This time we will show you how to make a simple woven belt/braid. The main use for such a belt is to wear it around you waist. However, the belts or braids of various lengths and widths can be used to sew around the edges of clothes, as a decorative rope, as a shoulder strap, as a bookmark or to add it to braided hair...
The woven belt which we will braid is fairly thin (though the width of the braid also depends of the thickness of the yarn used), so I used this pattern to make a band for my leg gaiters and to make a thin rope to use as a belt.
You will need:
1) Yarn in three different colours
2) Weaving tablets
3) A small rope
4) A security pin
If you are a beginner, you might wonder – where do I get the weaving tablets from? Even though they were originally made from wood, brass or even bone (a luxury), you can easily make them at home by using old plastic cards (bank, discount cards) or beer coasters. Simply cut out a square and punch out four holes by using a paper punch (I have seen tablets with more holes, but four is a standard).
I have borrowed this pattern from L. Kudirkienė‘s book “Technologijos. Vytinės juostos.” Unfortunately, this book can only be found in libraries now. Of course, in the old days people had to memorize the patterns...
So, we should concentrate on the pattern itself. The numbers above it mean the tablets and the letters on the left side mean the holes. I, personally, never had to write letters on the tablets, it was enough to remember which hole is the first one.
There are four holes in each tablet and that is why in order to count how many strands of yarn you will need, you simply have to find a fragment in the pattern which has four rows. The red lines mark the said fragment in the picture below.
As you probably already noticed, the colors are marked not in squares, but in diamond shapes, which are leaning towards one side or another. The direction is important! For example, if you put all of the yarn only to one side, the braid will be likely to curl like curly hair does. It doesn’t look very good...
So, in order to count the amount of yarn, we simply need to count how many diamond shapes of each color there are in our chosen fragment. Let’s try this. The correct answer is 14 dark ones, 10 red ones and 8 yellow ones. Overall – 32 lengths of yarn.
Before you start cutting the yarn, you should consider this:
1) If the diamond is ascending from left to right, when you put the yarn through the holes, the knots should be under the tablet as you put the tablet on some flat surface.
2) If the diamond is descending from left to right, the knots should be on top of the tablet.
3) You will need some space for moving the tablets as you are weaving, also some space for holding or tying it to something. That is why you should make the yarn a bit longer than just for the braid. To save the trouble, I usually leave half a meter if the braid is short, and a meter if it will be a very long braid.
To begin with, we put the yarn through the holes in the tablets.
The first tablet – all of the yarn is dark, so we put the dark yarn through all four holes. Just make sure that the knots are under the tablet.
The second one – again, all of the yarn is of the same color, same as he first one.
The third one – here we need to choose which of the holes in the tablet will be the first one. I like to choose the upper left one. So, I put the yellow yarn through the upper left hole, then I go clockwise and put the yellow yarn through the second hole. The third one is dark and the fourth one is yellow again. Also, this time the knot has to be on top of the tablet.
The fourth one – same, just with different colors. The top left one is yellow, followed by the dark one, then red one and dark one again.
That is how we do the rest of the tablets, always considering the direction. In the photo below you can see how it should look like when all the tablets are done.
After that, we put the tablets on top of each other going from right to left. The dark one on the very left goes on top of the one beside it, then both of them - on the third one and so on.
Now, it is important to not mix them up as it would ruin the pattern. That is when the security pin becomes handy – put it through one of the holes through all tablets. Then carefully pull out all of the knots and tie them together. You can also tie everything into one knot, but it would be a waste of yarn and would not be as convenient when weaving a wider belt.
Then you need to tie all of this securely, in a comfortable place for you to weave, and stretch it. You can tie the other end of the yarn to yourself (on a belt or something), but it works better when you tie it to the arm of a chair or simply sit on the loose end after pulling it around your waist. However, this last method doesn’t work at the end of weaving the belt as there is too little yarn left. Then you have to just hold them, which is convenient if the braid is short and narrow.
After that is done, you need to take a little ball of yarn (of the same color as the colors of the yarn in the tablets on each side) and weave it through the “jaws”. Some people like to tie the end of the yarn piece to the beginning of the braid, but once you do several lines, the end stays in place either way.
Finally, we are ready to start weaving. Take all of the tablets and carefully twist them towards yourself over one side of the square tablet.
Doing this will create new “jaws” through which you will need to weave the string of yarn. However, before that you need to push all of the yarn towards the beginning of the braid.
The same twisting also happens on the other end of the braid, so it is convenient to tighten that yarn as well, because otherwise it might restrict the movement of the tablets. Unfortunately, the movement will become restricted either way and you will need to comb out the scraggly yarn.
We pull the yarn through again!
Then twist the tablets over one side towards yourself again, pull the yarn through the “jaws” and continue repeating these steps until we finish the belt.
This is how it should look after four twists:
- Remember to tighten the yarn. If the yarn is too loose it will be inconvenient to work with and the belt will turn out too loose.
- Tighten the yarn you interweave, because if you leave it loose, the woven belt will become wider and looser. On the contrary, if you tighten it too much, the belt will turn out “crushed”.
- Do not forget to push the yarn towards the woven part after each twisting of the tablets, otherwise the belt will turn out uneven.
If you need to take a break from weaving, carefully fixate the braid using a security pin. If you don’t have one, you can instead use a thread of yarn or make a big knot.
By the way, you can weave a belt by looking at the drawn pattern and you can also draw a pattern by looking at the woven belt. It is especially relevant if you are trying to recreate some sort of archeological finding’s fragment...
Some questions you may have:
- If you choose to arrange the yarn in tablets anti-clockwise instead of clockwise, the pattern will be reversed.
- If you twist the tablets from yourself, not towards yourself, the pattern will be reversed as well (this is how you get the diamond shapes, in this case it’s recommended to twist the side tablets always to the same side).
- If you do both of the things mentioned above, the pattern will not be reversed. It is best to experiment and find the personally most comfortable way of weaving.
- If the yarn got torn off or ended, do not tie knots, unless you are sure you will be able to hide them. It is best to fix a security pin or a needle to the braid and twine the loose end around it so it stays in place until you weave more of the braid.
When the belt is finished, it might look something like this (or worse).
The only thing left to do is to weave the loose ends inside the woven belt. In some cases you may firstly need to “embroider” a part of the pattern.
Article by Elena