Biggest Challenge of Weaving a Pictorial Tapestry

Lucia grasps Ari’s plump wrist as they bravely inch a step closer to the rabbit hutch. For them, it’s a step of faith. Sugar Pie, the bunny, is wide-eyed at their approach. You’ll see the bunny later in the weaving of this pictorial tapestry.

Detail of a pictorial tapestry in progress.
Lucia’s tiny thumbnail is on top of Ari’s hand. Contrast in skin color is exaggerated to make the two arms distinct from each other.
Color gradation in a new large tapestry.
Five shades of orange/red butterflies are used to make the fabric of Lucia’s orange shirt.

It is a huge challenge to work on one element, like the hands, while not being able to see it in the context of the whole picture. The row-by-row weaving is an act of faith. I peer through the wrong end of the binoculars, and stand on a chair to take pictures. And I’m reassured about the outcome. It’s not blind faith. It’s a series of carefully reasoned and thought-out steps.

Gaining a higher perspective.
Gaining a higher perspective by standing on a chair.

We see only a small slice of life at a time. Where do my day-to-day threads fit in the context of the big picture of a lifetime? Grace is amazing! Grace is unearned good favor. Grace is a final tapestry that makes sense of all the wanderings. Grace is good favor extended by God to all who trust Jesus. So, with God’s grace we walk by faith, with carefully reasoned and thought-out steps. And we extend grace at every opportunity, holding the wrist of our fellow adventurer to walk by faith together.

"Siblings" tapestry.
Siblings tapestry, work in progress.

Grace is amazing.

May your life make a difference.

Grace,
Karen

10 Comments

Leave a Reply to Beth Mullins Cancel reply


Tried and True: Rag Rug with Surprising Rosepath Inlay

The first rag rug on this 12/6 cotton warp is well underway. This rug is mostly plain weave, with one simple rosepath repeat every ten centimeters. I am weaving the rosepath motif without tabby between pattern picks. The treadling is 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1. The dark brown motif contrasts with the surrounding light-colored plain weave. It almost looks as if a thick chain has been laid across the rug. I transform the otherwise dark rosepath “chains” with a simple bright inlay strip.

Rag rug with rosepath motif.
Rosepath motif stretches across the plain weave surface.

Rosepath with Inlay

  • Weave the first four picks of the rosepath pattern, treadling 1, 2, 3, 4 (or, if using a different treadling sequence, weave up to the center pick).
  • Lay in the center pick (treadle 1, in this example). Wait to beat it in.
How to do rosepath with inlay.
Center pick of the rosepath motif is arched in the shed.
  • Measure and cut the inlay strip to size, tapering the ends.
How to add an inlay strip to rosepath rag rug.
Inlay fabric strip is measured against the weft in the shed and cut to size.
  • Put the inlay strip in the shed, laying it directly on top of the fabric strip already there.
Making a rosepath rag rug with an inlay strip.
By pushing the beater back I can send the inlay fabric strip through the shed with a ski shuttle.
Rag rug with inlay.
Place the inlay fabric strip directly over the fabric strip of the center pick in the motif.
Inlay instructions.
  • Beat in the weft as usual.
One type of inlay on a rag rug.
Both weft layers are beaten in together. The inlay strip stays visible on top.
  • Continue weaving to complete the rosepath pattern, treadling 4, 3, 2, 1 (or, as needed, for a different sequence).
Rosepath with inlay.
Finished rosepath motif.

You can accomplish a similar effect by weaving in a separate fabric strip for the center pick. In that case, cut tapered ends that are long enough to twist and tuck back into the shed. And carry the weft strip from the previous pick up the side.

The inlay method eliminates the extra bulk at the selvedges, and adds a slight thickness to the center pick, helping to give it a raised look. I am leaving the inlay weft tails loose, but you could cut them a little longer and tuck the ends in, if you prefer.

Rag rug with special rosepath motif.
Weft tails are free at the sides, like little flags at the ends of the rosepath rows.
Glimakra Ideal loom--great tool for dreaming up rag rugs!
Glimåkra Ideal loom–great tool for dreaming up rag rugs!

May you experience the simple pleasure of doing something unexpected.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Annie says:

    Beautiful! You explain it so well that I’m adding it to my to do list. Thank you

  • Marjorie Clay says:

    How wide is your Ideal? It looks bigger than mine!

    I admire your weaving so much! I started too late to achieve such mastery, but I love weaving. Warping, not so much! It is still too much of an adventure!

    Marjorie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marjorie, My Ideal is 100cm (39”). The warp on the loom is almost full weaving width.

      Thank you for the compliment! I’m not that much ahead of you. I was also a very late beginner. So it’s certainly not too late for you to gain mastery in the areas you pursue. Maybe someday I can help you to love warping, too, as part of the whole beautiful process.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    How pretty! I love the variety of colors in the background stripes, too! When you do it this way, is the bright rose path center fabric visible on the back?

    Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I’m using up fabric strips from previous rag rug projects, so I have a mixed assortment that I’m using here. I like the way some of the prints turn out when woven. That center inlay strip really appears only on the top side, except for little bits of color here and there. The reverse side shows the all-brown rosepath motifs, but a little lighter in color because the darkest side of the fabric is facing the top.

      Karen

  • Vida Clyne says:

    You are amazing. such beautiful colours. I made a couple of rag rugs a few years ago but did it the cheap way using old denim jeans that took forever to prepare. I am currently finishing a throw in alpaca and considering what to weave next. so many weaves to explore. I love warping by the way, it is always a challenge to try to get the perfect warp. Thank you for for your inspirational blog.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vida, I’m very happy that you like these colors! I’m sure your denim rag rugs are terrific. I’d like to make some denim rag rugs some day. Isn’t weaving an exciting field? There’s no end to what we can explore with our looms!! I agree with you about warping. It’s great to have a continual challenge.

      I appreciate your kind words so much!
      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    The loom is waiting a little while longer. There is work to he done on the outside of our primary home and more preparation on the inside of our retirement home.

    I look forward to one home and all my crafts under one roof. And finding a way to keep the wild creatures on the out of the basement.

    Today a coyote walked though the yard. Something to get used to.

    Your weaving provides order in my wild world. It is beautiful and functional.

    Blessings
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Transitions are challenging. You have a lot to look forward to. We haven’t seen any coyotes on our property, but plenty of other wildlife – armadillos, roadrunners, gray foxes, blackbuck antelope, and so on.

      Making beautiful things that are functional is a huge weaving goal of mine. Thank you for your thoughtful encouragement.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Very pretty rug Karen!

    Another technique you can use when weaving a single pick of a color is to cut that strip twice the width of the rug plus overlap but only half the width of the other strips. Lay it in the shed with both ends hanging out. Wrap them around the edge thread and arch them back in the same shed, overlapping the tapered ends. I think it is less fussy than trying to tuck the ends in at the edges.
    Jenny

    PS:
    My loom is working fine, although I did have to stop after weaving a bit and fix one shed that went wonky. I have seven of the twelve table napkins woven for our guild exchange. I’m hoping each warp will become easier to set up the treadling.

  • Joan H Harvey says:

    I notice you are using a metal temple on this rug. Do you recommend metal rather than wooden temples for rag rugs?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joan, I’m glad you asked! I prefer a wooden temple, even for rag rugs, but I don’t have a wooden one the right size for this rug, so I’m using the metal one instead. I like the wooden temple because it is lighter weight, and I can set it closer to the fell line without damaging the beater. The metal temple can gouge the beater if I set it too close to the fell. I’ve done that. Ouch! I guess it’s time for me to order another Glimakra temple. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply to Beth Mullins Cancel reply


What to Do with Linen Leftovers

These waffle-weave washcloths are made out of my linen leftovers. For years, I’ve been saving linen scraps: the small amount left on the tube, quills that weren’t used up, thrums that I couldn’t bear to discard, and skinny warp chains from the times I accidentally wound a few extra warp ends.

Using linen leftovers for a new warp.
To make this warp, I finished off about a dozen tubes that had small amounts of 16/2 linen.
Winding a linen warp.
Putting leftover threads together.

The warp is 16/2 linen. I alternated two colors at a time in the warp, so there are interesting color-and-weave effects that outline the “waffles” in the weave.

New linen warp.
Heddles are threaded in point twill for waffle weave, alternating two colors at a time.
Afternoon sun on a new warp.
Afternoon sun is a pleasant sight on a new warp.

The linen for the weft is everything from fine 16/1 line linen to coarse 8/1 tow linen. I am purposely leaving weft tails exposed. I expect significant shrinkage, so I will trim the tails shorter after wet finishing.

How to use linen leftovers.
Linen “weft-overs” include thrums, end of tubes, and accidental warp chains.

Ideas for this project originated with Clean with Linen, by Sanna Ignell in Väv 2016 No.2, p.6, and Handtowels made of linen, by Elisabet Jansson in Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet, p.31.

Linen waffle weave.
Linen waffle weave.

Do you have precious leftovers you’ve saved from your journey through life? Memories we don’t want to lose. And memories we wish we could forget. All these leftover threads serve as reminders that we are meant for more than what we can produce on our own. Here’s the good news. Love invites us to hand over our collection of scraps. Listen to Love. His name is Jesus. He takes our linen discards, and, with nothing wasted, weaves his beautiful story of redemption in us.

May your leftovers be given new life.

Love,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautifully said, Karen! And great idea! 🙂

  • Robin says:

    Fantastic idea!
    Would love to see pix of the finished wash cloth. Perhaps a future post?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robin, Thanks for giving your thoughts! I will be happy to show pictures of the wash cloths when they are finished! I’ll be as surprised as you at the results. I expect to get 10 wash cloths from this warp, so hang on, it may take a while.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    An album quilt I made for my daughter’s wedding was cobbled together of the obvious dress fabric from her childhood, but also needle work from her ancestors. Textiles too fragile to use as originally designed, but reinforced and added to the beauty of the quilt designed for the next generations to come.

    One block included a piece of weaving done on a home made loom by my husband’s grandmother.

    Leftovers from earlier generations kept to build something useful and beautiful.

    Nothing goes to waste in God’s world.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Your quilt sounds fantastic. What a wonderful gift, full of meaning.

      “Nothing goes to waste in God’s world.” Amen!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Beautifully said!

  • Laurie says:

    Is that a plainweave hem? Does it contract the same as the waffleweave?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, Yes, I am doing a plain weave hem. I am sure it will not contract the same as the waffle weave. I expect the hem to look a bit wavy. Since this is my first time to do waffle weave, I’m waiting to see what it does for sure. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Charlotte says:

    I cannot believe, yet I must! The timing of your post – waffleweave wash cloths to my drawdown for the next project – waffleweave wash cloths! Isn’t this fun?!?!?!
    Mine will be 12/6 seine twine. The warp on the drawloom is nearly tweaked for a new run of Casita bath towels – Cottolin. The wash cloth warp will go on Julia once my Marines have come and gone. Also, for the Casita.

    The Inkle loom is warped for the hang loops…it’ll go to the mountains with us.

    Oh how I love the direction of our path and sharing it, such a sweet gift!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, How fun! And believe it or not, yesterday I finished the drawdown for my next project on the Standard – Cottolin bath towels! Wow, you and I are really in sync.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Betty Morrissey says:

    HI!
    Can’t’ wait to see them. Love how everything finds its purpose.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, With purpose there’s hope. And we all need hope. I’ll keep you posted on the progress and finishing of these washcloths. Stay tuned…

      All the best,
      Karen

Leave a Reply to Beth Mullins Cancel reply


Tapestry Butterflies and Video Tutorial

Wool butterflies are my crayons. I use them to color the spaces of my color-by-number cartoon that’s under the warp. I am using Borgs 6/2 Tuna wool and Borgs 6/1 Fårö wool in this tapestry, combining strands of various colors to get just the right hue, value, and intensity. Getting that right is the hard part. Winding butterflies is the easy part. Especially if you learned it from Joanne Hall, as I did.

Pictorial tapestry beginning.
Start of new tapestry. Butterflies are composed of specific colors to achieve desired results for contrast, shading, and depth.

It is essential to know how to make a good butterfly when you want to weave a tapestry on a big floor loom like this. A good butterfly is compact enough to easily pass through warp ends. And secure enough to stay intact through all those passes. It also needs to have a tail that is simple to extend. A good butterfly never ends up in a knot or a jumble of threads, but instead, gives your hands pure delight as it flows through your fingers to color your tapestry.

Colorful tapestry butterflies.
Detail of colorful tapestry butterflies.
New butterfly is ready to fly in.
New butterfly is ready to find its place in the mix.

This video shows how I make my tapestry butterflies.

May your days be colored with delight.

From the crayon box,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful colors! 🙂 Nice, simple video. 🙂

  • Charlotte says:

    Good morning, dearest! What a lovely way to start my day…a fresh cup of coffee and your sweet video. I am so thankful that we were able to take Joanne’s workshop. I finally finished my sample and realize how much I like the movement in the cloth. There isn’t a cartoon in mind, for me. But, I hope one day to dream up something and put it on the floor loom.

    Thank you for blessing me with your faithful love and kindness…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, I, too, am grateful for that pictorial tapestry workshop! Movement in the cloth is a good way to describe it. It’s such a satisfying way to do tapestry.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Well, isn’t that slick?! Thanks to you and Joanne for sharing this trick!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It is slick! Before I learned this simple method, my butterflies were nothing but trouble, coming undone and ending up in knots. Something so simple can make a huge difference.

      Have a great day!
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Thank you for the video on butterflies, Karen! I have tried them from a book illustration and was thoroughly disappointed. They were loose and sloppy so I bought tapestry bobbins instead.
    I am saving this video for a future planned project.

    May you have a blessed day. I am looking forward to seeing what you create with with these butterflies.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s nice to have butterflies that hold together. I had trouble with mine, too, before learning this method.

      This tapestry will give me many hours of enjoyment! I’ll show it little by little.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Butterflies were used on a cardboard tapestry loom for a 1973 high school art project. The slick wrapping was not taught.

    It would appear there is more to learn, even I areas I was confident..

    Don’t know about West Texas, but after a humid, rainy and sunless Monday..Tuesday is dry and cloudless. Beautiful day! New skill! God is in the heavens today.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, You have a great memory. It’s sweet that you remember these details from a high school art project.

      In this part of Texas (not quite considered West Texas), sunshine and scattered clouds have been the norm. Every day is a good day!

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Allison Grove says:

    Thanks for this video. I’ve struggled with using butterflies, but now realize I haven’t been winding the tail end tight enough and too few times. Allison

Leave a Reply to Beth Mullins Cancel reply


Weaving a Personal Logo

This logo goes back to at least 1982. It is on the underside of a bowl I made that year in my one-and-only pottery class. kmi for Karen Marie Isenhower. This personal logo will be woven into my upcoming pictorial tapestry. I know how I want the image to look, but it’s not easy to weave it successfully. I am practicing on a sample warp.

Woven logo in a tapestry.
Lizard tapestry, woven from the side. This was my first attempt to weave my personal logo into a tapestry.

I am starting with the little cartoon that I used when I wove the Lizard tapestry last year (see Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry), thinking I can improve in the weaving of it.

Sample warp.

Nope. It’s not any better. I am redrawing the cartoon to spread the letters out further.

Practicing weaving my personal logo.

Nope. Now, the letters are too spread out.

Finally, I reach a happy medium.

Woven personal logo.
kmi

Yes. This attempt is successful. Now I am ready to weave my personal stamp into the new tapestry project.

Warp is almost ready for the next tapestry.
Linen warp is beamed for the next tapestry.
Ready to weave!
Ready to start the new tapestry!
Final cartoon.
Cartoon of the logo is traced onto the big cartoon that will be used for the pictorial tapestry.

You were made on purpose for a purpose. When the Grand Weaver created you He started a masterpiece with your initials on it. He develops the cartoon and lays out the colorful butterflies of yarn, with your personal logo in mind. Finish what He started. It takes a lifetime. In the end, my personal logo, never quite perfect, will diminish. And His royal insignia, embroidered in threads of gold, becomes the label on my life’s tapestry.

May you see your great value.

With you,
Karen

6 Comments

Leave a Reply to Beth Mullins Cancel reply