Weaving Rugs Under Mugs

I don’t mind slow weaving. The progress that is measured in hours, not minutes, is satisfying. I don’t mind fast weaving, either. It’s a chance to be productive. These mug rugs fall in the fast-weaving category. I can whip up a few of these in an afternoon.

Rep weave mug rugs. Cottolin and stringyarn.

Plain weave hems fill the space between rep weave mug rugs.

I hope to get 20 to 25 of these little mug rugs from this six-yard warp. I have to admit, it’s fun to weave something easy once in a while. Now, I can measure progress in minutes, instead of hours. We determine the value of things according to time and effort, don’t we? How long did it take, and how much effort? Some woven items are destined for elegance, and others are, simply, rugs under mugs.

Rep weave mug rugs on the loom.

Mug rugs begin to circle the cloth beam. Turquoise Cottolin weft thread alternates with black midi stringyarn. Block changes are made by weaving two thick picks in a row.

Grace doesn’t measure value that way. The Lord’s generous grace demonstrates true equality and fairness. His grace places equal value on people, not taking into account how “good” they are, or how much effort they extend to do “good” things. Grace is distributed equally. The Lord offers it to all, not because of who we are or what we have done, but because of who he is, and what he has done. That’s good news. The mug rugs may end up on an elegant table, after all.

May you receive and extend grace.

Happy weaving,
Karen

PS Plattväv Towel Kit update: Still in progress! You will be the first to know when the kits are ready.

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Skeleton Tie-Up on a Countermarch?

I’ve been told that you cannot do a skeleton tie-up on a countermarch loom. That would require pressing two treadles at the same time, which is not feasible on a countermarch. Guess what? I have a skeleton tie-up, and I’m pressing two treadles at a time for the pattern blocks in this kuvikas structure. On my countermarch!

Kukivas (summer and winter) on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Trying to establish a consistent beat so that the squares are all the same size. Making the squares a little taller than they are wide will, hopefully, produce actual squares in the end. The fabric is expected to shrink more in length than in width when it is cut from the loom, and washed and dried.

It works because the tie-up is carefully planned to avoid conflicting treadle movements. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the square-within-a-square results. Isn’t it fascinating that a design such as this can be fashioned by hand, using a simple wooden loom and a bunch of strings, with a few simple tools? And a non-standard tie-up?

Skeleton tie-up on a countermarch loom for kukivas.

Pressing two treadles at the same time is surprisingly less cumbersome than I had imagined it would be. The whole series of motions feels like a slow majestic dance.

Have you seen the sky on a moonless night? Who made that starlit fabric? Who wove the pattern of the heavens? Who put the sun in place, and set the earth on its axis? How grand and glorious are these constant features of our existence! Our human hands can create no such thing. The heavens reveal the glorious nature of God. They shout the unmistakable truth that God is our Creator. Surely, the fabric we make with our hands serves to confirm that we belong in the hands of our Maker.

May the work of your hands be a reflection of you.

In awe,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Betsy Greene says:

    Hi Karen
    This square pattern is really nice. Am I correct in thinking that kuvikas is similar to summer and winter? I have a countermarch loom also and would love to hear more details about your skeleton tie up.
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, You are correct, kuvikas is a Finnish term for what we commonly call summer and winter.
      The double treadling is possible because of the tie-up. The pattern threads are on shafts 1 – 4, and the tie-down threads are on shafts 5 – 8. The trick is where to NOT tie up the treadles. You need two free-standing groups of shafts, so only the pattern shafts and only the tie-down shafts are tied to the treadles, besides the tabby shafts.
      And then, the first 2 treadles produce the tabby for the background. Treadles 3 & 4 bind the pattern floats. Treadles 5 – 8 control the pattern’s various blocks.

      I’m afraid I did a poor job of explaining. You can find the draft in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 164. She does a better job of describing how it works.:)

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    That is gorgeous, Karen! Thanks for sharing the source of the draft, too!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marcia, I’m glad you like it. I like it a lot, too! I’m already thinking of using this draft to make some upholstery fabric for some chairs I want to cover.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • So us how you tied up your loom please, with a diagram or photos.
    Jenny

    • Karen says:

      Great idea, Jenny, Here’s a picture taken from the back of the loom.

      Skeleton tie-up on countermarch

      From left to right, 2 treadles for tabby, 2 treadles for tie-down threads, 4 treadles for pattern. You can see that the tie-down and pattern shafts are independent of each other, which make double treadling possible.

      Does that help?

      Karen

  • Carol says:

    Hi Karen,
    I really enjoy your blog. Thank you.
    I also have a countermarch loom and am wondering how you get away with not tying up all eight shafts on every treadle. Do you know of a book that really explains countermarch ti-ups. I think I am missing something here. I must confess I am a new countermarch loom owner.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carol, You ask some good questions!
      How do I get away with not tying up all 8 shafts on every treadle? I don’t know. I’m learning as I go. Honestly, I have not found a lot of information about weaving with this type of tie-up on a countermarch loom. I have seen it mentioned a few places, but not explained. I tell myself that it is like weaving on two four-shaft looms that work together. 🙂 That may be way off!

      The thing to remember is that this is NOT a typical tie-up for a countermarch loom. I’ll have to say, it was a little finicky to get clean sheds, so I wouldn’t recommend this for someone until they have some serious weaving on eight shafts (with a “normal” tie-up) under their belt.

      One helpful book that explains everything about a countermarch tie-up is Tying Up the Countermarch Loom, by Joanne Hall. But it doesn’t mention skeleton tie-ups. I guess I like to try things outside the norm…

      I hope you enjoy your countermarch loom as much as I enjoy mine!
      Karen

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Tools Day: Leveling String

Thirty-five years ago, I took a beginner rigid heddle loom class. Our teacher taught us to use strips of toilet paper (or fat scrap yarn) as weft at the beginning of the weaving to space the warp. After several inches of weaving, the warp ends would fall into alignment. Unless fringe is planned, that beginning warp goes to waste, not to mention the unsightly aspect of the throwaway weft. Here comes the leveling string to the rescue! This piece of 12/6 cotton seine twine is just what we need to get off to a good start with every project we put on the loom. The leveling string levels out the warp ends, and delivers a nice, flat weaving surface. It is superb to be able to weave fabric right from the very beginning of the warp!

The use of a leveling string is also described in my three favorite books that detail how to warp a loom:

  • The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell
  • Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall
  • Dress Your Loom the Vävstuga Way: A Benchside Photo Guide, by Becky Ashenden

Tools:

  • Front tie-on bar with a hole at each end (Joanne Hall writes, “If there are no holes in your bar, replace the cord with a thin stick.” I have not tried this, but I trust anything Joanne says!)
  • 12/6 cotton seine twine, the length of front tie-on bar, plus about 20 inches (I like to have plenty of string to tie the knots on the ends)

Steps:

1. Tie on warp in small bundles, about 1″ each, with half of the bundle’s ends going over, and half going under, the front tie-on bar (as seen in Step 3 pictures). Tie the ends together with a bow knot or other tie-on knot. (TIP – If you do not tie the knots too tight, it is easier to get even tension across the warp, and it is easier to tighten the leveling string in Step 4.)

2. Tie one end of the leveling string to one end of the front tie-on bar, using a slip knot with half bow.

Tying the leveling string. Tutorial pics.

Tying the leveling string. Step-by-step.

Leveling string - tying it on.

Tying on the leveling string. How to.

How to tie the leveling string.

3. Thread the leveling string over and under the tie-on bundles, going over the raised ends and under the lowered ends.

Threading the leveling string through the warp. Tutorial pics.

Leveling string going through the warp.

Tying the second end of the leveling string.

4. Tighten the leveling string while tapping it in with the beater.

Tightening the leveling string.

5. Tie the end of the leveling string to the end of the front tie-on bar, using a slip knot with half bow, as before.

How to tie the second end of the leveling string.

How to tie the leveling string.

Finishing the knot for the leveling string.

Why I use a leveling string.

6. Weave to your heart’s content.

Why the leveling string is so helpful!

When you get to the end of the warp, and are ready for cutting off, simply tug the loose end of the string at one end of the bar to release the slip knot, and pull the leveling string out of the warp.

May you weave as soon as possible.

Happy Valentine’s Day,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Ettenna says:

    Will this work if I lash my yarn on? Does one have to tie the threads to the bar?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ettenna, The only way I tie on is tying on to the tie-on bar. I don’t know if this works if you lash on. It’s worth a try! If you try it, please report back and let us know how it goes for you.

      Great question!
      Karen

  • Cindie` says:

    Hmm, sounds like we had the same beginning weaving teacher (minus the rigid heddle loom) My teacher of 31 years ago was incredible except for her way of spreading out the warp. It didn’t take me terribly long once weaving on my own to realize what a waste of warp using the toilet paper or rags were. I generally weave a few rows without beating, then beat, and repeat – the warp is spread out within an inch or less of weaving…….I use leftover yarn on bobbins around the same size as what I’ll be weaving with. I’ve seen your technique but never tried it – I’m definitely going to try it out on the next warp. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindie, It wasn’t long for me, either, before I ditched the toilet paper routine. Ha ha, I guess that was a common “technique” for a while. Everything else for my teacher, too, was wonderful.

      I’d love to hear back what you think of this method after you try it. How does it compare to what you are used to?

      Happy Weaving!
      Karen

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My Best Weaving Stunt to Date!

Do you ever go out on a limb? I’ve been known to play it safe. But not today! My excitement for weaving this kuvikas structure was severely dampened when I saw that the pattern in the cloth was not the pattern I intended. What happened? I had switched the threading for shafts 1 and 2! Consistently, too–all the way across the warp.

Start of kuvikas (summer and winter), and discovery of threading error.

While testing weft color options, I realize that this is NOT the pattern for which I thought I had threaded. Even though this pattern does reveal an “I” for “Isenhower,” I had my heart set on a square within a square.

I could leave the threading as is. No one would know. Oh, the arguments I had with myself at this point. “Take it out, and re-thread.” “You’d be crazy to take it out and re-thread.” The crazy self won. (I did find myself asking, “What solution would Becky Ashenden, the weaving solution genius, come up with?”) Here is the stupendous thing: I was able to correct the pattern by doing shaft-bar gymnastics. And no re-threading! What?! (I documented the process and will bring it to you in my Quiet Friday post at the end of the month.)

Kuvikas (summer and winter), cotton tabby and tencel pattern weft.

The sight of these little squares within squares makes me extraordinarily happy! 8/2 cotton tabby weft. Doubled 8/2 Tencel pattern weft. Kuvikas, as this weaver intended it to be.

There are times when we are called to go out on a limb. It’s the right thing to do. But the prospect is overwhelming. We ask, “Who? Me?” And “How, Lord?” Trust the Lord, one step at a time. He will be with you. Marvelous things will happen, catching even you by surprise.

May you know when to go out on a limb.

Happy,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    Good for you! I bet you did debate long and hard but the square within a square looks wonderful! The other pattern is a bit awkward, as well and not being what you wanted.
    Whether to fix a mistake or something that doesn’t look right does come up often with all of us. I am usually in favor of changing it….
    Last night I was trying to do decreases in a knitting project and I kept having to rip it out as I wasn’t getting the pattern right…but it’s done now!
    What are you making?

    • Karen says:

      Debbie, Yes, this is a common dilemma for makers, because mistakes happen. Whether to ignore it and move on, or to find a fix. It depends on the degree of the error and the risk involved in the correction. This seemed like a big risk, but I thought it through long and hard before taking the leap. I needed to fix this to be able to enjoy the rest of the weaving.

      Right now, I am calling this “yardage,” which is code for “I don’t know what I will make from it.” Perhaps pillows, or a bag of some sort. I do need a bag for my laptop…

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nanette Mosher says:

    But if you look at the sample, and imagine that you treadled each section the same length, wouldn’t you have a rather nice alternating square within a cress pattern? Considering the error, I’m surprised you got any good pattern! But yes, I always feel better taking out anything I’m not happy with! N.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, You’re right, it would have been an alternating square within a cross pattern, and it would have been a pleasant pattern. My husband liked it and would have been happy if I had woven it as is. But I wasn’t going to be satisfied with it. I do feel better now. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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New Warp Comes Alive

Put on a new warp as soon as possible. That’s my philosophy. A weaving loom should not stay bare. I am ready to begin a stack of rep weave mug rugs (my local weaving group is making them for an upcoming conference).

Cottolin warp on the warping reel.

Cottolin warp seems to light up on the warping reel. The colors become more vibrant when lined up together.

A new warp comes alive as I wind the threads on the warping reel. It is a picture of possibility! Every warp has a beginning and an end. Beginning a new warp on the loom is always exciting. And when I come near the end, I often wish I could weave a little longer.

Cottolin warp chain with vibrant colors!

Warp chain is ready for dressing the Glimåkra Ideal loom.

Pre-sleying the reed for rep weave mug rugs.

Lease sticks are in place under the reed, held up by two support sticks, and the warp has been pre-sleyed. Next step is to set up the warping trapeze.

Have you considered the warp as a metaphor for a life’s span? It is measured out in advance, with a certain type of fabric in mind. The setts, patterns, and structures vary. But they are all meant to be woven. Weft passes are like days and years. For a time, it seems like it will never end. And then, you see the tie-on bar coming over the back beam. You’re reminded that this warp is temporary. We all have this in common: We are mortal. Time is a precious gift. Every pass of the weft is a reminder of our Grand Weaver’s loving attentiveness to complete the weaving he began.

May you enjoy the gift of time.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Deb Hazen says:

    Love the image of being a weaving in progress. As weavers, we take such care to bring projects along…we spend extra and loving energy sorting out the snarled sections. Most importantly, we are persistently present. How delightful it will be to sit at my loom tonight and reflect on my life as a weaving in perfect confidence that my Creator always has the shuttle.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deb,

      in perfect confidence that my Creator always has the shuttle

      What a lovely way to say it! In that confidence lies true rest and peace.

      Thanks for sharing,
      Karen

  • Kate Chitwood says:

    I hope those mug rugs are going to the CHT conference ! I’ll be there – hope to see you.

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Hi, Karen,
    I’m a weaver in Michigan, new to your site. I am loving your posts! Thank you for your reminders of how all things can be seen through the eyes of our faith, and our lives made richer because we do. And we learn so much from our Lord!
    I also strive to always have something on each of my looms. Right now that is a rayon scarf in peacock colors on my 8 shaft Schacht Standard, a baby blanket in James C Brett Marble chunky on my 48 inch Ashford rigid heddle loom, and placemats on my 15 inch Cricket travel loom. My 30 inch Flip loom just became bare after finishing another smaller baby blanket in soft washable acrylics.
    Aren’t we blessed to be able to weave this life and give of our weaving skills to others?!
    Thanks in advance for the blessing of your thoughts as you continue to post them.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Looms all active! What a treat to hear about what you have on your looms. Who would’ve thought we could gain and give so much by weaving fabric?

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Debi says:

    Beautiful…both the weaving and the analogy! God bless!

  • Bruce Mullin says:

    Nice comforting thoughts!

  • Missie says:

    I’m always drawn to photos of rolls of yarn, thread, and wool. There is something about the colors and chaotic tangles that give beautiful patterns making for great composition. Also there is a nice representation of something in transition… taken something raw from nature and turning it into a transitional product full of possibilities. The colors of this warp chain are beautiful together.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Missie, I agree, a collection of (somewhat organized) yarn or thread is a good representation of transition… with all the uncertainty and unknown, yet it holds a promise of something good or useful that will come out of it. Great thoughts!

      All the best,
      Karen

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