Card Woven Ukelele Strap

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Introduction: Card Woven Ukelele Strap

Card weaving (or tablet weaving) has been used to weave selvedges, tapes, belts, straps, and trim since at least 800 BC. I'm going to walk you through the steps to basic card weaving with a pattern to make a colorful diamond strap for a ukelele. I use a handmade inkle loom and shuttle, but you can also do card weaving with a few clamps and some basic hardware. You can find weaving tablets online, but I find a deck of playing cards works great.

Supplies

A deck of plastic-coated playing cards

Hole Punch

Permanent marker

String in various colors (I used size 10 crochet thread)

Scissors

An inkle loom (you can use this instructable or find patterns to build them online)

If you don't have an inkle loom, you can use clamps with dowels, hooks, a chair back, or a belt to attach both ends of your weaving and stretch it tight. See a few basic ideas here.

A shuttle or flat, narrow piece of wood or plastic to tamp down the weft

Step 1: Prepare Your Cards

You will need to prepare 34 cards for this pattern using a hole punch and sharpie.

First, write a number on each card, from 1 - 34. I write the number in the middle of each edge of the card so I can see it from any direction.

Then, you'll need to punch four holes in the card, leaving 3/4" between the hole and the edges on each corner (note, in my example there is a fifth hole, which was put there by the casino who originally used the cards so I wouldn't mark them and then try to use them again. You don't need the fifth hole). I used a hole punch for this, lining each card up with a previously punched card so the holes would match. You can also use a drill press to do them all at once, but it may leave some residue around the edges of the holes.

Label the holes A through D, starting in the upper left corner of the card and progressing clockwise.

Continue until you have 34 marked and punched cards

Step 2: Review the Pattern

There are a few vital pieces of a card weaving pattern.

First, you'll notice that there are numbers, 1-34, across the bottom. The columns above each number show the thread pattern for that card.

On the side, you'll see letters A through D, showing which colors go in which holes on the card. Along the top of the pattern, you'll see either an S or a Z. This indicates the direction the threads will pass through the card.

For an S card, you'll pull the threads up from behind the card and pull them to the left. For a Z card, you'll push the thread down from the front and then pull to the left (see pictures if you're confused).

Step 3: Warp Your Loom

In weaving, the warp is the long threads that you put tension on, while the weft is the horizontal thread that you weave back and forth. Before you warp your loom, you'll need to decide how long you want your strap to be and then add at least 16 inches of extra space to work with. If you're weaving on a loom, figure out how many zig zags you need to take to reach the desired length. For a clamped setup on a table, just measure the length and clamp down two dowels, hooks, or bars the correct distance apart to tie the thread to.

Pull a piece of thread across your loom the distance you plan to go, leaving several inches on each end to tie a knot with before cutting the thread. Then use this piece to measure the rest of the thread you need. I like to cut four pieces and add the next card to the loom before cutting more thread. This keeps my threads from being a tangled mess while I work. If you can lay all the pieces out (and not have a cat make a nest of them), you can cut all of them at once.

Following your pattern, select the correct card and cut four threads to match the corresponding colors. Pull the threads through the card in either the S or the Z pattern, then tie all four ends on the left in a knot. Loop the knot over the tension rod on your loom to hold it in place while you wrap the threads around the loom, leaving the card near the starting point. Come back full circle, remove the tied end from the rod and then tie the two ends together on the outside of the rod, creating a tight circle of thread that can be pulled up or down to go around the loom. If you're warping in a straight line, just tie each end of the bundled threads to an end of your setup.

Continue with each card in turn until you've finished all 34.

Step 4: Thread Your Shuttle

If you have a shuttle, wrap more thread around it to form your weft. This thread should be black (or the same color as the outside of your pattern, if you've changed the colors). If you don't have a shuttle that is conducive to wrapping, you'll just need a bundle of weft that can be passed through the shed (open part of warp).

If you're wrapping a shuttle, make sure you're wrapping around the thicker edge, leaving the narrow edge to tamp down the weft.

Step 5: Begin Weaving

Before you start weaving, you'll want to have a straight line to tamp the weft down onto. I like to use an extra playing card. With your pack of cards facing up (A and B on top), place a card between the upper and lower threads and push it down to the rod. Then turn the card pack forward once so the D and A are facing up and the card is pinned down.

Thread your weft through the shed and tamp it down with your shuttle, leaving several inches of thread dangling on one side.

Turn the entire pack forward so C and D are facing up. Thread the weft and shuttle back through, and pull the dangling end through the other direction. Pull on both ends to tighten your weave and tamp down with the shuttle.

Turn forward so B and C are facing up and repeat with the weft and end.

Turn forward so A and B are facing up, weave the weft in and tamp down (continue threading the loose end back and forth until there isn't enough to pull through. Then clip the end).

Finally, turn forward one last time so D and A are facing up. This is home base. Weave in the weft again and tamp down.

Step 6: Continue Weaving, Turning the Body Back 4 and Forward 4

After turning the pack forward 4 times and returning to the DA position, you're going to reverse the pattern. The borders, however, always turn forward. So you'll need to separate the pack. Pull cards 1-3 and 32-34 up and away from your weave, leaving the rest of the pack below. The top cards will rotate forward, while the lower cards rotate backward.

Turn 1-3 and 32-34 forward to the CD position and turn 4-31 backward to the AB position. Weave in your weft and tamp down.

Turn the borders forward and the middle pack back again. They'll both end up on the BC side. Weave in your weft and tamp down.

Turn the borders forward to AB and the middle pack to CD. Weave in your weft and tamp down.

Turn the borders forward and middle pack back one more time, so both are back on DA. Weave in your weft and tamp down.

Combine the three stacks of cards back into one. For the next four turns, they'll all go forward (like the first set of weaves you did).

Continue weaving four turns at a time, alternating between all cards turning forward and the middle pack going backward.

Step 7: Finish the Strap

Once your strap has reached your desired length, you'll need to finish the end and cut the strap off the loom.

Cut the weft thread, leaving a few inches to thread back into the weave.

Thread the leftover weft end onto a needle and push the weft back into the body of your weave, going back and forth until you run out of weft. Clip off any extra. This will secure the end so your strap doesn't unravel.

Cut the strap off the loom, leaving fringe on each end. The length of the fringe is up to you.

You can finish the ends of your strap however you'd like to fit your ukelele by adding leather ends or braiding or tying the ends and looping to the instrument.

Warning: weaving is addictive. Enjoy your handmade uke strap!

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    17 Comments

    0
    Emerald04
    Emerald04

    1 year ago

    This is really cool! Great job!

    0
    Fritsvv
    Fritsvv

    1 year ago

    As a 3d printer geek i will print some "cards" for this

    0
    TrulyJulie
    TrulyJulie

    1 year ago on Step 1

    This is sooo AWESOME! One of my daughters plays the Uke and she also does all sorts of weaving, tying, and other yarn and thread activities. She will love this, and I think I may try it as well.

    0
    world of woodcraft
    world of woodcraft

    1 year ago

    Brilliant work, Thank you for sharing!
    It's definitely planted seeds of ideas all the way through my brain.

    0
    jjmcgaffey
    jjmcgaffey

    1 year ago

    I do a lot of tablet weaving. I've used playing cards, but I cut them square (and rounded the cut edges) to make it easier to turn - takes longer to make them and set up, but the cards remain useful for other weavings so I felt it was worth the time. And yes, either you're going to run out of room to weave on the borders a lot faster than on the edges, or you need to turn them back at some point - not sure why they need to keep turning forward anyway, though when I do the weaving it will probably become apparent. Tablet weaving makes seeing the end result from the pattern very difficult.
    And - that pattern is gorgeous, I definitely need to weave it! Thanks for making this, and triggering me to get back to weaving.

    0
    mountainmasha
    mountainmasha

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks for your perspective. I haven't had a problem with the rectangle cards, so I keep using them; I may have to try squaring some up. As for the forward turn on the borders, I do it on this pattern mostly so the color stripes in the border remain consistent throughout (I put a longer explanation in the comment below). If you don't mind the pattern switching order, you can certainly switch the direction of the border cards.

    And thanks! I really like how the pattern turned out. Happy weaving!

    0
    PaulB329
    PaulB329

    Reply 1 year ago

    I think a good compromise is to make the holes on a square format (equal distance) but keep the outside shape a rectangle so you can track where you are.
    maybe also some signaling nicks in the edges so you can know which side is up without having to see the faces.

    0
    jjmcgaffey
    jjmcgaffey

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yeah, squared holes (not in the corners of the cards), would make the turns a lot simpler. I haven't tried that, but it makes sense.

    What I do for tracking turns is color each corner of the cards a different color (with Sharpies). Usually red/green/yellow/blue. Then I can tell which corner is nearest me and whether cards have gotten out of sequence - though that's most useful in a threaded-in pattern like this one (which is most of what I do). There are more complex patterns where cards get flipped or turned separately, where marking the corner wouldn't help.

    The idea of flipping the cards to untwist while keeping the same rotation is neat - I think I'll try that. Even if it will confuse the markings...

    0
    PaulB329
    PaulB329

    1 year ago

    Regarding the outside sets of cards that keep rolling forward: I thought we had to conserve the twist to not get bound up and that they'd have to unwind on some schedule to keep from having the growing twist (on the far side of the warp) back us up...

    0
    mountainmasha
    mountainmasha

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yes, I should have pointed that out in the instructable. I'll update it soon (not sure how people feel about editing the instructable while it's being judged in a contest?). I like the forward turn for a couple reasons with this pattern:

    1. It makes a continuous pattern of the color stripes for the border, which I liked. If you don't care about having an exact pattern, you could start turning them backward every time halfway through, which would unwind all the twists you made by the time you finish, but the color stripes would also reverse order.
    2. Moving the center cards up and down as I alternate between the forward and backward turns means I always know what comes next, since the border cards are either with the pack, or moving the opposite direction. It helps when I have to step away and come back to weaving later.

    There are a couple ways you can overcome the twist build-up with the forward turn. First, when the twist gets cumbersome you can just flip all the border cards so they are facing the opposite direction (so the back of the card will be facing up). This switches S to Z or vice versa, which means the string will start twisting the other way as you weave. The other option (which I usually do) is to pause halfway through to untie your original knots in those strings, untwist them, then retie.

    Hope that helps!

    0
    PaulB329
    PaulB329

    Reply 1 year ago

    I think the border could look cool with the chevrons going up for 4 and down for 4 (that the two sides have different samples of the middle is nice) Very cool design on your part there.

    I wonder sometimes (in a "I should test this some day"):
    1) would a fishing swivel at the end of each card's warp threads remove the need to roll back?
    2) how does all of this interact with the twist of the yarns (or the weave of cords?)

    I know there is some fairly high level theory around this. I just have not dug into it.

    0
    PaulB329
    PaulB329

    1 year ago

    readers should click on the pattern (to see just that image) because the left side of the grid shows the ABCD assignments... not visible when scrolling through the 'structable.

    (nicely done.) I wonder if making the holes a Square rather than a rectangle would make working easier? my (long ago) attempts used a stout square tablet set and that allowed for good, consistent tension. I was wrestling with rough yarn so maybe needed the help more than you do with this material.
    I do like the thrift of using playing cards and the rectangular outside can help keep the counting of 4's in good shape. (I have a second question I'll add in a second comment)

    0
    mountainmasha
    mountainmasha

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks for pointing out the full-size pattern picture!

    As for the rectangle cards, I haven't had a problem with tension with the crochet thread I used even though the cards aren't square, and it is nice to have the visual cue for how many times you've turned them. That being said, maybe I'll cut a set square and see what difference it makes in my weaving speed.

    0
    DanPro
    DanPro

    1 year ago

    That's gorgious.

    0
    mountainmasha
    mountainmasha

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks! I liked the look of the pattern when I finished, so I thought I'd share.

    0
    Meglymoo87
    Meglymoo87

    1 year ago

    This is really quite interesting! Thanks for sharing! :)

    0
    mountainmasha
    mountainmasha

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks! It was a lot of fun to make.