Tablet Weaving

I am not sure when or where I first learned about tablet weaving, but when I realized that it was a technique that could allow me to solve one of my most “concerning” knitting-related problems and allow me to create very beautiful bands with relatively simple tools, I immediately ordered some wooden tablets and tried my hand at it!

You see, if you are the kind of knitter who loves working with 100% natural yarns, who doesn’t mind spending hours and hours making a beautiful garment, and you enjoy paying attention to all the small details that make your garment something unique, you don’t really want to finish a beautiful cardigan with a polyester ribbon to support your buttons!

I looked and looked and looked for woolen bands that would match my hand-knitted cardigans, and that is when I realized that I could weave my own bands, choosing the materials I wanted and matching the pattern to my hand-knitted garment!

So how did I fare with my tablet weaving? Well, unexpectedly, the first two bands that I wove were quite good, although I used mercerized cotton and it was quite expensive. I decided to weave the next bands with wool!

Unfortunately, the third band was a complete disaster. (I was overconfident I guess.) I choose a very complicated pattern and I kept forgetting the next pick, so the pattern that came out didn’t make any sense.

It didn’t help that I tied the band to the rails of my stairs and it took forever to finish it. The lesson I learned is how important is it to use the correct tools for the task, especially when learning a new technique.

So, I decided to purchase a beautiful loom especially made for tablet weaving and I dressed it with the “disastrous band” to practice before weaving my next bands with weaving yarn I received from Estonia.

I found that it is so comfortable to weave with the loom, it really helps so much the learning process.

The Technique

So how I use my tablets for weaving?

I must explain that this is the way I weave using the tablets, it may not be the best way, but it is the way it works for me.

It’s important to know that the pattern will be determined by the way the tablets are threaded (the colours on each hole and how the thread is passed) and the sequence the tablets are turned.

The first thing is to choose a pattern you like, or maybe even to design your own. There are many free web resources to create your own designs. I like to use

Once you have chosen your design, you have to dress your tablets (thread them). The pattern you choose should have a chart like the one shown.

It should indicate the number of tablets (the numbers above the chart); the colours for the threads that go through each one of the four holes in each tablet (A, B, C, D) & the direction that the threads should be passed through the holes (S or Z & indicated by the slanted lines at the bottom of the chart)

Now you should count how many threads of each colour you need. In this case 11 purple, 16 blue and 13 black, and cut them in the length that you need, taking into consideration the shrinkage that the weave process produces. I usually cut threads of 2.20 meters.

Now you should count how many threads of each colour you need. In this case 11 purple, 16 blue and 13 black, and cut them in the length that you need, taking into consideration the shrinkage that the weave process produces. I usually cut threads of 2.20 meters.

To thread the tablets, you look back to your chart and check to which way the lines slant. A slant to the right indicates that your tablet should be threaded “S” (for example tablet 1), that means that the thread comes under from the right and above to the left (tablet on the left), a slant to the left means the tablet should be threaded “Z” (for example tablet 2), meaning that the thread comes above from the right and under to the left.

To make sure the tablets don’t get all tangled, I use I pin to keep them organized as I work.

When you have threaded all your tablets, you can check that each tablet was correctly threaded by looking at the way they slant (Z to the left, S to the right).

Once you have all your tablets threaded, you just need to keep the tension on the threads to weave. I use a loom that @_ossaterra_ made for me. To tie the threads, keeping the tension, I use weights tied to one side, while rolling the other side of the threads on the loom. 

However, if you prefer to keep it simple, you can just tie one end to a tree or post and the other to your belt and you can start weaving

The pattern you choose will indicate you the sequence of turning your tablets. In this case is a sequence of 12 turns:

  • Backwards, forwards, backwards, forwards 
  • Forwards, forwards, backwards, backwards
  • Forwards, backwards, forwards, backwards
I hope you give tablet weaving a go, not only because it’s a really relaxing practice, but because you will end up with a beautiful and useful band! Think about the many possibilities: dog leashes, guitar straps, beautiful belts or headbands and most importantly, a button band especially designed to match your hand-knitted cardigan: woven with the same wool & design as the garment you have spent so much time knitting. And it is a great way to use all of those remnants of wool that are left after you finish a project!

Teresa Cabellos works as a forensic scientist, but when asked what she does, she loves to answer that she is a knitter, spinner, weaver and wool explorer. She likes to be able to do something with her own hands and is interested in anything related to the history of knitting, spinning, weaving, and natural dyeing. You can find her patterns on Ravelry. You can learn more about her on her website.