There is no one true way on how you actually weave, as there are many ways to do it, however each of these ways produce the same result. There are two important things that will dictate how well the pattern comes out, the threading of the cards, and how even the tension is placed on the work during weaving. In this instruction I'll tell you how I weave, however this is not the one true way. I will try and describe other methods where applicable. It is important that you find the method that best suits you as weaving incorrectly can produce things like RSI.
Tablet weaving does not require much in the way of tools. If you were really keen, you could do it with a deck of cards and two coffee cups. However, the first thing you will need to do is prepare your cards.
Preparing the Cards:
Take your average deck of playing cards and grab out 8. We will only need 8 cards for this project. Take a marker and number each card in the center. This is valuable incase the cards get out of order, which can happen. Now that you have 8 numbered cards, take a hole punch and put a hole in each corner. Then label each corner A, B, C and D in the fashion shown in the picture below.
One of the most important things in weaving is tension. Tension will dictate how smooth the band looks, and how many loose threads that appear like bubbles you will see. I use a method, although slower, provides a nice finish and does not require you to get your tensioning perfect when setting up your band. The method I use is not unlike a warp weighted loom, which means I tie all the thread ends to a point, hang it from somewhere, and then hang weights off the other end of the threads. These weights are not resting on anything, so the weight is transfered to the threads to give me tension.
Using the warp weighted method:
To use this method you need to find somewhere suitable to hang your work from. A hook on a wall, or something else is suitable. There are many things you can use for weights, from rolls of 16ga galvinised wire, to old socks filled with stones and knotted. Once you've discovered somewhere to hang your work make up 2 weights, either coffee mugs, stones, or something similar.
The above picture is what I use to weave on, it is able to stand on end. The threads can be tied to a bit of string, which is in turn tied to the broom handle at one end and allowed to dangle down. Once I have a section woaven, I can loop the band around the broom handle, and with a long enough section of string tie it to the broom handle at the other end allowing me to weave an unlimited (in theory) length. Below are some rough pictures of each end of the contraption. As you can see there are 6 weights currently attached for a much more complex pattern that we will not be weaving in this lesson.
Using the backstrap method:
This method seems to be the most common, however if you have a bad back, DO NOT use this method. This method involves you finding a large object, like a door handle, table leg or something else that is not going to move and tieing the ends of the threads to it. The other end is tied to your belt, and when you pull back on it, the threads will gain tension.
As you can see no matter which method you use, they both have the same function. Pretty much anything that will give you tension will work.
There are two main threads that are used. An S thread, and a Z thread. It is important that these threads are done right as it will impact greatly on how the pattern comes out.
To the side you can see how an S thread card is threaded, and how the direction of the threads going from left to right of the card look the same as the center of the S. Hence the name S thread.
Generally when threading cards, I have the side that I have the numbers and hole labels on, pointing to the left. It is important that each card is threaded correctly.
S threads are usually identified in alot of patterns as a \.
To the side you can see the other form of thread used in weaving. The Z thread. It is much the same as the S thread, except reversed. The direction of the threads entering the card, from right to left is much the same as the center of a Z.
Again, as above, when threading these I have the face of the card with the numbers and hole labels facing to the left.
A Z thread in patterns is usually identified as a /.
The pattern above is pretty close to your standard tablet weaving pattern. It shows the card holes on the left, labeled A, B, C and D which correspond to the holes on the cards. Below the pattern are slashes, represnting S & Z threads. \ being a S thread, / being a Z thread. For what color threads go in what holes, its not too critical as long as one color thread goes in all the red boxes than the white ones.
So essentially it comes out like the following.
On card one, a red thread in hole A and D, a white thread in hole B and C in a S thread.
On card two, a red thread in hole C and D, a white thread in hole A and B in a S thread.
On card three, a red thread in hole B and C, a white thread in hole A and D in a S thread.
On card four, a red thread in hole A and B, a white thread in hole C and D in a S thread.
On card five, a red thread in hole A and B, a white thread in hole C and D in a Z thread.
On card six, a red thread in hole B and C, a white thread in hole A and D in a Z thread.
On card seven, a red thread in hole C and D, a white thread in hole A and B in a Z thread.
On card eight, a red thread in hole A and D, a white thread in hole B and C in a Z thread.
This corresponds with what you see in the pattern picture.
To the side is what your finished threaded deck should look roughly like (apologies for the bad drawing). The threads on cards 1 through 4 on the left have threads entering them from the left, and exiting out the right. Cards 5-8 have threads entering on the left, and exiting on the right. When this band is woaven it will produce this pattern in the threads, so all the threads look like they are flowing towards the center.
The next step:
Now that you have your cards threaded, you need to find somewhere to hang it from. Once you have found somewhere, tie all the ends up the top of the cards (with holes A and B being the top) together. Then you thread a bit of string or cord though the hole generated in the threads between holes A & B (which is circled with a grey circle on the picture on the left). Use this bit of cord to tie around your hook (or object).
Once you have done that, you need to attach weights (or attach the end to your belt). To do that, sepearate the card deck into two sets of 4 cards. You may find it easy to use a clothes pin to peg the cards into their respective groups. This will also stop the cards from sliding and rotating while you are attaching the weights.
Once you have the threads separated into the two groups, put your fingers around them and run your hand down the length of the threads, to remove any loose sections of thread and gain some form of tension. Once you are satisfied that all the threads are about at even tension (dont worry thisdoesnt need to be perfect but the more even the better) you need to tie a slip loop with all the threads. This will make an easy to undo loop for you to tie your weight to. Depending on the length of your band, you may need to undo this regularly.
Now you should have something to weave (now the fun stuff happens) ;-)
Where the bit of string that you've used to tie to your hook, take another strand of thread (wound on to a sewing thread spool or something else that ensures you have a long thread) and put it in the same hole between holes A and B. Tie this single thread up around the top near the string so the thread is anchored to the rest of the threads. This thread is called a Weft thread. With the face of the deck of cards facing to your left, rotate all the cards forward (towards you). Holes A and D will now be in the place holes A and B were. The cards will go from looking like the pictures below. With before the rotation on the left, to after the rotation on the right.
Now that you have done a rotation, you need to pack the threads. This can be done by taking your hands and gently pulling the threads from the front to holes away from the threads in the back two. By rotating the cards you've caused some threads to cross over, and this crossover needs to be reasonably firmly placed at the top of the band. You can use a ruler or something to do this but generally I just use my hands. Once you are satisfied that this is at the top of the band, you need to feed through the weft thread (which you have on a sewing cotton spindle or some form of ball). The weft thread goes inbetween the gap created between the top two holes much like the string did earlier. The weft thread to a degree with control how wide the band comes out. Working out how to make it evenly is something that takes practice. The thread should enter the gap from the left side, go through all the 8 cards gaps and come out the right. At this point you do not want to pull this thread tight since you want your band to expand out wider.
Once you have done that, rotate the cards forward like last time, and put the weft thread in, from right to left, in a serpentine fashion. Again, do not pull the thread too tight.
Now rotate the cards forward again just as you did before. Put the weft through. Keep repeating this process until you feel its reached a width you want and that the pattern looks good at. Once you've reached that width, pull your weft thread a little tighter to govern its width. This take practice and experimentation.
You may find that your threads below the cards twist and do all funky things, this is quite normal and nothing to worry about. When you cant turn the cards anymore, untie the weights (after pegging the cards together), untangle the threads, and re-weight them. Now you can continue even more weaving :-)
If you feel it looks a little lumpy in the band, give each thread a light tug individually and that will go away. I do this after about every 1" of woaven product.