Something Fun

Weaving, like many fiber arts, seems too expensive to try when you're not sure if you really want to weave.  Thousands of dollars can easily be spent on a loom, and even the small looms can be several hundred dollars.  Typical me, wanting to learn more about weaving, I started looking for inexpensive alternatives to try out the craft, without breaking the budget.

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Card weaving uses a technique that essentially plies the strands, and the weft thread secures the plies together and holds them in place.  When you ply several colors, these plies can make designs as they are secured.  This technique lends itself well to bracelets, belts and any project that uses a strip of cloth.  The more cards you use, the wider the strip; and the thicker the yarn, the bulkier your final strip will be.  Some ideas would be, embroidery thread bracelets, purse straps, belts, head bands, and key chains.  We hope you enjoy this project, we sure had a blast making it, and learning this wonderful technique.  Besides if I learn this, and other weaving techniques, I can rationalize that 5K floor loom...

Materials:
Yarn (see below for more information) about 15 yards each of two colors.
6 Cards (see below for more information)
2 D clips (optional)
Scissors, tapestry needle, marker, hole punch and card board to make your cards.

Cut some cardboard squares, at least 3 inches on a side.  Number them from one to 6,  Punch a hole in each corner, being sure to keep the hole at least 1/2 an inch from any edge.  Now number the holes, A in the top left corner, B - top right corner, C - bottom right corner, and D - bottom left corner.

Now you will need some well spun yarn.  You want a smooth and sturdy yarn that is difficult to break.  You also want to avoid anything that will stick together too easily such as silk or fuzzy wools.  Superwash, cotton, linen and tightly spun wools work very well. Be sure to add plenty of twist, and long wool types would be perfect, also worsted type yarns would give a nicer finish than woolens, but both will work well if they are well twisted.  Being pressed for time, I used cheap cotton worsted weight yarn I bought on sale, and it worked quite well.

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The warp threads need to be measured in two yard lengths, these are the threads that make the design, as this is a warp-face fabric.  That just means that the lengthwise yarns or warp, make the face of the fabric, with the weft or crosswise threads showing rarely or not at all.  To measure the warp threads, I skeined off 12 yards of both colors on a 2 yard niddy noddy, being sure to overlap the ends.  Remove the skein, and snip the ends so that you have 6 lengths of yarn each two yards long.  In a large weaving, you would need to secure them in some way to prevent tangling, but with this small project, it is not much of a problem.

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Now you need to thread your cards.  Card weaving uses a chart very similar to charts used in knitting.  Read this part carefully! 

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The numbers represent the cards, remember how you numbered them?  The letters represent the holes in the cards, and the colors show which color to thread in each hole.  Finally the arrows show you which way the card is threaded.  Down and to the right like 4-6 are threaded from FRONT to BACK, and 1-3 are threaded from BACK to FRONT.  This is vital, because how the cards are threaded determines whether the cards make a Z or S twist when turned forward (or backwards)  It is easier to thread the cards this way, then turn them all forward or backwards, than threading the cards the same, and turning half forward then half backwards, but that would also work.  Once you have threaded the cards like the picture shows, you have most of the hard part done.  Line all the cards up starting with 6 at the top, and 1 at the bottom.  This chart shows you what four turns forward looks like, you can make your own charts, and create all sorts of designs.

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Now, on card 1 pull each loop out a few inches, keeping the card's letters and numbers facing up or to your right, and A in the upper left corner.  Hook these two loops on the clip, or you can tie them with spare yarn to some sturdy surface.  (you will also need to tie some yarn to a table leg, door knob or something to hook the clip on).  Repeat pulling the loops and putting them on the clip, until they are all hooked on, and Card 1 should be the first card on your right side, in numerical order on up to card 6 on the far left.  Letter A should be on the top corner closest to you, or the upper left. 

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Now we need to secure the ends of the warp.  I simply trimmed them all to an exact length, and tied each card set of warp together with an overhand knot.  I didn't have a second clip, which would have been ideal, so I just slipped my belt through these loops, and used my big fat, uh, I mean my mature, slightly rubenesque posterior to anchor the ends of the warp.  If you have a skinnier one, then I may not like you as much, but it will work just as well.

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Ok, now comes the fun part, the weaving.  Wind some yarn around your thumb and pinkie fingers in a figure eight, and with the free end, tie a half hitch once or twice loosely.  Then wrap the extra around and secure the end under the wraps.  Or you can wrap your weft yarn around a bit of cardboard, a tatting shuttle or some other device you own, or are clever enough to make.

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You will notice that the cards separate the warp into an upper group and a lower group.  The space between these yarns is called a shed.  This is where you put your weft yarn.  Before you make the first pass, turn your cards one turn backwards, or towards you.  A will be in the lower left corner now.  Now pass your weft yarn through, from left to right, leaving a few feet extra to fasten the ends off later.

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It will look all herky squerky, don't worry, this is fine.  Turn your cards forward, so that A is back in the upper left corner, and pass the weft back through from right to left.  Now you can pack this weft down, and tighten the previous weft.  From now on, leave a tiny loop of weft at the edge when you place a weft yarn.  Then turn the cards, pack it down good, and tug gently to remove the side loop on the weft, then place the next weft.  This will keep your edges neater.  You'll have it down by the end of the project.

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Now you have some choices you can make.  If you look at the finished book mark you can see there are several patterns.  This picture above is four turns forward.

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Four turns back completes the diamond, if you keep turning just one way or the other, you will get vs and upside down vs, which is quite fetching.

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Each turn you make needs to have a weft placed to hold it in place.  Four turns forward and four turns back give you a diamond shape.  repeatedly turning forward makes a V shapes, and repeatedly turning backwards make upside down Vs.  By using different combinations, you can create an interesting and fun pattern.  Play around with it, and learn how the different turns and combinations can make different patterns.  Imagine the possibilities with 20 cards and more colors?

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Once you have woven the piece as long as you would like it,  you can clip all the ends off, leaving a fringe of a few inches or so, and remove the cards. 

 

With a tapestry or darning needle, use the weft thread to secure the warp ends.  To do this, take a stitch through the edge of the piece, and pull snug.  Then make a half hitch around a group of warp threads.  Repeat these two steps until all the warp is secured.  Now do the other side.


I tied a small knot at the end of each fringe yarn to keep the ends from fraying.  You can use this as a bookmark, a key chain, a handle on a small bag or any number of things.  Now that you understand how to use the technique, you can try making your own charts, and create something spectacular.