Tools Day: Paper and Yarn

A folded piece of paper and a seven-inch tail from a yarn butterfly become an answer to a small technical problem. When using a cartoon, like I am for this transparency, it’s imperative to identify the center warp end so I can align the dotted-line center of the cartoon with that one end. Finding the center warp end is my technical problem. The paper and yarn work together as the tool that helps remove the guesswork.

Weaving a transparency. Bluebonnets.

I check the alignment of the cartoon about every inch, and move up the pins that hold the cartoon in place.

With these bluebonnets, if the cartoon slides to the right or left by even one warp end it distorts the picture. It’s not enough to eyeball it. I need a way to make sure I am finding, and marking, the exact center end every time.

How to Find and Mark the Center Warp End

Supplies:

  • Pencil
  • Subscription card from a magazine, folded in half lengthwise
  • Seven-inch tail from a yarn butterfly, or a strand of yarn
  1. Measure the width of the beater and use a pencil to mark the exact center with a vertical line.
  2. Hold the folded edge of the card against the vertical pencil line on the beater, with the bottom edge of the card almost touching the warp.

Finding and marking the center warp end to align with cartoon.

3. Slip the yarn tail under the center warp end, as identified by the bottom corner of the card.

Aligning center warp end with cartoon. Tutorial.

4. Check the alignment of the center line of the cartoon with the center warp end.

How to mark the center warp end.

5. Slide the yarn from the reed to the fell line to check the entire length of the alignment. Reposition the cartoon, if needed.

Aligning cartoon with center warp end. How to.

Bluebonnet woven transparency almost finished!

Ready for one last alignment!

May you find a solution that eliminates guesswork.

All the best,
Karen

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Tools Day: Narrow Hems

Hems shouldn’t be noticed. At least, not at first glance. I don’t want the stitching of the hem to detract from the overall handwoven quality. Decorative items, like this table runner, deserve a hand-stitched hem. But for functional pieces, like these tea towels, I stitch the hems on my trusty old Bernina sewing machine. This ensures the durability I want for something that will be thrown in the washer and dryer again and again.

Long M's and O's table runner is hemmed by hand.

Long M’s and O’s table runner is hemmed by hand using an invisible hem stitch.

Last year I purchased a Bernina walking foot through my local Bernina repairman. It was one of the best sewing investments I have made. (Don’t be fooled by off-brand “Bernina compatible” products.) The advantage of a walking foot is that it evenly feeds layers of fabric, which is especially useful for sewing handwoven fabric. And for the towel hem, it means the top of the hem won’t become skewed and slanted as you sew, like it might with a regular sewing machine foot.

Bernina Walking Foot - good investment!

Bernina Three Sole Walking Foot with Seam Guide. The walking foot stays on my Bernina sewing machine almost all the time.

One of the three sole plates that comes with the Bernina walking foot is a sole for edge stitching. This works beautifully for stitching a narrow hem on lighter-weight fabric, like these airy cotton and linen towels.

My process for a machine-stitched narrow hem

  • Turn and press the 1/4″ hem twice. Hold the folded edge in place with small fabric clips.
Sewing narrow hems on handwoven towels.

Small fabric clips hold the folded and pressed towel hem in place, in preparation for stitching the hem.

  • At the sewing machine, attach the edge-stitching sole plate to the walking foot. Align the fold of the hem with the edge-stitching guide.
Bernina walking foot with stitch guide.

Sole with stitch guide. The metal plate that extends below the foot is a steady guide that works for sewing a narrow hem, as well as for top-stitching, or “stitch-in-the-ditch” techniques.

  • Adjust the sewing machine needle to the right, so that it catches the fabric just inside the edge of the fold.
Sewing hems on handwoven towels.

Sewing the narrow hem. Needle is positioned so that it is to the right of the hem fold.

Slowly sew a narrow hem, keeping the folded edge next to the walking foot’s edge-stitching guide. Remove fabric clips before they come to the needle.

Hemming handwoven towels.

Front and back of the hem have consistent, straight stitching. The narrow hem (not yet pressed) will be barely visible.

May your hems be a suitable frame for your handiwork.

Finishing,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Cate says:

    I’m going to have to visit a Bernina dealer soon and get one of these for my machine. I really love that little stitch guide! Brilliant!

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Really pretty project! I inherited a Bernina last Summer but I have yet to play. My Elna sits in a cabinet making the sewing surface larger and at a much better level. I need a cabinet (and more floor space) for the Bernina. Sewing with my arms raised above cabinet height causes me too much shoulder/neck pain. Any suggestions would be welcome, Karen. The walking foot lives on the Elna most of the time.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It’s not worth it to get shoulder/neck pain! I have never had a sewing machine cabinet, but my Bernina sits on a small lower-height table that Steve made for me eons ago. Table and chair height make a huge difference. Maybe you can find a lower table or an adjustable chair that you can raise to sit a little higher. I use an adjustable swivel desk chair at mine.

      I’ve always heard that an Elna is a great machine. So maybe just stick with that. ūüôā (but I do love my trusty old Bernina…ha)

      Happy pain-free sewing,
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    The M’s and O’s fabric turned out beautifully, just like all your weaving. I’m a Bernina gal, too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I’m very happy with the way the M’s and O’s turned out! I got started with Bernina many years ago. It’s the only sewing machine I’ve owned. I don’t think it will ever wear out.

      Karen

  • Mary says:

    I too recently invested in a walking foot and what a difference it makes in my hems.j I no longer dread this part of finishing. Do you like those hem clips better than straight pinning.? Where do you find the clips?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary, I do prefer the fabric clips over pins for simple stitching like this. It’s quick and easy, and there is no distortion of the fabric. Also, there is no threat of snagging the fabric with a rough pin. Of course, I do use straight pins for sewing that requires more detail.

      I got my clips at Hobby Lobby, but I think you can find them at most places that have quilting supplies.

      Karen

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Woven Transparency Cactus

I found a subject for my next transparency. It’s a prickly pear cactus in Texas hill country. Weaving this cactus is a fantastic experience! I started with a photograph, from which I made a cartoon. And I have an outline that shows where to place each color. It’s all based on the timeless beauty of colors in nature. I’m hopeful that when light shines through the final woven transparency we will see a likeness of the original cactus.

Prickly Pear Cactus in Texas hill country.

Prickly Pear Cactus in the front yard of our Texas hill country home.

Make a Cartoon

  • Crop and enlarge the photo. (I use Acrobat Reader to enlarge and print in multiple pages, and then tape the pages together.)

Prickly Pear Cactus in Texas hill country.

  • Outline the main lines of the picture.
  • Turn the enlarged picture over and draw the traced lines on the back to have the reverse image. (This transparency is woven from the back.)

Photo to sketch to cartoon for woven transparency.

  • Trace the line drawing onto a piece of buckram to use as the cartoon.
  • Draw a vertical dashed line down the center of the buckram cartoon.
  • Pin the cartoon under the weaving, lining up the center line on the cartoon with the center warp end. Move the pins, one at a time, before advancing the warp each time.

Buckram used for transparency cartoon.

Color Selection

  • Use the photograph to select yarn colors for the transparency. (I used the iPad to view the photo, and selected sixteen shades of 20/2 Mora wool.)
  • Sort the yarn by hues. (I used my iPhone camera black-and-white setting to help in the sorting.) Sorting by hues helps me blend similar-hued colors, and shows me the contrasts that will help define the picture.

Color selection for woven transparency. Sorting by hues.

 

Sorting colors by hues for woven transparency.

  • Assign a number to each yarn color.
  • Make the enlarged outline into a color-by-number sheet by designating a color or blend of colors for each section. (I taped this sheet to the wall beside my loom, to use as a color guide. The iPad photo also serves as a reference.)

Butterflies of Mora wool for woven transparency.

Virtues are timeless. Virtues are like colors that blend together to weave a masterpiece. When we let the Grand Weaver lay in the weft, these are the colors that appear as light shines through His woven transparency: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. And when this occurs, it shows that we are made in His image.

Making a transparency cartoon. Tutorial.

 

Woven transparency from a photo. How to.

May the next leg of your journey be a fantastic experience.

I’ll meet you back here on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017.
In the meantime, I hope you investigate claims of Jesus. Take time with people. Keep weaving. And the same for me.

Head over to Instagram to stay in touch with my daily journey.

Love,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    This is going to be fabulous!

  • So exciting to see your transparency! That is my absolute favorite thing to weave, and yours is inspiring me to do another one too. What size linen and sett are you using?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, You are responsible for inspiring me! I couldn’t stop thinking about your beautiful transparencies, and knew I wanted to make another attempt. It’s not hard for me to understand why this is your very favorite thing to weave. I may be following you in that! I can’t thank you enough for answering my questions behind the scenes!

      This is 16/2 linen, 12 epi.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    You’ve put lots of planning time into this piece. Can’t wait to see the finished work!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, The planning for this has been a lot of fun. I was getting discouraged trying to find a good subject to weave, but when I found this pic that I took on our own property I got pretty excited about the whole thing! I can’t wait to show it to you when it’s finished!

      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    This is so exciting Karen, I can’t wait to see it!! Have a wonderful vacation, I will be looking forward to august and this finished piece!
    Liberty

  • Wende says:

    Love this!

  • Maria says:

    Karen,
    Where in the hill country do you live? I so enjoy your blog- I like how you “weave” your faith in your posts!! Gifted weaver and writer?

    • Karen says:

      Maria, We are a little north of Kerrville. We currently live in the Houston area, but this special place in Kerrville will become our permanent home when my husband retires. Your sweet thoughts are very touching. Let me know when you will be in Houston again, or in hill country. I’d love to meet up.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Carol Ashworth says:

    I am so glad I found your site! I love everything and have a lot to learn!
    I love how you try to do every so nice and neat!
    Carol

  • Patricia Tiemann says:

    Great blog! Thanks for posting so much info.

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Tools Day: Reeds

Eventually, I would like to have a metric reed (or two) in every possible size. Until then, I will be happy with what I have, while I gradually add to my supply, as needed, one reed at a time.

I prefer metric reeds (dents per 10 centimeters) over imperial reeds (dents per inch). For one thing, the math is easier for project planning. And because there are smaller increments between sizes, there are more sett choices with metric reeds. It could be my imagination, but it often seems that the metric reed yields a Goldilocks “just right” sett.

Assortment of weaving reeds.

Supply of reeds. Some purchased new, some second-hand purchases, and some received as gifts. All but one have been used on my looms. The reeds usually reside in my weaving supply closet.

My selection of reeds vary in length, from 70 cm (27″) to 120 cm (47″), to fit the weaving widths of my looms. But Glim√•kra countermarch looms have beaters that are open on the sides, so I can use any length reed in any loom.

Beginning cotton warp with M's and O's.

Reed with 120 cm weaving width is being used on this 100 cm Glim√•kra Ideal. This is a 22.5 dents/inch reed, sleyed two ends per dent. Notice that the warp is high in the reed? That’s because the front tie-on bar is going over the breast beam.

My all-around favorite reeds are those made by Glim√•kra because they are lightweight and easy to handle, …and they come in metric sizes. (Of course, you need to choose reeds that work with your loom.)

Taqueté in Tencel on eight shafts.

This 120 cm reed is a perfect fit for the weaving width of the 120 cm Glim√•kra Standard loom. This is a 50/10 metric reed, giving a Goldilocks “just right” sett for this 8/2 tencel taquet√©.

I put together a reed conversion chart so that we can see our¬†options at a glance. You never know when a new project will “require” a new metric reed!

Weaving reed metric/imperial conversion chart.

May your next project have a Goldilocks “just right” sett.

Happy weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Awesome, Karen!
    I’ve recently purchased a loom made in Japan which has a metric reed. It is taking me a while to convert my calculating mind from Imperial to Metric measuring. Your conversion chart will be a tremendous help. Thank you.

  • Thanks for the conversion chart. It will be helpful. I hope you don’t mind that I printed it out to hang on my studio bulletin board.
    Jeny

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, I’m glad the chart is helpful for you! Please put it where you can use it. That’s what it’s there for.

      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Thank you for putting this together, Karen! My first loom was made in Hungary, purchased when we were posted there with the military. It came with two reeds, one of which is 65/10 cm and the other (which I’ve not used yet) I think is about 23.6/10 cm. I was ripping my hair out in December, looking for some conversion charts to assist in calculating sett for a handspun scarf. I, too, would like to print out your chart to hang on my studio bulletin board.

    I was thinking this morning, just before sitting at the computer interestingly enough, that I’d like to get more metric reeds for this loom. As the reed holder is a bit of an oddball width here in North America, my choices seem limited. I must explore options further.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, I searched online for a reed conversion chart, so I could link to it, and I couldn’t find one that was as complete as I wanted. So I decided to put a spreadsheet together to do the math, and create my own chart.

      Please use the reed conversion chart however it serves you best.

      Suppliers for metric reeds in the US are quite limited, as imperial reeds are usually the American favorites.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Shirley says:

    thanks, Karen. your chart is just what I need.
    I have Metric reeds,but also like to use patterns from Handwoven magazine.
    So your printed out chart will also hang in my loomroom.

  • Thanks so much for this Karen! I have a mixture of imperial and metric reeds and until recently I have been referring to my 1970’s Toika handbook (the one with the lady setting up the loom on a rocky Finnish beach!) which had a blurry picture of a reed conversion chart. Thank you!

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Tips for Taming String Yarn Weft Tails

Those pesky string yarn weft tails! There is a lot of starting and stopping with these mug rugs. Normally, tucking a weft tail back into the shed adds a bit of extra thickness at the selvedge. So, what about this very thick weft? It has the potential to throw everything off balance. A few easy tips help minimize the distortion the thicker weft can cause.

Taming String Yarn Weft Tails

  • Begin¬†the thick weft on alternating sides. This will prevent one selvedge from¬†building up more than the other.
  • Taper the end of the string yarn, cutting it at a steep angle.
  • Starting about 1 3/4″¬†inside the selvedge, send the shuttle through the shed¬†toward¬†the selvedge, going over or under the outermost warp end. Pull through until almost all of the weft tail is caught.
What to do with string yarn weft tails.

Starting the shuttle from the inside, going outward, is an easy way to catch all the separate threads of the string yarn.

Taming string yarn weft tails.

  • In same shed, send the shuttle back through to the other side, aware of encircling the one warp end.

Tucking in string yarn weft tails. Tips.

  • Beat. (Beat on open shed. Beat again. Change sheds. Beat again.)

How to manage string yarn weft tails.

  • Continue weaving.

Rep weave mug rugs. String yarn weft tails - tips!

  • To end the thick weft, leave a 1 3/4″ tail, and taper the end of the string yarn, as before. Lay the tail back in the last shed, going around the outermost warp end. Beat.

Things happen that throw us off balance. From personal celebrations to unexpected losses. Don’t be afraid. Putting trust¬†in the Lord minimizes the inner turmoil. The Lord is my light. He lights my way. What is there to be afraid of? Wholehearted trust in the Lord pushes fearfulness away.

May you walk in a lighted path.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hey Karen,
    Just wanted to say congratulations on another great project and article in the newest Handwoven Mag! I’m so proud of you! Thanks for all you hard work and help with our weaving!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, Thank you so much! It’s my joy to add my little two cents to the whole wide weaving world. My copy came in the mail yesterday! There are a lot of great projects in there.

      Thanks, friend,
      Karen

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