A little while ago me and my friend Sahra came out of the closet and confessed each other there are things we just can not do, basic things you would imagine someone interested in handicrafts and middle ages would happily learn. I confessed I never really learnt to do tablet weaving or nalbinding, and Sahra claimed her embroideries always seemed to turn into “unbroideries”.
Last weekend we kicked the skeletons out of our closes!
Tablet weaving – not a belt around my waist but a rope around my neck
My attempts at tablet weaving date back some 20 years. There were no teaching videos in the net back then (there was no internet…) nor were there herds of people who could teach me, so I borrowed a book from the library and got some copies of handouts from somewhere. I filled my little one-room apartment with a warp, trying to get the threads evenly tight, very tight. The warp was tied to the front door handle and the other end was around my waist – and darn, if I had to get up to answer the phone, the warp got all tangled. Oh and I had a really hard time remembering which way to turn the tablets and how many times! It really didn’t feel like my thing at all.
I finished maybe 2 belts and gave up, even though over the years I did buy some new tablets and accessories. (I don’t consider finishing some seam allowances with few tablets as real tablet weaving.) So my memories of tablet weaving consist of being tied down for hours, and frustrated over messing up the pattern and the turns.
But then came last weekend and a teacher extraordinaire! Sahra had boxes full of plant dyed yarn to choose from, and for the simple and pretty pattern she had picked out for me, I needed 3 colours. My son chose green, yellow and lilac – he was going to be the owner of the belt.
We created the warp together, easily and without stressing about the even tightness. I threaded the tablets (ok ok, I did unnecessarily make sure the yarn ends were even) and then I was tied to the window ledge. But lo and behold – I was able to untie myself easily and without tangling the warp!
Then I wove. Every once in a while I unwove because I made mistakes, but the point is – I wove! And I learnt to interpret the pattern so I didn’t need to count the turns!
The result? My son now has a belt and I have a new attitude: I might do tablet weaving again!
And some nalbinding too?
After tablet weaving I was perhaps even more nervous when Sahra presented me with a ball of lama wool and a bone needle. Could I do nalbinding and create more than the sweaty pile of knots I did years ago? I could still feel the knot in my stomach.
So there in Sahra’s cosy kitchen we started going for the Oslo stitch. Quite a few times I repeated “how did it go, which loop, which way, what now, how…” But oh my oh my – the pile of yarn did not unravel when I took it from my thumb, I found the right loops and the scrap started to remind – well, of something close to nalbinding.
Sahra gave me homework: using the Oslo stitches I must make a small scarf with holes in it (she claims the holes will help me when I learn to make thumbs and heels). No no, it is not finished yet, but it is waiting. I have Sahra’s number on speed dial in case I forget the technic…
Let’s return the favour: Sahra embroiders!
Sahra did have some experience in embroidery so all I had to do was to give her a few hints, show her a few stitches, and off she went creating pretty and even leaves, stripes and knots! Knowing her I bet it doesn’t take long before she has her fully embroidered Viking apron. Go ahead, spy on her via her blog Hibernaatiopesäke. There is no sign of unbroidery anymore!
The only thing I regret from the weekend is the fact that I don’t have any pictures of the brilliant dog help Eikka and Pinja. I did however document the cat help: Felix (or was it Miisu?) calmly took part in the choosing of the yarns and the final pose. A loaner cat helped me prepare for when I start tablet weaving at home – my cat probably wont be able to keep his claws away from the warp though.