Dots of Sunshine at the Selvedges

This double-weave cotton baby blanket has sunshine yellow for the bottom layer, and aquamarine for the upper layer. The selvedges are delightfully dotted with specks of the sunshine yellow as the two wefts interlock at the sides.

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Second baby blanket on this warp. First blanket used aquamarine weft for the bottom layer. This blanket has aquamarine weft for the top layer.

Weaving with two shuttles always requires extra attention to know which shuttle goes where. And with double weave, especially, I need to know where to set a shuttle down, which shuttle goes across first, which thread goes over or under the other thread, etc. Consistency matters because the proper arrangement of weft threads at the selvedge will appropriately “stitch” the two layers closed. And the final result here is a cohesive baby blanket with decorative edges. Besides looking pretty, the carefully-placed weft threads hold the edges together.

Cotton double weave baby blankets on the loom.

View of cloth under the breast beam reveals the bottom layer of this two-layer cloth.

Sunshine yellow weft thread decorates the selvedge.

Sunshine yellow weft thread creates a decorative stitch at the selvedge.

Love is like that, too. Love holds people together. It stitches our loose edges into a cohesive fabric. It makes us into something that can work together instead of going our own way as separate pieces. Love from you refreshes the hearts of others and puts a delightful decorative edge on all your relationships.

May all those who encounter you know what it is like to be loved.

Love,
Karen

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Make Magical Fabric

Another magical experience at the loom! Double weave lets you weave two separate layers of fabric simultaneously. And then, the top and bottom layers can switch places in defined blocks. I don’t know who thought this up, but they were brilliant!

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Cotton baby blanket for a dear friend’s first grandchild. This friend is amazed at the weaving process, and says that this woven fabric looks calming. Careful arrangement of the two shuttles ensures that the double-weave selvedges are woven closed.

The hard part was tying up the treadles. For a countermarch, working with eight shafts requires a more delicate balance under the loom. For a while, I was concerned that I might not get more than two decent sheds on this. But after several adjustments, I finally got a great shed with every treadle! Someone who looks at the final cloth will never know the effort that took place behind the scenes. But they may wonder at the amazement of handwoven cloth. Or not. (You’ve probably met someone who is not duly impressed with handwoven goods.)

Double weave baby blanket on the loom.

Long stripes in the middle of the baby blanket. I added dashed lines at the ends of the stripes for added detail interest.

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Beginning sample reaches the cloth beam. Sample area at the beginning of the warp was used to test weft colors and to practice getting the appropriate weft density.

What do we see as ordinary that, truth be known, is full of wonder? One person may interpret an unusual event as an amazing sign from God. Another person experiences the same event and considers it nothing more than happenstance. If I say I won’t believe until I see evidence, I will never find evidence that satisfies me …even if I come face-to-face with a miracle. Keep the wonder. When you see handwoven cloth, let the work of the Maker’s hands bring wonder and awe. And know there are significant hidden details that are beyond our grasp.

May your fabrics be magical.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Betty A Van Horn says:

    WOW – it is absolutely gorgeous – two ‘sea colors!’ I definitely want to be on the look out for His amazing provision.

    Blessings!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, These are enjoyable colors to work with!
      If we keep our eyes open to look for His provision, we will certainly see it in our lives.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Gorgeous weaving, as always! Each day we all see miracles right before our eyes. Our very lives are a miracle.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, It’s fascinating to think of the intricacies of how we are made. It’s not hard to see the Creator’s handiwork if we are looking for it.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    What a lovely gift to be weaving. So interesting to be working on a double weave blanket for my son and his wife at the same time you are doing the baby blanket. Gifting to special people is part of the joy of weaving.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I agree, it’s a joyful thing to give handwoven treasures to special people. That’s cool that you have double weave on your loom, too.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’m dressing my loom right now for dish towels in the same way, I’m excited to try it! I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Hugs,
    Liberty

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Warp Chain Optimist

Is there a better picture of optimism than a warp chain? Especially warp chains that are sitting on the loom bench ready to become something! Anticipation electrifies the weaving space because fabric-making is about to happen!

Warp chains for a spaced repp rag rug.

Four bouts of 12/6 cotton rug warp for spaced rep rag rugs. The warp is eight meters long.

The Glimåkra Ideal is getting dressed for weaving rag rugs. Hooray! And the Glimåkra Standard is getting dressed for double weave baby blankets. I keep a regular cycle of weaving, cutting off, and starting over.

Warp chains of 8/2 cotton for baby blankets.

Three bouts of 8/2 cotton for double weave baby blankets, gifts for friends. The warp is three meters long.

Dress the loom. Weave a sample. Plan the next project and order supplies. Weave what’s on the loom to the finish line. Cut off. Do the finishing work. Wind the warp for the next project, and put the warp chain(s) on the loom bench. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Every beginning has an end. Every warp. Every life. And even every day comes to an end. What will I make of that warp? This life? This day? Our life is a mere shadow, fading quickly. To honor our Grand Weaver, we want to value every day we’ve been given. And when our hope and trust is in Him, we know the fabric he is weaving will last forever.

May you value this day you’ve been given.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Handwoven Handbags

Is there such a thing as too many handbags, pocketbooks, tote bags, and purses? Of course not. Naturally, my favorite handbags are made from handwoven fabric. Linings made from remnants, handwoven bands used for shoulder straps, hidden zippers, and, of course pockets–these are the details that other people will seldom notice. Yet these are the details that make me smile every time I use one of these bags.

Handwoven handbags - with 1 minute video.

Nineteen handwoven handbags. Various sizes, fibers, styles, and purposes. And colors. Lots of colors!

…You know that box of handwoven bits and pieces? Those weavings from the end of the warp, and the “scraps” from various projects? Hmm… looks like I might need to make another handbag or two.

Here is my collection of handwoven handbags, divided into a few categories. Plus, a short video just for the fun of it!

Rigid Heddle Loom

Handbags from fabric woven on a rigid heddle loom.

Wool, novelty chenille yarn, crochet cotton, and narrow fabric strips are used for weft in these bags. Buttons are from my grandma’s button jar. The small rag-weave pocketbook has a permanent home in my daily handbag. The fabric for these bags was woven on my Beka 32″ rigid heddle loom.

Handwoven fabric for handbags from the rigid heddle loom.

Linings are from remnants of other sewing projects. Bag handles were woven on my inkle loom.

Travel Finds

Handwoven handbags from international travels.

Trips to The Philippines yielded interesting woven goods by artisans there. The green stripe tote bag is woven from native plant material, and the teal and burgundy purse is a beautiful example of ikat weaving. The colorful weft-faced woven shoulder bag and the purple bag with lovely weft-float patterning came from travel to Chile.

Project Carriers

Handwoven project bags.

Large tote bag, woven with 1/4″ fabric strips for weft, carries my “show and tell” when I go to my weaving study group. It’s known as the “Mary Poppins Bag.” Rag-rug bag in the center has straps, woven on the band loom, that were woven into the bag. This bag carries my portable tapestry weaving. The rag rug bag on the right carries my one-and-only crochet project.

Special Use

Handwoven handbags.

Linen bag has beads woven into the fabric. It is lined with satin. Rag-weave purse is simply a flat piece folded in half, with lining and pockets added to the inside. The blue bag is wool, woven in a weft-cord technique. The fabric was partially fulled to produce the ribbed texture.

Handwoven lining in a handwoven purse.

Lining for this bag is made from extra fabric after weaving cotton/linen fabric for cushions, and the pocket is a remnant from a two-block twill tencel scarf.

Daily Use Favorites

Favorite handwoven handbags! Karen Isenhower

Representing some of my “firsts.” The brown and blue small shoulder bag is from one of my first cottolin towel projects. This is what I did when the last piece was too short to use for a towel. The green and turquoise clutch has remnants of my first ever handwoven towel, my first rosepath rag rug, and my first big rep weave project! The blue shoulder bag is the bag I use every day. It’s a remnant from the baby wrap I wove for my daughter’s first baby. It’s lined with a remnant from an Easter dress I made for her when she was a little girl.

May you carry your handiwork with you.

Happy weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Mary Kay Stahley says:

    I would love to know where to get patterns to make a bag. Have yardage and really want to turn it into a purse

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary Kay, I have found a few good commercial patterns for an assortment of bags.

      I used McCall’s 3894 to make the large tote bag. (I did break several sewing machine needles when sewing the very thick corners.)
      And I used Simplicity 2201 for the green and teal clutch. Other patterns that I have not used yet are Simplicity 9949 and Simplicity 2274. All of the patterns have multiples sizes and shapes of bags. There are probably some more good patterns out there now. I’ve had these for several years. I enjoy browsing the pattern books at the fabric store.

      For some of the bags, I folded and played with the fabric to make up a simple design.

      For the shoulder bag that I currently use all the time, made from the baby wrap remnant, I purchased a bag at the store that I thought would work well with handwoven fabric. I took it home and ripped out all the seams to deconstruct it. Then I had the basic shapes, which I reconfigured to exactly what I wanted. I made a practice bag first out of denim before using the handwoven cloth to make the final bag.

      I hope that gives you some ideas!
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    It was so much fun to see all your beautiful bags, Karen! Nineteen is certainly not enough!! Hope you keep making more and sharing them with us. You have a wonderful sense of color!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Hi, Karen,
    You had the icon to share to Facebook, so I shared this post with my Rigid Heddle Adventure group. They’ve been talking a lot lately about creating bags. Thanks for the post!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, That’s wonderful! The rigid heddle loom is perfect for making fabric for bags because it’s so easy to use a variety of fibers in the warp and in the weft. It’s a fun adventure!

      Thanks so much for sharing!
      Karen

  • Angela Roberts says:

    Truly an inspiration, as always
    Thank you Karen

  • Kantilal Doobal says:

    Please quote me a Magazine for which I wish to submit and an article dealing with woolen durrie weaving.
    thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kantilal, Thank you for asking.

      I don’t know a magazine that has an article about woolen durrie weaving. “Väv” magazine sometimes has articles about different types of rug weaving, and “Handwoven” magazine sometimes has articles about rag rug weaving. The March/April 2017 issue of “Handwoven” has instructions for a “Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug” that I designed.

      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Favorite Weaving Books

I know how to write music. I am experienced in playing improvisational music on my cello. And I don’t have a problem making up a tune to sing on the spot. But nothing touches the richness of music’s beauty like getting out the Beethoven Sonatas at the piano, or Bach’s Six Suites for the cello, or singing from an old-fashioned hymnal. Likewise, I do know how to write a weaving draft from scratch, but I usually find my starting point in one of my favored weaving books. There are countless designs and dreamy pictures. From simple to extraordinary. Sometimes I follow the instructions precisely. But most often, the improviser in me examines the elements and finds a new version to “play.”

Here are just a few of my favorite weaving books, and a sampling of what they have produced.

Some of my favorite weaving books!

Favored weaving books, in no particular order. Do you see a theme? Yes, I like to weave Swedish patterns from Swedish books on my Swedish Glimåkra looms.

Turned rosepath from "The Big Book of Weaving."

Rosepath band with turned rosepath.
Lundell, Laila, and Elisabeth Windesjö. “The Big Book of Weaving: Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs, and Materials.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 2008.

From "Älskade Trasmattor." Rosepath rag rug.

Rosepath rag rug.
Hallgren, Ann-Kristin, and Monica Hallén. “Älskade Trasmattor: att Väva Som Förr.” Kalmar: Akantus, 2006. (“Beloved Rag Rugs: To Weave As Before”)

Rosepath rag rug. Karen Isenhower

My version of this rosepath rag rug makes itself at home in our Texas hill country getaway.

Rosepath rag rug from "Favorite Rag Rugs," by Tina Ignell.

Rosepath rag rug. My very first rosepath rag rug is positioned in a prominent place in our home where it is seen and stepped on every day. Much to my delight.
Ignell, Tina, and Catherine Zienko. “Favorite Rag Rugs: 45 Inspiring Weave Designs.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square Books, 2007.

Rosepath rag rug in "Alla Tiders Trasmattor."

Another rosepath rag rug. No end to rosepath rag rug possibilities, it seems.
Hallgren, Ann-Kristin, and Monica Hallén. “Alla Tiders Trasmattor.” Akantus Edition, 2007. (“All Time Rag Rugs”)

Rosepath rag rug.

Rosepath rag rug uses alternating weft colors in the plain weave sections, adding visual texture.

"Stardust" scarf from "Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet."

Called “warp-faced combination weave” in the book. I don’t know what else to call it. I wove this scarf when I didn’t know exactly what I was doing yet. If you see any mistakes, just think of them as “design elements.”
Johansson, Lillemor, Charlotta Bosson, Conny Bernhardsson, and Katie Zienko. “Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet.” Glimåkra: Vävhästen, 2004.

Classic twill towels, from "Simple Weaves," by Björk and Ignell

Cottolin twill towels. I have a small sample piece. All the towels I wove are happily drying hands and dishes in homes of family and friends.
Björk, Birgitta Bengtsson, Tina Ignell, and Bengt Arne Ignell. “Simple Weaves: over 30 Classic Patterns and Fresh New Styles.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 2012.

Double binding rag rug, from "Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs."

Double binding rag rug. This sweet rug is resting in my Etsy shop, waiting for a new home.
Johansson, Lillemor, Pia Wedderien, Marie Rolander, Conny Bernhardsson, and Katie Zienko. “Swedish Rag Rugs: 35 New Designs.” Glimåkra: Vävhästen, 1995.

May you play as much music as you can find.

…and speaking of Etsy! The original River Stripe Towels and Table Centerpiece Cloth that I wove are now listed in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop. And there may still be one River Stripe Towel Set Pre-Wound Warp Instructional Kit (Workshop in a Box) left! UPDATE: THE KIT HAS BEEN SOLD.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • "Blekinges sommarfågel" says:

    You are an inspiration to those who are not able attend weaving courses in Sweden, but successfully forge ahead experimenting guided by the skillfully written and illustrated Swedish weaving texts, using high quality, oftentimes fine gauge imported yarn of natural materials. Keep weaving and inspiring others with your blog!

    • Karen says:

      “Blekinges sommarfågel,” The skillfully written and illustrated Swedish weaving texts open up a world of possibilities. I love to take a stack of the books and thumb through the pages, just to dream of what I might weave someday.

      Thank you for sending such encouraging words!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kim says:

    I’ve lately been thinking about weaving as I think about cooking, and weaving book as I think about cook books.

    While we are learning, we start with something we see in a book or magazine (a recipe) and maybe weave that as it is, or make some small change like color (ingredients.) Maybe we are brave enough to tweak the “recipe” and use a different fiber, or a thicker one or thinner one. Then, once we have the basics down (boiling eggs, steaming rice, mashing potatoes) we can build on that knowledge and compose our own recipes (pattern combinations.)

    Books are inspiration. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for YOUR endless inspiration.

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