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Pebble Weave


For a long time I have been exited about patterns I saw on the website of website of Kurt Laitenberger. I tried to weave these patterns with the instruction shown but could not manage it. In October 2001 I had a tablet weaving course in Potshausen, where I learned this technique from Jaap van Scharrenburg.

Pebble weave Jaap van Scharrenburg and Marijke van Epen, two Dutch weavers, call this techniquen Stippeltjes, I will call it pebble weave here. Kurt Laitenberger speaks of a 0-1-0-2-technique. I use the term pebble weave because this term decribes best the way the weaving looks like: You can see pebbles all over the weaving (see picture on the right, the origin of the pebbles is described in the instructional section). In Potshausen all weavers attending the course called the technique Stippeltjes, a Dutch term derived from the ancient Lower German term Stippen which means pebbles.

The terminology 0-1-0-2-technique used by Kurt Laitenberger does not describe the look of the weaving but the threading: Every 4-holed tablet has only two warp threads in its holes on opposite corners. The 0 means an empty hole while the 1 and the 2 mean the two different colours in the opposite holes. The details now follow in the instructional section.



As already mentioned, only two holes of every 4-holed tablets carry warp threads in different colours in opposite holes. The resulting weaving is not quite stable so at least two selvedge tablets with four threads are recommended on each side. In the following description only the handling of non-selvedge tablets will be described.

The threading of the warp is the same for all threads - either S-threading or Z-threading. The following instructionis based on a S-threading, all tablets therefore Z-positioned. The threading is important for the design of patterns to get clear diagonal lines. All pattern designs on the pebble weave pattern page are based on S-threaded tablets.

The warp threads have a kind of cyclic threading: Either of the threads is repeatedly threaded in hole A, B, C and D. This is the resulting warping diagram for the two colours green and yellow:

Pebble weave, warping diagram

This cyclic threading implicates that the number of tablets used for the pattern should be divisable by four.


To understand the weaving process, two adjectant tablets are analyzed first (e.g. tablets no. 1 and 2). If these two tablets are considered as one tablet, their threading corresponds to position I of a double-faced weave:

Pebble weave, tablet

Looking on tablet no. 3 and 4, their "combined" threading corresponds to position III of a double-faced weave. Like this in the weaving process of the pebble weaving always two adjectant tablets are considered and turned as one single unit: Tablets 1 and 2 are always turned togehter in the same direction, tablets 3 and 4 are, tablets 5 and 6 and so on. The turning sequence to weave in one colour now is the same used to weave in one colour in the double-faced weave: Two turns forward followed by two turns backward (for a tablet in position I). In our example tablets 1 and 2 therefore have to be turnd two times forward first, then two times backward. On the other hand, tablets 3 and 4 have to be turned two times backward first and then two times forward. To get a one-coloured weaving the weaving diagram looks like this one:

Pebble weave, weaving diagramStippengewebe, Webebrief

Pebble weave Because of the missing warp threads in two of the holes gaps appear in the fabric. In these gaps the differently coloured warp thread shows. These gaps are the characteristical pebbles shown all over the fabric. In the picture on the right the structure of a pebble weave is shown schematically. In a real fabric, the pebbles showing are much smaller than shown in the picture, due to the tension created by the weft thread. The look of a real fabric can be seen on the introductional picture.

To manage the seperate turning of tablets of a pack should be done like this (described for right-handers): The tablets to be turned are taken from the pack from left to right. The left hand holds the whole pack of tablets, the thumb on the top of the pack to divide the pack into already turned and unturned tablets, while the palm and the other fingers are used to stabilize the whole pack from the bottom to prevent tablets from self-turning. Thumb and forefinger (and maybe even middle finger) of the right hand now take the next two tablets to be turned from the pack of unturned tablets and turn them. The other fingers of the right hand can press the top of the remaining pack of unturned tablets a little bit to the right to prevent adjectant tablets of that pack from self-turning during the desired turning of the two tablets. After the turning is done, the two turned tablets are put to the pack of turned tablets and the turning can continue using the next two tablets until all tablets are turned. Salvage tablets should be turned seperately in one direction before or after the turning of the pattern tablets.

When the weaver is familiar with the pattern diagram, more than two tablets can be turned in one turning process. The tablets used as a group in one turning process can be all the tablets that must be turned in same direction of that turning sequence. I prefer a maximum of six tablets in one turning process.

The beating and tensioning of the weft must be done very carefully. To get a solid fabric, beat the weft very hard, because only two threads form the twill instead of the usual four. Also keep the warp at a high tension, otherwise the warp threads could shift and make the fabric look wobbly.

Changing the colour

Changing the colour of the pebble weave is done the same way as it is in the double-faced weave: Turning the tablets four times changes the colour of the foreground. To get clear patterns with 45 degree diagonals (e.g. celtic knotwork), the threading direction has to be taken care of. In the examples (S-threading) the well-known rules work:

Pattern drafting

Pebble weave, pattern diagram As shown in the pattern diagram on the right, the drafting of patterns can be easily done by using a kind od chequered paper where each box represents two tablets and two turns. In the pattern diagram on the right the number of the leftmost tablet is shown on the bottom. The diagram has to be read like this:

As an example take the fouth column from left which represent tablets 7 and 8. These two tablets first have to be turned two times backwards as represented by the dark colour. Then these two tablets have to turned two times forward, then two times backwards etc. Important: Even if one box represents two turns a weft has to be inserted for every turn. The pattern diagram can therefore also be read as "one box equals two tablets and two turns (with two wefts).

Large pattern drafts using dark and light colours for backward/forward turning become quite complex and sometimes nearly unreadable, especially when having many colour changes. Many weavers therefore use a different system for pattern drafting, they use diagonal lines: ZS-Schärun / represents a forward turn, \ represents a backward turn. The direction of these two lines is easy to understand when you imagine, that the direction of the letter Z has the same diagonal direction as the symbol / which represents forward. And forward turning results in Z diagonals in the weaving. The direction of the \-line is the same as the letter S. S diagonals in the weaving are woven by backward turning, therefore \ represents backward turns.

This system has another important advantage: Using S-threading for the tablets and the system above for pattern drafting, the lines in the pattern diagram look the same as the diagonals look like in the weaving. When using a different colour for the / and \ symbol in the draft after a colour change (I prefer red), the pattern clearly shows already on the draft:

Pebble weave, example
( Example by Kurt Laitenberger (48 tablets) )



© 22.06.2002 Guido Gehlhaar