Quiet Friday: Small Tapestry Bridge

The unfinished small tapestry went in my travel bag this week. Travel tapestry is perfect for those waiting times at the airport; and gives me something interesting to do in flight. Best of all, while visiting my mom, she and I sat side-by-side one afternoon “doing art.” Mom used Staedtler coloring pencils to color detailed flower designs in a fancy coloring book; and I used Fårö wool to weave colors in the tapestry. What a sweet setting in which to finish this tapestry bridge!

Planning small tapestry.

Under the cartoon of small tapestry.

Beginning of small tapestry.

Tapestry while traveling.

Bridge takes shape in small tapestry.

Small tapestry - weaving from the back.

Weaving from the back. Small Tapestry.

Progress on small tapestry Bridge scene.

Small tapestry - Bridge scene, nearing completion.

Building a bridge. Small tapestry.

Small tapestry - bridge nearing completion.

Small tapestry Bridge, finishing touches.

Bridge small tapestry.

May all your travels be pleasant.

Happy weaving,


  • Ruth says:

    Truly a work of art. What wonderful memories you wove into this piece.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Beautiful Karen, and what a great time with your Mom! I hope she is well.
    Thank you for all the effort you go to share your work with us. I really appreciate it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty,
      It’s my real pleasure to share what I’m doing. And even greater joy to have people like you who want to see it!
      My mom is doing very well, thank you! She and I had a wonderful time together on my visit.
      Fond regards,

  • linda says:

    what a beautiful piece of art. I really love this one and all the others. And no stretcher !!! LPJ, linda
    PS the shading is really good and the arch is perfect. Want to go for your Masters? I have the requirements.

    • Karen says:

      Linda, Your kind words mean so much to me, especially knowing your experience in these things! Masters? My goodness, I am a loooonnnng way from that possibility. 🙂 But I appreciate the thought. You made me smile.

      your friend,

  • Randi says:

    What kind of loom is this? I have heard about the Mirrix loom but it’s kinda spendy if I try tapestry weaving and don’t like it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Randi,
      This loom is handmade. My husband made it for me. GlimakraUSA.com has a loom that is similar to mine, called the Freja tapestry frame, that comes in two sizes. I have a Freja in the smaller size and like it a lot.


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Strings and Threads

This is a good day to put new strings on my cello. And to make my looms look like stringed instruments. Cello strings are tuned by tightening them until they reach specific pitches. Warp threads are “tuned” by tightening small groups of ends, one group at a time, until all the warp ends are equally taut. When the strings and threads are tensioned as they should be, it’s possible to create beautiful things–music and cloth. The bow and the shuttle turn strings and threads into songs.

Dressing the loom for 8-shaft double binding rag rugs. Glimakra Standard

Sleyed reed is centered in the beater.

Glimakra Ideal is getting dressed for rosepath rag rugs.

Glimakra Ideal loom is getting dressed for weaving rosepath rag rugs.

You must accurately hear pitches to tune a cello. You must have a keen sense of touch to evenly tension a warp. These skills can be learned, but only by those who are interested in learning.

Leveling string goes across the warp ends at the beginning of the warp.

Evenly tensioned red warp has a white leveling string that goes across the beginning of the warp, producing an even surface for weaving. Warp ends are “tuned” for weaving.

This is when the loom looks like a musical instrument, ready to be strummed.

With a little imagination, the loom’s tied-on warp become the strings of a musical instrument, ready for strumming.

This reminds me of wisdom. Wisdom cannot be bought, and will never make sense to someone who has no interest in it. You can pay for knowledge and instruction, but wisdom only comes to those who have a heart to be wise. Let the music begin! 

New strings on the old German cello.

With new strings, the old German cello sings out with a rich and powerful sound. (Find me on Instagram as @celloweaver.)

May your heart be wise.

Happy music making,


  • Sandy says:

    Hi Karen,
    I have been very interested in this leveling thread and your method of tying on. I take my warps over the bar, split into two pieces, then tie those two pieces together on top. Can a leveling thread be used with this type of tie-on? How do you tie on and tension in the over/under configuration that you use?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy,
      For the leveling string to work, the warp ends must alternately go over and under the tie-on bar. I learned this from Joanne Hall and Becky Ashenden. You split the group of ends, with half going over, and half under the tie-on bar. You tension the warp as you tie the ends, not trying to make it really tight, but making it consistent all the way across.

      Joanne ties the ends at the front of the bar with a simple bow knot, described in “Learning to Warp Your Loom,” by Joanne Hall. Becky has a different method to tie the ends, described in “Dress Your Loom the Vavstuga Way: A Bench-Side Photo Guide,” by Becky Ashenden.

      The leveling string is tied through the holes on both ends of the tie-on bar. First tie one side, then weave the leveling string over and under the tied-on warp ends, pull the string tight, and secure the leveling string to the other end of the bar.

      Let me know if you have any more questions,

  • Sandy says:

    Thanks, Karen! I work on a rigid heddle loom, and I think Joanne’s book will probably be best for me.

  • linda says:

    Hi Karen: I too tie on without a leveling thread and after 45 years of weaving I’ve not had a problem. Just to show how different tieons can work ….I do not use a stick, but tie on to a metal bar that is inside a cloth attatched to the front beam. and Yes there are slits in the cloth.Very different from You, but always a success for me. I guess “different strokes———–same conclusion”. is the lesson. Love, Peace and Joy, linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda,
      I wouldn’t be surprised if most people tie on with the method you use. That’s a fine way to do it! It’s interesting how different methods can end up with similar great results.


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Two Looms at Once

I am happily dressing my two looms at the same time. First, wind one warp, and then the other. Beam a warp on the big loom (Glimåkra Standard); and then, on the baby loom (Glimåkra Ideal). Thread the big loom; thread the baby loom. Back and forth. Soon, two looms will be ready!

Threading the loom for an eight-shaft double binding rag rug.

Four shaft pairs are added to the four already on the loom. You can tell the shafts that have been used the most by the golden tone of the wood. 12/6 cotton is doubled in the heddles. Pumpkin and cinnamon colors combine to make a rich red warp.

Both looms are being dressed for rag rugs. Rag rug heaven! The big loom is threaded for double binding, using eight shafts. The baby loom has four-shaft rosepath threading. I am eager to get everything tied up so I can weave!

Glimakra Ideal is threaded for rosepath rag rugs.

Glimakra Ideal has rosepath, threaded on four shafts, for a series of rag rugs.

There’s an order to things in the universe, like there’s an order to dressing the looms. It matters how we live. It makes sense to live according to the way the Grand Weaver set things up. God knows who we are and what we need. And he provides the threads, like integrity, and other virtues, that are spun by his own hand. The individual pattern comes to life when the threads he has woven in our inner being become our outward expression. And we know the Weaver enjoys the work of his hands.

May threads of virtue be woven in your cloth.

Happy weaving,


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Tools Day: Narrow Shelf

It’s not easy to keep a table top cleared off. Little things accumulate that intrude on the work space. The wonderful maple work table Steve made for my weaving room a couple years ago provides a needed surface for multiple uses. I do my project planning here; and I weigh out my yarns here; and I wind quills here. It’s time to create a space for the little things, to get them off the table. Steve to the rescue! He built a narrow shelf to go on the wall behind the work table. Pencils, snips, pins and needles, quills with a little bit of thread, and the like. Pegs below the shelf give me a convenient place to hang a few essentials–small scissors, Gingher thread clippers on a cord, a few choke ties, tape measure, and my Väv Calendar.

Hand-crafted maple shelf compliments the maple work table below.

Hand-crafted maple shelf compliments the maple work table below. Frequently used items are within arm’s reach.

Hand-crafted maple shelf above weaving work table.

Re-purposed vessels make colorful holders for small items.

Now, I am ready for anything!

May your creative space work in your favor.

All the best,

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Now We See the Monksbelt

When you cut fabric from the loom, and see it, handle it, feel it… It takes your breath away. Every time. You, the weaver, know what went into it. All the effort, corrections, uncertainties, anticipations, and the many joyful hours of throwing shuttles, and designing at the loom to your heart’s content. You keep going, even when the going is long, because of the thrill of making something you can’t find anywhere in the world…except right here.

Monksbelt cutting off party!

Nothing matches the exhilaration of cutting handwoven fabric off the loom!

Monksbelt just off the loom! Karen Isenhower

Sense of wonder arises when you see what threads can make when they are interlaced in a purposeful way. Imagine that! It’s simply threads.

Wisdom points to truth. Truth is a picture of reality, like fabric just cut from the loom. When the fabric is unrolled from the cloth beam, you get a realistic view of what has been woven. You can see it. But wisdom leads you to that moment. That’s why you keep weaving, even when the going is longer than you thought it would be. The voice of wisdom compels you to reach the truth.

Classic Swedish monksbelt, with a colorful twist or two.

Fabric, in classic Swedish monksbelt, with a colorful twist or two.

May you make something that only you can make.

Yours truly,


  • Marilyn Cann says:

    Hi Karen, your work on this piece using has been inspiring. Since I have only joined your blog recently I am wondering if you discussed how you threaded for the selvedge edges. Thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marilyn, I’m glad you asked! I don’t think I have discussed how the selvedges are threaded on this.
      I write it this way in my project notes: 2-2, 2 X each side
      That means 2 threads per heddle, 2 threads per dent, 2 times on each side.

      I hope that answers your question.
      Happy Weaving,

  • Tobie says:

    I have been enjoying your process for the monks belt.
    I have that great feeling also—when you cut your project off the loom!
    Such a wonderful feeling.

    How will you use this fabric?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tobie, It’s great to have you along!
      How will I use this fabric? I don’t know yet. This time, I decided to weave without having a specific use for the fabric. That freed me to constantly play with the pattern and color, exploring what monksbelt could do. It was a learning experience.
      Now that I can fully see it and feel it, I am considering some options: large throw pillows, tote bags or handbags of some sort, table squares, panels in a jacket…

      I’d love to hear suggestions on how to use this colorful cloth!


  • Charlotte says:

    Hello, my sweet Karen!
    I love your exploration into Monksbelt. Would you mind telling me the sett and yarns used for warp and weft? I’m wondering if you used Faro for patter. Your colors are stunning. You do have grand ideas for using your cloth.

    Love to you…Charlotte

    • Karen says:

      Hi, dear Charlotte,
      Yes, Faro is the pattern weft. The warp and the ground weft is 16/2 cotton, sett is 22 1/2 epi, weft density is 30 ppi with 2 tabby shots between each pattern shot. I love working with Faro – the colors are so rich. I chose nine colors of Faro for this project.


  • Charlotte says:

    I have doubled and tripled Faro, previously. I wonder if tripled, there might need to be only one shot of tabby. I’ve been mulling over a cloth in Monksbelt, using 3 strands and then, I saw your post.

    Any thoughts? Missing you terribly…love…Charlotte

    • Karen says:

      It seems like tripled Faro would cover one tabby shot, but I don’t have the experience to tell you how it would look… It couldn’t hurt to try. Anything you make will be beautiful!

      Would love to see you,

  • Judy says:

    What wonderful colors and cloth! Thanks for sharing this with us.

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