Yarn Is My Paint

The best thing about weaving a pictorial tapestry? Having a cartoon to follow, with row-by-row definition. This Siblings tapestry has its joys and challenges. It is a joy to weave Ari’s hair, as if I get to comb his locks into place. At the same time, it’s a challenge to see up close what can only be recognized at a distance. Lucia’s shirt is a joy to weave because of the bright colors and distinct shading. But what a challenge to get the right value of turquoise for the leg of the rabbit hutch in relation to the value of orange in Lucia’s left shoulder.

Five different shades of butterflies for this hair.
Ari’s hair has butterflies in five different shades of brown. Sometimes while handling the yarn, it almost seems like real hair. And I reminisce about my sisters and I braiding each others’ hair way back when.
Color decisions in a pictorial tapestry.
Trying to find the right hue for the turquoise rabbit hutch. Choosing a darker hue helps make Lucia’s shoulder appear closer than the hutch leg.

The yarn is my paint. I make decisions and adjustments as I see how the colors interact. Under the warp, of course, is my cartoon with all the details—outline, hues, value changes. That cartoon is constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It’s the key to this whole process.

Under the warp is the detailed cartoon.
Right under the warp is the detailed cartoon. Hues are lightly colored in with color pencil, and value distinctions are penciled in.
Siblings tapestry in progress. Glimakra Standard loom.
Right at halfway on the Siblings tapestry.

In the joys and challenges we face, we make decisions based on what we see. Take a look below the surface. Look through the warp to see the cartoon. True love is in the details. Jesus instructs and guides through his love. Constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It makes perfect sense to follow the Maker’s cartoon.

Cartoon under the tapestry.
Cartoon held in place with a suspended warping slat and some plastic quilter’s clips.

May you grow in love.

With joy,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Beth says:

    I admire your patience…and very much so, your talent.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much for your thoughtful insights. You’re making me reflect on patience and talent. Patience doesn’t seem hard for me most of the time—at the loom, at least. I like the whole slow process, so I’m not in a hurry about it. Talent, on the other hand, seems elusive. I think patience and talent may be related. The more patient I am to practice what I know, the more talented I get. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    You are an artist nose to toes. To do the weaving that you do requires a working skill of the craft. No matter how much I tried, the skill to make music from the viola was not possible because the craft was beyond my physical ability. As much as the mind desires, without the craftsmanship foundation to describe creativity, nothing happens. Mathematics, so necessary with science and engineering and business. Color theory with the visual. Mechanical understanding of the instrument, viola or loom or CNC or human body.
    You are constantly sharing as you explore the craft of weaving. Your craftsmanship is honed to the best it can be. With that, the blessing of being an artist occurred. It is like running barefoot in a field as a child with no cares… Just the freedom of no boundaries.
    God has blessed you with being a textile artist and you have extended that to the world with your blog.
    Praise God. Thank you Karen.
    Nannette

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Tried and True: Leftover Linen on the Band Loom

Remember that time you miscalculated when planning your warp? You found the mistake when you were threading, and you ended up with an extra group of ends. If you have ever done something like that, then you understand where this leftover linen warp came from.

New warp on the Glimakra band loom.

This little linen leftover warp is now on the Glimåkra band loom. I removed two ends to get a warp with symmetrical colors. It’s perfect for making hanging tabs to go on the leftover linen waffle weave washcloths. The weft on these band loom shuttles is from one of the little linen warp chains I mentioned last week. (See Put the Linen Back to Use.)

Leftover linen to use as weft on the band loom.
Linen from a leftover warp chain fills the little band loom shuttles.
Band Loom weaving.
Weft tails show the color variance–turquoise and blue–in the leftover linen used for weft, indistinguishable in the selvedges of the woven band.

When the thread comes to an end on the shuttle, I follow this simple process to begin a new weft.

  • Place the ending weft through the shed, leaving a tail of at least 1/2”.
How to change the weft on the band loom.
  • Without changing sheds, lightly tap the weft in place with the band knife.
  • Bring the new weft on a shuttle through the same shed, going in the same direction as the previous weft’s shuttle, leaving a tail of at least 1/2”. (There is now a weft tail extending in both directions.)
How to overlap wefts on the band loom.
How to add a new weft. Glimakra Band Loom.
  • Without changing sheds, lightly tap the new weft into place with the band knife. (This helps to make a snug fit for the two wefts in this shed.)
  • Change sheds. Beat firmly with the band knife.
  • Send the weft back through.
How to end one weft and begin another on the band loom.
  • Beat firmly, and continue weaving.
Instructions for ending and starting wefts on the band loom.
  • After weaving 1/2” further, clip off the weft tails; or, clip all the tails after the entire band is woven and has been cut from the band loom.
Linen band weaving for hanging tabs on linen washcloths.
Weft tails are left extended on this band. I may trim some of them later to 1/4″ for effect, to be used as hanging tabs on the leftover linen waffle weave washcloths.

May you put your leftovers to good use.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Your ribbon bands add such a nice touch. Asking because I have no knowledge, how does a Band loom differ from an Inkle loom in what can be made with them?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, There’s no difference between the band loom and an inkle loom in what can be made on them, except maybe the width. I can weave up to about 4” wide on the band loom, though I normally use it for narrow bands. I also can put on a much longer warp on the band loom than on the inkle loom. This warp on the band loom right now is probably about 5 or 6 meters long.

      The band loom is not as portable as an inkle loom, but the main advantage for me is how much faster I can weave bands on it. I can weave a band about four times faster on the band loom than on my inkle loom. The reason for this is that it has two treadles to open the sheds, making both hands free to do the continuous weaving.

      I guess the other reason I use the band loom whenever I can is it’s just plain fun!

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    Morning Karen…..I, too, have a question. Please. Do you sit and weave on the side of the loom, beating sideways….or at the end as with a regular tinkle…
    Thanks so much..I always enjoy your blog..

  • Nannette says:

    The extra beating of the filler overlap blends the change so it is indistinguishable from the rest of the band. Who’d a thunk?
    Thank you for the lesson.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, It is surprising what a big difference this little action makes. You really cannot see where the weft changes after I clip off the weft tails.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Put the Linen Back to Use

Almost in tears, I chained off the remaining linen warp, a handful of ends at a time. I had come to the end of the Lizard tapestry. There was still enough warp to weave another small tapestry, but because of our move, there wasn’t enough time. Oh, beautiful linen, what am I going to do with you? Too precious to hide or throw away. See Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry.

Linen Leftovers
Small linen warp chains are given new purpose as weft in these waffle weave washcloths made entirely of linen leftovers.

Linen washcloths, made completely from linen leftovers. Now, almost a year later, this is the answer for my precious linen warp—now weft. A single thread, or two or three bundled together. What a glorious way to put the beautiful linen back to work. See how these colors—blue, turquoise, and brown—influence the warp colors (also all leftovers)? It’s delightful.

Three threads are grouped together, and lengths are connected with square knots, and wound onto a quill for the boat shuttle. When I come to a knot while weaving, I untie the knot, overlap the threads in the shed, and leave weft tails exposed. I plan to clip the weft tails shorter, later, after wet finishing.

Where have your dreams and hopes been cut short? We all have times when disappointments make us wonder about our purpose. The Lord isn’t finished with you. As the Grand Weaver, he knows how to put leftovers to use. The Lord weaves us into connections with people. Influence a few for good. Your kind touch makes a difference in those lives with whom you personally intersect. The outcome is delightful.

May your connections be worthwhile.

Love,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    What a great way to turn lemons into lemonade! The towels will be beautiful!

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Karen, your message is well taken.. I hope you will be taking your own words to heart…as they so reflect who you are! You do, indeed, influence others, in your witnessing!
    I am totally amazed at your Beautiful Lizard; (he does deserve a name!) But even more, I am amazed at how you put the remaining warp to use, and at the same time, use left over threads, connected all along, for your weft.

    May God continue to bless you..and your husband, as he transitions into retirement and as you make adjustments, so both of you may enjoy time together.!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, Your thoughtfulness shines through in all your words! Thank you. I do aspire to be a positive influence when possible, so thank you for that affirmation.

      A name for the Lizard? Haha. I think I named him once, but I can’t remember what the name is. To me, I think he will always be Lizard, with a capital L.

      Steve’s retirement has been a blessing to both of us so far. We thoroughly enjoy the time we have together.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Tena Bell says:

    I am a brand new weaver and my instructor recommended your blog. Thank you for weaving life’s lessons into all that you do. God bless you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tena, I’m so thankful you decided to check out Warped for Good! (And please tell your weaving instructor I said thanks to her.)

      Feel free to ask questions as you wander into this weaving arena. You’re in for some great experiences at the loom!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beautiful solution Barb… very impressed that the small chains are being used and the towels are really special!
    bethany in Kingston ON

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bethany, I couldn’t throw them away. And I didn’t want to let those linen chains stay in the box too long. So I’m glad to have found a solution!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Karen, my waste not want not German grandma would be proud of you. Not only useful. Beautiful.
    Nannette

  • Lyna says:

    Waffle weave washcloths are a wonderful way to use those leftovers and bits! How big do you think they will be after wet finishing?
    Your reflections on the ‘Grand Weaver’ are part of why I follow your blog, thank you! One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 31:13, “She seeks out wool and flax and works with willing hands [to develop it].” (Amplified Version) It is deeply satisfying to make-with our own hands-things that are not only beautiful but useful and necessary to our homes. Plus weaving lends itself to so many metaphors!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lyna, I have never done waffle weave before, so I made my calculations based on an article in Väv Magazine for linen waffle weave. It said to expect 20% shrinkage. I have it at 44 cm on the loom, so hopefully, they will end up about 35.2 cm / 13-14″ wide. We’ll see… 🙂

      Yes, the verse in Proverbs 31 means a lot to me, as well! It’s sweet to make a connection with you in this way. Thanks so much for sharing your heart.

      In Him,
      Karen

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Process Review: Drawloom Jewels

It is exciting when Maverick walks by. Although he never comes in my drawloom studio, he does stop for a moment to look my way. You’ll see him in the slideshow video below. But what happens inside the studio is even more exciting, especially when it’s time for cutting off!

Drawloom with 16 pattern shafts.
Drawloom, set up with sixteen pattern shafts. I graph out the designs in Excel on my computer. Then, I print out the gridded pattern to use at the loom. I keep my place in the pattern with a magnet and magnet board made for cross-stitch embroidery.

This is Tuna wool, so I expect some shrinkage, but how much? I take careful measurements before and after wet finishing. Besides the main piece of fabric that I’m using for a garment, I have two sample pieces. I can experiment with the samples before wet finishing my garment fabric.

Here are my findings:
Sample 1. Hand wash and air dry.

10% shrinkage in width; 13% shrinkage in length.

Sample 2. Machine wash (3 minutes agitation on a gentle cycle, with a short spin) and machine dry (low setting) till damp, finish with air drying.

13% shrinkage in width; 14% shrinkage in length.

~How to do the shrinkage calculations~
First measurement (on the loom) minus the second measurement (after washing and drying) equals the difference. The difference divided by the first measurement equals the percentage difference.
For example, 50 cm – 43.5 cm = 6.5; 6.5 / 50 = 0.13; 13% shrinkage.

The first sample fabric is softer than the unwashed fabric, but not as soft as I’d like. The second sample fabric is beautifully soft, like a nice warm sweater. So, with confidence, I wet finish the garment fabric—with great results. It’s perfect for the fall/winter vest that I’ll soon be wearing, made from this fabric!

Wool garment fabric from a drawloom.
Like a sweater, this soft fabric will be comfortable to wear.
Making a pattern for handwoven garment fabric.
Muslin pattern for a simple vest. First, I’ll make a vest out of a wool throw, woven on my rigid heddle loom ages ago. Then, I will cut into the new drawloom fabric, with confidence about the fit.

Enjoy this photo show of the drawloom process.

May you enjoy the process you’re in.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

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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

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