Quiet Friday: My Young Apprentice

Any handweaver who finds willing and able help is indeed fortunate. If you find an apprentice you love to have at your side, that’s even better. I consider myself especially blessed to have such an apprentice—a young lady who frequents my weaving studio and shares my delight in the wonder of turning threads into cloth.

Young apprentice. First time at the loom.

First time at the big loom.

Cotton and linen tubes of thread sorted and arranged by color.

Cotton and linen tubes of thread are all sorted by type and arranged by color. Thanks to my young apprentice.

Juliana assisted on this spaced rep rag rug project from start to finish. She helped me beam the warp and thread the heddles. I wove four of the rugs, and she wove one complete rug herself. It is only fitting for her to help with the cutting off! And, oh, what a joy it is to see freshly woven rugs roll off the cloth beam!

Finishing the rugs is still ahead. When we have them hemmed, I will bring you an update with pictures of our completed treasures.

Five rag rugs rolled up, ready for finishing.

Five rag rugs rolled up. Next step is to tie warp ends and hand-stitch hems.

Enjoy the slideshow video below that shows our process. And enjoy our cutting off celebration as shown in the following detail shots. (Photo credit: Christie Lacy)

Cutting off!

Cutting off!

Cutting off!

Cutting off - A few ends at a time.

Rag rug cutting off!

Untying the warp. Rag rugs just off the loom.

Releasing new rag rugs from the loom.

Taking new rag rugs off the loom.

May you keep your youthful delight.

Thankful,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Day at the Drawloom

There is a unique and special weaving place I have been privileged to enjoy on a few occasions. Homestead Fiber Crafts in Waco, Texas. You can immerse yourself in weaving there, in a setting that is entirely peaceful and pleasant. A rare find. And the people there are an important part of the treasure. Plus, tea and fresh biscotti from the bakery. And sometimes, homemade chocolate chip cookies, too.

(Don’t miss my little slideshow at the end of this post. Watch all the way to the end to see my favorite side of the finished piece.)

Last year, I heard about Fiber Crafts’ Weaving Extravaganza, where looms are dressed for various projects and you can reserve a loom for the day (or half day). And their big, beautiful drawloom was included. Sign me up! I wove a towel with chicks and “EGGS.” Sure, there are some pattern mistakes. But that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of this learning experience.

Drawloom weaving.

Last year’s drawloom piece.

Now, this week I am at the drawloom again, relishing every moment. A black warp sets the stage for elegance, and I choose a poinsettia pattern that has been drawn on a piece of graph paper. Red and blue linen weft become brilliant in the black warp. I learn how easy it is to make an error in the pattern. And how hard it is to undo an error. But skill comes with practice. Finally, on my fifth (and sixth, and seventh) row of poinsettias, I complete the pattern without errors. And, the pattern mistakes on those first four rows only serve to prove the adage, “Practice makes perfect.”

Here’s a short Instagram clip of the sights and sounds of sitting at the drawloom in a room with other active weaving looms.

Myrehed combination drawloom frame

Myrehed combination drawloom frame.

Glimakra Julia loom. Drawloom towels hanging on wall. Homestead in Waco.

Other drawloom towel examples hang on the wall beside my friend Elisabeth. She is weaving a beautiful cotton waffle weave towel on a Glimåkra Julia loom.

May you expand your experience.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Susie Weitzel says:

    Thanks for your posts and beautiful videos. It makes my chaotic world a little more serene.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am so happy for you, Karen! What a wonderful opportunity!

    I must admit that I had to go to the Glimarkra site to read up on the drawloom. It sounds incredibly complex! Your poinsettias are beautiful but I think I like the hens and eggs best.

    The Homestead Fiber crafts is on my bucket list. I am hoping to take some classes there later next year.

    Have a blessed day.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m glad you looked at the Glimakra site as a resource. It has great information about different types of looms. I read up on drawlooms there, too, recently.
      I hope you get a chance to visit Homestead. It’s such a pleasant place!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    FUN! Love those chickens! It’s amazing what one can do on the drawloom! I spent several days weaving on one once, made a beautiful pattern and decided I did not want to own one. I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, Those chickens are pretty cute! While I was weaving, I was thinking, hmmm, how can I work it out to get one of these drawlooms in my home… hahaha. someday, maybe…

      Karen

  • Martha Witcher says:

    What a lovely and peaceful day you had at the draw loom. One of these days I just have to find somewhere near MN to learn the basics of draw loom, it has been calling to me for years. Love the chickens!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, It was a very satisfying time at the loom. Minnesota surely has some drawlooms with all the Scandinavian weaving that comes from that region. I hope you find a chance to do that! You’ll enjoy it!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Painting with Yarn and Animated Images

I have often wished I had the skill of artistic drawing. How wonderful it would be to portray a slice of creation using pencil lines, or pastels, or with watercolors and a paintbrush. Instead, though, I’ve been delighted to find that I can “draw” and “paint” with threads and yarn. By capturing a slice of creation through my iPhone camera lens, the hard part has already been done. All I have to do is translate the photo into a woven image. And what a joy that is!

Here is a glimpse of my process of weaving the Texas hill country Cactus and Bluebonnets transparencies.

(Don’t miss the amazing animated images at the end of this post that my son, Daniel, made of these woven transparency projects!)

Yarn for a woven transparency.

Planning a woven transparency.

Beginning cactus woven transparency.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Cactus woven transparency just off the loom!

Woven transparency cactus. Karen Isenhower

Planning a woven transparency.

Beginning bluebonnets in a woven transparency.

Woven transparency. Bluebonnets

Woven transparency. Bluebonnets

Woven transparency. Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets woven transparency just off the loom!

Woven transparency bluebonnets. Karen Isenhower

Bluebonnets photo morph to woven transparency.

May you find joy in what you’ve been given to do.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

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Quiet Friday: Serenity Towels

The neutral colors and the quiet elegance of these towels say “serenity.” What a pleasure to weave M’s and O’s. This was mostly single-shuttle weaving! Uncomplicated, luxurious, and serene. Five towels, plus one very long table runner that I made specifically for our dining room table. The fine 20/1 line linen weft increases the visual and tactile elegance for me.

I’m still amazed when I see the results that come from threads and a weaving loom. And thrilled that I get to be a part of that experience. Enjoy this short slide-show video of the process.

May serenity be woven into your days.

All the best,
Karen

22 Comments

  • Kerry Fagan says:

    Just beautiful and inspiring work. Love M &O’s and agree on serenity while weaving it. Your fluid ratios and colours are wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kerry, Your sweet words put a smile on my face this morning! Thanks for your kindness.
      M’s and O’s is one of those favorites I will keep coming back to.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Sabine says:

    Beautiful, Kerry! And the music you’ve chosen complements the mood perfectly.

  • Cathy M. says:

    I’m so happy I came across your blog and receive your posts! I’ve learned so much from you, and seeing the photos of your work fills me with a sense of calm about MY weaving. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cathy, It’s my greatest hope that this would be a place where people can learn something useful, so I’m thrilled by your kind words! I’m sure your weaving is beautiful. A sense of calm is always a good thing for weaving, and for everything.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    What a beautiful way to begin my day. Thank you for sharing your work and creativity.

  • Ghislaine says:

    Très beau, félicitations, belle présentation.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Morning Karen,
    They are so beautiful, I love them!!! Your video is great too, I love seeing the weaving that comes off the loom, it is always amazing to me!!

    • Karen says:

      Liberty, Thank you so much! I am fond of this fabric, too. It is so lightweight, and has a wonderful sheen because of the linen weft.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • martha chiang says:

    Hello Karen,

    I love your slideshow and tomorrow I will watch it again with the music, husband and big dogs on bed are trying to sleep. I am a brand new weaver and not sure how I found my way to your site a couple of weeks ago, but I am really glad that I did. Intimidating though it is to see what someone like you can do with so much experience and equipment, etc.

    I love your serenity towels. I wove my first towels a couple of weeks ago, and I am now working on getting a warp wound and onto my loom for a scarf. I had a few local weavers (unfortunately not just one!) come and each help me get my first warp on my loom for my first project. What this means to me is that I have seen lots of different ways to do this, but am now a bit terrified to do it all alone this time around.

    But one way or another, the warp will get onto my loom and then from there the weaving is just so rhythmical and meditative and seems to take no time or effort at all.

    Well, hope I can learn too even though I am a bare beginner.

    Warmly,
    Martha

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, Of course you can learn! Every one of us started as a bare beginner.

      I know what you mean about seeing several ways of warping the loom. It can be confusing. I have some great resources I like to recommend that give step-by-step pictures and explanations for warping the loom back to front. The books are listed at the end of this post: Quiet Friday: Warping Back to Front with Confidence.

      Every baby step forward is exciting!

      Welcome to the world of weaving,
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Karen,

        I had been to your post once before on Warping Back to Front with Confidence, and so now having looked at that post again and taken an even more careful look at the 3 books you recommend, I have an important question. My first loom in from Harrisville Designs, neither a countermarch nor a counterbalance loom, not a Swedish loom nor do I have a trapeze. I have been cautioned repeatedly agagainst taking in too much weaving info all at once–in your opinion, would these 3 books still be appropriate for me? When I look at your lovely photos, I feel a bit lost, your loom looks so very different from mine. Thank you in advance, Martha

        • Karen says:

          Martha, I believe your Harrisville Designs is a jack loom. I don’t have any experience with jack looms, but I know you can use the same principles of back-to-front warping. I’m not going to be able to give you specific advice regarding your loom. Before I had a trapeze, I laid the warp out on the floor in front of the loom and put weights (bricks covered with cloth) on it. Many people use a helper to pull the warp as it is wound on. So you don’t have to have a trapeze for warping with this method.

          The book that might be most helpful for what you need right now is Joanne Hall’s book, “Learning to Warp Your Loom.” I’m pretty sure you would be able to make sense of her clear instructions, and adapt them to your type of loom.

          Karen

  • tw says:

    Karen,
    I hope you get as much enjoyment out of making these videos and slideshows as we get from watching them. They always provide creative inspiration and food for thought. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Theo

  • tsw says:

    I just realized where you live and am keeping you and fellow & sister Texans in my thoughts. I hope you and yours are safe.

    Theo

    • Karen says:

      Theo, Thank you very much for thinking of us! We are safe, but many friends are struggling right now. I’ll have a short update on my blog post tomorrow morning.

      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Handwoven Handbags

Is there such a thing as too many handbags, pocketbooks, tote bags, and purses? Of course not. Naturally, my favorite handbags are made from handwoven fabric. Linings made from remnants, handwoven bands used for shoulder straps, hidden zippers, and, of course pockets–these are the details that other people will seldom notice. Yet these are the details that make me smile every time I use one of these bags.

Handwoven handbags - with 1 minute video.

Nineteen handwoven handbags. Various sizes, fibers, styles, and purposes. And colors. Lots of colors!

…You know that box of handwoven bits and pieces? Those weavings from the end of the warp, and the “scraps” from various projects? Hmm… looks like I might need to make another handbag or two.

Here is my collection of handwoven handbags, divided into a few categories. Plus, a short video just for the fun of it!

Rigid Heddle Loom

Handbags from fabric woven on a rigid heddle loom.

Wool, novelty chenille yarn, crochet cotton, and narrow fabric strips are used for weft in these bags. Buttons are from my grandma’s button jar. The small rag-weave pocketbook has a permanent home in my daily handbag. The fabric for these bags was woven on my Beka 32″ rigid heddle loom.

Handwoven fabric for handbags from the rigid heddle loom.

Linings are from remnants of other sewing projects. Bag handles were woven on my inkle loom.

Travel Finds

Handwoven handbags from international travels.

Trips to The Philippines yielded interesting woven goods by artisans there. The green stripe tote bag is woven from native plant material, and the teal and burgundy purse is a beautiful example of ikat weaving. The colorful weft-faced woven shoulder bag and the purple bag with lovely weft-float patterning came from travel to Chile.

Project Carriers

Handwoven project bags.

Large tote bag, woven with 1/4″ fabric strips for weft, carries my “show and tell” when I go to my weaving study group. It’s known as the “Mary Poppins Bag.” Rag-rug bag in the center has straps, woven on the band loom, that were woven into the bag. This bag carries my portable tapestry weaving. The rag rug bag on the right carries my one-and-only crochet project.

Special Use

Handwoven handbags.

Linen bag has beads woven into the fabric. It is lined with satin. Rag-weave purse is simply a flat piece folded in half, with lining and pockets added to the inside. The blue bag is wool, woven in a weft-cord technique. The fabric was partially fulled to produce the ribbed texture.

Handwoven lining in a handwoven purse.

Lining for this bag is made from extra fabric after weaving cotton/linen fabric for cushions, and the pocket is a remnant from a two-block twill tencel scarf.

Daily Use Favorites

Favorite handwoven handbags! Karen Isenhower

Representing some of my “firsts.” The brown and blue small shoulder bag is from one of my first cottolin towel projects. This is what I did when the last piece was too short to use for a towel. The green and turquoise clutch has remnants of my first ever handwoven towel, my first rosepath rag rug, and my first big rep weave project! The blue shoulder bag is the bag I use every day. It’s a remnant from the baby wrap I wove for my daughter’s first baby. It’s lined with a remnant from an Easter dress I made for her when she was a little girl.

May you carry your handiwork with you.

Happy weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Mary Kay Stahley says:

    I would love to know where to get patterns to make a bag. Have yardage and really want to turn it into a purse

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary Kay, I have found a few good commercial patterns for an assortment of bags.

      I used McCall’s 3894 to make the large tote bag. (I did break several sewing machine needles when sewing the very thick corners.)
      And I used Simplicity 2201 for the green and teal clutch. Other patterns that I have not used yet are Simplicity 9949 and Simplicity 2274. All of the patterns have multiples sizes and shapes of bags. There are probably some more good patterns out there now. I’ve had these for several years. I enjoy browsing the pattern books at the fabric store.

      For some of the bags, I folded and played with the fabric to make up a simple design.

      For the shoulder bag that I currently use all the time, made from the baby wrap remnant, I purchased a bag at the store that I thought would work well with handwoven fabric. I took it home and ripped out all the seams to deconstruct it. Then I had the basic shapes, which I reconfigured to exactly what I wanted. I made a practice bag first out of denim before using the handwoven cloth to make the final bag.

      I hope that gives you some ideas!
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    It was so much fun to see all your beautiful bags, Karen! Nineteen is certainly not enough!! Hope you keep making more and sharing them with us. You have a wonderful sense of color!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Hi, Karen,
    You had the icon to share to Facebook, so I shared this post with my Rigid Heddle Adventure group. They’ve been talking a lot lately about creating bags. Thanks for the post!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, That’s wonderful! The rigid heddle loom is perfect for making fabric for bags because it’s so easy to use a variety of fibers in the warp and in the weft. It’s a fun adventure!

      Thanks so much for sharing!
      Karen

  • Angela Roberts says:

    Truly an inspiration, as always
    Thank you Karen

  • Kantilal Doobal says:

    Please quote me a Magazine for which I wish to submit and an article dealing with woolen durrie weaving.
    thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kantilal, Thank you for asking.

      I don’t know a magazine that has an article about woolen durrie weaving. “Väv” magazine sometimes has articles about different types of rug weaving, and “Handwoven” magazine sometimes has articles about rag rug weaving. The March/April 2017 issue of “Handwoven” has instructions for a “Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug” that I designed.

      Karen

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