Less Thread Than You Expect

Four cones should be plenty to wind a warp for two huck lace shawls. I knew it would be close, but not THIS close! With several rounds to go on the warping reel, one cone emptied out, and then another, and then another. I finished with just a tiny bit of thread left on one cone. That’s about how I feel about motherhood right now.

Only a tiny bit of bamboo thread left after winding warp!

Four spools of thread unwind in this crate as I wind the warp, four warp ends at a time. When I need to keep stubborn threads separated, I turn the crate on its side and each thread goes through its own opening. This 10/2 bamboo thread behaved beautifully and did not need that kind of intervention.

When I held our baby girl for the first time so many years ago, wedding bells were in the far distant future. Plenty of time for this baby to be a little girl, and eventually grow up. Of course, Melody will always belong in our family; and now we’ll have another son who belongs, too. But when she walks down the aisle in May, this stage of parenthood is finished. Yes, we have had enough time, but it still seems too short. Shouldn’t there be more thread on the cone?

Calculations a little to close for comfort. Barely enough for the warp!

After the third cone was completely empty, I started running contingency plans in my head. Would I need to re-work the draft for fewer ends? I knew these were the last four cones of this color on the shelf when I ordered them, so grabbing one more cone would not be an option.

The greatest sense of belonging comes from being a daughter or son of the most loving Father. He promises to walk with us through every stage. And with his heavenly perspective, he always seems to know exactly how much thread we will need.

May you make the best of your relationships with the time you have.


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Tools Day: Why You Need Sample Cards

Make sure you have sample cards from yarn and thread suppliers because you never know when your daughter will get engaged. She finds her perfect wedding dress, and three weeks after that you find your mother-of-the-bride dress. A light and airy dress with a ruffled hem that is perfect for a romantic outdoor wedding under hundred-year-old oak trees. Now, all you need is a light and airy shawl to cover your shoulders. In a specific shade of coral. Then, your friend says, “Why don’t you weave a shawl? You have time.” Really?? Seven weeks before the wedding?! Okay, I can do this. A word of encouragement has amazing impact!

Sample cards make finding the right color easy.

Sifting through yarn and thread samples from Yarn Barn of Kansas to find just the right thread in just the right color(s).

Sample cards for various linen and cotton threads from Bockens.

Sample cards from Bockens, a Swedish company. I use Swedish threads in most of my weaving. There are several good suppliers in the United States. The sources I turn to most are Glimakra USA, Vavstuga, and Lone Star Loom Room.

Yarn Store in a Box from Halcyon Yarn for design and color inspiration.

Yarn Store in a Box from Halcyon Yarn is a visual and tactile delight. I often pull out these cards for design and color inspiration.

I laid out all my sample cards, and quickly found a perfect match on a sample card from Yarn Barn of Kansas. I picked up the phone and called in my order. Three days later I had this beautiful Xie 10/2 Bamboo thread in hand and started winding the warp!

Ready to weave mother-of-the-bride shawl.

Getting ready to weave Mother-of-the-Bride shawl in the perfect shade of coral. I found a delicate huck lace draft for the shawl in “Happy Weaving from VävMagasinet.” I am choosing dark coral for the warp. One shawl is using lighter coral for weft; the second shawl is using hot pink for weft. The best color combination wins!

So, make sure you have sample cards from your favorite suppliers so that you are ready for any happy surprise that comes your way! And, be that encourager that tells a friend, “You can do it!”

May you have what you need at your fingertips.

With Plenty of Time,

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Sharing Threads

When I started weaving these towels my daughter was not yet engaged. I had color and texture in mind, not bridal shower gifts. Now, with the wedding only a few weeks away, I am fortunate to have a set of handwoven towels to give the new bride! As if I had planned it that way. Next up, a shawl for me to wear at the wedding, but that’s a story for another day.

Towels just off the loom, not yet washed. Karen Isenhower

Just off the loom, cotton towels have been cut apart and edges serged, ready for washing. When washed, the texture of the cloth will “bloom,” showing off the distinctive structure, a 3-shaft twill with warp floats.

There are many things I have given my daughter without trying: my height and stature, similar laugh, interest in world cultures, musical talent, brothers (does that count?)… Melody and I have a lot in common, so I will give her a set of these towels as a symbolic gesture of the threads we already share.

You and I have been given an extraordinary kind of love from our Heavenly Father. The Father has given his kind of love to us, that we should be called his children. Like a daddy, he has passed his traits to his kids. In which case, we like to hear, “You look just like your Daddy.”

May your best traits be found in your children, or in the young people you influence.

With love,


  • Diane Hoelle says:

    Your towels are beautiful!! I love the colors, pattern and the sentiment you shared. Is this draft published anywhere?

    Your blog is my very favorite!


    • Karen says:

      Wow, Diane, you sure know how to make me smile! I am soooo happy you like what you see here!

      I adapted this draft from one published in Väv Magazine, 1/2013, p. 59, “Viking era handtowel.”

      Just wait till you see the towels washed!! They are full of wonderful dimpled texture.

      Happy Weaving,

  • Bev says:

    Beautiful towels! Such a precious gift for your daughter…especially with the symbolism of the “threads you share”. What a great prayer that I would “look just like” my Heavenly Father. Wonderful thoughts, Karen.

  • Betty A Van Horn says:

    What a sweet provision God had planned! Okay so I DO want to see an after photograph of the towels washed!

    • Karen says:

      You will, Betty, all in good time… all in good time…
      The first four towels will go to Melody; there are three towels after that, plus a good size cloth napkin/bread cloth. I still need to weave the little tabs (loops) to go on the towels for hanging.

  • […] When you give what you value most, the value of your gift increases. Exceptional giving communicates worth to the person on the receiving end. It was a joy to give these special towels to Melody. She was noticeably pleased with the gift, which was a delight for me to see! (You can see these towels just off the loom HERE.) […]

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April Spools Day

All my spools are quills, mostly pre-made cardboard, with a couple of rolled-brown-paper exceptions. I keep a few sizes of quills ready, sorted in little mugs inside a basket. The basket sits on a shelf under the table that holds my bobbin-winder, so I simply reach down and grab the size quill I need at the moment.

One of the mugs says Glimåkra (from Joanne Hall, my Glimåkra friend), another mug is a handle-less one I picked up at Ikea years ago that looks like a little flower pot, one is a baby’s pewter cup (when does a baby use a pewter cup?), but the mug I like best is my husband’s childhood milkglass cup with red two-block twill design (at least that’s what I’m calling it), and a blue “S” for Steve.

This fun idea of weavers sharing pictures of their spools is from Meg over at Unravelling. Thanks, Meg!

Last towel on the warp. Emptying as many quills as possible.

I like to use up as much thread as possible as I finish a project. The final towel on this warp has horizontal stripes of varying widths as I empty as many quills as I can.

Basket with mugs keep quills organized.

Several sizes of quills ready to be used. I like being able to tell at a glance if I am running short of any size.

There are always a few quills with thread/yarn left from various projects.

Quills with thread/yarn left from various projects. Do you see the two-block twill on the “Steve” cup?

Everything in place for winding quills.

Everything in place for winding a quill.

May your springtime be memorable with happy surprises.

Happy April Spools Day,


  • Diana Hickman says:

    What is the reason you use quills instead of bobbins? When I started weaving about 20 years ago, I used both, but I ended up using only bobbins, and I’m not exactly sure why, other than they hold more thread.

    • Karen says:

      Diana, great question! My simple answer is that using quills is the only way I know how. I love the simplicity of quills, and that I can easily cut a piece of paper into a circle and use it as a quill.

      I have deliberately learned from teachers in the Swedish tradition, and I have only seen quills in practice. I have heard that bobbins may create more tension on the thread, pulling the selvedges more; and that thread may tend to catch on bobbins more than on quills.

      Does anyone else have an answer? Would love to hear what others think in the comments!

      Thanks for asking,

  • Meg says:

    Thank you for reminding me I do this every year. As for the quills, I use recycled paper quills, wooden bobbins and plastic prins and for me the weight is the issue – the sett, the draft/structure, and the weft determines the shuttle, which in terms tells me what I should wind my weft on. I also wind all leftover wefts on recycled paper quills, so sometimes I sample with giant boat shuttles using tiny paper quills.

    As regards the edges, I find that as long as I don’t wind too far to the sides of the quills, I don’t have a problem with the edges too much; mind you, I don’t really have great edges at the best of times.

  • Meg says:

    Pirns, that is, not prins…

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