Every Color Imaginable

Can you imagine weaving in a place where you have access to fully-stocked shelves of colors and fibers? Or, imagine someone with excellent color sense setting up a warp-faced project for you to weave, giving you the freedom to simply focus on pattern. This is what it was like at Vävstuga Weaving School for More Swedish Classics.

Pick-up Band woven on floor loom at Vavstuga

Set up on a four-shaft loom, band weaving with pick-up is simplified (or complicated, depending on how you see it). Five treadles are used to raise and lower threads. A pick-up stick is used to lift pattern threads, and a band shuttle stick is used to beat in the weft. Being a warp-faced weave, all the color is in the warp, and the weft is mostly hidden.

Rep weave on the loom at Vavstuga

Becky’s Rep Weave in Four Blocks on Eight Shafts. I took this opportunity to experiment with patterns. You might call this “playing with blocks.” Again, being a warp-faced weave, the color is pre-determined by the arrangement of the warp ends. The thin 16/2 cotton weft alternates with a thick weft of mini string yarn, giving the characteristic ribbed surface.

Worry happens when I don’t think I have what it takes to do the job, or when I think I won’t have enough of what I need. When Becky Ashenden prepares the warp, I certainly have no worries about choosing colors. And, with an abundant supply of 16/1 linen, I can combine three shades to produce a gorgeous, rich red, with no fear that the color supply will run out before I finish.

Beautiful Smålandsväv in linen on the loom at Vavstuga!

Deep red, burgundy, and coral 16/1 linen are wound together for the pattern weft in Smålandsväv. The warp is 16/2 line linen. This is the project in “More Swedish Classics” that gave me the most pleasure AND the most angst. …but that’s a story for another day.

We have a Father in heaven who knows all the things we need. All he asks is that we get to know him so we can learn to do things his way. It is much like weaving within the guidelines of the studio where we’ve been given the privilege to weave. Is that too much to ask? For his part, then, he sees to it that we have everything we need, giving us access, through his Son, to his great supply closet.

May your needs be amply supplied.

In case you missed, here is what I posted last week while I was at Vävstuga in beautiful New England: Vävstuga Autumn and Vävstuga Autumn II

Once again, Becky graciously allowed me to sit down with her to ask a few key questions. I am excited to share that conversation with you soon! Stay tuned… (Remember last year?)



  • Helen Hart says:

    Wonderful photos and am jealous of your being able to go to the V studio. Where might I find the instructions for band weaving on a 4s loom. Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Helen, I wish everyone could go to Vavstuga with me! Maybe you can go sometime.

      This is my first experience with band weaving on a 4 shaft loom. I’m not at liberty to hand out Becky’s instructions for the class. I’m not sure where else to find instructions for this. I do know that the Baltic patterns in Anne Dixon’s “Inkle Pattern Directory,” pgs.61-81, can be used for this type of set up. We used 4 shafts and 5 treadles; 1 of the treadles just lifted the pattern threads, and then we used the pick-up stick to create the pattern.


  • Laurie says:

    I followed you the next week at More Classics. Amazing. (I was at Basics with Steph.) Your voice for this experience is perfect.

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Vävstuga Autumn II

Five days of weaving, learning many new things. It’s a wonderland of sights and sounds, colors, textures, fabric, looms, tools. The people I get to enjoy this with are as much a treasure as the skills I develop. Becky Ashenden’s cheerful teaching style makes the experience fun, and she stretches us to our limits so that we leave knowing more than when we came.

Here is a small sampling of my week. I’ll show you more after I get home.

Autumn at Vavstuga, view from student quarters


Swedish curtains on the loom at Vavstuga


Rep rug on the loom at Vavstuga


Weaving 3-Shaft Ticking at Vavstuga. On the porch.


Jämtlands Drall (Crackle in the US) at Vavstuga, 133cm wide.


Autumn in Shelburne Falls, MA, Bridge of Flowers at dawn

May your stretching be enjoyable.

Vävglädje (Happy Weaving),


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Indirect, Irreversible, and Impossible

The easiest and shortest route isn’t always the best path out of trouble. When I want to change negative behavior, I start out trying really hard; but when my effort meets resistance, I tend to go back to old habits.

removing Texsolv heddles

Texsolv heddles, tied into groups of 50, before removing them from the shaft bars

I removed all the excess heddles left from the warp rep rug. 2,760 heddles, reduced to 274. We want to improve, making positive changes in our behavior, but are we willing to remove the heddles that supported our old ways? The heddles that once served us well are now in the way. It’s silly, but we keep some of the familiar old ways, just in case we want to go back into trouble…

In the ancient story about rescuing people from slavery in Egypt, God chose a path for the escaping Israelites that was indirect, irreversible, and impossible. God opened up the Red Sea for the people to cross, and then closed it back up. He essentially eliminated a return route to captivity. If we let him, I’m sure he’ll close off our return route, too. It may be not be the easiest path, but freedom is never easy, is it?

May you find courage to leave old ways behind for good.

(I can hardly wait until Friday to show you what I’m weaving now! Hint: It has to do with Rosepath–my favorite Scandinavian motif.)


  • Bev says:

    This leads me to meditate on Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” And also to what I am studying in Isaiah, when the Israelites’ default mode (chapters 30 & 31) was to “go down to Egypt” for help rather than going to God. Excellent advice, Karen, “remove the heddles”.

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    You said: “The heddles that once served us well are now in the way.” I find this very interesting. Since they served you well during a particular phase of your process they had a purpose and a place in your life at that time. But they are definitely not going to be useful in your next project…and to me, this is the interesting part: We are constantly facing a blank slate. Every day is a new beginning, every person we meet is unique, nothing in nature is an identical copy of something else, every project we take on is different from the previous, even when it appears to be identical. Life is very dynamic, there is constant change, we don’t know anything about tomorrow or even the rest of the day.

    What if we were able to face every new day, every new person, every new project with an open mind, and let the “heddles” from yesterday become “wisdom building blocks” instead of supporters of old habits?

    • Karen says:

      I love your bright perspective, Elizabeth!
      “We are constantly facing a blank slate.” I’m so glad we get to keep learning and growing. Our old habits don’t have to define us, especially when we “let the ‘heddles’ from yesterday become ‘wisdom building blocks.'”

      Now, that’s a beautiful thought!

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That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to it

Everyone has a unique story. Most of us are engaged in our own narrative, watching the chapters go by. Discovering the meaning in our personal story is a lifelong pursuit. Where do I fit?… Who am I meant to be?… Do I add value anywhere?…

handwoven warp rep rug

After many hours of planning, warping, weaving, and finishing, this warp rep rug is ready to be put to use!

The colors and graphic boldness of this design won’t fit just any ol’ room. But don’t worry! This rug will be perfect for one special room, and we’ll all exclaim, This rug was made for this very place! Don’t we all hope to say that about ourselves? I was made for this… I’m in my sweet spot… My life is making a difference…

If I’m in a story, surely there is an author! When I delve into the author’s story, I end up finding where I belong. My story is being written within a much, much bigger story–one that I can base my life on. (Handweaving is one element in this current chapter of my story; and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.)

May you find your sweet spot in the bigger story.


  • Wende says:

    What a beautiful rug! This is a sweet reminder of our author’s weaving things together for good in our lives.

  • Bev Romans says:

    I add my “Amen” to Wende’s comment. And I LOVE this line “When I delve into the author’s story, I end up finding where I belong. My story is being written within a much, much bigger story–one that I can base my life on.” SO true! It points the reader to the love story God wrote to us ~ His word. And the fact that He has woven each of us together for a purpose. (Psalm 139 is a favorite.) You may be finding a sweet spot in this blog where you can make a difference for God’s kingdom purposes!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for you kind comment, Bev! I will be thrilled if this writing turns out to be a sweet spot for me. I’m very much in the growing and stretching phase in this new endeavor, but with encouragement like yours I’m certainly going to keep at it for a while.

  • Jenny Weddle says:

    Hi Karen, I’m sorry I have not visited your site until now. My email account was having problems, but is working now.
    I enjoyed your word picture of our lives being woven in to any even bigger picture than we can see. And, what a beautiful rug you have made!
    I’m glad God loves us so much that he wants us to have a “sweet spot”.

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Sing with Me

When you finish weaving a rug, you are not quite finished. It is exciting to cut it off the loom, but the new handwoven rug isn’t ready for use until you do something to secure the cut ends.

warp rep rug hem

Trimmed, folded, and pressed hems are stitched securely, and then pressed again, making a tidy, completely flat finished edge.

I stitched the hems on this rug with my trusty old Bernina, making this a rug that will last. Music is like that–it helps us stitch down important thoughts. Putting words to music makes the words last. A song preserves meaningful ideas the same way stitching secures this carefully prepared hem.

You probably have a melody in your own heart just waiting to be heard. Maybe you have an old childhood song or hymn from the past (pause right now and take a moment to remember…), or maybe it’s a song you just made up for the fun of it. Either way, let those stitched-down words come to life with singing! (Sometimes news of current events is hard to bear. It’s in times like these that we need the continuity of a true song more than ever.)

May your heart find its song today.


  • Bev Romans says:

    Karen, it is good that you engage the reader ” (pause right now and take a moment to remember…)”. That pause brought to my mind “Standing on the Promises”, which led me to once again praise God for His faithful promises. And your timing on this posting must have been divine. I’m very late in getting back to your wonderful website. But, your comment “(Sometimes news of current events is hard to bear. It’s in times like these that we need the continuity of a true song more than ever.)” was very fitting for the week of the Boston Marathon Bombing and the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion, the Ricin letters and more. I found myself wanting to share this with the songwriter in my family :-), but I am waiting.

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    Beautiful colors!

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