Tapestry Portrait Progress

Once I get going, it’s not easy to put this Lucia tapestry portrait down. Each new row is another chance to turn it over and see how she’s coming along. A long car drive gives me a good stretch of weaving time. While Steve drives, I weave on my small tapestry frame. As a result, I am making considerable progress on Lucia this week.

Detailed cartoon gives direction for color blending and color changes. Magnets along the side of the frame loom hold the tapestry needle that I use for the weaving.

I am trying to withhold judgment until it is finished. And a close-up view shows details of the yarn, but doesn’t give a good perspective of the portrait overall. I am learning quite a bit through this process, un-weaving when necessary, and moving forward ever so slowly.

Small tapestry portrait in progress.

Lucia portrait. Three strands of Fårö wool for weft gives good options for color blending.

Beloved. Lucia is one of my beloved granddaughters. No matter what details happen in her life, she has my affection. Your beloved is someone you care for deeply, earnestly desiring their highest good. Spouse, children, friends, blog readers…those you choose to give yourself to. You want them to “be loved,” not only by you but by the Master tapestry weaver. To know the Grand Weaver’s love is to know you are loved in detail. It includes forgiveness, which looks a lot like un-weaving. He knows exactly how to weave the portrait of you, his beloved.

May you be loved.

Love,
Karen

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Tapestry Portrait Challenge

Lucia became a big sister this week! Her new baby brother, Ari Kyle, is healthy as can be. It won’t be long before Lucia showers affection on him, like she does her baby doll Annabella. I am filled with wonder and awe when I have a newborn grandchild in my arms. It always feels like a tangible miracle from God.

Big sister and new baby brother!

Lucia holding Annabella. Ari Kyle is held by his mommy Melody Faith.

Lucia has an innocent face that I am attempting to capture in yarn. I have completely started over a couple times, and have unwoven and re-woven sections multiple times. It’s a struggle. I timidly share it with you, because I suspect there are things that don’t come easy for you, either.

Small tapestry in progress. Travel weaving.

Weaving a small tapestry from the back. Lucia’s photograph and a detailed tracing are used for reference. A cartoon drawn on a piece of buckram is lined up under the weaving on the tapestry frame. A fold-up pouch holds my travel tapestry yarn and supplies.

Travel tapestry in progress. My granddaughter.

Frame loom is turned over for a view of the front.

Small tapestry in progress.

Lucia in progress.

Prayer. When we pray for the children in our lives, we start with an empty warp. Gradually, the tapestry grows. Will they become what we envision for them? Will they connect with the Lord Jesus? Sometimes we feel like starting from scratch, praying for things we never thought of when they were babies. The picture will always feel incomplete in this life. But that’s another good reason to pray. As they grow, you will see their identifying characteristics develop. And you’ll find yourself saying, “Thank you, Lord.”

New grandbaby, sweet moment.

Hello, Ari Kyle, what a pleasure it is to meet you! Welcome!

May you hold a newborn whenever you can.

Love,
Lola Karen

14 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Congratulations! Both children are adorable. Looking forward to seeing the finished tapestry. You are incredibly talented, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you! Children have such interesting expressions.

      I appreciate your kind words. I’ll keep working on the tapestry; we’ll see how it turns out.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Bev Romans says:

    Karen,
    A new grandchild; what a precious blessing from God! And your tapestry of Lucia…a beautiful work in progress. It is amazing to see how God is using the gifts and talents He has given you in various ways.
    Blessings to you and yours,
    Bev

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, Each new child is a bundle of surprises! Someone new to love!

      It’s good to have some things in our hands that challenge us. Thank you for your encouraging words!

      Blessings to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Hi Karen,
    I know what you mean about the challenge of weaving a face. Some years ago I wove a transparency of the 3 Angels flying giving a message to the world at the end of time (Revelation 14). I used an artists painting to go by (with his permission). When I got to the eyes, I prayed for wisdom to weave them because I knew it would ruin the whole thing if the eyes didn’t look right. Your tapestry of Lucia looks great so far, and there is a lot of expression I see in her eye. It’s so nice to have a God who cares about helping us in everything – even how to weave tapestries/transparencies.
    PS: There is a great Christian TV network called Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN) that is based on those Angels and getting their messages to people.

  • Annie says:

    Congratulations, Karen! You have a beautiful family!

  • Cynthia says:

    Is this sam’s wife? Adorable grandchildren and the tapestry oh my word can’t wait to see it finished.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cynthia, Melody is our daughter—Sam’s sister. Grandchildren sure bring us smiles.

      I’ll be making more progress on the tapestry soon!

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    What blessings! They for you and you for them.

  • Shari says:

    Mazel Tov!
    Shari

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Tools Day: Tape Measures

A tape measure is a weaver’s best friend. Think about how many ways the tape measure serves you. I have one at each loom. Always. And I have a few others scattered around, hanging up, and in bags. Because you never know when you might need to measure something.

Tape Measure Uses

  • Take measurements to determine the desired size of the finished cloth, such as window measurements for curtains, floor space for area rugs, or length of skirt tiers for skirt fabric.
  • Measure the length of a guide string for winding the warp.
  • Find the starting point for the warp width in the pre-sley reed.
  • Double check the width of the warp after it is pre-sleyed.
  • Check the width of the warp on the back tie-on bar.
  • Center the reed in the beater for beaming the warp by measuring the distance from the warp in the reed to the outside edge of the beater on both sides.
  • Find the starting point to sley the reed by measuring half of the warp width outwards from the center of the reed.
  • Double check the width of the warp in the reed after it is sleyed.
  • Center the reed in the beater for weaving.
  • Adjust to the correct width of the warp on the front tie-on bar after the warp is tied on.
  • Mark the measured weaving length on twill tape or ribbon to use as a weaving length guide.
  • Measure how far one quill weaves.
  • Measure the distance between pieces that require unwoven warp, such as for fringe, or for tying knots between rag rugs.
  • Measure the distance from the first shaft (nearest the back of the loom) to the back tie-on bar (especially when you are hoping there is enough warp left to finish a symmetrical pattern).
  • Measure the width and length of fabric that is cut from the loom.
  • Measure the width and length of fabric that has been wet finished, dried, and pressed.
  • Measure your pleasure at the loom. Immeasurable!
Tape measure, in constant use at the loom. Let me count the ways...

Tape measure with imperial and metric units, both of which I use regularly. Metal ends have been removed from the tape to clearly see the tape’s markings, and because I slip the tape into a dent of the reed when I am marking the spot to start sleying.

Tape measure at the loom. Various uses.

Glimåkra Ideal loom, with tape measure in its usual place hanging on the end of the loom bench.

Tape measure usage at the weaving loom.

Glimåkra Standard loom, with tape measure ready for the next measuring task.

Preparing the loom for weaving.

Tape measure hanging over the back beam on the Texas hill country loom while pre-sleying the reed and positioning things to prepare for beaming the warp.

Tape measure hangs on peg strip above the work table.

Extra-long tape measure hangs on the peg strip above my work table.

Sometimes a long tape measure is needed!

Occasionally, I borrow Steve’s metal carpenter’s tape measure from his wood carving bench.

Travel tapestry supplies, including tape measure.

Compact retractible sewing tape measure rides in my travel tapestry bag. It has imperial and metric units.

No purse is complete without a tape measure, right?

No purse is complete without a tape measure, right? (A tape measure can outlive the business it promotes.)

What have I missed? Can you think of other ways your tape measure comes in handy?

May you be blessed in full measure.

All the best,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Annie says:

    I guess I never really thought about how often we measure things but that is quite a lengthy list! I really need to get more to spread around as that seems really convenient. I have one next to my loom and death to anyone who moves it! My family has discovered that I don’t share weaving things well; like tapes, scissors, pins, pens, clamps or my iPad charging cord and actually, not the iPad, either.

    However, I will share many other blessings with them.
    Thank you for sharing your blessings with me this morning, Karen. May you also have a blessed day.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m protective of those items around the loom, too. I’m usually the one who carries it off without thinking, though, and then wonders where it is when I need it. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    The measuring tape is definitely a tool that has seen consistent use for as long as I can remember, and to me, that’s a “gadget” worth owning. I don’t own many of them, maybe because I am also a seamstress and use it as an “accessory”, it hangs around my neck 🙂
    For weaving, after the fabric is made, I use it for measuring hems, or for seam allowances and centering zippers if I make pillows. The width of a measuring tape, 5/8″, is a good seam allowance for a lot of things, and I use it when I need to mark a consistent 5/8″.
    If consistency is important when making several lengths the same, like for curtains, I measure only the first length with a measuring tape, the rest I measure with the first piece I cut, it tends to be even more accurate that way, especially if you make a bunch.
    Over the years, a new measuring tools has been added, the large gridded cutting mat laying on my work table. Which is a great measuring tool for certain things, like measuring a warp string, texolv cords, or the size of a pillow insert in order to decide the size for the cover. And for good measure (pun intended) when you need to get an idea of proportions, like width and length of a runner or a placemat the gridded mat is great.
    Maybe the most unusal thing I have used my measuring tape for (urged by my urologist) has been to measure the size of my kidney stones 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Oh Elisabeth, I can learn so much from you! I never thought about using the width of the measuring tape to mark a consistent 5/8-in. line.

      I agree that the gridded mat is useful again and again. Also, the clear quilter’s ruler is in frequent use at my table.

      Kidney stones big enough to measure -ouch!

      Thanks for your great input!
      Karen

  • Tobie says:

    I am still looking for cloth measuring tapes. I find it difficult to use the plastic coated ones.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tobie, When I hear cloth measuring tape, the first thing I think of is the cloth measuring tape my grandmother used. Sweet memories there!

      It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a cloth measuring tape. I hope you find some that work for you!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Tapestry Portrait Beginning

I started with a photograph of seventeen-month-old Lucia sitting in her grandad’s lap after eating lunch at Culver’s. Her pouty bottom lip and her serious brown eyes caught my attention. It seems an impossible task to replicate the charming expression in yarn, but it doesn’t hurt to try. I enlarged the picture, and then cropped it to fit a four-by-six-inch “canvas” of 12/6 cotton warp. I also reversed the image, since I am weaving this tapestry from the back. The weft is one, two, or three strands of Fårö wool yarn, depending on the degree of detail.

Grandad and granddaughter.

Steve and Lucia enjoying each other.

Here is my beginning attempt at a portrait, accomplished during our car ride home from Texas hill country, after spending time with Lucia and her cousins for the Christmas holidays.

Travel tapestry loom is warped before hitting the road.

Loom is warped before hitting the road.

Tapestry portrait in progress.

Shapes are slowly filled in with yarn. Paint stick serves to hold the cartoon in place.

On the road with a little tapestry weaving.

On the road with a little tapestry weaving.

Attempting to weave a tapestry portrait.

Beginning the blue and white polka-dotted dress. Inlaid magnets hold the blunt tapestry needle.

Weaving a tapestry portrait in the car.

Dusk has arrived, so it is time to put the weaving away for now. Good lighting is a must.

Checking progress on a small tapestry loom.

Before putting the loom in the bag, I turn it over to look at the right side of the weaving. Progress!

May you attempt the impossible.

All the best,
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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