Who Am I? And Why Am I Here?

Elewys of Finchingefeld, GdS, JdL
Barony of Aquaterra, Kingdom of An Tir

This is a place to which I may post my research, my experiments, my successes...and yes, my failures...for medieval re-creation and research on my never-ending quest to learn and revel in knowledge and experiences.

I am a lady of many times and many places. Currently using a 15th century English name, dressing in a 10th century Danish dress, and camping in a Mongolian round house. "Lost" doesn't even begin to describe my persona.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Advanced Card Weaving: Ram's Horn Pattern

I've been watching a card weaving Facebook page and several people have asked about how to do the Ram's Horn pattern.  It's not a beginner's pattern, for sure, but with an understanding of how the cards are set up and turning patterns of the cards, you, too, should be able to produce a lovely woven Ram's Horn band.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Don't worry--go step by step, and you'll have this one by the horns!

Now, it should be noted, for those who are big into the recreationist groups like the SCA, this is not a period piece.  Historically, the only mention I can find is from a web site that reads:  "The Ram's Horns pattern popularlized by Crockett's "Card Weaving" book comes from the 20th century Anatolian (turkish) belts and it has not equivalent in archeological finds."  http://weavedmagic.deviantart.com/journal/Origins-of-most-popular-tablet-weaving-patterns-394709084

So let's get to the full color demonstration of this pattern!  READY?

If you're not sure if you're going to like it, or if you suspect you might get frustrated from trying and pitch it across the room, you may want to try a short piece first. Don't warp up the loomzilla for this first project.  When I first tried this pattern, I did one-yard lengths for each thread, just to test it out.  I ended up getting about a foot done before I knew I needed to do a larger piece!

Supplies needed:

  • 3 colors of carpet warp or crochet cotton thread--I used Maysville 8/4 Carpet Warp.  It's good stuff, heavy duty and will make great belts, bag straps, and heavy trim (it's not delicate and as flexible as finer threads, but a great place to start).
  • 22 cards--mine are the store-bought 3" cards with ABCD labeled in clockwise order
  • 1 loom--I use an inkle loom that weaves up to 4 yards of trim
When choosing the thread, you will need a light color, a medium color, and a dark color.  High contrast is important in this pattern!

You will warp it up with the #1 card on the left; #22 card on the right, reading the pattern just like reading a book.  The next thing to note is that, for this pattern, you should have the top surface of the cards facing *left*.  If you have the cards facing right, the pattern will show up on the bottom side of the weaving.  Also, and the pattern (below) has the rows lettered backwards--D, C, B, A.  (If they were lettered A, B, C, D, you would have to face your cards to the right--good tip to note for when you find future patterns!)

This is the pattern for the dreaded Ram's Horn pattern.

Just a refresher:  Each column in the pattern is marked with S or Z.  Some patterns will be marked with \ for S or / for Z, but since this font doesn't have a significant slant, it can look a bit more confusing, so I've used the letters instead.  Many new weavers get confused about how to do S and Z threading.  This is one of the best diagrams I've found to remind yourself how the threads go through the cards.  

Now you've got the pattern, the threads, the cards, and a refresher on S and Z threading.  Go ahead and thread up your loom...I'll wait.  (I often put in a movie that I've seen a dozen times so I have something to listen to while I work.)


OK.  Now your loom is threaded and you have a shuttle loaded (I recommend using the same color as the thread on the border--in this case, a dark red--to make it blend in, but some people like to make it stand out as an added pattern on the edge.  Your choice!)  Ready to start?  

The pattern alternates between the cards moving together, as a pack, for four quarter-turns, and then some of the cards turning in opposite directions for four quarter-turns.  

To begin the pattern, turn all the cards so it has A & D at the top, like the image above.  This is the "home" position.  To better keep track of this, I have colored the AD side of the card blue with a permanent marker (the opposite side, the BC side, is colored red--I'm big on visual cues!).  Throw your shuttle and turn the cards one quarter-turn toward you.  Do this for four quarter-turns away from you, then for four quarter-turns forward (toward you), throwing the shuttle after each quarter-turn, just to anchor everything together and adjust your tension.

Then you can start splitting the deck!  The cards now will turn in groups in opposite directions for four quarter-turns.  First separate the cards into groups.  Slide the cards 1 & 2 toward you, 3-5 away from you, 6 & 7 toward, 8-15 away, 16-17 toward, 18-20 away, 21-22 toward.  See the picture above?  That's how it should look.

Now the cards will turn in the direction that they have been placed.  The cards closest to you will turn towards you; the ones further away will turn away.  Turn all cards a quarter-turn and throw the shuttle.  Turn another quarter-turn and all the cards will have the red side facing up.  Throw the shuttle.  Make two more quarter-turns, continuing in the opposite directions, throwing the shuttle between, until the cards are back to the home position again.

Once at the home position, all the cards will turn together for four quarter-turns.  Since the first two cards were turning *forward* in the last round, all the cards will turn *forward* in this round.  Turn toward you for four quarter-turns, throwing the shuttle between each quarter-turn.

Then, back to the split deck.  Repeat and you will see the ram's horns appear!  Yes, you will see a dimple after each repeat.  Don't panic!  When you switch directions, a tiny hole appears in the middle and the weft shows through.  If you don't want the dimple, you can change your weft thread to match the middle, but then it'll show on the border, unless you also change the border color to match.

So, in brief, here's the turning directions:
1.  Turn all the cards four quarter-turns FORWARD, throwing the shuttle between each quarter turn.  End in the home position.

2.  Slide cards 1-2 forward, 3-5 back, 6-7 forward, 8-15 back, 16-17 forward, 18-20 back, 21-22 forward.  Turn cards 1/4 turn in opposite directions (forward cards forward; backward cards back).  End in home position.

Repeat steps one and two to your heart's content!

The observant weaver will note that since some of the threads are always turning forward and the rest turn forward four and backward four, that some of the threads are going to build up a great twist in it.  This will shorten the warp length for those threads, but not the rest, causing tension issues.  Some people have tried (with varying success) to use fishing spinners that will untwist the threads as you go.  This is great if you're doing backstrap weaving or have a long span that your warp is spread out, but I use this inkle loom and the twist builds up between the cards and the first or second peg and stops there.  You *can* move the twist down the entire length, around each of the pegs to get the spinners to untwist, but it's time-consuming and can be frustrating.

The other thing you can do is carefully untie the threads that are twisted, untwist them, and re-tie...it's time-consuming and can be frustrating.  I've done it...a couple times.

But the other option is to change directions to untwist every few repeats.  You could do every horn, every two horns, six horns, eight horns...whatever you desire.  The question is, at what point in the pattern do you change directions?

In this pattern you were repeating steps 1 and 2, now you have to take steps 3 and 4 to go the opposite direction!

3.  Slide cards 1-2 back, 3-5 forward, 6-7 back, 8-15 forward, 16-17 back, 18-20 forward, 21-22 back.  Turn cards 1/4 turn in opposite directions (forward cards forward; backward cards back).  End in home position.

4.  Turn all cards for four quarter-turns back.  End in home position.

You will repeat this pair of steps until the twist builds up in the opposite direction.  Then you'll change directions again, finishing step 4, then going back to step 1 and 2.

Now you can weave your Ram's Horns and show your Advanced Card Weaving skills to all your friends!

Good luck!
Elewys of Finchingefeld, GdS, JdL
Barony of Aquaterra, Kingdom of An Tir


  1. I think my previous comment didn't make it :(
    I was saying that I don't seem to be able to find this pattern online until I found your link.
    This is greatly explained but there are no pictures, well, there are pictures but the links are broken and they can't be seen :(
    Do you have the time to load them again?
    Much appreciated!!! And great blog!

  2. Thanks for reading! I have gone in and fixed the photos in the blog--I have no idea why they disappeared! Good luck on your weaving!

  3. Hi Elewys - great blog, and very interesting article here, very easy to understand. Just one question - when making the cards (I can't see the picture of the card setup with letters), do you have A in the top left corner, D in the top right, and then B in the bottom left and C in the bottom right corner?

    Thanks :)

    1. Hi Nico! Great question! Thanks for asking. I should have posted a picture of the cards...as it is, the blog keeps randomly deleting my photos, so I may have to move this blog to another host. GRRRRR....
      So, the cards are labeled A, B, C, D in clockwise order. I will go back and include a photo.