Tapestry Portrait Beginning

I started with a photograph of seventeen-month-old Lucia sitting in her grandad’s lap after eating lunch at Culver’s. Her pouty bottom lip and her serious brown eyes caught my attention. It seems an impossible task to replicate the charming expression in yarn, but it doesn’t hurt to try. I enlarged the picture, and then cropped it to fit a four-by-six-inch “canvas” of 12/6 cotton warp. I also reversed the image, since I am weaving this tapestry from the back. The weft is one, two, or three strands of Fårö wool yarn, depending on the degree of detail.

Grandad and granddaughter.

Steve and Lucia enjoying each other.

Here is my beginning attempt at a portrait, accomplished during our car ride home from Texas hill country, after spending time with Lucia and her cousins for the Christmas holidays.

Travel tapestry loom is warped before hitting the road.

Loom is warped before hitting the road.

Tapestry portrait in progress.

Shapes are slowly filled in with yarn. Paint stick serves to hold the cartoon in place.

On the road with a little tapestry weaving.

On the road with a little tapestry weaving.

Attempting to weave a tapestry portrait.

Beginning the blue and white polka-dotted dress. Inlaid magnets hold the blunt tapestry needle.

Weaving a tapestry portrait in the car.

Dusk has arrived, so it is time to put the weaving away for now. Good lighting is a must.

Checking progress on a small tapestry loom.

Before putting the loom in the bag, I turn it over to look at the right side of the weaving. Progress!

May you attempt the impossible.

All the best,
Karen

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Share the Joy of Weaving

What a delight to share the weaving experience with a friend! Two of these hot pads were woven by friends with no prior weaving experience. Miniature rag rugs make great hot pads, and provide a perfect learning experience for a guest weaver.

Rag rug hot pads.

Tenth hot pad, woven on 12/9 cotton warp. Fabric strips, previously cut for rag rugs, are used for the weft.

Ten rag rug hot pads are cut from the loom!

Ten hot pads are cut from the loom.

Ten hot pads ready for finishing.

Ten hot pads ready for finishing.

Finished handwoven rag rug hot pads.

Ends are tied in overhand knots and trimmed. Ready to be used!

I hope you are finding opportunities to share your joys with friends. The Christmas season reminds us that we have someone greater who shared His joy with us. He stays by our side, waiting for any call for help, but allows us to make the mistakes that teach us life lessons. As with weaving, every error can be forgiven. There is a remedy for any hopeless situation. Take courage, God is a rescuer. He sent Jesus on a mission to rescue us. And absolutely nothing can stop the mission of God. I am amazed at what he can do with the threads of a willing soul. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King.

May you share your joy.

Merry Christ – mas,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Merry Christmas, Karen! Thank you for sharing your beautiful work!

  • Lindy says:

    Hello, I love these hot pads but have a question (I’m new to weaving): what are the little white cloth strips on the corners of these pads and what did you do to them – they aren’t in the finished pictures?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lindy, Great question! The white you see is the scrap weft header. I weave two or three inches with throw-away fabric strips (mostly from old worn-out bedsheets) before and after every rag rug, or mini rag rag. The purpose of the scrap weft is to hold the weft of the rug in place. The scrap weft is removed a little at a time as I tie the warp ends into knots to make the weft completely secure.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Jill Kendall says:

    Beautiful & glorious words, Karen!
    Merry Christmas from North Carolina!

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Quiet Friday: Attractive New Rag Rugs

Don’t be surprised to find one, or even two, of these attractive rugs gracing my home. Five new rugs are now finished and ready to be enjoyed! I designed one of these spaced rep rugs specifically for our Texas hill country home. One was woven by my young apprentice, Juliana. Her rug is already on the floor in her room. And at least two of the rugs are destined for my Etsy Shop. Soon, my looms will be active with new things. There is always something just finished to look back on with fondness, and something ahead to look forward to. Weaving is like that.

Spaced rep rag rugs.

Spaced rep rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Spaced rep rag rug

Spaced rep rag rug

Wool rag rug

Spaced rep rag rug

Spaced rep rag rugs! Karen Isenhower

May your Christmas be calm and bright.

Good Christmas to you and yours, my friends,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Ann says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your weaving activities with us – I look forward every week to see what you are doing as I am in France, and there are not so many weavers around here, so I depend on the worldwide web for inspiration and encouragement.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ann, It’s a pleasure to meet you! It’s a blessing for me to get to share what’s on my looms with like-minded people like you.

      Happy Christmas to you and yours!
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Merry Christmas, Karen!
    I found your blog earlier this year and I just want to thank you for all your postings and inspirational messages. Thank you for sharing your weaving life with us!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, It makes me happy to know you are joining me in this weaving adventure! It means a lot to have friends with common interests and values.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    The rugs are beautiful, Karen, as is everything you weave. Are they for the hill country house? Wherever they live, they will add so much warmth to the room. Can’t wait to see what you create next!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, At least one of the rugs will stay at the hill country house. The rest will go on Etsy. Your encouraging words go a long way with me. You always brighten my day.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for all you do for us. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!!

  • JANET PELL says:

    Thank you for spending time sharing with us, your tips, help and your beautiful work. I so look forward to it every week.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family from Italy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, Isn’t it wonderful that we can meet here, as if there’s no distance between us? Thank you for your encouraging words! That means so much to me.

      Happy Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I never knew there was an actual name for rep weave that was not so tightly sleighed. I just thought it was me being lazy with the loom warping, but I love how the weft pattern shows and adds to the design. I’ve done a number of these and love them.

    Merry Christmas to you and thanks for your blog.

    Maggie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, I agree, the beauty of spacing the warps further apart is that the weft pattern shows and adds to the design. Maybe we should call it “Enhanced Rep Weave.”

      Happy weaving! And Merry Christmas to you,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    It is so grand to see your work and know the joy you find in weaving. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and creativity.
    Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas and God’s richest blessings in 2018.

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How Many Square Knots?

Would you like to tie 1,890 knots? These rag rugs have more warp ends than usual. Every four warp ends are tied into a square knot, and pulled tight. With 756 ends and five rugs, the knots add up! But it’s the best way I know to make the rug permanently secure. Hand-stitched hems will finalize the process. Three of the five spaced rep rugs are finished and hemmed. Two to go.

Rag rug finishing. Tying square knots.

Four warp ends are tied into a square knot. Plastic quilters clip keeps tied ends out of the way.

Tying knots on rag rug warp ends.

Sacking needles are used for easing the warp ends out of the scrap weft, and for wrapping the thread around to tie tight knots, as shown in this short video: Quick Tip: Square Knots Without Blisters.

Finishing work for rag rugs.

Progress.

Christmas is about a heavenly promise. Jesus is the promise of God. Jesus—the word of God in person. The promise of God is as near as our own mouths and our own hearts—we say it and believe it. The promise is brought to us by grace, which means all the knots have been tied for us, and the hem is stitched. It is finished. And we enjoy the permanent security of the Savior’s redemptive love. This is no magic carpet, but a handwoven rug with rags that have been made beautiful.

May you enjoy a promise fulfilled.

Have a grace-filled Christmas,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    That’s a lot of knots! Wondering, since the hems will be turned under could the ends be secured with machine zig zag stitching?

    Merry Christmas, Karen! Thank you for bringing me joy with your posts. I look forward to seeing them.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I have tried machine zig-zag stitching on some smaller pieces. It’s tricky to get the zig-zag stitches to catch every warp end. But you have a good point. That would certainly shorten the finishing time! I should do some experiments with that.

      It’s such a treat for me to know that you enjoy these posts!
      Merry Christmas to you,
      Karen

      • Karen, if you are worrying about catching every thread with the zig-zag, a row or two of close straight stitch would work. Personally, I use my serger, set with a closer than usual stitch, but not every weaver has one. It is much faster with either method.

        The only time I tied knots like you are doing was when I was binding the ends with a cloth binding. That many knots does give sore fingers!

        I enjoy your posts and your witness messages.

        • Karen says:

          Hi Jenny, Thanks for the pointer about using straight stitches or a serger. The Swedish weaving books that I have instruct to tie knots, so I’ve been following those guidelines. I always appreciate hearing other efficient ways to do things!

          Have a good Christmas!
          Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I learn so much from you, Karen, both weaving wisdom and spiritual wisdom.

    I am planning to attempt my first rag rug in January. I have already warped my Rigid Heddle loom but I am waiting for January when Ashford will have a Freedom roller available for me to roll the bulky cloth onto the front beam. I am both excited and apprehensive about the new challenge.

    Thank you for sharing your rag rug tips.
    Merry Christmas, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I knew I wanted to weave rag rugs long before I had a floor loom on which to weave them. So, my first rag weaving was on my 32” Beka rigid heddle loom. I didn’t exactly make a rug, but some rag-woven fabric that I turned into little pocketbooks and things.

      I predict you are really going to enjoy the experience!

      Your kind words mean so much to me.
      Merry Christmas,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    I just employed an earlier tip, the treadle adjustment cheat sheet, and it’s exceptionally helpful in keeping me on the right treadle. Like so many others, I eagerly look forward to your posts and not just for the weaving tips. Due to a health issue I must avoid large groups so your loving words about our Lord are a major source of spiritual comfort. Thanks for everything!

    May He who gave Light to the world bring you joy this Christmastide.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m touched by your kind thoughts. It is very satisfying to hear that my weaving tips and spiritual insights fall into welcoming hearts.

      Joy to you,
      Karen

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Stay Ahead of Empty Quills

What a delight to weave with just one shuttle for a change! It is relaxing to weave this Swedish lace wrap. Even moving the temple and getting up to advance the warp becomes part of the natural rhythm of weaving.

Exchanging empty quill for a filled one.

Empty quill is replaced with a filled quill from the loom bench basket. Smooth operation. My foot needn’t even leave the treadle.

There is one thing that breaks my stride. An empty quill. If I have to stop in the middle of a sequence to wind more quills, I lose momentum and sometimes I even lose my place. Solution? Stop ahead of time at a sensible place in the sequence and wind quills to put in my loom basket. Then, while weaving, it’s a seamless motion to change quills and keep going. It’s a pause instead of a dead stop.

Hemstitching at the end of this wrap.

Hemstitching at the end brings the weaving stage of this piece to a close.

We need to prepare for those times when people seem harder to love. It helps to think ahead, and fill our heart basket with the thoughts of kindness and humility that are essential to keep going. We have a good reason to love each other. We have been loved first. God so loved us that he gave his son. This is the Christmas news. God sent his son to be born here on this earth to be with us hard-to-love people and to save us. That’s good news worth celebrating!

May your heart basket be filled with love.

Christmas Blessings,
Karen

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