Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thinking Outside The Box;-Non-Square Weaving Tablets

Now that I have a frame that will let me tablet weave without having to literally tie myself down, I've been thinking of non-typical forms of tablet weaving.  For example, triangular tablets have been found in Scotland, dated to approximately 200 B.C. to 200 C.E.  A picture of this find can be seen here

I've been wondering what types of patterns one can get with triangular tablets.  One essay discusses the author's experiment with an early South American pattern involving triangular tablets, but it doesn't give a recipe. The essay, which includes color pictures, can be downloaded here (it's the last essay on the page). The one hint it gives is that weaving with triangular tablets is like weaving with hexagonal tablets but threading only every other hole, which makes sense.  I found Bonnie Datta's page of research about tablet weaving with hexagonal tablets, and the PDFs on her page are very informative.  But she approaches the use of hexagonal tablets by comparison to the way four-sided tablets work--which doesn't tell me a lot about ratcheting down to three-sided tablets instead.

Phiala's Stringpage Supplies sells triangular tablets. I'm tempted to buy some and experiment, but I'm not sure where to begin. Should I thread the border tablets in one direction and the rest in another? What kind of turning sequence; three forward, three away? I've looked at Phiala's, Shelagh Lewins's, and Linda Hendrickson's pages on tablet weaving, and found nothing about triangular tablets other than that they have been found. 

So I ask my readers: Have any of you experimented with triangular tablet weaving tablets? Are there any websites I haven't found that describe interesting patterns? Do you have any advice for me as to good weaving patterns for triangular tablets, or historic examples that were or could be woven with triangular tablets? Or should I just pipe down, buy a bunch of hexagonal tablets, and play with those using Bonnie Datta's research as a guide? Any ideas would be enjoyed, and appreciated.


  1. I have "Nauhoja", written by Viivi Merisalo (WSOY, original print 1966, my copy 1985)in my library. The book is about old Finnish bands (others than tablet weaved too) and how to make them. It is having three recipies with triangual tablets and two with pentagonal tablets, and several with hexaconal and of course even more with ones with four holes. Unfortunately (I guess...) for you it is in Finnish, but I have thought to test the triangual recipies sooner or later. I hope someone who has already tried them, spots yout blog and can answer your questions, as I know here are much more experienced tablet weavers around.

  2. I haven't played with this at all, but I'm eager to see what you come up with. Do you think you'll be posting pictures?

    I wondered briefly what octagonal tablets would be like, but realized that they'd probably be like the standard tablets (since weaving with triangular ones was described as being like weaving with hexagonal tablets where only every other hole is threaded).

    Now you're inspiring me to hunt up the tablets and books I picked up long ago and see if I can come up with anything.

  3. @Maikki: Thanks for the reference to the book. I may look it up yet (yes, it's in Finnish, but it has illustrations, right? Pattern diagrams?) Unfortunately, I couldn't find any sites that had a copy to sell, but I'll keep looking and it may turn up eventually.

  4. @terriwells When I actually get around to experimenting, I'll take photographs. But first, I have my nalbinding experiments and my Lagore Crannog band to weave.

    Of course, if you find anything interesting in your books, feel free to comment! Any information will be useful at this point.

    One of the things that makes me curious is that I've found several references suggesting that triangular tablets were more common in Roman times than they've been since, and the dates of the one found in Scotland tends to bear this out. If I knew what types of pattern are easiest to weave on triangular tablets, I'd have a much better idea what Roman period trims looked like.

  5. I'm fairly new to tablet weaving myself, so I can't offer any practical insight into using triangular tablets. Seems to me the principle would be the same, but the top might be a bit more compact than the bottom, since you only have one thread per card on top instead of two. I found a pdf at http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/webdocs/wbl_band.pdf which has some very complex woven bands done with three-hole tablets. She doesn't discuss the theory very much, but does mention that she had a lot of floaters (I suspect due to the pattern) and that it's possible to break the shed in two by tipping the tablets up along one corner.

  6. Brenda: I found the PDF you're referring to (the Whaley one) but the band she described just seemed too intimidating. If you ever decide to try it for yourself, let me know! Thanks for stopping by.