on both sides of the cards. It acts as a reference to make it easier to work the pattern. A line is easier to see than are the the A and B holes that decorate most cards. Once you master and understand how the weaving is done you probably won't need the line any more. You can just use the colors of thread as reference.

Photo number
1 shows the 'home position' I'm using for this project. The home position can be close to you or where I have it, further away. The key is to keep it consistent. Once you decide where it is don't change it. Having the blue lines on each card together in the same position at the same time is important.The home position you use is an indicator of when a row of the pattern has been completed.

When the cards are directly opposite the home position you are finished one row of your pattern. If the card line is adjacent and horizontal to the home position then a row has only been half worked. It takes two one-quarter forward or back turns of the cards to complete one row of the pattern. But that is getting slightly ahead of things.

Photo 2 shows the pack of cards divided into two groups; the cards that will be turned towards the fell (the weaving that you've already done) to create the background and the cards that will be turned the other way to create the pattern. That is, the cards will turned to bring the appropriate color of thread to the top where it would be locked in place by the thread of the shuttle.

If you get into the habit of sliding the background cards close to you and the pattern cards further away from you along the warp the work will move along faster.

(A rather inspiring weaver, Philia has written a 'law' that she calls the first law of tablet weaving, and it works. "The color that crosses the top of the band when the tablet is turned is the one that will show up in the band." If you get a chance, check out her page. It's well worth it.)

Another helpfull hint is to mark your pattern to indicate which way to turn the background pack (for this project the green threads).
Linda Hendrickson advices this and she does beautiful work.

For this row my marked pattern said to turn the background cards backwards. The blue line for the background cards is now on top so the green thread shows.

For the pattern cards, the white thread needs to come to the top. Those cards turn forward one quarter turn sot he blue line is at the bottom

The shuttle is moving through the shed from right to left.

In double faced card weaving the cards move twice per row of the pattern It takes two-one quarter turns of the cards to work one row of the pattern. With the shuttle on the left of my weaving I know that I am only half way through the two step row of the pattern. The more ways I give myself to know where I am in the pattern the less ripping out I have to do. That's all good!

Photo 3 shows the second part of this row of the pattern. The blue line is closest to the fell now, because the background cards were turned backwards for the second time (towards the weaving). The pattern cards turned forward. The white threads showed up against the green background, just what was supposed to happen!

The pack cards were then slid into one group with the blue lines all in the same place. If they aren't all in the same positon a card was missed or not turned correctly.

The shuttle moved through the warp from left to right. When it's on the right hand side of the warp it's an indication that the pattern row is completed.

Photo 4 shows the start of the next row of the pattern. The magnets I use as an indicator of what row I'm working got moved to the next row of my pattern so I can easily tell where I am and what cards I'm supposed to be moving what direction.

My pattern shows that for this row the background (green threads) had to turn forward. The blue line shows that those cards were, indeed, turned forward, away from the fell. My pattern cards will be turned backwards, towards the fell. With that line marked on the cards it is easy to see if I've turned them the right way. See? In photo four the blue line is on the top of the background cards and it should be on the bottom. I can catch the mistake before I make it.

Photo 5 shows the cards all turned the last time for this row of the pattern and resting again in the home position. I slid the cards all into one pack to tell myself that the pattern row was finished.

Now I move my row indicator again on my pattern and just keep going.


  1. Hola!!! soy de Perú! me encantaría saber más de esta técnica, ya tengo los conocimiento básicos... si ud. pudiera hacer un paso a paso de cómo colocó los hilos en las tarjetas (en dirección S o Z), la cantidad de tarjetas que usó y en que orden van los giros... talvez sea mucho pedir, verdad?? pero también me ayudaría mucho si me indica donde puedo encontrar más información detallada....

    Felicitaciones, su trabajo quedó hermoso!!!

  2. Hello,

    I came to your blog from your YouTube Video. Thank you for that. It was very interesting. I am very intrigued by your loom and am wondering if you have a photo of the warp side of the loom or if you have a link or directions for the loom.

    Thank you!

  3. How do you find your handmade cards from playing cards hold up? I have some from Lacis that do quite well. However, they're not cheap and sometimes I would like to have several bands going at once. Especially a test band and a project band. What kind do you use? Are they plastic or plastic coated? Thanks. Janean at Mystic Handwork's.

  4. How you know to move the cards forward or backward?

  5. I'm working on a pattern that twists the card on their vertical axis after 4 turns. What can I do to minimize the twisting of card ends behind the cards?