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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Weaving History Carries Memories – Year in Review Video

Transition. Changes. Adventure into the unknown. That describes 2018 for Steve and me. When I review my weaving history for the year, everything on the loom is attached to a memory. Like an old song that awakens our thoughts to past experiences, the Lizard tapestry certainly sparks in me revived memories of our transition season and the moving of looms. See Quiet Friday: Tapestry in Transition.

Removing the warp beam. Relocating the loom.

Steve unscrews a bolster that holds one side of the warp beam so I can remove the warp beam.

I began 2018 with a plan to weave coordinated fabrics for our Texas hill country home—towels, upholstery for bar stools, and placemats, explained in this post: Harmonized Weaving for the New Year. Accomplished! I also committed to weaving a gift for each of my three daughters (daughter and two son’s wives), as described in this post: Weaving a Gift. Accomplished two out of three! The final gift is nearing halfway on the loom right now.

Hemstitching at the beginning of the cotton throw.

Cotton throw has hemstitching at the beginning. The ends will be twisted for fringe when it’s taken from the loom.

Eight-shaft twill in an undulating pattern. Lightweight cotton throw.

Eight-shaft twill in an undulating pattern. Single-shuttle weaving gets me off to a fast start for 2019.

2019 is a continuation of transition, changes, and adventure, as we tiptoe into this retirement chapter. A drawloom is in the forecast, as well as some travel tapestry weaving, and more rag rugs, towels, scarves, and throws. And anything else we can think up. It’s going to be a good year! Thank you for coming along. I’m grateful to have you as a friend.

May you have much to look forward to.

Blessings to you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    You’ve had an exciting and productive year. Wishing you all the best in 2019 and beyond.

  • Diane Leblanc says:

    I look forward to each post. I have had my loom for 38 years and it is retirement that finally gave me the time to weave and learn as I have always wished for. I am learning so many things I am inspired by weavers in my guild into their 80’s who are still weaving and learning. I wish us both a good weaving year in 2019

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane, It is wonderful to have fellow weavers like you on this journey with me. Learning new things is one thing I look forward to in 2019!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • ellen santana says:

    well i’m real happy to have you too. i did that undulating twill in wool a couple of times and it shrank like crazy. do you find that in cotton also? happy new year to you and your husband. ellen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, It’s good to hear from you!

      I haven’t done undulating twill in cotton before, so we shall see about the shrinkage. I’ll be sure to mention it when I take measurements after washing.

      Blessed new year to you,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Remarkable year!!

    Please continue sharing.

    Kind regards,

    Nannette

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New Year of Weaving Progress

This year is different. I’m going to get organized, keep every loom dressed, and bake fruit pies for my husband! Alas, good intentions are not a reliable measure of what my progress will be. I always want to do more than what I manage to get done.

Finishing work for cotton placemats.

Before washing and drying the fabric I examine it. I look for errors and clip off any weft tails.

Luggage ribbons made from handwoven scraps.

I cut the placemats to a uniform size. Scraps that were cut off will be used as ribbons to mark luggage for my daughter’s family as they prepare to travel. I simply zigzagged the edges of the scraps.

I washed, pressed, hemmed, and pressed again the twelve placemats. Finishing is finished. It’s a nice way to end one year and start the next. Measurable progress.

Pressing handwoven placemats.

Pressing in the dining room.

Twelve handwoven cotton placemats.

Twelve handwoven placemats. No two alike. Basket weave, color and weave effects. 8/2 cotton warp and weft.

Thankfully, our value isn’t wrapped up in what we accomplish. Or what we don’t. We need the Lord’s grace. It’s strength that’s beyond our own strength. Grow in grace. Grow in strength. That’s my prayer this year for you and for me.

New handwoven cotton placemats.

Welcome. Grace spoken here.

May your value be wrapped up in grace.

Happy New Weaving Year,
Karen

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Process Review: Twelve Placemats

Twelve placemats just came off the loom! Now, for the finishing work. Measuring, examining, repairing, washing and drying, and hemming. Soon they will be ready to dress the table for a home-cooked meal. Mmmm… The focus is on food and fellowship. The placemats are there to catch the drips and crumbs. And then, washed and made ready for the next meal.

8/2 cotton for placemats.

Striped warp is beamed.

Tied on and ready to weave.

Color and Weave placemats.

Color and weave produces different patterns.

Weaving in the afternoon shadows.

Weaving placemats in a sunny corner.

Variety of stripes with color and weave placemats.

Sisters in the color family!

Color gradation and color and weave.

Interesting shadows at the loom.

Christmas. While our focus is on food and fellowship, a beautiful mystery plays out right in front of us. A baby named Jesus entered the world. Christmas celebrates this. Jesus came to take away our offenses, catching our drips and crumbs. The mystery of God is glorious. This is the mystery: Jesus takes our stains, and we who trust in him come out washed and made ready for glory. This is good news, for which a weary world rejoices!

Weaving at night by the fire, Christmas lights reflected.

Plain weave placemats in color and weave.

The End!

Cutting off! Twelve 8/2 cotton placemats.

May your table be dressed for good times.

Have a glorious Christmas,
Karen

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Tried and True: Color Gradation

When I decided to use up some of the quills that have collected, I stumbled on one of my favorite techniques—color gradation. The weft colors change gradually instead of making distinct weft stripes. Remember the placemats on the little countermarch loom? I am weaving the last few.

Color gradation on plain weave with color and weave effects.

Using up thread left on quills for some color gradation play.

Doubled weft gives opportunity for easy color gradation.

Color and weave effects on plain weave. 8/2 cotton weft is doubled.

The quills on a double-bobbin shuttle don’t always empty at exactly the same time. The quill that has thread remaining on it goes in a box for later use. Those quills in the box are what I’m using here. For this placemat I’m letting gradient color changes happen in varying increments, according to the amount of thread left on the quill. I have five shades of 8/2 cotton, ranging from coral pink to pumpkin.

Colors for gradient weaving.

Color “sisters” play well together.

This is the perfect setup for some subtle color gradation: Five closely-related hues, a double-bobbin shuttle, and a supply of leftover quills. For best effect, I arrange the colors in order, from light to dark, or dark to light.

Color Gradation

  • Weave a section with two quills of color A (the lightest color)
  • Weave the next section with one quill of color A and one quill of color B (one shade darker than color A)
  • Weave the next section with two quills of color B
  • Weave the next section with one quill of color B and one quill of color C (one shade darker than color B)

And so on…

What could be simpler?

Color gradation.

Pumpkin color adds a pleasing subtle accent to the corals and reds in the cloth.

May you make something beautiful with the little bits that you have.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Ruth Terry says:

    Such a lovely way to play with color. I often transition from one color to another without a hard line by weaving 1 pick with new color, 4 picks with old color, 2 picks with new color, 3 picks with old color, 3 picks with new color, 2 picks with old color, 4 picks with new color, 1 pick with old color and transition complete. Will try your double bobbin change next time I am ready to play with colors. Blessings during this advent season, Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Thanks for sharing another way to transition the colors. That’s a great way to achieve a lovely gradient.

      It would be fun to do a sample piece with various ways to do color gradations. Or, that would be an interesting study group project.

      Advent blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    We turned on the Spurs game the other night and I took one look at the other team’s uniform and said “gradient!” Not something you often see in a basketball uniform, lol.

    Love the placemat!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, That’s too funny! Who else is even going to notice such things? …unless we call it the popular name-“ombré,” meaning shaded in French.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Vivian says:

    I realized on a recent project the subtle transition between two light colours, in different tones added depth. I decided to shake up the mix and make the transitions much narrower in the next project and didn’t have as near an interesting effect. It needed large areas each for contrast.
    I love your pattern too

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