Two Threads Are Better than One

Here’s a secret: Two threads are better than one. To measure a warp, I always, without exception, wind the warp with two or more threads together. A warp that is wound with a single thread is prone to tangle as threads twist around each other. A warp wound with pairs of threads won’t do that.

Winding a linen warp. Always 2 threads together.

Choke ties secure the warp bout around the starting pin on the warping reel.

Smooth warping tip: Always wind a warp with at least two threads at a time.

I hold two threads in my right hand, with my little finger separating them, to wind the warp. My left hand turns the warping reel. I purchase enough thread to be able to wind with two tubes at a time. Any thread that remains unused goes toward another project.

I am particular about this warp. It’s linen, so consistency matters. Tangles would disrupt the even tension the linen needs. I have dräll in five-shaft satin in mind as I take each careful step to dress the loom. I expanded the loom to ten shafts to be able to weave this! Expect happy weaving, to be sure, but imagine how pleasant it will be to hold this dreamed-of cloth in my hand. That future cloth gives meaning to my present efforts at the loom.

One of my weaving spaces.

Various stages of weaving. Winding 16/2 unbleached line linen to warp the Standard loom. The Baby Loom (Glimåkra Ideal) in the background is in the middle of rag-rug weaving.

Ten shafts for dräll in five-shaft satin.

Ten shafts in place on the Big Loom (Glimåkra Standard) to prepare the loom for weaving dräll in five-shaft satin.

There must be meaning beyond this life for us to find meaning in this life. The end of the weaving is the beginning of the life of the cloth. There is purposeful preparation by the Grand Weaver, with a precisely measured warp. The back-and-forth shuttle is like the ticking of a clock, or the passing of years. The end is the beginning. Can you imagine the splendid setting the Grand Weaver has in mind for his hand-woven cloth?

May you keep the end in mind.

Yours,
Karen

7 Comments

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Yes, praise God! And thank you for the tip about winding two or more threads at once. I had never heard that before. I’m going to try it on my next warp. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Let me know how it goes when you wind with two threads. I’m curious to see what kind of difference it makes for you.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    So I am wondering why ten shafts with a five shaft pattern? Will you be doing a double weave?
    As you know, I am a Rigid Heddle weaver, however, I am fascinated by floor looms and I am toying with the idea of learning how to weave on one. I have just ordered the draft book to learn how to read patterns and have started to research the different types of floor looms.
    I am curious to know why you chose the two looms that you mention here.
    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, You have some great questions!
      I can weave the satin with 5 shafts, but it would be the same all over. Ten shafts enable me to weave a pattern with two blocks. This gives the characteristic squares or rectangles in the fabric. It is still a single warp and weft, not a double weave structure.

      Your second question gives me an idea for another blog post – Why I weave on Swedish Looms. You can look for that in the near future. For now, I will say that I am fascinated with the simplicity, durability, and functionality of the Swedish countermarch looms. Everything about these looms work with anything I want to weave, from hearty rag rugs to fine linen lace, and make it a joy to dress the loom and weave.

      (Back when I was researching floor looms, like you are, a few well-meaning people told me the countermarch loom would be too complicated and/or too big. They were wrong. 🙂

      Thank you for asking!
      Karen

      • Annie says:

        Thank you for sharing that information, Karen. I have a clearer picture of your project now.

        And a better understanding of the Glimakra loom.

        Annie

  • Anonymous says:

    Your blog is very inspirational! Thank you.
    Linda

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Quiet Friday: Day at the Drawloom

There is a unique and special weaving place I have been privileged to enjoy on a few occasions. Homestead Fiber Crafts in Waco, Texas. You can immerse yourself in weaving there, in a setting that is entirely peaceful and pleasant. A rare find. And the people there are an important part of the treasure. Plus, tea and fresh biscotti from the bakery. And sometimes, homemade chocolate chip cookies, too.

(Don’t miss my little slideshow at the end of this post. Watch all the way to the end to see my favorite side of the finished piece.)

Last year, I heard about Fiber Crafts’ Weaving Extravaganza, where looms are dressed for various projects and you can reserve a loom for the day (or half day). And their big, beautiful drawloom was included. Sign me up! I wove a towel with chicks and “EGGS.” Sure, there are some pattern mistakes. But that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of this learning experience.

Drawloom weaving.

Last year’s drawloom piece.

Now, this week I am at the drawloom again, relishing every moment. A black warp sets the stage for elegance, and I choose a poinsettia pattern that has been drawn on a piece of graph paper. Red and blue linen weft become brilliant in the black warp. I learn how easy it is to make an error in the pattern. And how hard it is to undo an error. But skill comes with practice. Finally, on my fifth (and sixth, and seventh) row of poinsettias, I complete the pattern without errors. And, the pattern mistakes on those first four rows only serve to prove the adage, “Practice makes perfect.”

Here’s a short Instagram clip of the sights and sounds of sitting at the drawloom in a room with other active weaving looms.

Myrehed combination drawloom frame

Myrehed combination drawloom frame.

Glimakra Julia loom. Drawloom towels hanging on wall. Homestead in Waco.

Other drawloom towel examples hang on the wall beside my friend Elisabeth. She is weaving a beautiful cotton waffle weave towel on a Glimåkra Julia loom.

May you expand your experience.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Susie Weitzel says:

    Thanks for your posts and beautiful videos. It makes my chaotic world a little more serene.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am so happy for you, Karen! What a wonderful opportunity!

    I must admit that I had to go to the Glimarkra site to read up on the drawloom. It sounds incredibly complex! Your poinsettias are beautiful but I think I like the hens and eggs best.

    The Homestead Fiber crafts is on my bucket list. I am hoping to take some classes there later next year.

    Have a blessed day.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m glad you looked at the Glimakra site as a resource. It has great information about different types of looms. I read up on drawlooms there, too, recently.
      I hope you get a chance to visit Homestead. It’s such a pleasant place!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    FUN! Love those chickens! It’s amazing what one can do on the drawloom! I spent several days weaving on one once, made a beautiful pattern and decided I did not want to own one. I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, Those chickens are pretty cute! While I was weaving, I was thinking, hmmm, how can I work it out to get one of these drawlooms in my home… hahaha. someday, maybe…

      Karen

  • Martha Witcher says:

    What a lovely and peaceful day you had at the draw loom. One of these days I just have to find somewhere near MN to learn the basics of draw loom, it has been calling to me for years. Love the chickens!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, It was a very satisfying time at the loom. Minnesota surely has some drawlooms with all the Scandinavian weaving that comes from that region. I hope you find a chance to do that! You’ll enjoy it!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Making this Autumn Rag Rug

I enjoy making it up as I go—changing blocks and switching colors. That’s what I did for the first quarter of this long rug. Then, I made notes of what I did so I could reverse the pattern to the middle of the rug. The entire sequence, then, is repeated for the second half. And now, there are only six more inches to weave on this autumn-toned rug.

Rag rug on the loom. Spaced rep.

First rug on this warp is almost complete.

Because of experience I gained by weaving towels with thick and thin threads, I am quite comfortable designing this rug on the loom. Fabric strips and rug warp = thick and thin. I understand it. On the other hand, for every weaving concept I understand, I realize how much more I don’t know at all. Who can be good at it all?

Cloth beam fills up with a long rag rug.

Cloth beam is wrapped with this long rag rug. Kumihimo braided cord that is attached to my Gingher snips hangs on the corner of the breast beam. I “wear” the snips when I sit down to weave.

Rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Thick and thin weft enables interesting patterns in the spaced rep rag rug.

I am pretty good at being “good.” But I’m far from perfect. We know that Jesus went about doing good and helping people. So, yes, we can follow his example. But there’s a problem. Being good is not good enough. Our good will never reach perfection. Fortunately, Jesus gave us more than a good example. He gave his life so that we could receive forgiveness for everything in us that is not good. And that is what we call good news!

May your cloth beam fill up with woven goods.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Joann says:

    Karen,
    I always look forward to your posts. Thank you for showing us your weaving and your love for the Savoir Jesus
    Joann

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joann, It’s a special pleasure for me to have someone like you with whom I can share my weaving progress and my thoughts.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Your words: “for every weaving concept I understand, I realize how much more I don’t know at all” remind me of the quotes my high school bible teacher had above the chalk board. This quote has stayed with me ever since,”The bigger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.”

    Your rug is lovely and will warm some feet soon.

  • Annie says:

    I love the way your mind works, Karen, and your hands. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. The brighten my day.

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Small Tapestry Revived

This little tapestry has been almost finished for a very long time. I stopped short of completion months ago. I’ve missed my small tapestry weaving, so I’m back at it. Only a few steps remain with this one. Soon this little color gradation sweetheart will be on the wall, to be enjoyed.

Small tapestry with color gradation.

Last few picks of this small tapestry are woven in one sitting. Warp thread header and waste yarn are added.

Small tapestry with color gradation.

Small tapestry frame makes an interesting artwork frame. But this tapestry must be removed so another tapestry can begin.

The finishing steps are not difficult. (Rebecca Mezoff gives excellent instructions in Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms.) After the piece is removed from the loom, it is steamed. Then, weft tails are sewn in and/or trimmed on the back. Half Damascus knots secure the warp ends. The hems will be folded under and stitched down. Then, this little masterpiece will be ready for mounting and display.

Weft tails that will be sewn in and/or trimmed.

Tapestry was woven from the front, so all the weft tails are on the back.

Sewing in and trimming weft tails.

Weft tails have been sewn in and/or trimmed on the back of the weaving.

Finishing ends on a small tapestry.

Warp ends are secured with half damascus knots. Two-pound walking weight helps hold the little tapestry in place.

Here is an ancient description of an interesting woman, as told by another woman.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
—from Solomon’s book of Proverbs

Small tapestry is ready to be hemmed.

Small tapestry with color gradation is ready to be hemmed. Ends will be folded under at the soumak lines, and stitched into place.

This is the type of woman I admire. Wear the best clothes that money can’t buy—strength and dignity. She has optimism. No anger. She speaks with wisdom and kindness. These are finishing touches I ask my Maker to work in me. To be a woman ready for what she was made for.

May you be finished.

Kindest regards,
Karen

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Keep Advancing the Warp

This is a series of learning experiences—some easy, and some quite challenging. I am near the end of the first panel of the tapestry/inlay sampler. All along the way, I encounter obstacles. Like a broken warp end. Again. That broken warp end is discouraging. Surely, I should be able to keep that from happening by now.

Tapestry/inlay sampler. All linen weft.

Broken warp end on the right selvedge required taking out several rows of weaving so I could splice the warp.

Meanwhile, a simple line of soumak makes a pleasing border for this curve. It defines the shape with a slightly raised line. Over three, around one…all the way across. This part is nice and easy.

Soumak border on tapestry sampler.

Soumak technique, Step 1.

Soumak border line on tapestry sampler.

Soumak technique, Step 2.

Peaceful setting for the weaving loom!

Despite another broken warp end, the warp is advanced and the weaving continues. It helps to weave in a peaceful setting.

Daily life is not always easy. Put your eyes on God, not on the obstacles you face. And don’t worry about your own inability to navigate the circumstances. Trust God to carry you. He has carried you this far, and will continue to show himself strong on your behalf. Those broken warp ends are spliced, and the weaving continues. The selvedge may show some evidence of having had trouble, but the soumak outlines and other woven features will draw the eye. There is victory in advancing the warp to continue the sampler to the end.

May you advance through the obstacles you face.

With you,
Karen

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