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

Leave a Reply


Process Review: First Drawloom Warp

There are two questions I hear most often. 1. How long did it take? 2. What is it going to be? These are hard questions to answer. I admit that I stumble around to find satisfying answers. 1. How long? Hours and hours. 2. Cloth. It is going to be cloth. What will the cloth be used for? I don’t know. But when I need a little something with a pretty design, I’ll know where to find it. There are two finished pieces, though, from this first drawloom warp: the Heart-Shaped Baskets table runner (adapted from a pattern in Damask and Opphämta, by Lillemor Johansson), and a small opphämta table topper that I designed on the loom. The rest are samplers, experiments, tests, and just plain fun making-of-cloth. Oh, and I wondered if I could take the thrums and make a square braid…just for the fun of it.

First warp on my drawloom. Success!
Opphämta piece on the left, with Fårö wool pattern weft. Heart-Shaped Baskets runner on the right, with red 16/2 cotton pattern weft. Ten pattern shafts.

I will let the pictures tell the story of this first drawloom warp.

May you have plenty of things to make just for fun.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

15 Comments

Leave a Reply


Weaving Hearts

Pulling the draw handles for each four-thread unit of weaving is like doing counted cross stitch on the loom. I enjoyed cross stitch in the 1980’s and I am enjoying this drawloom version now. Very much. I started this Heart-Shaped Baskets table runner on Valentine’s Day—a fun way to celebrate the day!

Heart-Shaped Baskets. Adapted from pattern in Damask and Opphämta, by Lillemor Johansson.
Heart-Shaped Baskets. Adapted from a pattern in Damask and Opphämta, by Lillemor Johansson.
Drawloom hearts.
Red 16/2 cotton weft on unbleached 16/2 cotton warp. The dark weft on a light warp makes consistency in beating that much more important.

Like weaving on any floor loom, I want to have consistency in my beat and in my selvedges. Inconsistencies in these basics can detract from the drawloom imagery of the final cloth. The main thing is to keep paying attention. And keep joyfully pulling those draw handles to create more hearts of love.

Drawloom hearts.
Stripes at the edges prove to be a challenge for getting consistent selvedges.
Table runner on the drawloom.
Table runner is woven in broken twill on four ground shafts, with eleven pattern shafts.

Grace is a gift of favor, not an earned reward. Forgiveness is the giving of grace. And gratitude results from receiving grace. Grace makes us graceful. Giving and receiving grace with consistency is what we’d like to see in ourselves. That’s when the love of God, in whose image we’ve been made, is most clearly seen in us. So we practice what we know to do. And pay attention. And keep joyfully weaving a heart of love, by God’s grace.

May you be grace – full.

Gratefully yours,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Nancy Malcolm says:

    I have seen that draft in the book. It is so Beautiful on your loom!! I hope to convert my loom for drawloom someday. Enjoy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nancy, You have a lot to look forward to! It is fun to use patterns like this from a book. And it’s not that hard to make your own patterns, too!

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Janet says:

    Very nice Karen! Looks like you are having a great time 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, Thanks! Yes, I’m having a great time. There is so much more to try. I have yarn waiting in the wings for my next warp on this drawloom!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    I am amazed by what you are able to do with your draw loom, Karen! Not only is this heart pattern delightful but also the other towels I can catch glimpses of. I definitely understand why you wanted a draw loom and I am so happy that your dream came true.

    You are the most graceful woman I know, Karen and a wonderful inspiration as a Christian and a weaver.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s fascinating to me, too, how much the drawloom can do. I have worlds more to uncover on this loom!

      Your kind words are very touching. That means a lot to me.
      All the best,
      Karen

  • Kelly says:

    The more I see draw loom weaving, the more I start to think that I need a draw loom! For now, I will have to relegate it to a “one day” possibility and appreciate the looms I already have.
    Your hearts are beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kelly, Maybe there’s a double meaning to the word “draw” in draw loom, as we are “drawn” to it. It’s a good thing to appreciate what we have.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Good afternoon Karen,

    There is so much to learn. Thank you for leading.

    Your prayer on grace touched my heart.

    Nannette

  • Karen says:

    Isn’t it fun?! I love playing with my drawloom!

Leave a Reply


Quiet Friday: Linen Satin Dräll

This is one of those weaving projects that puts you on top of the world. Everything about it. Linen, ten shafts, five-shaft satin weave, ten treadles, gorgeous Moberg damask shuttle, single-shuttle rhythm, full-body weaving, magical fabric. I did have more than my share of knots in the warp, and a few skipped threads and selvedge loops. But you will see no evidence of those glitches now. All you will see is the natural beauty of linen, with its characteristic unevenness. And the reflective satin dräll weave, with its light-catching trickery.

The warp is Bockens unbleached 16/2 line linen. Two of the towels use 16/1 golden bleached linen for the weft. At my husband’s request, the remaining three towels have 16/2 linen weft, in ecru. The thicker weft helps make these into robust absorbent handtowels. A table square finishes off the set.

Enjoy the process with me as I reminisce over the start-to-finish pleasure of weaving these towels.

Winding a linen warp.

Linen warp chains.

Tying on the linen warp.

Tying up 10 treadles on a countermarch!

Sampling weft colors on a linen warp.

Sunlit linen damask weaving.

Hidden patterns in the 5-shaft satin.

Linen 5-shaft satin dräll!

Beautiful Moberg damask shuttle.

Spliced warp ends.

Linen satin dräll on the loom.

End of the warp is near. So many warp end repairs!

Cutting off! Linen 5-shaft satin dräll.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for towels.

Ready to sew handwoven hanging tabs on new linen towels.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin handtowels.

Handwoven linen towel with handwoven hanging tab.

Handwoven set of linen satin dräll towels. Karen Isenhower

May you find pleasure in what you do.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Exquisite, Karen!

  • JAN says:

    Nice finishing touch with hand woven hanging tab. Had you ever though of putting another one in the middle of the long edge so the towel can be hung on a hook above the sink?

    • Karen says:

      Hi JAN, I haven’t done that, but it’s a great idea. I would need to figure out how to attach it, since there is not a hem on the side. These tabs would be a little too thick to fold the ends under, but could certainly do that with tabs made with thinner threads. Have you done it?

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Janet says:

    Beautiful towels and beautifully woven!

  • Betsy says:

    Wonderful towels! And I’m so impressed that your husband knows enough about yarn to recommend 16/2 over 16/1.

    Your little bowl of pegs next to the treadles reminds me of my last project, huck placemats. I could remember the treadling, but not the 18 repeats. So I had a bowl like yours with 18 pegs, and after every repeat I moved one peg to another bowl. And every once in a while I’d crawl around the Julia counting the repeats in case I made a mistake, lol.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Haha, I may have given the wrong impression about my husband. He specified thicker, less dainty towels, and I chose the appropriate size of linen.

      What a great way to keep track of repeats. I’m going to remember that!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nancy Nordquist says:

    These are absolutely beautiful! Than you for sharing so many photos and details of the process.

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Yes, this weave is magical and so fun to weave. And thank you for the beauticul photos. Did you use your phone to take these photos?
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I feel so “at home” weaving something like this. It is satisfying and rewarding.

      I use my iPhone 7 for all my photos. Steve has a very nice digital SLR camera, but I do best with the simple little iPhone. And it’s always in my pocket or on the table beside me. I take way too many pictures, and then I whittle them down to my very favorites to share here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barb says:

    Beautiful design, beautifully woven. The joy & pleasure you have in weaving shows in every finished project. Each time you use these towels, you will be reminded of your enjoyment of the process of weaving. Thank you for sharing your talents and inspiring other weavers to find that joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Your thoughtful comments mean so much! If I can inspire another weaver to find a little more joy in this wonderful weaving process, that would be fantastic!
      Part of the pleasure of having towels like this in my home is getting to see others enjoy the results, too.

      Thanks so much,
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    Beautiful and inspirational!

  • Gretchen says:

    Love these Karen!! So simple and classic… and perfect! Beautiful.

Leave a Reply


What to Do about Weaving Errors

I’ve been waiting for a bright sunshiny day to thoroughly examine this tightly-woven linen satin dräll fabric. Today is perfect. Fixing errors must be done before the fabric is washed, when the weave will become even tighter. I am looking for unwanted floats where the shuttle skipped threads, and for loops at the selvedges.

In my examination I did find an errant float and a few small selvedge loops. Let’s get started.

Tools:

  • Blunt-tip needle. Sharp needle tip has been sanded to a rounded tip.

Blunt needle for fixing weaving errors.

  • Thread. Use the same weft or warp thread that is in the area needing repair.
  • Good lighting. If the fabric has a complex structure, good lighting is essential.
  • Magnification. I take a photo on my iPhone, and then zoom in to see the minute details.

Zoom in on iPhone photo to magnify details.

 

How to Mend Skipped Threads:

1 Locate the error. Here is a long weft float.

What to do with skipped threads. Tutorial.

2 Thread the blunt-tip needle with a length of the same thread as the float.

Tutorial on fixing weaving errors.

3 Following the exact under-over pattern of the weave, start one inch before the float and needle-weave toward the float. I lay my iPhone nearby, with the magnified iPhone photo clearly showing the weave pattern.

Needle weaving to mend a weaving error. How to.

4 Needle-weave the correct path of the thread through the float area. Continue needle-weaving along the same thread pathway, going one inch beyond the float.

How to fix skipped threads in weaving.

5 Check the front and back of the fabric to see if your stitches match the correct pattern of the weave.

Skipped threads in weaving. Fixed!

6 When you are certain that the float thread has been accurately replaced, clip the float and remove it (or, leave it and trim it after washing). Leave two-inch tails on the replacement thread, and trim after wet finishing. (I leave the replacement tails so I can find and check the repair after it is washed. This also allows for shrinkage before trimming.)

Clip off the float AFTER repair thread is in place.

 

How to Fix a Small Selvedge Loop

1 Locate the loop.

How to fix a loop in the selvedge.

2 Using the blunt-tip needle, gently ease the excess thread to spread over four or five stitches inside the selvedge.

Easing in a loop at the selvedge. Short how-to.

3 The thread that has been eased in (just above the needle) will completely smooth out in wet finishing.

Eliminate an errant loop at the selvedge.

What skipped threads and loops would be found if I were examined this closely? Would I leave them and hope no one notices? Or, would I allow re-weaving and cutting away? A negative attitude is replaced with a thread of thankfulness. A loop of complaining is eased back in. The result is joy. A thankful heart knows joy. When the fabric is washed, the errant floats and loops are gone. What remains is the woven fabric with lustrous threads of joy.

May you have a bright sunshiny day.

With you,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Re-weaving and cutting away in life – what a great analogy.

    I am fascinated by your snips (scissors). Are they surgical snips? Those curved blades! I’d love a pair of my own.

    Here’s to a day full of joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Finding those personal flaws can be a little painful for me, but putting in a better thread is worth it.

      These snips with curved tips work great! I found them at a vendor at the quilt festival in Houston a few years ago. I picked up another similar pair at a needlework shop a couple years ago.

      Joy to you!
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen! I loved your analogy! The lazy part of me would think no one might notice because change is difficult. But then the good Catholic guilt takes over and I must do something about myself!

    The same with corrections in my weaving. My first thought is will anyone really see that? But I can’t unsee it, so it must get fixed!

    One thing I never knew though, was that the loopy selvedges could be corrected. Thank you for sharing this technique, Karen. I am always eager to learn how to improve and correct, though I sometimes have to do a bit of self talk first!

    Enjoy the sun today.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The wonderful thing about grace is that someone greater than us does the fixing. He can see clearly what needs to be done.

      You are right about not being able to unsee a flaw. If there is something I can do about it, I will. If it can’t be fixed, then, I will chalk it up to the reality of being handmade.

      The loop I showed here would probably correct itself in the wash, but it wasn’t hard to ease in the thread, so I did.

      Happy to have another day with sunlight!
      Karen

  • Mary Still says:

    Beautiful piece and I like what you say at the end! Bless You!
    Mary

  • Linda Cornell says:

    You are a gifted writer as well as weaver. Thank you for sharing both!

  • Marion Darlington says:

    Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

    “My life is but a weaving
    Between my God and me.
    I cannot choose the colors
    He weaveth steadily.

    Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
    And I in foolish pride
    Forget He sees the upper
    And I the underside.

    Not ’til the loom is silent
    And the shuttles cease to fly
    Will God unroll the canvas
    And reveal the reason why.

    The dark threads are as needful
    In the weaver’s skillful hand
    As the threads of gold and silver
    In the pattern He has planned

    He knows, He loves, He cares;
    Nothing this truth can dim.
    He gives the very best to those
    Who leave the choice to Him.

    … as quoted by Corrie ten Boom

Leave a Reply