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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
Card Weaving

Way back when I took one of those little workshops—you know the type: they usually last for three hours or so, and teacher makes up inexpensive kits for a nominal fee; this one, might very well have been free. Kumi is now taught that way, with cardboard disks. Most people try it once, shrug their shoulders and go on with their lives.

Others become enchanted with the technique, despite the limitations of the equipment, and pursue it. I have a memory of taking this at Pennsic, back in 84 or 85; and I've been meaning to pursue it ever since. During the intervening years I got the classic book ( Card Weaving by Candace Crockett) and looked it over, suitably impressed by some of the cool things you could do with this technique; but my braiding energies were pretty strongly absorbed by kumi in general and what I thought of as the color shifting/twisted diamond problem in particular; however, with the current braid in progress, I think I've finally got that sort of figured out: why the red/green was so much more successful than, say, green and purple (red and green are closer in value) not to mention the importance of ‘resting’ areas (i.e. solid or nearly solid color).

tablet cardwoven braid, 1984? – 2012. Black and white crochet cotton. The first foot or so was done ‘before’ —when I first learned, and perhaps, again, when I got the book. The rest in Feb 2012. Still unfinished, as I wanted to reserve some practice to try with either fishing swivels or tama with a tabletop setup.

However, now that a) I feel I'm making some progress with that b) have decided I could really use some flat, decorative braids[1] and c) concluded that tablet weaving is more practical than kumi for flat braiding, it was time to try it. Soooooo, I went to the attic and dug up that ancient kit and tried it out.

Anyway, after a great deal of frustration involving tangled threads, I concluded, Don't let the cards flop around and twist about themselves, because with each card being 4-threaded, the snarls of bobbins winding round each other is nothing to it. (Note that horrid mess in the middle on the top section of card.) Also, tension must be consistent or shed doesn't form properly, and then weaving looks awful. Also, need a better (straight) beater than a plastic knife. Also, while strapping braid to one's waist works, making use of a table can be very helpful: after looking over some $200 looms, this setup is easy and cheap and this person reinforces Crockett's comment about fishing swivels to keep things from tangling if cards are desired to turn in only one direction.

At first I thought even reversing the cards I was still gonna have to untie and comb out, but that was just me not keeping track of forward and back movements; the twists do go away if rotations are kept balanced.

After thinking about the problem some more, I decided I wanted to use a bar with a comb (this function is served by the reed in a real loom) and simply weight the ends with more tama, which would swivel as necessary, and, more importantly, keep the tension even—it seems to get out of whack if the distal thread is tied. Which causes the issues with the shed not forming properly, and irregular floats from threads being on the wrong side, or threads getting caught in the corner of the cards. Annoying.

Besides, you can never have too many tama, right?

However, after actually attempting to make some cards, I concluded I'd really prefer to purchase them, because I want them to be all the same size, and square. Not to mention find a wide tooth comb, etc. It took me three tries to really get french beaded flowers. I think, at last, this will be my third try for this too (the book acquisition being the second). Like so many things in life, it gets easier with experience.

just for fun, some handsome black and white patterns...

[1]because I've taken up life drawing again, after about the same hiatus as the card-weaving, except I got fairly decent at the life drawing, as opposed to trying it once, and need some straps to facilitate lugging portfolios, watercolor boards, etc.


[kumihimo] [textile] [braid]