Tablet-weaving a Sami band

An incurable tablet weaver, I recount my experience weaving Sami-style bands with tablets.

For the past several months our Banditos interest group at the Weaver’s Guild of Minnesota has studied Sami band weaving. Originating from the Sami people of northern Scandinavia, the technique produces narrow bands, usually with bright primary colors, with a central pattern area woven with thicker yarn.( If you are not familiar with this weaving technique and want to learn more, view a few of the many videos on The bands are woven traditionally in backstrap style with a rigid heddle drilled with slots and one or two sets of holes, sometimes with extra short slots holding the pattern threads. Here’s a sample:

card-woven sami band


I wove this band based on a pattern on page 13 of “Sami band weaving” by Susan Foulkes. I picked this pattern because it was simple, having just 5 pattern threads and a memorizable 5-pick repeat.

Being an incurable tablet-weaver, I wove it with tablets. I threaded one card for each pair of background threads and each pattern thread. So that the cards were relatively balanced, I punched holes in the top center edge and bottom center edge of each background card. I started out threading each pattern thread in a hole drilled in the center of each card. Here’s the diagram:

sami threading diagram

I used 10/2 Perle cotton for the background threads, and 3/2 Perle cotton for the pattern. Colors were: R=red, W=white, B=blue, Y=Yellow, P=red.

All background cards were Z-threaded, except the yellow-threaded cards behind the pattern, which were alternately Z and S-threaded. This threading results in a plain weft-faced weave on the border and basket weave behind the pattern.


I hate to warp cards using the card-by-card, hole-by-hole method. Despite my best efforts, threads get tangled, and tension is uneven. After viewing Linda Hendrickson’s video tutorial on continuous warping about six times and practicing almost as many times, the method now feels comfortable to me.

I used continuous warping, but with a twist (no pun intended). First I warped the background cards, then the pattern cards. Since this places the pattern cards on the outside of all background cards, I just moved them to their correct position. After warping I twisted the cards to get correct Z or S threading.


Weaving proceeds by half-turning the cards alternately forwards and backwards, picking up pattern threads before each turn.


After weaving for a while, I ripped out the pattern cards from their threads, and just left them hanging freely. I don’t remember why, unfortunately. It may have been that the drilled center holes had ragged edges that caught the threads. In hindsight it might have been easier to weave with pattern threads in center holes, because the card holds the thread in the middle of the shed — sometimes the pattern thread would catch on a card or thread beside it and I would have to shake the cards to free the pattern threads. The problem is figuring out how to drill or punch clean holes in the center of a 3 1/2” square card — my hole punches can’t reach that far from the edge.

Width: 19mm (3/4”), Picks per inch: 16