Weaving through The Big Book

It took me seven years of study, practice, and mistakes to complete this rigorous Swedish weaving curriculum! You have been with me through much of it right here. I’m talking about The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I made it through the book, sequentially, page by page, warp by warp. 43 warps in all! Remember the blue 12-shaft double-weave blanket I had on the loom in June? That is the final project in the book.

Handwoven double weave blanket. 12 shafts.
Double-weave wool fabric is ready for wet finishing, where it will be transformed into a soft, cozy blanket.

In the short video below, each completed project is presented in order in our Texas hill country home. Watch to the end to see the blue blanket in all its finished glory.

For nitty-gritty details, check out The Big Book of Weaving tab at the top of the page.

I. Secrets to success:

  • mindset of a student
  • determination
  • eyes on the goal
  • no option other than completion

One loom dedicated to the book.


II. Lessons learned:

  • technique
  • processes
  • planning
  • drafting
  • Swedish practices

Any mistake can be remedied.


III. Treasures gained:

  • patience
  • humility
  • endurance
  • focused attention
  • problem solving
  • creative freedom

Confidence.


IV. Prized perspectives:

  • new experiences
  • delight of dressing the loom
  • wonder of cloth-making
  • fresh ideas
  • joy of discovery
  • knowledge and understanding of the loom

Getting lost and absorbed in the whole process of weaving.

V. Favorite project: Old-Fashioned Weaving / Monksbelt (at 4:46 in the video)

Are we determined students of heavenly things? Oh, to know God’s will! Study what’s written, don’t lose heart, eyes on the prize, no option besides completion through Jesus Christ. One life dedicated to know him. Day by day, warp by warp, the Grand Weaver teaches us. We can know God’s will.

May you be a lifelong learner.

Happy Weaving to you,
Karen

38 Comments

  • Susie Redman says:

    Well done. It’s such a great book. I’m picking and choosing from the book – its a great way to learn.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Your work is so inspiring, Karen. I recall many of these projects, here and in Handwoven. Do you have a personal favorite? One that you’ll perhaps explore even further? Kudos!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much! My personal favorite is the monksbelt piece—the large multicolor runner on the dining room table. And yes, I have monksbelt ideas that I would like to explore. Another one I’d like to play around with and learn more about is the turned rosepath—the long narrow red band. There are so many possibilities!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    What a splendid presentation, Karen! You have accomplished so much, and each one is beautiful! Thanks for sharing, it was fun!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation. It was a lot of fun for me to put together, going back in time remembering all the projects.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Such a feast for the eyes!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Wow and Wow! Such an accomplishment! And your lovely home showcases all those projects beautifully. Thanks for making this video and thanks for your encouragement. I’m currently doing the Jane Stafford online guild lessons with a new video lesson and project every five weeks. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming but I’m determined to try each one. I’ve already learned so much!
    Thanks again for your encouragement and dedication, both to your weaving and for sharing your weaving and faith with others. It DOES make a big difference to many.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, I know how you feel. Many times I was overwhelmed and even discouraged about completing this mammoth dream. Keep pressing on with your lessons, it WILL be worth it–I promise! And between the hard parts, I really had a lot of fun! So enjoy it, too.

      I really appreciate your encouragement to me. It means more than you know.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Hi, Karen! I remember that you recommended this book to me last July was exploring what loom to purchase for my first multi shaft loom. I ended up purchasing a small table loom, a Louet Erica Loom so decided not to purchase the book since I would not have the capacity to work many of the projects.

    However, I recently purchased a larger loom and now, I believe that I will purchase this book. Thank you for sharing this and tweaking my memory of your recommendation.

    Everything you make is so beautiful! You are a wonderful inspiration to a beginning weaver.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The Big Book of Weaving has been my tutor. I started with it as a complete beginner. It was written as a curriculum, so it has everything I needed to gain skill and confidence. I hope you find it a great resource for learning.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    That video is amazing. As I hadn’t found you then, I didn’t know that you were following this book and studying your way through it. What a lovely compilation of work and color. Thank you

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Only a handful of people knew I was working my way through the book. I have mentioned The Big Book of Weaving here many times, but this is my first time to mention here on the blog that I was going through the book, step by step. I didn’t want too many people to “guess” what project I would do next… 🙂

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Congratulations, Karen! I remember when you started working through The Big Book of Weaving, but I didn’t remember it had been 7 years. What a great learning experience! Did you use all the same yarns as the projects called for?

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years, isn’t it? For most of the projects I used the yarns that were called for, but in colors of my choosing. I did change a few, though. For instance, two projects call for paper yarn. I didn’t know a good resource for that, so I substituted 8/2 cotton for one, and 16/1 linen for the other. So, for those I have beautiful scarves instead of room screens, which suits me better anyway.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Karen, I’m speechless. There are no words for my admiration of not only your artistic vision, but also the incredible amount of work clearly visible in the lovely video. Thank you for all the encouragement and advice you’ve given us you worked through the Big Book. MORE happy weaving to you. Joanna

    (My v. Favorite piece of your is also that fantastic monks belt. I think you captured all the lovely colors of the Texas Hill Country. It couldn’t be more perfect.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m fortunate to have a place where I can talk about things that I learn! Thanks for joining in!
      Every time I look at that monks belt piece, I get warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s so cheerful! I’m happy you like it, too!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kerimae says:

    You inspire me! As you know! 🙂

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    Truly inspirational. Thank you for your diligence and following the goal.
    What a lesson in perseverance. Warm glow…… -Carolyn Penny

  • Vida Clyne says:

    Congratulations on completing such an amazing and inspirational project. I love all the patterns and the lovely colours. I have not got the book but your lovely video makes me think I will buy it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vida, I am very happy to hear your thoughts about my adventure! This is one weaving book I wouldn’t do without. 🙂

      Thank you very much!
      Karen

  • Gail Goodrick says:

    What an inspiration this is! Your work is wonderful. I love your color choices. Love, love love…

  • Sue Blanding-Wilson says:

    So inspiring! I will look at my book with new eyes!

  • Maria Hanson says:

    Wow! I so enjoy following your work, but seeing everything in one video is just amazing! Congratulations on such a major accomplishment!

  • Penelope kept the suitors at bay for 10 years weaving one tapestry. What a remarkable legacy of a textile artist in 7 years!
    AND.. the hand wovens are not kept in a chest to pull out and admire. Basis the hems on the towels, they are being used. Beautiful!!
    Thank you for sharing. PS welcome back from your sabbatical.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Thank you for noticing. Yes, the articles were made to be used, and they are used and enjoyed.

      It’s good to be back.
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        One of the sweetest moments was when I saw one of my patched blankets worn to the point of being hand mended. Textiles will age one way or another. It fills my heart knowing the ones that pass through my hands are used daily.

        • Karen says:

          That is sweet to think of your handiwork being used to the point of needing hand mending. I agree that the best handwoven items are the ones being used.

          Karen

  • Cindy Buvala says:

    Wow! I am very impressed! A 10 minute video doesn’t do justice to the hours and hours of weaving work that precedes it. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your talent.

  • Karen Reff says:

    I haven’t looked at that book in so long. I’m definitely going back for another look! I hope you realize what an amazing thing you’ve done!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I frequently go to the book for reference. It answers so many questions for me.

      I just took one step, and then the next step, and so on. I’m not sure I would have started had I known how long it would take me. But I’m very happy to have taken that first step…and so on.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Double-Width Blanket Progress

Do you ever feel like you are just not making progress? Stopping bad habits and starting good ones can feel like that. Or, what about that craft project you meant to finish before Thanksgiving? The loom is one place where progress is visible. You can’t fool yourself; the cloth beam shows you how far you have progressed. I find it encouraging to see the fabric that has been woven. What starts with an idea shows up as cloth.

Blanket idea with eleven colors of wool.

It all started with an idea and eleven colors of wool.

As we settle into the very end of this year, we know that time keeps rolling on. The warp keeps advancing. This is a great time to look at the cloth beam of our life and see the progress. Like this blanket, much has been accomplished, but there’s more work ahead before it is time to cut it from the loom.

Bottom layer of double weave blanket is spread on the loom.

Bottom layer is spread on the loom.

Upper layer of double weave is spread on the loom.

Upper layer is spread on the loom; and the two layers are combined on the back tie-on bar. Two sets of lease sticks keep all the ends in order.

Beaming on double weave blanket with warping trapeze.

Beaming on two warps at once. After removing the choke ties, I beamed on with the warping trapeze, slowly and carefully. I stopped every few inches to check everything, to make sure nothing was getting hung up anywhere.

Sampling helps determine optimum weft colors.

Sampling helps determine weft colors, as well as checking the sett and weft density.

Warp ends ready to tie onto front tie-on bar.

Sample is cut off and warp ends are tied in bundles, ready to re-tie to front tie-on bar.

Wool Blanket sample piece after wet finishing and brushing.

Sample piece, after wet finishing, air drying, and brushing.

Fringe, twisted on the loom, at the beginning of the wool blanket. Follow progress.

Fringe, twisted on the loom, goes over the breast beam as the body of the blanket is being woven.

Pics show double weave blanket progress on the loom.

Progress is revealed. The beginning blanket fringe has reached the cloth beam! The fold edge of the blanket is in view.

Dusk dims, yet enriches, the colors. Karen Isenhower

Dusk dims the colors, yet enriches them at the same time.

Hand-carved Nativity on handwoven bound rosepath. The Isenhowers.

Glad-hearted Christmas to all! The camel is this year’s new figure in the hand-carved Nativity by Steve Isenhower. Bound rosepath provides the backdrop.

May you enjoy reflecting on the progress you have made this year.

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Deb says:

    Merry Christmas! The colors in the blanket are lovely. As I reflect on progress made this year, I find that I am thankful for your weekly posts. Thanks so much for being a part of my progress in 2014. Blessings to you and yours in 2015!

    • Karen says:

      Merry Christmas to you, Deb!

      I feel very honored to be included in what has been meaningful to you in 2014! Looking forward to the coming year with you.

      Karen

  • Geri says:

    I am in awe of the nativity set your husband is carving, it is marvelous, as is your blanket !!

    • Karen says:

      Geri, thanks for your compliments! Steve is carving 5 Nativity pieces each year – his mother, our daughter, our two daughters-in-law, and me. Five camels this year. We are very blessed by his giving nature and his skill.

      Merry Christmas,
      Karen

  • Helen Hart says:

    Your colors are beautiful. What brand of wool did you use. Is it woolen spun? And what was your sett? How many shafts? Just beautiful. Yes, thanks for your column and support. Oh yes, how wide was your warp on your loom? I am just curious. Colors are just stunning,. Thank you

    • Karen says:

      Hi Helen,

      I’m glad you like the colors! I am using Borgs 6/2 Tuna Wool that I purchased from Vavstuga.com. You can also get it from GlimakraUSA.com.
      I am using metric measurements for this project, and my sett is 6 ends per centimeter on each layer (12 ends altogether), using a metric 30/10 dent reed. That’s about 15 epi American on each layer (30 ends altogether).
      Four shafts, four treadles.
      Warp width 77cm (30 1/4 inches).

      Looking forward to the new year with you!
      Karen

  • l says:

    so what did you decide about the fold? Your doing and using some terms and processes I’ve not seen before. I warp front to back, what is a Trapeeze?, no metal “guards” on the loom breasts. Very Interesting. I wish I was closer to observe your methods. I weav on Maycombers , a 36 and a 48 with many pedals, double back beam, and 8 harnesses. Why the stretcher??????????????? lp&J, linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda,

      I enjoy your questions and comments!
      The fold is sleyed half, with 2 ends/dent. After I throw the shuttle, I insert my index finger between the outer warps to make sure the weft doesn’t pull in on the fold side.
      I always warp back to front – I am very comfortable with the process; it has served me well. Warping with a trapeze is something I learned from Becky Ashenden at Vavstuga. It is a way of stretching out the warp over a high cross bar and weighting the warp as it is being beamed; it provides for very even tensioning during the process.
      I have only woven on countermarche and counterbalance looms. I haven’t woven on jack looms at all (except for one time at a weaving workshop).
      I don’t have a double back beam, and have never seen one in use; but I understand what it is for, and think it would be useful for some projects.
      I have 8 shafts for my 47″ countermarche, but I remove the extra shafts when they are not in use. I only need four shafts (harnesses) for this blanket project, so the other shafts are put away in the closet.
      Why the stretcher (temple)? That is my favorite way to keep the weaving from drawing in, giving me consistent selvedges. It seems like a common tool among people who weave according to Swedish traditions.

      With my Swedish looms, I enjoy learning the Swedish traditions in weaving techniques. It’s my goal to learn as much of that as possible. Joanne Hall and Becky Ashenden have been great helps to me in that endeavor.

      Thanks for your interest and input,
      Karen

  • linda says:

    Beckey was weaving at Hill Institutre with me many years ago. She was in the class before me. Her studio/school is on the way to our home in Vt., really small world we live in. She has always been one of my favorrite characters, and the only one I know that warps that way. She learned in Sweden I believe., linda

  • linda says:

    Do you also know Mikala Sidor, tapestry weaver? She’s in my area also. She does large tapesteries and sometimes gives classes. She studied in Paris at the tapestery studios there. way beyond me in talent and patience. most of her work is very fine (ie shading faces). Your weaving and productivity is wondrful. love your site. love, peace, and Joy, linda

  • Amaryllis says:

    Olá, I wonder how it weaves rosepath , threading, treadling you could help me , I’m not here in Brazil too much information , I can use a loom 4treadles.
    I need to have something like the drawdown Rosepath.
    thank you sincerely love your work and hope that one day I can be as good at weaving like you.

  • Tamara says:

    In your 9th picture on this page I see fringes already twisted while on the loom. Do you tie on like this?

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Romance and Whimsy

Our Melody was princess of the day. You could see the white chairs from a distance that told the world, “Wedding!” It was a romantic outdoor setting, under a canopy of majestic old oak trees, appropriate for wedding vows spoken with lifetime integrity. Lights in the trees, mason jars with flowers, and popsicles brought whimsy and laughter to the celebration. (There was an evening breeze that made the air surprisingly cool. I was thankful for the warmth of my handwoven huck lace bamboo shawl.) Everything beckoned guests to come closer. And if you were close enough, you could smell the fragrance of the purple larkspur in Melody’s bridal bouquet!

Bride's wedding dress and bouquet is displayed on bound rosepath by her mother and hope chest built by her father.

Melody’s bridal bouquet in her grandmother’s Fostoria vase, rests on my handwoven bound rosepath piece that is laying on the hope chest built by her father. Melody’s memorable wedding dress completes the scene.

Our heavenly Father is like that, beckoning us to come take a closer look. Close enough to enjoy warmth in the breeze, smell the flowers, and wonder at the mystery of true love.

Bride and Mom just before the wedding.

Bride and Mom sharing laughter and smiles just before the wedding!

May you come close enough to enjoy the details prepared for you.

With Romance in the Air,
Karen

3 Comments

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    Congratulations! I have been thinking about you a lot this last week. Especially on Saturday, which came up with the perfect weather for an outdoor wedding ceremony. The two of you are so beautiful! A wedding day is a very special day, not just for the bride, but for the mom, too.

    I am very happy to have realized that being a mom doesn’t stop on our child’s wedding day 🙂 To have learned that there will be many more very special days to share — where we are brought closer together in “good times and in bad”. Which is something that has made me, if not enjoy, so at least appreciate the value of bad times as much as the joy of good times.

    From one mom to another!
    Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      I appreciate your wisdom, Elisabeth. I’m always learning from you!

      The weather couldn’t have been better. We were so very thankful for a beautiful sun-shiney (but not too hot) day!

      Love,
      Karen

  • Wende says:

    Lovely!

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Bound Rosepath – More Yarn and Time, Please!

I still had patterns I wanted to try in bound rosepath; but, alas, there is no more Brage wool yarn in my hands. I ran out of weft before I ran out of warp! With five colors of this wool weft, it seemed like the variations on this rosepath threading were limitless. Imagine how it would be if you had two or three times that many colors to work with! You might never find an end to all the design options!

Bound rosepath just off the loom. Karen Isenhower

Brage wool in five colors covers the surface in this weft-faced weave structure, bound rosepath.

I was not ready to stop playing with this interesting weave structure, exploring the possibilites. Indeed, I had several more ideas lined up. If I had all the yarn in the world, I would need all the time in the world, too, because the discovery process is so intriguing. But eventually, I would run out of ideas.

We have heard that God is worthy of unceasing praise. Perhaps that is because there is no end to his love and goodness; and the riches of his mercy and grace are infinite. Maybe there are so many exquisite facets to learn about our creator that it will take eternity to discover them all. We might as well start now.

May you enjoy the intrigue of exploration and discovery.

Weaving onward,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Judith says:

    Karen
    Your boundweave is pretty amazing. I have a good friend trained in weaving in
    Norway who has tried to teach me boundweave. That’s when I first suspected
    I had a late onset learning disability (lol)! I am awed by your rugs!

    • Karen says:

      Judith, you are so kind!

      It takes a little while to get the hang of bound rosepath. I think it uses hidden parts of the brain. Ha ha. After a while, I was able to just weave without thinking so hard. This was so much fun!

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

  • Teri Perkins says:

    Just beautiful!

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    So, so beautiful. I hope you can rebuild your stash and get back to this structure.
    Have you decided what you are going to do with it yet?

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Laurie. So sweet of you to say that! I certainly do want to play with this structure again.

      Truthfully, I have not decided what to do with it. I could use it for a wall-hanging, but I would much prefer finding a functional use. It would be perfect as a cover for a quaint little bench, but I don’t happen to have a bench just that size. …maybe I could get my husband to make one?…

      I welcome suggestions!

  • Mel Agen says:

    Your bound rosepath weaving is beautiful. I am very interested in doing such weaving as this. My grandmother and grandfather are from Norway and great grandfather from Sweden. I love those patterns. I have been weaving krokbragd with some success. But this bound rosepath has many more pattern possibilities. I only have a 4 harness floor loom. Can it be done with this? Good weaving to you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mel, Thank you for the kind compliment! You have a wonderful family heritage – there are so many fantastic Norwegian and Swedish handweaving traditions.

      Yes, this decorative bound rosepath has many pattern possibilities, which makes it very interesting to weave. Surprisingly, you only need 4 shafts (harnesses) to weave this, and 6 treadles (2 treadles for plain weave).

      I used the draft from “The Big Book of Weaving,” by Laila Lundell, p. 122.

      I have not done krokbragd, but I like the look of it very much. I will have to try krokbragd, too.

      Good weaving to you, too.
      Karen

  • Cindy says:

    I love your weaving as much as your thoughts to ponder. Thank you for sharing.

    Cindy

  • Jenni says:

    Hi Karen
    I just found your blog and I love the way you relate your weaving to life and God. And I love your weaving. So far, I especially like the Rosepath. What have you used for the warp?? What is the pattern thread?? And did you just make up your mind as you went along what colour you would use or did you have a plan?? Was it your plan or is it in a book somewhere??? (You might have guessed I am a new weaver and so full of questions. I am just warping my 4 shaft floor look now with a nice long cottolin warp in rosepath, sett is 20epi. Planning to use the same thread as the tabby and then for some pieces I will use double Cottolin and for other fingering weight wool… what do you think??? But I am so impressed with all your colour choices. It looks like Fair Isle knitting.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenni, I’m so glad you found this little corner of the weaving world! Welcome!
      The bound rosepath draft for this project came from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p.122. The warp is 16/3 linen, and the pattern thread is Brage wool yarn, 3,400 m/kg. I followed the draft in the book, but I did make up the pattern as I went along, using colors I selected. Bound rosepath is completely weft-faced, meaning the warp is covered entirely. It takes four passes of weft for each row in the weaving. This is slow weaving, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable!
      You can’t go wrong with a cottolin warp! Sounds like you are set up for some fun and interesting weaving. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You will discover what works and what doesn’t, so keep good notes.

      Thank you for leaving your thoughts and questions!
      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    What is your warp sett?

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What Linen Is Like

Linen makes a strong warp. Known for strength and longevity, linen cloth endures for years and years. It is almost impossible to break a linen thread with your bare hands. Why, oh, why, then, is it so easy to break linen warp ends while weaving?! One reason: Abrasion. Linen is like a gentle heart. It needs to be cared for and nurtured; but don’t underestimate the underlying strength.

Bound Rosepath on the loom. Five shuttles with colorful Brage wool yarn.

Five shuttles with colorful Brage wool yarn, each one waiting its turn as weft in the bound rosepath weave. The 16/3 unbleached linen warp, completely hidden in this weft-faced weave, gives lasting strength and stability to the cloth.

At the start of this bound rosepath project I had several linen warp ends break at the selvedge. The weaving was drawing in; consequently, the ends at the outer edges were receiving abrasion from the reed, causing the ends to fray and break. So, I began using more weft for each pick, by increasing the angle of weft in the shed. By doing this, I stopped the excessive draw-in. This simple correction made all the difference. No more broken warp ends. The reed is not a threat when appropriate weaving practices are in place.

Stay gentle, my friend. Gentleness feels; so be aware of the abrasion, and make corrections. Don’t allow bitterness or disappointment to linger from times of hardship, wearing you to the breaking point. The people in your life need your gentleness. Gentleness is the underlying strength of satisfying relationships.

May your most important relationships gain strength because of your gentleness.

Your friend,
Karen

Here are previous posts with views of the bound rosepath on the loom:

Thanks Giving

Do You See What I See?

You May be Looking at the Under Side

Not Your Usual Search Engine

5 Comments

  • Pam says:

    Beautiful pattern, and colors and a great reminder of how we need to be gentle, not only to others but to ourselves as well
    Thank you for sharing
    Blessings

  • Laurie says:

    Those deep rich colors just draw me in. I love this project, and have enjoyed watching the progress you are making on it. I especially appreciate the reminder about gentleness. I very much needed this message today. Thank you, Karen.

  • Karen says:

    Pam and Laurie,

    I wrote these thoughts about gentleness as a reminder to myself, really; so I’m glad it touched a chord with you, as well.

    Thank you for the compliments on the weaving. The patterns and colors feel rich to me. I can’t explain it, exactly; but I derive great pleasure from this type of creative activity — even if the cloth ends up serving no other purpose. 🙂

  • Gretchen says:

    Karen, beautiful words… and a beautiful analogy to keep in mind for daily living. I can’t wait to see your bound weave project. Happy weaving. Hope to see you soon.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Gretchen, I am excited to say that this bound rosepath came off the loom last night! I’ll have pics soon. And I hope to see you soon, too, and show it to you in person.
      I’m glad the words were meaningful for you.

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