Tablet Weaving Diagonal Patterns

(This page is still under construction.)


Step - The sequence a pair of identically colored threads will take from one card to the next, read from left to right across the pack.

(B) Back - Towards the weaver; usually towards the woven portion of the band.
(F) Forward - Away from the weaver; usually towards the unwoven warp.
(T) Top - Top of band and right side.
(D) Down - Bottom of band and wrong side.

Rules and Explanations:

S-threaded cards should be stepped T-B-D-F

S cards turned FORWARD will produce Z diagonal stripes.
S cards turned BACKWARD will produce S diagonal stripes.

Z-threaded cards should be stepped T-F-D-B

Z cards turned FORWARD will produce S diagonal stripes.
Z cards turned BACKWARD will produce Z diagonal stripes.

Note: In neither situation do I recommend arranging the colors in clockwise or counter-clockwise order. This is because these terms are dependent on how you're viewing the weaving in relation to the cards.

If you're positioned with the weaving closest to you and the warp further away, reading from left to right, the colors on Z threaded cards will progress in a COUNTER-CLOCKWISE direction.

If you turn around, putting the woven portion away from you, the cards will still be in T-F-D-B order, but when read from left to right now, they'll progress in a CLOCKWISE direction.

When Collingwood uses his Santa Claus mnemonic (S anti-clockwise, Clockwise Z ), he's looking at it with the weaving away from him. This is why, although it might LOOK like you're following Collingwood's illustrations exactly, you could still be getting jagged edges to your diagonals. Confusing, but worth remembering if you work from his book, Techniques of Tablet Weaving.

You can get any direction stripe you want with only forward turns by flipping the threading direction between S and Z.

Flipping the cards will automatically change the stepping, so nothing needs to be adjusted afterward. Flip a T or D card and nothing changes. Flip a F or B card and the thread pair that was forward moves back and the back ones are now forward. Thus (S) TBDF becomes (Z) TFDB and the stepping is correct for the new (Z) threading direction.

Weave a Sample Band

The arrangement of the cards:

Warp like you would for double turn double face, and arrange the cards so that they are all threaded in the same direction (S for this sample band). Starting at the left edge of the pack (weaving towards you, warp extending away), check each card and turn it until the threads follow this pattern:

For 'S threaded cards:

Card 1: both identically colored threads are on TOP.
Card 2: both in the BACK (towards you).
Card 3: both are DOWN.
Card 4: both are FORWARD (away from you).

Repeat this across the entire pack. Top, back, down, forward, top, back... You can start this pattern at any point, all that matters is the progression. DFTBDF, etc.

Start weaving, turning the cards always forward. Smooth diagonals should form on the top of the band. If they look jagged, look at the back. Are they smooth there? If so, double check the threading of the cards. The stepping sequence and the threading direction will probably not match.

Simple Diagonals & Waves:

Simple Diagonals & Waves

S-threaded cards should be stepped T-B-D-F

1: S cards, forward turns - Z stripes (4 pics)
2: S cards, backward turns - S stripes (6 pics)

Change the threading to Z by flipping all the cards.
Z-threaded cards will switch to be properly stepped T-F-D-B

3: Z cards, forward turns - S stripes (still) (4 pics)
4: Z cards, backward turns - Z stripes (6 pics)

Shows that:

S forward = Z backward = Z stripes
Z forward = S backward = S stripes

Waves are made by turning forward and backward more frequently, for example 4 forward, 4 back.

Chevrons, Diamonds, Xs & Zigzags:

Divide the pack in half:

5: Z cards, left pack forward turns, right pack backward turns - V chevrons (6 pics)
6: Z cards, left pack backward turns, right pack forward turns - A chevrons (6 pics)

When designing by eye (or if you've lost count of pics) watch the pattern develop. Make sure that stripes you want to meet as points do that before changing the turning or threading.

An even number of pics will give a smaller point of color in the center of the diamond, an odd number will allow the solid color diamond in the center to be at its largest.


Notice how a single thread forms the point of the chevron, and the left side doesn't exactly match the right side. This is because the cards are stepped one after the other in sequence across the band. Sometimes this effect is desirable, sometimes more symmetrical chevrons will look better.

Make symmetrical chevrons this time, using only a single pack turned forward. Since Z cards turned backward = S cards forward, flipping the right pack from Z to S will maintain the stripe direction and allow all the cards to turn forward together.

symmetrical chevrons

To make the two sides develop together, one half has to have its colors arranged to mirror the other half. Starting in the middle, where the cards change from Z to S, turn the S (right) half of the deck a quarter turn forward so that the position of the colors in the first S card match the last Z card. All the others should now be in position as well, with the right side mirroring the left.

7: Z cards left half, S cards right half, mirrored stepping between the halves, backward turns - A chevrons (5 pics)

To change to V chevrons to complete the pattern, turn the whole pack forward.

8: Z cards left, S cards right, forward turns - V chevrons (5 pics)


Diamonds are made of a V chevron followed by an A chevron


Xs begin with an A chevron followed by a V chevron


Zig-zags are made by dividing the pack into several side-by-side chevron groups. Make sure that mirrored threading is maintained for both the V & A chevrons formed by this.


Spirals start out just like symmetrical chevrons, except half the deck reverses direction two pics before the other half. Whichever half reverses first determines which way the spiral twists.

9: Z cards left half, S cards right half, mirrored stepping, forward turns - V chevrons
10: Z cards left half, forward turns; S cards right half, backward turns (TWO pics only) - S stripes
11: All cards, backward turns - A chevrons

Meanders can be made by increasing the pics between reversals from two to four.

Arrange the cards so that they can all be turned forward and produce S stripes.

The left (Z) cards will switch to S stripes simply by turning them forwards now. The right cards will have to be flipped to Z as well, so continued forward turning changes to S stripes.

Remember that the stepping was adjusted so that the two halves mirrored each other. Turn the right half so that the stepping progresses in sequence across the pack.

unnamed pattern

(I don't know a name for this pattern) Separate out an even number of cards from the middle of the pack. Turn these backwards while the rest of the pack moves forwards. After an even number of pics, return them to the main pack and continue turning them all forward.

12: Z cards, forward turns - S stripes (6 pics)
13: Z cards, forward turns; center group of 4/6/8 cards, backward turns (even number pics)
14: Z cards, forward turns - S stripes (6 pics)

"Egyptian" Diagonals:

Egyptian Diagonals

Diagonal directions can be reversed along a diagonal path.

15: Z cards, forward turns - S stripes
16: Beginning on the right, reverse the direction of the last two cards. (Flip them and continue turning them forward, OR separate them into a second pack and turn them backward.) Weave two pics. Then reverse the next two cards and weave two more pics. Continue reversing two cards and weaving two pics across the band.
17: By the end, all the cards will either have had their threading switched from Z to S, or they'll all be turning backward depending on the method used.

You can now reverse this by moving back across the band from right to left, forming large triangles made up of diagonals.


Begin again on the left and move across to the right, forming diagonals of diagonals. You don't have to wait until you've reached the far edge before beginning another round of reversals. This will narrow the width of the sections.

diagonals of diagonals

Combine chevrons with diagonal reversals, working from the center out.

(Don't forget to mirror-image the chevrons, or they'll end up stepped like this.)