Hold That Twist

Have you tried twisting fringe on the loom? I haven’t done it before now. You will find out with me how well this works, because I will show it to you when the blanket is woven and cut from the loom. A doubled warp thread runs through the fringe lineup, holding the twists in place. It is an amusing sight to see these yarn “toy soldiers” all lined up in color order. I know this should work. I know a lot of things; but my knowledge isn’t always as important as I think it is.

Blanket fringe is twisted on the loom.

Upper and lower layers of a double-width blanket are seen in the twisted fringes. Care was taken to not weave the two layers together accidentally.

More important than what you know is who knows you. Everyone longs to be known. We want someone to know we are not just one of many in a lineup of nameless toy soldiers. God knows those who love him. He satisfies our desire to be known. And that reminds me that I really don’t know everything.

May you successfully try something new.

Happy Christmas,

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Rag Weaving with a Boat Shuttle

This is a simple way to make a rag weave table runner. The M’s and O’s weave structure provides a great framework. What I like about narrow fabric strips is that you can wind them on quills, just like yarn, and weave with a boat shuttle. It is fast weaving that breezes right along.

Rag weave table runner on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Boat shuttle holds quill with narrow fabric strips to weave table runner. In view below the table runner are pot holders that were woven using unbleached cotton multi-strand yarn.

I could use a small ski shuttle for this, as if I were weaving rag rugs. Or, I could even place the weft across by hand on this narrow-width warp. The most efficient way is the boat shuttle, and the main thing is to get the weft across so weaving can happen. In life and relationships, it is love that needs to get across.

Patience and kindness are universal expressions of love. Love never fails. It started with the patience and kindness of God. As we draw toward Christmas, consider the meaning of the holiday–that God so loved the world. His patience and kindness toward humanity meant sending His son to our world. And that baby, named Jesus, became God’s way of taking love across the gap between heaven and earth.

May you be known for patience and kindness.

Good Christmas to you,


  • linda says:

    That’s the best use of M and O’s I’ve ever seen. I’ve never liked the weave structure. I’ve even tried it in warp weight linen on a finer background. happy Chris-Quan-Hansika to all. love, peace, and Joy, linda

    • Karen says:

      Linda, I feel very honored by your gracious comment, especially considering your vast experience. I’m glad you like this M’s and O’s version. Thank you!

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First Glimpse of the Blanket

Look at the double-width blanket that is finally forming on the loom! And you have been waiting to see which colors I chose for the weft… First, there were eleven colors to select for the warp (I Forgot the Weft). And then, after dressing the loom (Brave Enough to Weave), I sampled possible weft colors (The Weft Question). That led to questions about the density of the weft and the evenness of the folded edge (Quiet Friday: Blanket Sample Thanksgiving), being my first ever double weave attempt. Ta da! Combined teal and blue are the weft winners!

Wool for weft to use in double-width blanket.

Skeins of Borgs 6/2 Tuna Wool for blanket weft. The weft is doubled, so I will wind quills using the two colors together.

Winding wool skeins into balls using old Beka yarn swift.

Wool skeins are first unwrapped and wound into balls using my old Beka yarn swift.

I am pleased with the first glimpse. I feel like I have captured my own personality and it is being woven into the cloth. Like this weft, you will not see the value of your gifts until you unwrap them and use them.

First few inches of double-width wool blanket on the loom.

Very beginning of the wool blanket gives encouraging results. The teal/blue weft begins after the first few picks that space the warp.

Just as cloth reveals the nature of the weaver, gifts reveal the nature of the giver. God has prepared things for us that transcend human perception. Things which eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man… If aspects of my personality are embedded in a handwoven blanket, how much more is God’s character woven into the good gifts he imparts to us?

May your journey hold many good gifts to unwrap.

Thinking of Christmas,


  • Marie Kulchinski says:

    What a beautiful selection for your warp.
    See the two colors exchange positions (who is on top) is wonderful.
    This will be a very warm blanket. It will keep some one warm on even the
    coldest nights. Can’t wait to see it finished.

    • Karen says:

      I’m so glad you like it, Marie! I love the way the two colors in the weft provide “movement” in the cloth. That is what I was hoping for.
      We don’t have very many cold nights in Houston, but when it IS cold, you can be sure this blanket will be keeping somebody warm.

      I’m finding it fun and relaxing to weave.


  • linda says:

    I would love to see rhis all done and can’t wait. Every choice of weft would have been perfect, because it’s all you, it represents you at that moment in time. It may not please everyone, but then it would be theirs in their moment in time. This is going to be one beautiful, warn blanket. what size will it be? how did that fold work out? have any trouble ie. creating floats or missed warp threads on the bottom layer? If you wouldn’t mind would you post a pix of the finished product with a close up of the fold? I love it when a plan comes together. I do not have a cell phone or a digital camera to share my goofs, “oh i get it nows”, and Urekah’s it worked.
    The fringing on the loom is great. I’ve done a technique that is somewhat similar; uses pick upsticks and is done over 6-8 warp ends that when woven in to a yardage for a sweater will look very much like a knitted cable. You’ve inspired me again to fire up both looms. thank you, love, peace and JOY linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda,

      You have made my day if you feel inspired to fire up your looms! I’m smiling.

      I will continue to post my progress on this blanket. I can tell you already that I will have some floats to repair on the bottom layer. (How did you know? Haha)

      When it is finished, we will all see the good, the bad, and hopefully, no ugly. It’s fun to share the process with you.

      Thanks for your wonderful encouragement,

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Tools Day: Tapestry Weaving in Flight

This is how a weaver enjoys a long haul flight. I keep my hands busy. A direct flight from Houston to Tokyo takes about fourteen hours. And then five more hours to Manila. Add layover time, and you have almost a full day of travel. I have been wanting to try the exercises in Kathe Todd-Hooker‘s Tapestry 101. So that is how I spent my travel time to and from The Philippines on our recent visit there. I followed advice I received from Teresa Loveless when I was at Weaving Southwest in New Mexico, to warp my little tapestry loom at a sett of 8 epi, using rug wool for weft. The coarse sett made the weaving easy to see and work with, even in the dim lighting of the airplane. (This is in contrast to last year’s travel tapestry using embroidery floss.) I kept the samplers small, so I could finish by the end of the trip. I ended up with two mini samplers.

Traveling with portable tapestry loom.

Ready to travel with all tapestry weaving supplies in a soft bag that is easy to slip into my flight carry on bag.

– Travel-size tapestry loom (with tensioning device, and counter sunk rare earth magnets for holding tapestry needle)
– Warp thread (12/6 cotton seine twine), wound on a couple five-inch quills
– Wool rug yarn assortment (Jason Collingwood Rug Wool, and Borgs 25/1 Mattgarn), wound on five-inch quills
– Blunt tapestry needles (have extras in case you drop one in the dark)
– Travel snips (make sure they meet TSA regulations) on a neck strap (hand woven, of course)
– Clip-on book light (with paper napkin or thin cloth to diffuse the light, and extra batteries)
– Tape measure
– Small clips (you never know when you might need one, like to clip a napkin over the book light)
– Sewing thread and sewing needle (for stitching slits, which I did not do)
– Tapestry resource book (like Tapestry 101, by Kathe Todd-Hooker)
– Bag to hold everything (and a couple small pouches within to keep things organized)

Mini tapestry sampler.

First mini sampler was almost finished by the time we arrived in Manila.

Green tea cake roll in Tokyo.

Green tea cake roll was a yummy snack at Narita International Airport in Tokyo on the trip home. Maybe this should be a future color scheme for a weaving project?

Weaving on the airplane.

Weaving in the dark. The Starbucks napkin that I saved from Houston came in handy as a light diffuser around the too-bright reading light when other passengers were sleeping.

Mini tapestry sampler.

Second mini sampler was almost finished by the time we arrived back home in Houston.

Mini tapestry samplers.

Mini tapestry samplers show a compact view of the passage of time.

May you find something for your hands to do.

Merry Weaving,


  • Helen Hart says:

    All I can say is that this is so neat. Thanks for sharing. I have one of Kathi’s books–have to see if I have 101. Where did you get this loom? Really neat looking. And what were you doing on the far side of the earth? Pray tell?
    Anyway, thank you. If I may I am going to save this for even a car trip..
    A very blessed holiday season to you and yours.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Helen,

      I have another one of Kathe’s books that I’m going to work through after I finish this one. I like (most of) her explanations.
      Steve made the loom for me. Glimakra makes a great portable loom that is similar, in two sizes, called the Freja Tapestry loom (I have one or two of them).

      We were visiting our son and daughter-in-law and two grandkids who live in The Philippines. (They are soon moving back to the USA, though. Yipee!)

      Car trips are perfect for travel tapestry or travel inkle loom-ing.

      A blessed season to you, too,

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Textiles from The Philippines

Steve and I returned this week from travels to The Philippines. We had a wonderful time celebrating Thanksgiving there with our son’s family in Makati. During our eleven-day visit, I encountered many examples of beautiful handwoven articles and other fascinating textile goods. It probably won’t surprise you that I tucked a few textile treasures in my suitcase to bring home with me. (Remember last year? Quiet Friday: Philippine Textiles)

Handwoven cotton towels from Sunday market in Makati, Philippines

Lovely cotton hand towels from Beth’s Loomweaving at the Makati Sunday Market.

Cotton towel detail shows green weft for stripes.

Detail of cotton towel shows that the darker stripes are created with green weft.

Variety of scarves and wraps from markets in The Philippines.

With an over-abundance of scarves and wraps to choose from (in bargain prices), I escaped with only these few. Some are for gifts; and some are for personal use. All are sources of design and color inspiration.

Example of backstrap weaving from Mindanao, Philippines.

Lightweight table runner or scarf was made by a weaver in Mindanao, the southernmost island of The Philippines. This exquisite example of backstrap weaving is made from very fine cotton, and is completely reversible.

Detail of backstrap weaving from Mindanao, Philippines.

Backstrap weaving detail reveals the intricacy of the tapestry-like design.

Traditional Filipino weave structure showcases pattern and color.

Pillow cover is well-planned and executed, showing striking color combinations in a traditional Filipino weave structure.

Detail of handwoven pillow cover from The Philippines.

Detail of pillow cover shows the pointillistic appearance of this weave.

Filipino bag woven from piña fibre.

Made from the leaves of a pineapple plant, piña fibre was used to weave this sturdy little open plain weave bag.

Detail of bag made from piña fibre.

Piña fibre has a natural luster.

Handwoven Elegant Filipino Table Runner

Not the expected mix of bright colors, this elegant table runner has black weft floats on a white warp of fine cotton. The traditional Filipino weave uses a multi-stranded black cotton (or cotton/poly blend) for the pattern, alternating with the fine white cotton threads for the tabby. This one-sided cloth, similar to overshot, has weft floats only on the top side.

Detail of weft pattern floats in traditional Filipino weave.

Detail of black and white table runner. The patterned black floats almost give the cloth the look and feel of cut velvet.

My very favorite treasures from our visit to The Philippines.

My very favorite treasures from our visit to The Philippines.

May you find textile treasures in your travels.

PS Two more new rag rugs from my latest run of rugs are now in the Etsy shop, if you are interested. These two may be my favorite yet!

A little jet lagged,


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