I like color! I like vibrant patterns that really grab you. Occasionally that’s not what is needed. And sometimes monochromatic patterning is what’s needed. I’ve done a couple different ones, and had a chance to do another just last night. In the creation of these tablet woven bands there is only one color, and your turning of the cards is what contributes the pattern.
Philip of Swabia’s (12th century) belt had several techniques involving gold and silver brocade, soumak, and what almost looks like checky (Collingwood, Techniques of Tablet Weaving pg116). That checky part is what we are discussing here. Here is a picture of the original excavated in 1900.
Fragment of the Belt of Philip of Swabia, Historical Museum Speyer
And here is a gorgeous recreation and blog post. Philip Swabia’s Belt
For my band I used natural white wool in sport weight from Brown Sheep Co’s Nature Spun line. Using 24 cards I dedicated the outside 8 in a chevron patterned border which I turned in a single direction until the continuous twist demanded a reversal. The center 16 cards were oriented in 4S 4Z 4S 4Z. Then turned forward 5, backward 5, which is what creates the checkered pattern seen above in the goldish sections. I noticed when I did this pattern on a larger scale in black silk the pattern showed up a bit better. While there is a definite pattern emerging in my band it is not as checky as I planned for it to look.
Here is a view of the black silk I did on Sir Torfin’s cuffs, I think this shows better what I was trying to create.
Picture by Mary Larose
Collingwood talks about creating other patterns such as diamonds as well, but with no citation of where it may have been found. I have done this a couple times now as well. Once for Cristiana de Huntington for a headpiece (seen below). You can see the outline of the diamonds behind the fluer de lis.
When I had a little extra warp on the current project I decided to do a small band, possibly for an apron topper. I love the way the diamonds stand out.
Definitely a technique I will use again in the future, and very easy to learn if you are a new weaver and would like some help!