I'm giving a talk on tablet weaving at Canterbury Faire next week and part of it will be on the tools used. I've made up a short handout on these so I thought I'd put it up here. Sorry- it was too big to convert to Google Docs format, so it's in .doc format, and it's laid out terribly in the Google Docs viewer. Looks alright if you download it.
Pictured is the warp spreader made for me by Lowrens. Also included are the cute bobbins he made me, but I haven't had a chance to use them yet because I made the mistake of sticking the holes in my latest batch of cards too close together which made butterfly bobbins the tool of choice.
My warp spreader is based on Teffania's one, which was designed to look like the items in those 14th and 15th century manuscript pictures. It has 42 holes. I have used it on two bands so far, one with 32 tablets and the other with 33.
Tthe main purposes of the warp spreader are to keep the twines evenly spaced and to stop adjacent cards and their threads from getting tangled. It did both of these things very nicely. It is so nice to be able to stick your hand in the shed next to the weaving and push it towards the warp spreader, and watch all the twist smoothly move down to the far side of the spreader. I recommend using one of these. So now of course I'm going to talk at length about the downsides of them...
1. Your warp threads need to be longer to get through the same amount of weaving. Without a warp spreader, your "working area"- where the shed exists- stretches between the end of the weaving and the ends of the warp threads. With a warp spreader, it stretches from the end of the weaving to the warp spreader, so the thread on the far side of that is additional. Also, if you move the cards too far from the end of the weaving, they become splayed and difficult to manipulate as a pack. You can compensate for this in two ways- by moving your cards closer to the weaving than usual, and by having a greater distance between the end of the weaving and the warp spreader, so the splay increases more slowly. This motivates you to have longer warp threads to play with.
2. As you move the warp spreader up and down the warp (or as the woven portion of the band increases, affecting the proportions of the unwoven section), it affects the tension of the central warp threads compared to the ones near the edge. This means you have to be careful how you adjust the warp spreader.
3. With only 32 or 33 holes in use, the warp spreader was not very stable and kept rolling into a vertical position.
It's possible to mitigate all these factors by instead of having the warp spreader perpendicular to the warp, pulling one end of the warp spreader closer to the weaving than the other. This narrows the the spread of the warp. I *think* this is what Teffania is talking about when she says she "could tilt the whole warp up and down the loom on a gentle diagonal"- I'll have to check with her. It doesn't solve any of these problems completely though.
Despite all this, as I said, using the warp spreader make the weaving more pleasant- and neater! I would quite like to have them in a range of sizes, with different numbers and spacing of holes. We'll see how persuadable Lowrens is!
Photos of the warp spreader in use will come when I manage to get some decent ones.
Warp: Blue silk Weft: Blue DMC embroidery cotton Brocade: Spun gold (Anchor) Pattern: 11th-12th century chasuble Cards: 31 Width: 2cm Length: 60cm
This is part 1 of the weaving I did for Enith. The pattern is from EPAC, page 180. There's nothing exciting about it except that it was the first brocaded piece I did with the warp spreader (worked very nicely) and I used three strands of the brocade to try to improve coverage. It seemed to work- at least the coverage was much better than the beanie cap trim I did using otherwise identical materials.
Warp: Blue, lilac and white silk Weft: White silk Pattern: Spiralling stripes Cards: 9 Width: 0.5 cm Length: 50cm What's new: tubular
This is actually part 2 of the weaving I'm doing for Enith, Lowrans's lady, in return for the warp spreader and bobbins he made for me. Part 1 is a brocaded band which goes around the neck of a cloak (I need to borrow my flatmate to get a good photo of it because my camera/photography is terrible at metal thread). Part 2 is a cord for tying the cloak closed. I made it based on the instructions here: http://www.silkewerk.com/tubular.html. The instructions are very easy to follow so I won't elaborate on the technique. I wove the band backstrap style (attached to my belt at one end), with the far end looped around my toe. It took about two hours, which is ridiculously fast compared to brocading!