Share the Joy of Weaving

What a delight to share the weaving experience with a friend! Two of these hot pads were woven by friends with no prior weaving experience. Miniature rag rugs make great hot pads, and provide a perfect learning experience for a guest weaver.

Rag rug hot pads.

Tenth hot pad, woven on 12/9 cotton warp. Fabric strips, previously cut for rag rugs, are used for the weft.

Ten rag rug hot pads are cut from the loom!

Ten hot pads are cut from the loom.

Ten hot pads ready for finishing.

Ten hot pads ready for finishing.

Finished handwoven rag rug hot pads.

Ends are tied in overhand knots and trimmed. Ready to be used!

I hope you are finding opportunities to share your joys with friends. The Christmas season reminds us that we have someone greater who shared His joy with us. He stays by our side, waiting for any call for help, but allows us to make the mistakes that teach us life lessons. As with weaving, every error can be forgiven. There is a remedy for any hopeless situation. Take courage, God is a rescuer. He sent Jesus on a mission to rescue us. And absolutely nothing can stop the mission of God. I am amazed at what he can do with the threads of a willing soul. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King.

May you share your joy.

Merry Christ – mas,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Merry Christmas, Karen! Thank you for sharing your beautiful work!

  • Lindy says:

    Hello, I love these hot pads but have a question (I’m new to weaving): what are the little white cloth strips on the corners of these pads and what did you do to them – they aren’t in the finished pictures?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lindy, Great question! The white you see is the scrap weft header. I weave two or three inches with throw-away fabric strips (mostly from old worn-out bedsheets) before and after every rag rug, or mini rag rag. The purpose of the scrap weft is to hold the weft of the rug in place. The scrap weft is removed a little at a time as I tie the warp ends into knots to make the weft completely secure.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Jill Kendall says:

    Beautiful & glorious words, Karen!
    Merry Christmas from North Carolina!

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Quiet Friday: Attractive New Rag Rugs

Don’t be surprised to find one, or even two, of these attractive rugs gracing my home. Five new rugs are now finished and ready to be enjoyed! I designed one of these spaced rep rugs specifically for our Texas hill country home. One was woven by my young apprentice, Juliana. Her rug is already on the floor in her room. And at least two of the rugs are destined for my Etsy Shop. Soon, my looms will be active with new things. There is always something just finished to look back on with fondness, and something ahead to look forward to. Weaving is like that.

Spaced rep rag rugs.

Spaced rep rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Spaced rep rag rug

Spaced rep rag rug

Wool rag rug

Spaced rep rag rug

Spaced rep rag rugs! Karen Isenhower

May your Christmas be calm and bright.

Good Christmas to you and yours, my friends,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Ann says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your weaving activities with us – I look forward every week to see what you are doing as I am in France, and there are not so many weavers around here, so I depend on the worldwide web for inspiration and encouragement.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ann, It’s a pleasure to meet you! It’s a blessing for me to get to share what’s on my looms with like-minded people like you.

      Happy Christmas to you and yours!
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Merry Christmas, Karen!
    I found your blog earlier this year and I just want to thank you for all your postings and inspirational messages. Thank you for sharing your weaving life with us!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, It makes me happy to know you are joining me in this weaving adventure! It means a lot to have friends with common interests and values.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    The rugs are beautiful, Karen, as is everything you weave. Are they for the hill country house? Wherever they live, they will add so much warmth to the room. Can’t wait to see what you create next!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, At least one of the rugs will stay at the hill country house. The rest will go on Etsy. Your encouraging words go a long way with me. You always brighten my day.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for all you do for us. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!!

  • JANET PELL says:

    Thank you for spending time sharing with us, your tips, help and your beautiful work. I so look forward to it every week.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family from Italy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, Isn’t it wonderful that we can meet here, as if there’s no distance between us? Thank you for your encouraging words! That means so much to me.

      Happy Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I never knew there was an actual name for rep weave that was not so tightly sleighed. I just thought it was me being lazy with the loom warping, but I love how the weft pattern shows and adds to the design. I’ve done a number of these and love them.

    Merry Christmas to you and thanks for your blog.

    Maggie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, I agree, the beauty of spacing the warps further apart is that the weft pattern shows and adds to the design. Maybe we should call it “Enhanced Rep Weave.”

      Happy weaving! And Merry Christmas to you,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    It is so grand to see your work and know the joy you find in weaving. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and creativity.
    Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas and God’s richest blessings in 2018.

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How Many Square Knots?

Would you like to tie 1,890 knots? These rag rugs have more warp ends than usual. Every four warp ends are tied into a square knot, and pulled tight. With 756 ends and five rugs, the knots add up! But it’s the best way I know to make the rug permanently secure. Hand-stitched hems will finalize the process. Three of the five spaced rep rugs are finished and hemmed. Two to go.

Rag rug finishing. Tying square knots.

Four warp ends are tied into a square knot. Plastic quilters clip keeps tied ends out of the way.

Tying knots on rag rug warp ends.

Sacking needles are used for easing the warp ends out of the scrap weft, and for wrapping the thread around to tie tight knots, as shown in this short video: Quick Tip: Square Knots Without Blisters.

Finishing work for rag rugs.

Progress.

Christmas is about a heavenly promise. Jesus is the promise of God. Jesus—the word of God in person. The promise of God is as near as our own mouths and our own hearts—we say it and believe it. The promise is brought to us by grace, which means all the knots have been tied for us, and the hem is stitched. It is finished. And we enjoy the permanent security of the Savior’s redemptive love. This is no magic carpet, but a handwoven rug with rags that have been made beautiful.

May you enjoy a promise fulfilled.

Have a grace-filled Christmas,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    That’s a lot of knots! Wondering, since the hems will be turned under could the ends be secured with machine zig zag stitching?

    Merry Christmas, Karen! Thank you for bringing me joy with your posts. I look forward to seeing them.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I have tried machine zig-zag stitching on some smaller pieces. It’s tricky to get the zig-zag stitches to catch every warp end. But you have a good point. That would certainly shorten the finishing time! I should do some experiments with that.

      It’s such a treat for me to know that you enjoy these posts!
      Merry Christmas to you,
      Karen

      • Karen, if you are worrying about catching every thread with the zig-zag, a row or two of close straight stitch would work. Personally, I use my serger, set with a closer than usual stitch, but not every weaver has one. It is much faster with either method.

        The only time I tied knots like you are doing was when I was binding the ends with a cloth binding. That many knots does give sore fingers!

        I enjoy your posts and your witness messages.

        • Karen says:

          Hi Jenny, Thanks for the pointer about using straight stitches or a serger. The Swedish weaving books that I have instruct to tie knots, so I’ve been following those guidelines. I always appreciate hearing other efficient ways to do things!

          Have a good Christmas!
          Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I learn so much from you, Karen, both weaving wisdom and spiritual wisdom.

    I am planning to attempt my first rag rug in January. I have already warped my Rigid Heddle loom but I am waiting for January when Ashford will have a Freedom roller available for me to roll the bulky cloth onto the front beam. I am both excited and apprehensive about the new challenge.

    Thank you for sharing your rag rug tips.
    Merry Christmas, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I knew I wanted to weave rag rugs long before I had a floor loom on which to weave them. So, my first rag weaving was on my 32” Beka rigid heddle loom. I didn’t exactly make a rug, but some rag-woven fabric that I turned into little pocketbooks and things.

      I predict you are really going to enjoy the experience!

      Your kind words mean so much to me.
      Merry Christmas,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    I just employed an earlier tip, the treadle adjustment cheat sheet, and it’s exceptionally helpful in keeping me on the right treadle. Like so many others, I eagerly look forward to your posts and not just for the weaving tips. Due to a health issue I must avoid large groups so your loving words about our Lord are a major source of spiritual comfort. Thanks for everything!

    May He who gave Light to the world bring you joy this Christmastide.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m touched by your kind thoughts. It is very satisfying to hear that my weaving tips and spiritual insights fall into welcoming hearts.

      Joy to you,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Needles

Even though there are dozens of needles in and around my weaving and sewing spaces, nine stand out from the rest. These go-to needles have earned special favor. As essential tools, these needles have specific holders and permanent homes.

The 9 needles I use most for handweaving.

  • Sharp needles: hand-hemming, hand-sewing, stitching on labels, and stitching a tapestry to a linen mat for mounting (curved needle)
    HOLDER: Pincushion I made in 1980
    HOME: Sewing supply closet, “Needles and Pins” drawer

Sharp needles for hand-hemming. 1980 pin cushion.

Stitching labels onto handwoven towels.

Hand hemming handwoven table runner.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, small and medium: hemstitching, stitching a thread mark to the right side of the fabric, sewing in tapestry weft tails, finishing work—needle-weaving for corrections and repairs
    HOLDER: Remnant of cotton handwoven plain weave fabric
    HOME: Loom-side cart, top drawer

Handy needles to keep by the loom.

Blunt needles by the loom.

Steve sanded and rounded the tips of the needles to make them blunt. A needle with a rounded tip won’t pierce and split the threads.

Hemstitching at the loom.

Sewing in weft tails in the back of a tapestry.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, large: hemstitching, hand-hemming rugs, weaving small tapestries
    HOLDER: Felted inkle-woven tape
    HOME: cutting/work table, Grandma’s old sewing tin

Felted inkle-woven needle holder.

Rag rug hemming by hand.

Hemming a handwoven rag rug.

  • Sacking needles: pulling rag rug warp ends out of scrap weft, threading warp ends back into a wool rug (I did this…once)
    HOLDER: straw-woven pouch from a trip to The Philippines
    HOME: weaving supply closet, top drawer on the left

Woven pouch from The Philippines.

Tying warp ends into knots. Rag rug finishing.

May you find the needle you need when you need a needle.

All the best,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Nanette says:

    Works for you, and a beautiful system! I have several “work stations” (sounds more organized than it is!) on two floors. So, my “system” is four (handwoven of course!) pin cushions, each with a variety of the needles, in various places. Not ideal, I suppose, because often the needles “migrate” and the right one is sometimes not in the right place! Do enjoy all your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, I like how you call them “work stations.” It does sound very orderly. I do understand how those needles can migrate! Mine do that sometimes, too. At least we have some sort of system…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    I love how you store the different needles you use! It makes so much sense. In addition to being a beautiful way to preserve memories, I really like the make-do approach, too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I enjoy finding creative solutions to keeping things somewhat organized. I may have learned that from you. 🙂
      It is sweet to find ways to use special items, like my Grandma’s sewing tin.

      Merry Christmas,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    You’re inspiring me to make something out of a handwoven scrap for needles and get them out of the little plastic box.

  • faun says:

    my great aunt did a similar checkerboard pattern
    “https://flic.kr/p/EnVPZE”

    my needles will migrate thanx to the intervention of critters.
    filling your pincushion with wool fleece with the natural lanolin
    will help prevent rusting- cotton will collect moisture and help them rust
    so wool cloth for your pin cushions is better in the long run too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Faun, It looks like your great aunt’s rug uses thick and thin weft, like mine. Nice!

      Thanks for the tip about wool for pincushions. Good to know!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Rag Rug Playground

This is a rag rug playground! I am weaving miniature rugs—rosepath rag rug hot pads. My small countermarch loom is perfect for this exploration. Without tabby or with tabby? Planned weft or hit and miss? Vibrant colors or soft neutrals? Weft inlay or plain and simple? So many possibilities! My “idea bank” is exploding.

Mini rag rugs for hot pads.

Reverse treadling adds a diamond design element at both ends of this mini rug.

Handwoven hot pads. Mini rosepath rag rugs.

Color choices are inspired by views outside this Texas hill country window.

My goal is to weave as many different versions as possible. No two alike! Sure, they all have the same 12/9 cotton warp and all-cotton-fabric-strips weft, but with all sorts of variations. Most will be gifts. Handwoven hot pads, making it to the kitchens of friends, to serve them well.

Rosepath detail in mini rag rugs. Making hot pads.

Rosepath detail.

Rosepath rag rug hot pads on the loom.

White fabric strips are used as tabby weft to highlight the blue rosepath pattern.

Rosepath inlay with mini rag rugs--hot pads.

Deep purple fabric strip is used for weft rosepath inlay over a plain weave background. Woven hot pads wind their way around the cloth beam, separated by scrap weft and warping slats.

There is no one like you, with your hopes, dreams, and pains. You touch others like no one else can. Your life makes a difference. Your life matters because it matters to God. Your Creator had good things in mind when he formed you. Lord, place us where we will best show your handiwork, where we can humbly serve those you’ve given us to love.

May you live on purpose.

Your friend,
Karen

13 Comments

  • Angela Roberts says:

    Great inspiration as always, creatively and spiritually xoxo
    Thanks

  • Annie says:

    It is good to be reminded that our Heavenly Father has made us all as uniquely diverse as your hot pads. Perhaps there is the bit of the weaver in him.

    And I can’t quite decide which hot pad I like best! But it seems fun experimenting!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s fun to have a project on the loom that allows for experimentation.

      Yes, I’d say our Heavenly Father positively has a weaver side to him.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Gayle says:

    Love the variations, we want to see them laid out on the floor when you cut them off!!!

  • Janet says:

    Fantastic idea and I need some office gifts!! How do you finish your ends?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, I plan to tie the ends into overhand knots and then trim them to about 1/4-3/8″ or so. I could have woven hems on them with thin fabric strips and then turn the hems under and stitch, but I haven’t done that this time. It’s possible to bind the edges (after tying knots) with fabric, but that doesn’t always stay looking great, especially if they are washed frequently.

      These weave up nice and fast! …Besides being so much fun to do. Great idea for office gifts!

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

      • Karen says:

        One more thing… If you plan to tie knots, it is helpful to have at least 4 inches of warp for tying. So I try to put about 8″ between mats, with scrap weft and slats. You can tie knots with less than 4″, but it can get a little tricky. I always regret it when I shorten the distance to try to save warp.

  • Kathryn says:

    Hello Karen,

    These are beautiful! What a wonderful way to play with new patterns and colors while using up fabric scraps. Plus, they’re very useful!

    Can you tell me, how long is your warp and how many potholders do you think you’ll end up with? I don’t have a lot of cotton fabrics laying around, but I’m sure wool scraps would work just as well, don’t you think? In fact, with wool being naturally fire retardant, they might be a good choice:)

    Thank you for sharing. I always look forward to your blog posts!!

    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn, I wish I could tell you how long the warp is. This started as a tapestry/inlay project. After finishing the first of four panels, I decided I didn’t want to weave three more. The original warp was probably about 5 or 6 yards. Instead of cutting off the rest of the warp, I decided to do something fun and easy – hot pads! I have not been counting, so I can’t even tell you how many I have so far – maybe 6 or 8. And I’m guessing I’ll get 3 or 4 more.

      If I were planning this from the start, I would figure the length of the hot pad (mine are about 5-6″ long), plus 4″ on both ends for tying knots (or 2″ on each end for weaving hems, plus the 4″ for knots). Multiply by the number of hot pads you want. Add about 15% take-up and shrinkage. Add loom waste. (Hmm… maybe I should do a blog post about project calculations…)

      I think wool fabric would be a great choice for hot pads. I didn’t know about wool being naturally fire retardant. That’s good to know!

      Thanks for asking great questions!
      Karen

  • Limor Johnson says:

    Hi Karen,
    What is the sett on these beautiful rugs? What size reed are you using?

    Thanks for sharing, great work and pictures,
    Limor

    • Karen says:

      Hi Limor, The sett is approximately 6 epi. I’m using a metric 25/10 reed, the rough equivalent of which is a 6-dent reed. One end per heddle, and one end per dent.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      All the best,
      Karen

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