Weave Past the Mid Mark

“Mid” marks the halfway point on every pre-measured tape I make. I like to know when I’m starting the second half of something. It’s a target before I reach it, and a passing milestone after I cross that line.

Middle line marks the halfway point in the weaving.

Pre-measured twill tape has a line at the halfway point, marked “Mid.” Tail from a spliced warp end will be trimmed in the finishing process.

As I’m weaving this throw, my thoughts jump ahead. I will have a few skipped threads to fix, and spliced warp ends to clip. I think about how I will hem the piece, and wash and dry it. In what special manner shall I present the finished throw to my beloved daughter-in-law? And, my mind goes to the twelve-shaft double weave towels for my daughter that are up next, with the flowery threads beckoning me from the shelves.

Cotton double weave on the loom.

Double weave with eight shafts. 8/2 cotton.

Shelves of weaving thread!

Do you see the aqua, poppy, marigold, and orchid cottolin threads that are ready to jump off the shelves and be woven into hand towels?

I’d like to know where I am in the span of my life. There is no “Mid” mark, though, is there? I’m not in charge of that measured tape. Faith in Christ, love, and perseverance—these form a foundation. A solid foundation is security for life. In this security, I think about what I need to repair and resolve and finish. And how to leave intangible gifts that outlive me. And I think about the glory that awaits. Imagine fabric of unbridled creativity in colors only heaven knows!

May your second half be better than your first.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Meg says:

    What a awesome, beautiful, fantastic piece. And congrats to midway.

  • Written like the creative soul God created you as.

    Midway is hard to place with life on Earth. It is not as ‘tangible’ as your weaving. I often wonder why some people have a very short midpoint and others…. much longer… What have they left behind to continue on through others?

    Even so, having been gifted hand woven fabric from another generation, I cannot help but look at your sparkling colors and see the colors they will fade to be with time. Is the softness that time brings to dyes also a softness God gives to our memories left behind.

    Blessings,

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, The items I have of my grandmother’s handwork is faded, as you say. Her memory lives on in me, and is softly faded to the point I only remember the good things about her.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen. At my age, I have no doubt that I have long since passed my mid point although I didn’t really wake up to that fact until I hit fifty. The first half of my life, I believed the tangible was so important; but in the second half, I believe that it is the intangible we leave behind that will be the longest lasting.
    After seeing so many beautiful handcrafted items in second hand stores, I realized that what I valued as family heirlooms to be handed down through the generations with stories may not be valued as such by the recipient of my work.
    So I just try to concentrate on the enjoyment of creating whatever I make, make what I like and hope that someone else might value it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I agree with you that the intangible seems more important now. The values we pass on will outlast the things we hand down.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Thank you all for your reflections, uncannily, similar to my own recently… the Holy Spirit weaving through our lives. Can you recommend 4 shaft double weave patterns for baby blankets? Though the blankets will probably not last, hopefully the love that weaves them will cover those new little lives.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, The only 4-shaft double weave I’ve done was a double-width throw. The double weave baby blankets I’ve woven were on 8-shafts. Both the double-width and the 8-shaft double weave projects were from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell.

      Your love will definitely have the longest-lasting impact.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Tapestry Territory

Here we go on this adventure! The yarn is plentiful, and sorted into color groups by value. I have tweaked and updated the cartoon, putting measurement marks along the edges and adding shading to places where I want texture. I wove a header after the sample, but it drew in too much. I pulled it out and redid it, making sure to use adequate weft this time. I am now ready! I’m walking into four-shaft tapestry territory!

Beginning of a four-shaft tapestry.

Background begins with wool butterflies in shades of black.

Wool butterflies for a four-shaft tapestry on the Glimakra Ideal.

Several butterflies are introduced across the beginning section of the four-shaft tapestry.

Four-shaft tapestry just beginning.

Linen weft is used between some of the wool picks.

Walking. It’s how we live our life. Step by step into an unknown future. To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, we follow the Grand Weaver’s cartoon, which he reveals to us, sometimes row by row. And he supplies us with the yarn butterflies in the right colors and values to create the tapestry of his design. We may never see his whole cartoon, but we have the sure hope of seeing the finished tapestry in all its glory!

May you be ready for an adventure.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Jan Hayman says:

    Hi Karen
    I’m watching this project unfold with a lot of interest! I’m curious about why you are using more than two shafts for a tapestry. Are you going after a blended edge along your color changes? Are you threading in a twill or rosepath?
    Your warp colors are adding some color to the cloth.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jan, The four shafts enable me to use a rosepath threading. Unlike traditional tapestry, this is not completely weft faced, so the warp colors do show intentionally. I’m not sure that it gives a more blended edge along the color changes, but this style of tapestry weaving has an appeal to me because I can weave a larger pictorial tapestry at a little faster pace. I also have the option of adding some texture in places to enhance the design. So far, these first few inches remind me of weaving transparencies, which I very much enjoy.

      Thank you for joining in! It’s even better when I get to enjoy this with others.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen,
    Your words have me thinking. It is at the end we all see the tapestry. There are colors that are experienced once in their glory and never again. Without them the tapestry would not shine. There are colors much like the warp that is always there as a foundation to hold all the color woven under and over and — peaking through just enough to modify the woven colors. And when all is complete…. are we not by the grace of God all parts of the tapestry?

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Almost Like Weaving Outdoors

I am practically outdoors in the middle of trees when I’m weaving. It’s refreshing to weave between corner windows. That’s how it is with the little loom at our Texas hill country home. I have windows beside my other looms, too. But this is different. Here, I have windows beside me and in front of me.

Color and weave plain weave placemats on the loom.

Corner windows for weaving pleasure. Color-and-weave plain weave placemats on the little loom.

Nature is resplendent with ornamentation and flourishes that influence my weaving. Colors, patterns, shading, and playful surprises. They work their way into my thinking and planning. Aren’t the Creator’s designs amazing?! So, to be surrounded by all that inspiration while weaving raises the enjoyment at the loom all the more.

Indian Paintbrush in Texas hill country.

Colors.

Texas hill country Algerita.

Patterns.

Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom in Texas hill country.

Shading.

Barrel cactus in bloom in Texas hill country.

Playful surprises.

Color and weave plainweave placemats.

Color – variation, pattern – color and weave, shading – two-pick stripes, playful surprise – offset warp stripes.

It is refreshing to experience the enjoyment of nature. We need that. Our minds need refreshing, too. Our minds can be freshened up. When we grow in the knowledge of God—who he is, what he is like, and what he wants—our minds are refreshed and renewed. It’s a breath of fresh air for our thinking. Like weaving out in the middle of the trees.

May you be refreshed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    I am glad you see the wonders that Christ provides; they are reminders of His presence and you add to His creation when you weave with His inspirations! Thanks for sharing your faith from God! Happy weaving! Blessed weaving! 🙂

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Such beautiful inspiration! You are indeed fortunate.

  • Annie says:

    I enjoyed seeing the photos of nature through your eyes. It gave me a fresh perspective. As do your thoughts on our Heavenly Father. I always enjoy your posts and learn from them.

    Do you move your loom from place to place, Karen?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, This little loom stays in that spot by the corner windows. Steve built the loom for me specifically for our Texas hill country home, so I could have a loom to weave on when we go there. I have two other larger looms that stay in place in our Houston home.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Thank you for including photos of Texas Hill country. It is beautiful and inspirational.

    The triad of purple / orange / green blessed by God.

    Thank you and may God continue to bless.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, The purple / orange / green triad in nature always seems stunning to me! Texas hill country has many visual delights!

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

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Weave Two Connected Layers

Two layers of cloth exchange places in this double weave structure. One layer of warp is solid deep plum. The other layer has stripes of bold colors. Clean lines occur where the layers switch places. So, with deep plum weft alternating with orange, blue, green, and red weft, we get a message written in clearly-defined blocks: Be invigorated with vibrant color!

Magic of double weave!

Dark plum weft alternates with the blue weft. The reverse side of the fabric has dark plum squares in long vertical color stripes.

Double weave throw. Karen Isenhower

Colors of the warp stripes are used as colors for the weft stripes. As a result, you can see the “pure” colors in a diagonal line–orange, blue, green, red–where the warp and weft colors are the same.

Double weave magic!

Variance in the blocks of colors gives the cloth a dynamic appearance. Not including the dark plum background, there are sixteen different colors of blocks as a result of the four colors being used as warp and weft.

Message. We have a message from heaven. When Jesus came to earth, he not only brought the message, he was the message. Not that we should try to be good like him. Nor that we are already good enough. But that he, the direct link to heaven, would suffer the consequences for all our misdeeds. And rise again. He willingly switched places with us—the great heaven and earth exchange. This good message brings hope and grace to all of us who live on this earthly layer. Thanks to our Grand Weaver’s faithful love, we are woven into a vibrant-color existence through faith, on this layer and the next.

May you see your surroundings in living color.

Joyful weaving,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Meg says:

    This is terribly interesting. The colors are so delicate.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Meg, The contrast between the deep plum and the other colors has a surprising effect. Working with colors never grows old!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Chris says:

    Hi Karen,
    I love doubleweave, so many interesting effects possible. This is a terrific project.:)
    I am so pleased I discovered your blog.
    Kind regards
    Chris

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chris, Doubleweave is fascinating! This project stretches me—literally, side to side—making it a delightful challenge to weave.

      I’m delighted you found your way here!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Janet H says:

    This is just beautiful! And timely. I am currently trying to design a similar doubleweave windows draft for a throw and have come across 2 sources that explain the block design differently. I have been trying to work this out in my head, one vs the other, in my planning process and how to apply it. I confuse myself and have had to keep setting it aside and studying it again later. Seeing this post of yours, I just now realized that you have been posting about this same block design all along and your pictures are now helping me work through it. I am planning a gray background with 10-11 shades of blues, greens, purples in the “windows” for the front. I may vary the heights and widths of the windows throughout the throw…haven’t progressed to that decision yet.
    My first source for this project is in the book Loom Controlled Double Weave by Paul R. O’Connor, on pp. 42-43.
    The second source I found online: https://www2.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/webdocs/opr_8s.pdf pp. 2-4
    The two may actually be the same thing, just explained differently, so I was having a little difficulty figuring it out in my head. In the second, they are using Dark/Light instead of color letters. If I use gray for both the D and L in Block A, I’m thinking it would be the same as O’Connor’s threading. If I used the second threading, and used gray as D and my colors as L throughout, I think it would only change the appearance of the back. Am I right? If I want gray to predominate on both sides, I think I just follow O’Connor’s threading, but I think the second source (using D/L) shows the tie-up in conjunction with the treadling and would be more helpful in setting up my loom.
    I went back through your previous posts about your throw and it appears you used the second approach, the D/L threading in both blocks A and B. I would really like to know what the back of yours looks like, but I still think I want to follow the O’Connor threading. It has been incredibly helpful looking back at your posts at this point in my design process! I feel like a light went on and suddenly it is making sense to me.
    Thank you so much!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, I haven’t studied doubleweave like you have. The draft I’m using is similar to the one in the arizona.edu file. I don’t have the O’Connor book to reference. The draft I am using is from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 176, if you want to compare it. I wound the warp with 2 ends–plum, plum; and plum, other color. The threading alternates the plum with the other color in the blocks with squares.
      I’ll post a picture of the back in a little bit.

      It’s great when a light comes on like that! Hooray!
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Janet, Here’s a picture of the back side of the fabric!
      Back side of double weave.

      Karen

  • Janet H says:

    Karen, thank you for the view of the back! I think I understand the difference in the 2 threadings now. I also pulled out another book I have (and forgot to look at–head slap), Doubleweave by Jennifer Moore), and found an example done using the O’Connor threading that also showed how the back looks in that case.
    When I first started my comment above, it was going to be asking you a lot of questions to help me make sense of it all. As I typed, that light kept getting brighter, and I answered most of my own questions before they even got typed, so I ended up with a completely different comment than when I started. So, without even knowing it, you enlightened me! Sorry, I do tend to run on when I get wound up….
    Don’t mistake me for someone that knows what I’m doing. I think I am more of a technician (& perfectionist) than a creative artist, so I have to understand how things work (and then modify them). I do it when I sew also. Unfortunately, it means I spend more time planning (or “studying”) my projects than actually doing them. I would probably learn more if I just dove in and made things, but I guess I’m not made that way.
    I have put a request in to the library for the Lundell book, and I imagine I will end up buying it. As a technician, I am also a collector of resources and tools.
    Love your blog! You are an inspiration.

    • Karen says:

      Janet, There are many different learning styles. It’s great that you understand how you are wired! I think I’m also a technician to some degree. I enjoy systems and knowing how something works, and being able to alter that, too. But I’m also finding that I learn a lot by doing, even when I don’t understand. My mistakes — like the several I’ve made with this project — take me to greater understanding and experience. Learning is a lifelong pursuit. I’m glad about that!

      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Love those colors, Karen! The purple becomes a neutral background.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I never would have thought of purple being a neutral, but you’re right. It’s almost like a deeply colored black that sets off the other colors.

      Thanks,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Cartoon Support

Alignment, security, and visibility are the main things I think about in regard to attaching and supporting the cartoon. In order to weave a tapestry this size, or any size for that matter, you need a good way to manage the cartoon. My cartoon is drawn onto a thin Pellon product (Pellon 830 Easy Pattern, 45″ wide) that is meant for pattern making. This material is easy to pin, doesn’t tear, and only barely wrinkles.

Alignment
Align center of cartoon to center of warp.

A blue dashed line from top to bottom of the cartoon marks the center. I also have a pencil mark on the exact center of my beater. When the blue line on the cartoon is perfectly aligned with the center warp end, as seen from the mark on the beater, I know my cartoon is in the correct position.

Beginning a new tapestry.

Pencil mark on the beater is above the center warp end.

Security

  • Pin the cartoon in two places on each side of the woven tapestry.
    This warp is too wide for me to reach all the way to pin the cartoon in the center. So, on both sides of the weaving I place one flathead pin near the selvedge, and another one as far as I can comfortably reach toward the center. I move the pins forward each time I am ready to advance the warp.
Beginning a new four-shaft tapestry.

Two flat-head pins hold the cartoon under the tapestry weaving on the right-hand side.

  • Hang a support slat under the cartoon.
    I learned this from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 239, 2008 edition. I used this method previously for a rag rug that had a cartoon for a large inlay pattern. It also works well for holding the cartoon for a woven transparency.
Positioning a cartoon under the warp.

Seine twine loop with rubber band hangs from beater cradle. Slat holds cartoon up against the warp.

Supplies: 12/6 cotton seine twine, 2 rubber bands, long warping slat

1 Make a loop with the seine twine to hang from the beater cradle to just below the warp, with a rubber band on the loop.

2 Tie the ends of the loop with a bow knot or a weaver’s tie-up knot (this useful knot is described in How to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, p. 39).

Cartoon management for tapestry.

Top of loop tied in a bow knot.

Weaver's tie-up knot helps hold the tapestry cartoon.

Weaver’s tie-up knot is perfect for this application, since it is quick and easy to undo and re-tie if repositioning is needed.

3 Make another loop the same way, with rubber band, and hang it on the other beater cradle.

4 Place the warping slat in the hanging rubber bands, underneath the cartoon.

5 Adjust the length of the loops so that the slat lightly presses up on the cartoon and the warp.

One way to manage a tapestry cartoon.

Rubber band gives flexibility to the seine twine loop that is holding up the cartoon.

  • Pin the rolled-up cartoon underneath.
    I roll up the Pellon cartoon under the warp and pin it once on each side. As the warp and cartoon advance I can reposition the pin as needed.
Cartoon management for tapestry.

Under the warp, the cartoon is loosely rolled up and pinned.

  • Move the slat toward the breast beam, out of the way, to beat in the weft.
    Because of the rubber bands, the slat support has flexibility and does not impede the movement of the beater.

Visibility
Move the slat near to the fell line.

With the slat under or near the fell line, it presses the cartoon up to the warp. By doing this, I can easily see what comes next as the tapestry weaving develops row by row.

Managing a cartoon for tapestry weaving.

Placing the slat under the fell of the weaving raises the cartoon to visibility where it is needed most.

I wait for my ordered yarn to arrive. Meanwhile, I dream of this tapestry becoming a reality as cartoon meets wool.

May you have the alignment, security, and visibility you need.

All the best,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen. I learn so much from your posts! This one is very timely for me as I have enrolled in the workshop for transparency weaving. Now I feel a little better prepared.

    I never thought of applying the words alignment, security and visibility to life before but they are exactly what everyone needs. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m glad you will be in the transparency workshop. I know it will be great! Just remember, there are about as many different ways to handle the cartoon as there are tapestry and transparency weavers. 🙂 I’m sure you will learn even more at the workshop!

      Alignment, security, and visibility – for a balanced life.
      All the best,
      Karen

  • Rebecca Neef says:

    Wonderful system! In future perhaps I should do my tapestries on my Glimakra, instead of my Lillstina on which it now languishes. The Lillstina has no beater cradle! Just goes to show, as Roseann Rosannadanna said, “it’s always something.”

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rebecca, I’m sure there’s a way to manage a cartoon on your Lillstina! My experience is limited to my Glimakra. I do think the Glimakra is a sweet loom for this type of weaving, though. I hope your tapestry revives soon. Life’s too short for a loom to be tied up with something that’s not working.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Thanks for the idea of the rubber bands. I will do that next time and I can see it will work better. You inspire me to start weaving something. I’ve been busy moving. Just curious who is teaching the transparency workshop?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, The rubber bands do make a big difference. I hope you get a chance weave something soon! Your transparencies are inspiring!

      Laura Viada is teaching the transparency workshop in Houston. Her work is amazing. Laura is also going to teach the workshop in July at HGA Convergence in Reno.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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