Show Me the Evidence

Few things are as important as even warp tension if you are hoping for quality results in your weaving. Eight warping slats are placed, one by one, across the warp as I begin beaming the warp onto the octagonal warp beam. After three full revolutions, I do it again, with eight more slats; and repeat the process until the warp is fully beamed. This effective technique gives a solid “platform” every few rounds for the warp ends, promoting even tension across the warp.

Beaming new rug warp on Glimakra Ideal.

Warping slats lay in a pile behind the warp beam. Counting out eight slats at a time helps me know when I have covered the eight sides of the octagonal warp beam.

The warping slats are hidden between the layers of warp ends. Having the slats in place means I can confidently tighten this rug warp to the max, giving me the best conditions for a handwoven rug.

Nothing is hidden that will not become evident. In other words, when I tighten my warp I can tell without looking that the slats are in place. And better than that, the rugs that are produced will have the consistency that a tight, even warp provides. The warping slats are like faith. Faith hidden in your heart becomes light that is seen in your life. How you live is evidence of what is in your heart. Faith always bears evidence.

May your light shine.

All the best,

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Tools Day: Enough Shuttles for Now

If I line up all my weaving shuttles, end to end, how far do you think they will reach? The accumulation started slowly, adding a shuttle here and there, as needed. My husband contributed to my collection by handcrafting some of the shuttles for me. “I could use a stick shuttle in such-and-such a size.” “Okay, dear,” he would say, before going out to the garage to whip up yet another yardstick shuttle for my rigid heddle loom.

Ski shuttles are for rag weaving. Boat shuttles are for almost everything else. Most of my boat shuttles are traditional Swedish shuttles. All these fascinating shuttles, such simple tools, work the wonder of weaving.

Hand-crafted walnut stick shuttles for rigid heddle loom. Mohair/silk/alpaca shawl.

Shawl woven on 32-inch rigid heddle loom, with super kid mohair/silk and baby alpaca. Smooth, handcrafted walnut stick shuttles were used for this project.

Novelty yarn woven on inkle loom.

Tapered edge on pine inkle loom shuttle helps for beating in the weft. I have been known to weave with crazy novelty yarns on my inkle loom.

Hand-carved maple band loom shuttles, and woven bands.

Maple band loom shuttles, hand-carved by my husband, *live* in a small handmade bag that hangs on the back corner of the band loom. This shaped shuttle is perfect for the tricky one-handed manipulation that is needed. If they are too smooth and polished, however, they slip right out of my hand.

Ski shuttles for rag rug weaving. This rug used 3 shuttles at a time.

My favorite ski shuttle is the beautiful cherry wood shuttle made by my husband, Steve. It helps to have several ski shuttles. The “Creative Expression” Rosepath Rag Rug used three shuttles at a time to get the gradient color effect.

Boat shuttles ready to weave.

Boat shuttles eager to weave. Do you hear them? … “Pick me”…”No, pick ME!”

A few of my favorite things. Karen Isenhower

These are a few of my favorite things. Swedish woven goods made on a Swedish loom with Swedish boat shuttles. (I’m the only thing not Swedish here.)

34 1/2 feet of weaving shuttles.

How far will my shuttles reach? 34 1/2 feet (that’s 11 1/2 yards, or 10 1/2 meters long). I ran out of room, so the last one is standing on end.

May you fascinated with things that work.

Happy Weaving,


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How Soft Is Your Pillow?

I have three short sample pieces from rug warps, where I had experimented with colors and design. I am making these samples useful by turning them into pillow covers. To complete them, I made pillow inserts to fit inside.

Rag rug cushion covers, with pillow inserts made to fit inside. Karen Isenhower

Rag rug pillow covers, with pillow inserts made to fit inside.

To get the most loft out of the polyester fiberfill, I run my fingers through clumps of it, pulling and easing it apart. I stuff these airy clouds into the pillow insert forms that I have sewn and then serge the edge of the insert closed. The durable and hearty rag rug pillow covers are pretty, but they are flimsy and floppy until the cloud-soft pillow forms are placed inside.

Like the pillow covers, your strongest asset is invisible. When we adorn our inner person with gentleness and a quiet spirit it brings clarity and courage to our outward demeanor. You would not fill the pillow cover with rocks, would you? Having cloud-soft humility instead of hard-headed stubbornness enables us to face any difficulty without becoming fearful or resentful. The beauty of your unique design is put in its best light by the loft of the pillow inside.

May you respond to difficulty with a gentle and quiet spirit.

(These three pillows are the newest additions to the Warped for Good Etsy Shop!)


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How I Make a Bound Hem

I intended simple woven turned hems. When this rug came off the loom, however, the white ends of the rug didn’t look as I expected. I was frustrated trying to make these hems work. Was there another way to finish the rug? Yes. A compatible cotton duck print was just what I needed to sew bound hems!

When circumstances don’t go our way, we can get stuck in frustration. I cannot control my circumstances, but I can control my own behavior and attitudes. Give up control to gain control. Isn’t it interesting that options become apparent when we let go of how we thought it should be?

How I make a bound hem:

1. Cut hem fabric the width of the rug plus 2 inches /5 cm by hem depth plus 1 inch / 2.5 cm. Serge all edges of hem fabric to eliminate fraying. With right sides facing, center hem fabric from side to side on rug, with fabric seam allowance toward the end of the rug. Stitch along hem line, 1/2 inch / 1 cm from edge of hem fabric.

How to make bound hem for rag rug.


2. Fold hem fabric over, and press flat.

Steps for making bound hems on rag rugs.


3. Fold the hem fabric back on itself, right sides together. Fold remaining long edge outward, adjusting to match the width of the hem. Stitch through folded hem fabric 1/8 inch / 3 mm away from side of rug.

Stitching bound hem on rug. Tutorial.


4. Turn the corner right side out, straightening out the point with a straight pin, if necessary. Press corner. Fold long edge under 1/2 inch / 1 cm across the width of the rug. Press.

5 Steps to make bound hems on rag rugs.


5. Use doubled sewing thread to stitch the folded edge to the rug. Use a whip stitch, catching a warp end in each stitch. End with final pressing of top and underside of hem.

Last step in tutorial for making bound hem on rug.


To see this rug on the loom, view this post, Made to Be Noticed. To see the finished rug, view “Made to Be Noticed” Rag Rug in my Etsy Shop. Or, simply visit my Etsy Shop to see all my new rugs. (You saw them on this blog first!)

May you see all your options.

Making things,

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Quiet Friday: Five Rosepath Rag Rugs

My mother taught me to notice and enjoy beauty. I think that is why I find so much enjoyment at the weaving loom. The interplay of colors and materials never ceases to amaze me. I am often delighted as I see the woven material forming under my shuttle, feeling more like an observer than a performer. So, it was with great pleasure that I got to show my mom my weaving looms when she came to Texas for Melody’s wedding. I put this rug warp on the loom with that special visit in mind. Thanks for everything, Mom!

Rosepath rag rugs just off the loom. Karen Isenhower

Seeing the underneath side of the rugs first, just after the rugs are cut from the loom.

Winding rug warp on warping reel.

First step is winding the warp on the warping reel. 219 warp ends in two similar shades of grey, 8.5 yards / 7.75 meters long.

Weaving narrow strips for rag rug hem.

After weaving some waste fabric strips, I weave the hem, using 1/4 inch- / 1/2 cm- wide strips. I mark the green ribbon to show the weaving length of the hem, and the overall length of the rug. I also mark the midway point on the ribbon.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom. 1 of 5. ki

This is the rug my mother got to see on the loom. She liked it!

Rosepath rag rug on the loom. 2 of 5. ki

Turquoise paisley fabric pairs with a solid blue to outline the brown rosepath design.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom. 3 of 5. ki

Three ski shuttles create gradient color changes in the blue and teal (out of view) background, while maintaining the white rosepath pattern. It was a little insane to manage three ski shuttles! But I have to admit I enjoyed it.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom. 4 of 5. ki

This is my version of Radiant Orchid, the Pantone Color of the Year 2014.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom. 5 of 5. Karen Isenhower

Two-toned rosepath, with dotted outlines. Subtle turquoise waves almost hide in the dark earth tones at each end of the rug.

End of the rag rug warp. Too close for comfort.

This is not how to plan a rug. The end of the warp is right behind the shafts. Or, maybe this shows how well I planned the warp, right down to the very last inch…

Five New Rosepath Rugs. Karen Isenhower

Not yet cut apart, ready for finishing the ends and hemming.

May you make fond memories with those you love.

(While I’m busy hemming these rugs, please visit my Etsy Shop to see more rosepath rag rugs.)

Happy Weaving,


  • Bev says:

    Just beautiful, Karen!

  • Bonnie says:

    Karen, your work is beautiful. I am just starting to weave rag rugs, just a few questions ifyou don’t mind, how wide are your fabric strips in the rosepath rugs, and, do you prewash your fabrics?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bonnie,

      Thanks for the sweet compliment! – and the questions. I LOVE questions!!

      My fabric strips are 3/4″ / 2 cm wide, except for the hem, where I use narrower strips. I do prewash the fabrics. I buy 100% cotton fabric in 5 yard lengths. When you wash that long of a piece of fabric, it helps to serge to two ends of the fabric together, making a large “tube.” Then, the fabric won’t twist on itself in the washer and dryer so much.

      Let me know if come up on any more questions. I’d love to hear how it comes out!

      Happy Weaving,

  • Bonnie says:

    Karen, I do have another question, when you are doing the rugs above, you have just one 3/4 inch slice of fabric on the shuttle at a time, run it all the way across and then insert the next or send the same one back depending on the pattern draft. Correct?
    Am I understanding that it is the treading that causes the pattern?
    and makes one pick prominent over another? and you might use 6 or 7 fabrics in a pattern?
    thanks again, may God bless your day,

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bonnie,

      Yes, each shuttle has a length of 3/4″ fabric strip wrapped on it. Each shuttle goes all the way across. The pattern determines which fabric color comes next, whether it is the same color, or a different one (on a different shuttle).

      The pattern is created by the threading (rosepath) and the treadling. The treadling is what enables different variations on that threading. It’s because of the floats in the rosepath pattern that make one pick prominent over another. (Does that make sense?)

      I have used as few as three or four, and as many as a dozen different fabrics in a pattern. I LOVE playing with fabric and blending colors and patterns to come up with interesting combinations.

      May God bless your day, too!

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