Discovery Towels Workshop in Eureka Springs

Seven enthusiastic weavers came to the Discovery Towels Workshop I presented a few days ago. We had three wonderful days together. Thick and thin threads can do spectacular things when you combine them in the warp and weft. And Eureka Springs, Arkansas is the ideal setting for such a weaving adventure! This is a unique, quaint little town like none other. The Victorian-style homes, and the twisting, winding roads that follow the hillside contours make you feel like you are in a storybook village. We happened to be there at the same time as the annual Volkswagen Festival and Parade, which defies description. You just have to experience it for yourself.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Debbie Davis of Red Scottie Fibers, our gracious and knowledgeable host, provided the perfect setting in The Shoppes at Fleece ‘N Flax. Her classroom space is full of Glimåkra countermarch and counterbalance looms. What could be better?!

Weaving workshop with Karen Isenhower.

Discovery weavers!

You will be amazed when you see the beautiful towels that these seasoned and not-yet seasoned weavers produced! It was a joy to have some time with these enthusiastic discoverers.

May you enjoy the thrill of discovery.

~~On a personal note, regarding hurricane Harvey, Steve and I tried to drive home to Houston on Sunday, after our stay in Arkansas. We were unable to return all the way home because of flooded roads and highways, so we diverted our route to drive out to our place in Texas hill country. So far, our Houston home has not flooded, but our loved city is suffering greatly. Please keep these brave people, including many of our dear friends, in your prayers.~~

Yours,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    I hope you, your family, and your Houston home remain safe!

    So glad you had a great workshop. Love these towels!

    • Karen says:

      Beth, Thank you. So far, we’ve escaped the worst.

      It was fun to see the towels grow on all the looms! The students were fantastic!

      Karen

  • Kay Rideout says:

    I hope you and your family and home are spared from the flooding.

  • Holly Deluce says:

    Very glad your safe Karen. My thoughts and prayers to everyone in the Houston area.

  • Bev Romans says:

    Karen, I am so thankful you are safe and out of harm’s way. Thank you, Lord! Great answer to prayer that you were away teaching and have your hill country home to divert to. I am continuing to lift up the Gulf Coast in prayer. And the towels are beautiful! Bev

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, We are thankful to be out of harm’s way. News from our neighbors this morning is that the water on our street is finally receding. That’s a big relief!

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Oh Karen,
    I have been worried about you the last few days and I’m so happy to hear you are ok! Stay safe, lots of prayers going on for Texas.
    Liberty

  • D'Anne says:

    I wondered where you were. Glad you are safe and out of Houston. We are safe and dry here, but some of our weaving friends are not so fortunate.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I’ve been concerned about our weaving friends. I know some parts of Katy got hit pretty hard. I’m glad you’re doing okay, too.

      Karen

  • Becky Scott says:

    Very treasured memories. Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge. You and Debbie make a great team. I got caught up in the Volkswagon parade and counted about 350 of them, all shapes, sizes,and models. what a hoot!! Also praying.

    • Karen says:

      Becky, Great memories for me, as well! Too bad you weren’t driving a VW so you could fit in. Haha

      Our prayers make a difference. Thanks!
      Karen

  • tsw says:

    I am so relieved to hear that you are dry and safe and that your home is ok. You have been in my thoughts daily.
    Isn’t Eureka Springs the coolest place? I wish that I was enough of a weaver to have taken your class, but weaving is going to be my ‘dream job’ after I retire in two years. I love those towels, and your students did great. You have the soul of a teacher, Karen. When are you going to write a weaving book?

    Theo

    • Karen says:

      Hi Theo, I appreciate your kind concern! Yes, Eureka Springs is a fun place to be.

      When am I going to write a weaving book? You’re reading it. Haha. I do have teaching in my soul. I love the idea of helping other people learn.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Angie Roberts says:

    Looks like it was a very fun and educational workshop,
    beautiful towels. Prayers, positive thoughts coming to you and your community.
    Blessings

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angie, All the weavers did amazing work! It was a fun group!

      Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers. It’s very appreciated!
      Karen

  • Ettenna says:

    Keep Montana in your prayer- we are literally burning up…

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Quiet Friday: Serenity Towels

The neutral colors and the quiet elegance of these towels say “serenity.” What a pleasure to weave M’s and O’s. This was mostly single-shuttle weaving! Uncomplicated, luxurious, and serene. Five towels, plus one very long table runner that I made specifically for our dining room table. The fine 20/1 line linen weft increases the visual and tactile elegance for me.

I’m still amazed when I see the results that come from threads and a weaving loom. And thrilled that I get to be a part of that experience. Enjoy this short slide-show video of the process.

May serenity be woven into your days.

All the best,
Karen

22 Comments

  • Kerry Fagan says:

    Just beautiful and inspiring work. Love M &O’s and agree on serenity while weaving it. Your fluid ratios and colours are wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kerry, Your sweet words put a smile on my face this morning! Thanks for your kindness.
      M’s and O’s is one of those favorites I will keep coming back to.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Sabine says:

    Beautiful, Kerry! And the music you’ve chosen complements the mood perfectly.

  • Cathy M. says:

    I’m so happy I came across your blog and receive your posts! I’ve learned so much from you, and seeing the photos of your work fills me with a sense of calm about MY weaving. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cathy, It’s my greatest hope that this would be a place where people can learn something useful, so I’m thrilled by your kind words! I’m sure your weaving is beautiful. A sense of calm is always a good thing for weaving, and for everything.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    What a beautiful way to begin my day. Thank you for sharing your work and creativity.

  • Ghislaine says:

    Très beau, félicitations, belle présentation.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Morning Karen,
    They are so beautiful, I love them!!! Your video is great too, I love seeing the weaving that comes off the loom, it is always amazing to me!!

    • Karen says:

      Liberty, Thank you so much! I am fond of this fabric, too. It is so lightweight, and has a wonderful sheen because of the linen weft.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • martha chiang says:

    Hello Karen,

    I love your slideshow and tomorrow I will watch it again with the music, husband and big dogs on bed are trying to sleep. I am a brand new weaver and not sure how I found my way to your site a couple of weeks ago, but I am really glad that I did. Intimidating though it is to see what someone like you can do with so much experience and equipment, etc.

    I love your serenity towels. I wove my first towels a couple of weeks ago, and I am now working on getting a warp wound and onto my loom for a scarf. I had a few local weavers (unfortunately not just one!) come and each help me get my first warp on my loom for my first project. What this means to me is that I have seen lots of different ways to do this, but am now a bit terrified to do it all alone this time around.

    But one way or another, the warp will get onto my loom and then from there the weaving is just so rhythmical and meditative and seems to take no time or effort at all.

    Well, hope I can learn too even though I am a bare beginner.

    Warmly,
    Martha

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, Of course you can learn! Every one of us started as a bare beginner.

      I know what you mean about seeing several ways of warping the loom. It can be confusing. I have some great resources I like to recommend that give step-by-step pictures and explanations for warping the loom back to front. The books are listed at the end of this post: Quiet Friday: Warping Back to Front with Confidence.

      Every baby step forward is exciting!

      Welcome to the world of weaving,
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Karen,

        I had been to your post once before on Warping Back to Front with Confidence, and so now having looked at that post again and taken an even more careful look at the 3 books you recommend, I have an important question. My first loom in from Harrisville Designs, neither a countermarch nor a counterbalance loom, not a Swedish loom nor do I have a trapeze. I have been cautioned repeatedly agagainst taking in too much weaving info all at once–in your opinion, would these 3 books still be appropriate for me? When I look at your lovely photos, I feel a bit lost, your loom looks so very different from mine. Thank you in advance, Martha

        • Karen says:

          Martha, I believe your Harrisville Designs is a jack loom. I don’t have any experience with jack looms, but I know you can use the same principles of back-to-front warping. I’m not going to be able to give you specific advice regarding your loom. Before I had a trapeze, I laid the warp out on the floor in front of the loom and put weights (bricks covered with cloth) on it. Many people use a helper to pull the warp as it is wound on. So you don’t have to have a trapeze for warping with this method.

          The book that might be most helpful for what you need right now is Joanne Hall’s book, “Learning to Warp Your Loom.” I’m pretty sure you would be able to make sense of her clear instructions, and adapt them to your type of loom.

          Karen

  • tw says:

    Karen,
    I hope you get as much enjoyment out of making these videos and slideshows as we get from watching them. They always provide creative inspiration and food for thought. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Theo

  • tsw says:

    I just realized where you live and am keeping you and fellow & sister Texans in my thoughts. I hope you and yours are safe.

    Theo

    • Karen says:

      Theo, Thank you very much for thinking of us! We are safe, but many friends are struggling right now. I’ll have a short update on my blog post tomorrow morning.

      Karen

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Now I Am Weaving Bluebonnets!

Bluebonnets! Another Texas hill country subject for a transparency. I am weaving a simplified imitation of this celebrated wildflower. It starts with a photograph I took of bluebonnets in our hill country backyard this spring.

Texas hill country bluebonnets

Cropped and enlarged photograph of our Texas hill country backyard bluebonnets.

After enlarging the photo to poster size, I outlined the basic shapes that I wanted to include in the transparency. Next, I turned the poster over and transferred the outlines to the back. I traced the lines onto a piece of buckram to use for the cartoon. Everything is ready (the warp has already been tied back on). Let’s get started!

Selecting Mora wool colors for a woven transparency.

Planning colors for the bluebonnet transparency. Photo on the iPad is used for reference in selecting Mora wool colors.

Cartoon for a new transparency weaving.

Pattern is traced onto a piece of buckram to use as the cartoon. Dashed line down the center of the cartoon will be lined up with the center warp end when the cartoon is pinned to the back of the weaving.

Starting a woven transparency. Texas bluebonnets!

Nineteen bundles of Mora wool colors are introduced on the first row of pattern weaving. About three hours of weaving is pictured. After the intricate leaves at the bottom of the picture, it will be smooth sailing! 🙂

We have been given a true picture of love. God shows it to us in Jesus Christ. Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. With child-like fascination, I want to imitate the heart of that kind of love. To walk in love like Christ means to give yourself away for the sake of others. Linen and wool threads are not sufficient to show the living beauty of a bluebonnet. Nor are my efforts to love going to be perfect. But by keeping the picture in front of me as I weave, I hope to convey the delight of springtime Texas bluebonnets. And present a transparent picture of love that’s out of this world.

May you imitate only the best.

With love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Beautiful! Your enlarged photo looks like a watercolor. It and your weaving remind me of the paint by numbers we did as kids – a much more grownup version.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia,

      I often think of transparency weaving as paint-by-number with yarn. The bluebonnets in nature are better than anything I could think up or draw.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    You do have the patience of a saint. This is going to be beautiful!

  • Maria says:

    I am intrigued- I have done a bit of tapestry but know nothing about transparencies. It is quite a process! Your patience and focus is amazing. Can’t wait to see this grow!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, This feels a lot like tapestry to me. For some reason, though, this seems less complicated. I’d like to play around with this technique and maybe do something that is more like tapestry, but with the plain weave pick in between each pattern row. I have a friend who has done some of that, and it is lovely!

      I’m excited to see this grow, too.

      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Bluebonnets, oh how lovely!

  • maggie says:

    how do you keep the cartoon in place during the weaving process?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, The cartoon is pinned under the weaving with three flat-head straight pins. Every few inches, before I advance the warp, I move the pins forward while checking to make sure the center line on the cartoon lines up with the center warp end. Good question!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

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Woven Transparency Cactus Revealed!

It started with a prickly pear cactus in the front yard of our Texas hill country place, and then a photograph. Now, I have a woven representation of this interesting specimen of our Texas landscape! I am hoping that Steve will whittle a rustic rod from which this cactus banner will hang in our home.

Finishing woven transparency of a cactus.

Weaving the casing for the top of the transparency. Linen warp and weft make an appealing mesh that holds and surrounds the pictorial weaving.

Woven transparency of a prickly pear cactus. Just off the loom!

After cutting off, the complete front side of the transparency is seen for the first time.

Eager to hang this transparency, I didn’t want to waste any time. I finished the ends of the piece with a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine. And I sewed casings at the top and bottom. Now, in full view, a little back lighting reveals the complete picture of the woven threads.

Woven transparency. Prickly Pear Cactus. Karen Isenhower

Cactus spines in the woven image seem to reach outward and almost appear three-dimensional.

Detail view of woven transparency cactus.

Detail view of some of the shading in the cactus.

We weave thoughts and ideas in our heart. And when we speak, we bring those thoughts out into the open. Words reveal the treasures of the heart. When we speak words of value, we bring our choicest treasures out in the open. And what a welcome picture that is.

May your words be received as treasures.

Love,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Barbara Crockett says:

    Wow! Looking back at your June 30 post of the photo and how you started this project is fun. The details in the shading create an amazing effect. Great job!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, I’m thinking about framing the cactus photograph to hang near the transparency. The light plays off the yarn and gives it a feel of realism that surprises even me.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Deborah Pudliner says:

    Thank you Karen! I am not a weaver, but my daughter is. Each time I read your blog I have been blessed not only in seeing what you are weaving/teaching/learning, but the words you use to share bring it all to life and encourage not only the weavers but those who are blessed in seeing the work of the weaver unfold. May He bless you, encourage you and fill you with wisdom and much joy to continue the work He has to do in you and through you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deborah, Thank you for sharing the treasures of your heart with me! Your words have ministered to me today more than you know.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Betsy G says:

    Karen
    Well done! The cactus is so realistic with your use of shading. I want to keep clear of those prickers.

  • Maria says:

    Karen- it is absolutely fantastic. I have never done a transparency but I now would love to try . What an inspiration! The stickers on the cactus are so realistic.
    Just fabulous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, I hope you do try it! This project has been great fun. Transparency weaving is quickly becoming one of my very favorite things to do. It makes me happy that you like the finished piece. That means a lot!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Cindie says:

    Your piece turned out incredible.

  • Beautiful! Weaving transparencies is rather fun! Did you use something other than wool for the spines? Just curious, because sometimes when I weave white wool into a transparency it doesn’t show up very well. One other question – what brand and type of wool did you use for the greens?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, I have to agree – weaving transparencies is fun indeed!

      I did use wool for the cactus spines. All of the wool in this piece is 20/2 Mora. I used 4 strands of yarn in each bundle, which gave me a lot of opportunity to blend colors. Most of the white is white and off-white blended together. By blending 4 strands together, it greatly multiplied my palette of greens. As much as possible, I tried to combine colors that are close in value, so they would really blend together well.

      Thanks for sharing your transparencies with me. Your work has been a huge inspiration!
      Karen

  • D'Anne says:

    The spines definitely look 3D! Great job!! Hope you will bring it to WOW sometime so we can see it in person.

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thank you for showing us the finished piece. It is lovely! I find your whole process of transparency weaving to be fascinating.

  • Emily says:

    Hi, I came across this post while searching for information about using linen weft for tapestry. I had never heard of transparency weaving before and it has spurred a huge interest for me! I bought a book– I forget the author but I believe it’s the only one in English– and have been learning a ton. I can’t wait to try this out. I weave on a Mirrix, and don’t have a floor loom, but I am fairly confident I can make that work. It will be strange for me not to really pack my weft, and to put two wefts in the same shed. Can’t wait!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emily, How exciting! The book I’m familiar with is “Sheer Delight: Handwoven Transparencies,” by Doramay Keasbey. It’s an excellent book, and very inspiring.

      I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t weave a transparency on your Mirrix loom. I hope you enjoy this type of weaving as much as I do!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Cactus Transparency Preview

Here is a glimpse of the front-side of the transparency weaving. The cactus is beginning to come around the breast beam. I can’t see the cactus clearly yet, but so far, it looks good! I only have a couple inches of cactus left to weave. Soon, the whole picture will be visible!

Beginning of woven transparency around the front beam.

Smooth surface of the woven pattern area is in contrast to the textured density that is seen on the back.

The back of the weaving that faces me as I weave, with all its weft turns, weft splices, and woven-in tails, is an accurate picture of what I am weaving. But it is incomplete. It doesn’t tell the whole story. I get used to this bumpy side sometimes and forget that there is something better on the other side.

Transparency weaving from the back. Prickly pear cactus.

Transparency woven from the back means that all the weft turns are seen on the back. The front side of the weaving will have an appearance that is truer to the clean lines of the picture drawn on the cartoon.

Almost finished woven transparency of prickly pear cactus!

With the end in sight, anticipation of seeing the whole picture from the front grows!

Getting a glimpse of the true cactus picture made me want to see more. Looking for, and eagerly waiting to see the finished front-side of the transparency is like seeking truth. The lines in the design are obscured from the back, so we are compelled to keep going, keep advancing the warp, and actively look for the truth to appear. Love truth. The beginning of the cactus coming into view is a welcome sight that reminds me why I’m at the loom.

May you love what is true.

Welcoming a new grandson into the world!

We welcomed a new grandson into the world a few days ago!

Big brother loving his new baby brother. Awww... so sweet.

Big brother loving his new baby brother. Truth matters because of these precious little guys.

Yours truly,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Joanna says:

    Many congratulations! May he live a long, safe, and faithful life. Babies are miracles made visible, entrusted to our care, and I know this little one will be cherished.

  • Deb says:

    Prayers for your new grandson and his family.de

  • Beth says:

    Congratulations on your new grandson! The cactus is looking amazing!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, New grandchildren are always fun to meet! I’m glad you like the cactus. I am so eager to turn the whole thing over! It won’t be long…

      Karen

  • Bev Romans says:

    Congrats on this precious and beautiful new grandchild, Karen! What a blessing to your whole family!

  • Maria says:

    Congratulations! Grand children are the best!! Can’t wait to see the finished work – your transparency that is!

  • Martha says:

    Lovely new baby and wonderful big brother – Grands are just the best. Enjoy every minute you get to spend with them. Looking forward to seeing the finish transparency

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    Congratulations on the sweet new grand baby, Karen! He’s precious!
    I look forward to seeing your finished cactus soon.

    • Karen says:

      D’Anne, Thank you! There’s nothing like holding a newborn. It’s always surprising how short that newborn stage is. This cactus is just about ready to be cut off!

      Karen

  • Congratulations on he the grandson! Interesting journey with your cactus. What size Glimakra are you weaving on and why?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, Thanks so much!

      This is a 47″ (120cm) Glimakra Standard. I love your question! This is the size Glimakra I like best. I like that it is large enough to get “in” the loom for threading and tying up. This also provides a very comfortable weaving experience for my 5’2″ frame. I sit high on the bench and everything fits me. My 39″ (100cm) Ideal isn’t as easy to dress, and is a little more awkward to find a comfortable position for weaving. The times I have woven on a wider loom I found that my arms just don’t have the “wingspan” to make it a comfortable weaving experience with throwing and catching the shuttle. But overall, I enjoy weaving on any Glimakra.

      I guess I could call this my Goldilocks loom – not too big, not too small, but juuuuust right!

      Karen

  • Emily Lefler :) says:

    Congrats on your new sweet grandbaby!!

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