Weaving a Gift

For Christmas, I gave my daughter and two daughters-in-law a piece of paper with options for a custom handwoven article from me. This new project is the start of fulfilling those promises. Marie, my youngest son’s wife, chose a throw in vivid colors.

Christmas gifts to family members this year.

Each recipient gets to customize her gift. As maker, I retain design decisions and final color selections.

Opening a package with new tubes of thread is like Christmas all over again! This shipment brings the 8/2 cotton thread for Marie’s double weave throw, adding to what I already have on hand. From promise to conception of an idea, to collecting threads and dressing the loom, to weaving a gift—it goes from intangible to tangible. Threads turn into cloth!

New yarn shipment excitement!

My apprentice happens to be here when the package arrives! She shares the excitement with me of opening the package to see the new thread colors.

Vibrant colors for a new project on the loom!

Vibrant colors for Marie’s throw.

Love holds us together. Threads of love create a sustainable cloth of connected people. Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving, as an imitator of God. Not an imposter, who pretends to be god. But an imitator, like a loved child becomes an imitator of their dad. Consciously and subconsciously. Let the character of God become your character. And let the threads of love that he has woven in your life reach into lives he’s given you to touch. Let his promise to you become tangible cloth to others.

May you be wrapped in love today.

With love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Lise says:

    I love your ideas for Xmas gifts. Can you share what the choices were and what you wove for the ladies?
    I make tote bags with groceries bags, it is one of my contributions to help save the planet.
    Baglady, Lise

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lise, I’m glad you asked! This current project is the first one of the gifts. I haven’t completed any of them yet. I will be sharing about each gift as I come to it through the course of this year.

      For this first one, the request is a throw, large, in vibrant colors. I’m excited to get it on the loom!

      I’m glad you have a meaningful way to use your weaving skills!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    What a wonderful idea!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angela, Thanks! It’s something I had been thinking about for a couple years. And now, it helps with the question, “what shall I weave next?”

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I love this idea of letting the recipient choose what they’d like. Ok if I borrow your form idea?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, I think it makes it fun for the gift giver and the recipient. You are very welcome to use any part of this that serves your needs. Have at it!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Cherie Kessler says:

    Just want to say how very much I enjoy your blog, and how often I’ve used your “helps”….like the red thread between towels, the suggestions for ways to repair weavings that aren’t perfect. And the newest, unfortunately, a shorter way to remove weaving down to the fault by cutting…rather than unweaving! These, plus all your inspiration…I’m so happy when I open my emails and see an update! Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Oh Cherie, I wish I could give you a great big hug right now! Of all the reasons I have for writing in this space, one of my biggest hopes is that I can share something that will be of value to someone else. You have really touched me with your kind encouragement. Bless you!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • I may borrow your idea. I make dish towels every year for my girls, and one year i did something similar. I chose a darker teal warp and had each of them choose three of my yarn colors they each liked that would look nice with the warp. I did a monks belt threading and each towel turned out so different. It was a fun project. If you are interested, you can see the final photo of them in my blog here:
    http://jennybellairs.blogspot.com/2013/12/annual-christmas-towels.html

    I enjoy your blog posts and am glad I subscribe so I don’t miss any. Keep them coming!
    Jenny B

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, I like your idea, too, to let them choose the weft colors. Your monksbelt towels are stunning! It’s amazing what a range of effects are possible on one threading!

      Your word of encouragement means so much to me. Thank you, thank you!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Quiet Friday: Square Dots

It was six weeks ago that I began winding the warp for these towels. The thread for my next Glimåkra Standard project is due to arrive tomorrow. Just like I like it—revolving door weaving. I have no doubt that this set of towels will become family favorites. They are a feast for the eyes, and a tactile delight for the hands. Seeing the color on the reverse side takes my breath away. This whole experience has been the weaving satisfaction that I’ve come to cherish!

"Square Dot" towels. Satin dräll. Karen Isenhower

Square Dot towels. Ten shafts, ten treadles. Two block five-shaft satin dräll. 8/2 cotton warp. Weft is 8/2 cotton and 22/2 cottolin, and 16/2 linen for the white stripes on the red towel.

I did face difficulties near the end of the warp. The shed started deteriorating with some of the shafts, but I was determined to finish off the last towel to its full length. That meant coaxing the low profile shuttle through for a few inches. Consequently, I did have more errant floats to repair than usual. But, isn’t it wonderful that we can fix just about anything in this weaving adventure?

Fixing floats on a towel that was at the end of the warp.

End of warp. What I didn’t see at the loom is that one shaft in particular was not behaving. There were at least eight floats along that one warp end. After repairs and washing and pressing, the errors are barely noticeable.

I made a warp from thread on leftover quills to weave up some hanging tabs on my band loom for three of the towels. And I found a linen piece in my “band stash” that is perfect for the red and white towel.

Enjoy the slideshow that I made for you with details of the process.

May you weave some family favorites.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Oh, these are lovely! Both sides!

  • Karen, these are beautiful! Your color choices are wonderful.

    Does your pattern have a balanced tie-up? I’m ready to try a ten shaft pattern on my ten shaft counterbalance loom, but it would have to be a balanced tie-up in order for me to use the dräll pulleys. Is the pattern readily available? Where would I look?

    I enjoy reading your blog posts.
    Jenny B

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, Thank you! Managing color choices is one of the things I enjoy most in my weaving space, so I really appreciate your compliment.

      You can find this draft in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p.172 (mine is “Sample 8”).

      Joanne Hall tells me that it is possible to tie up the two block satin with a counterbalance tie-up. The tie-up on countermarch is a little easier than a counterbalance tie-up, but she has seen weavers able to weave this very fast on a counterbalance loom.

      I’ll be interested in hearing if you try it.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • I have the book. I’m excited to give this pattern a try. It has so many possibilities. My loom has been empty for over a month due to lack of inspiration and other life problems getting in the way. Hopefully I can get something on Julie in a few days.

        Hopefully you won’t mind if some of mine end up similar to yours. I think it was the colors that attracted me to the weave first, and then seeing the reverse side made me love them even more.

        Thanks for steering me to the pattern.

        Jenny B

        • Karen says:

          Hi Jenny, I would be thrilled to pieces and honored if you chose to weave something similar to mine! Oh I do hope your inspiration at the loom returns quickly, and that some of the weight you carry is lifted.

          The reverse side is amazing!

          In case it helps, here are the colors I used: (All Bockens)

          Warp – 8/2 cotton #471 lt red (it’s coral to me)
          Weft –
          1. 8/2 cotton #557 slate with band of 22/2 cottolin #2003 silver
          2. 8/2 cotton #470 beige with band of 22/2 cottolin #2004 gray
          3. cottolin #2080 red with band of 16/2 linen #0005 golden bleached
          4. cottolin #2017 rust with band of 8/2 cotton #470 beige (This one has the least contrast, and it is also my favorite.)

          Very happy weaving to you,
          Karen

  • Kay Larson says:

    They are just lovely! I look forward to seeing your next project.
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, It won’t be long before you see my next project! I’m pretty excited about it…as always. 🙂
      Thanks so much for your kind words!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    That was a great slide show. And yes, the two block satin is such a beautiful weave. And your colors are so nice. Thanks for taking the time to share what you are weaving.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I appreciate your thoughtful words. That means so much to me! I’m accumulating a long list of things that I want to do more of, and this two block satin weave is one of them.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Oh Karen, I love these, my favorite color! Thanks for the slide show, it’s fun to see your whole process!!

  • Ruth says:

    Such beautiful work AGAIN! You are an inspiration and offer such an open and positive approach to fixing weaving issues. I recently finished an M’s and O’s table cloth with many floats over the last couple of inches of weaving due to a decreasing shed. Like you I was determined to have the whole length of that cloth. I thought I’d fixed all the floats but keep finding them as I use the cloth. Enjoy your new favorites.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Oh I have floats in cloth that I use, too. They do like to hide when we have that needle out. Haha! But really, it’s a mark of distinction because it proves our fabric is handmade.

      Your kind words are a sweet encouragement to me. Thank you so much!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Angela W says:

    I’m new to weaving and discovered your blog. It has been very helpful. Thank you for all the good information especially your glossary. But what I have found most wonderful are the words of hope and encouragement to trust in our Lord. I really needed that right now. Blessings to you, Karen.

Leave a Reply


Bold Color and Weave

Remember the placemats I started on my Texas hill country loom in Colors on Trial? The pattern in the fabric looks nice and pretty. But it doesn’t display the striking color-and-weave effect that I expected. The problem is not the threading, nor the colors.

Color and weave using single weft instead of doubled weft.

Nice and pretty, but lacking the boldness of the planned color-and-weave effect.

Aha! I overlooked an important detail on the treadling draft—the weft is supposed to be doubled. That changes everything! Since there is very little excess warp for this project I need to back up and start over.

Backing up the weaving. Clipping through weft threads. Yikes!

Backing up. After loosening warp tension, I carefully clip the weft threads down the center of the warp. I go at a snail’s pace to avoid accidentally snipping any warp ends.

Backing up. Weft removal, one pick at a time.

Removal, one pick at a time. I press the treadles in reverse order to pull out each row of weft threads.

Weft has been removed. Now ready to start over!

Back to the start. Sufficient weft has been removed. Now I am ready to start over.

I am losing the nice and pretty fabric. But it is being replaced with something better—fabric with a bold color-and-weave effect.

Two double-bobbin shuttles with color and weave.

This is the color-and-weave effect I was looking for! Two double-bobbin shuttles carry the weft threads.

Color and weave for placemats.

First placemat is a “Joseph’s coat” combination of colors. Bold color-and-weave effect has a striking pattern.

I would like my life to be nice and pretty, easy and comfortable. But if I get closer to the Grand Weaver’s intentions, I see something different—a bold strength of purpose. Not necessarily easy. God’s will is better than mine. When we aim to understand his will, we see details that we’ve overlooked. It affects how we walk through life. We take his doubled weft threads to replace our well-meaning attempts. The result is a beautiful display of striking life-changing effects.

May you be mindful of the important details.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Annie says:

    I love your analogy and courage to cut out all that work. It did look nice before but wow! Such a great difference with such a small change. An encouragement to make small changes in life as they may lead to great overall improvements.

    Have a great day, Karen!

  • Cynthia says:

    Hi Karen, I used to work for your husband in Tulsa. Love your work. My cousin weaves and I have shared your blog with her, she sure enjoys.

  • Ruth says:

    Good Morning Karen,
    Thanks for sharing your technique for unweaving. To correct mistakes I’ve literally thrown the shuttle across my warp threads to take back many inches of weaving. This seems a much gentler way to save a warp. I like your calm approach to correcting an error and enjoying the outcome. Blessings to you and yours, Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I do think removing the weft this way is less damaging to the warp. Even if I don’t clip through the center, I usually cut the weft and pull it out rather than send it back with the shuttle if it’s more than one or two picks. This is especially important if the warp is linen, which is much more susceptible to breakage from abrasion than this cotton warp I have here.

      One thing I enjoy about weaving is that just about anything can be corrected!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    These are, as all your projects are, beautiful! Is this a little like doubleweave? You see the back on the front and the front on the back?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, I appreciate your sweet compliment!

      This is much simpler than double weave. This is actually plain weave with two treadles. It’s the arrangement of stripes in warp and weft that give it visual complexity. This fabric is the same on front and back. It’s amazing what can happen with color and weave!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Valentine Towel

“That red would make a very cheerful towel.” She was right! It is very cheerful. When someone whose weaving expertise I admire mentions a color, I want to use that color instead of the one I originally planned. This towel, with its red-and-white cheerfulness, is a testament to the positive influence of another person. The towel also makes me think of valentines. Perfect timing for this week. Do you remember giving innocent sentiments of love to classmates in elementary school on Valentine’s Day?

Cotton 10-shaft satin dräll towels.

Beginning of towel with red 8/2 cotton weft. Golden bleached 16/2 linen is used for a decorative band on the towel.

Colorful and cheerful square dot towels.

White linen border near the end of the red towel. Ten shafts and ten treadles for five-shaft satin dräll.

Square Dot towels. Red and white on coral!

Predominant red on the reverse side of the towel is cheerful indeed! One “Square Dot” towel remains on this warp.

Give. Now, we offer each other genuine expressions of love, not limited to one day of the year. When you give love you are giving something of great value—a part of yourself. God loved all of us by giving his dearly loved son. That’s the love that holds us and keeps us. His love influences us for the better. He so loved us, and so we love.

May the day of love come every day for you.

Love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth says:

    These are lovely! I can’t wait to see them completed.

  • maggie leiterman says:

    The weaving is lovely! Thanks for sharing! Your comment about classmates in elementary school reminded me of a box of mementos that I have tucked away in a drawer.The box and the content of the box belonged to my mama (1915-2005,) the content of the box is a collection of valentines that she cherished that were from her classmates and others. I cherish them and I hope someone in my family will take care of them after I go to the great beyond.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, How special to be the keeper of your mother’s treasures! It’s always fascinating to think of the childhood of a previous generation. Thanks for telling about it!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Karen that towel is just lovely, the pink and red compliment each other perfectly. Yummy!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Those thoughts of valentines bring us back to a most delightful time in our lives of giving and sharing. And thank you Karen for continuing to share with us.
    Joanne

  • Elisabeth says:

    A beatiful color combination! And what a wonderful idea to pull out a special towel to celebrate those special days. These beautiful towels could even double as tabletoppers. And the red towel would make a statement for Christmas, too 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, It’s one of the joys of weaving that we can set aside particular towels or fabric for special occasions! And yes, I will probably use these as lovely table runners, too. I like to keep a handwoven topper – towel or square or runner – on my kitchen table to set the atmosphere in the room.

      Great input, as always! Thanks,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Tools Day: Tape Measures

A tape measure is a weaver’s best friend. Think about how many ways the tape measure serves you. I have one at each loom. Always. And I have a few others scattered around, hanging up, and in bags. Because you never know when you might need to measure something.

Tape Measure Uses

  • Take measurements to determine the desired size of the finished cloth, such as window measurements for curtains, floor space for area rugs, or length of skirt tiers for skirt fabric.
  • Measure the length of a guide string for winding the warp.
  • Find the starting point for the warp width in the pre-sley reed.
  • Double check the width of the warp after it is pre-sleyed.
  • Check the width of the warp on the back tie-on bar.
  • Center the reed in the beater for beaming the warp by measuring the distance from the warp in the reed to the outside edge of the beater on both sides.
  • Find the starting point to sley the reed by measuring half of the warp width outwards from the center of the reed.
  • Double check the width of the warp in the reed after it is sleyed.
  • Center the reed in the beater for weaving.
  • Adjust to the correct width of the warp on the front tie-on bar after the warp is tied on.
  • Mark the measured weaving length on twill tape or ribbon to use as a weaving length guide.
  • Measure how far one quill weaves.
  • Measure the distance between pieces that require unwoven warp, such as for fringe, or for tying knots between rag rugs.
  • Measure the distance from the first shaft (nearest the back of the loom) to the back tie-on bar (especially when you are hoping there is enough warp left to finish a symmetrical pattern).
  • Measure the width and length of fabric that is cut from the loom.
  • Measure the width and length of fabric that has been wet finished, dried, and pressed.
  • Measure your pleasure at the loom. Immeasurable!
Tape measure, in constant use at the loom. Let me count the ways...

Tape measure with imperial and metric units, both of which I use regularly. Metal ends have been removed from the tape to clearly see the tape’s markings, and because I slip the tape into a dent of the reed when I am marking the spot to start sleying.

Tape measure at the loom. Various uses.

Glimåkra Ideal loom, with tape measure in its usual place hanging on the end of the loom bench.

Tape measure usage at the weaving loom.

Glimåkra Standard loom, with tape measure ready for the next measuring task.

Preparing the loom for weaving.

Tape measure hanging over the back beam on the Texas hill country loom while pre-sleying the reed and positioning things to prepare for beaming the warp.

Tape measure hangs on peg strip above the work table.

Extra-long tape measure hangs on the peg strip above my work table.

Sometimes a long tape measure is needed!

Occasionally, I borrow Steve’s metal carpenter’s tape measure from his wood carving bench.

Travel tapestry supplies, including tape measure.

Compact retractible sewing tape measure rides in my travel tapestry bag. It has imperial and metric units.

No purse is complete without a tape measure, right?

No purse is complete without a tape measure, right? (A tape measure can outlive the business it promotes.)

What have I missed? Can you think of other ways your tape measure comes in handy?

May you be blessed in full measure.

All the best,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Annie says:

    I guess I never really thought about how often we measure things but that is quite a lengthy list! I really need to get more to spread around as that seems really convenient. I have one next to my loom and death to anyone who moves it! My family has discovered that I don’t share weaving things well; like tapes, scissors, pins, pens, clamps or my iPad charging cord and actually, not the iPad, either.

    However, I will share many other blessings with them.
    Thank you for sharing your blessings with me this morning, Karen. May you also have a blessed day.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m protective of those items around the loom, too. I’m usually the one who carries it off without thinking, though, and then wonders where it is when I need it. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    The measuring tape is definitely a tool that has seen consistent use for as long as I can remember, and to me, that’s a “gadget” worth owning. I don’t own many of them, maybe because I am also a seamstress and use it as an “accessory”, it hangs around my neck 🙂
    For weaving, after the fabric is made, I use it for measuring hems, or for seam allowances and centering zippers if I make pillows. The width of a measuring tape, 5/8″, is a good seam allowance for a lot of things, and I use it when I need to mark a consistent 5/8″.
    If consistency is important when making several lengths the same, like for curtains, I measure only the first length with a measuring tape, the rest I measure with the first piece I cut, it tends to be even more accurate that way, especially if you make a bunch.
    Over the years, a new measuring tools has been added, the large gridded cutting mat laying on my work table. Which is a great measuring tool for certain things, like measuring a warp string, texolv cords, or the size of a pillow insert in order to decide the size for the cover. And for good measure (pun intended) when you need to get an idea of proportions, like width and length of a runner or a placemat the gridded mat is great.
    Maybe the most unusal thing I have used my measuring tape for (urged by my urologist) has been to measure the size of my kidney stones 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Oh Elisabeth, I can learn so much from you! I never thought about using the width of the measuring tape to mark a consistent 5/8-in. line.

      I agree that the gridded mat is useful again and again. Also, the clear quilter’s ruler is in frequent use at my table.

      Kidney stones big enough to measure -ouch!

      Thanks for your great input!
      Karen

  • Tobie says:

    I am still looking for cloth measuring tapes. I find it difficult to use the plastic coated ones.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tobie, When I hear cloth measuring tape, the first thing I think of is the cloth measuring tape my grandmother used. Sweet memories there!

      It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a cloth measuring tape. I hope you find some that work for you!

      All the best,
      Karen

Leave a Reply