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

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Tried and True: Designing with Fibonacci

Before starting, I sketched out several versions of the finished blanket, showing different sizes and arrangements of the rectangle blocks. My favorite version is one with a random look. This twelve-shaft double weave has three blocks. Block 1 is a solid color across the warp. Block 2 has a narrow, vertical contrasting rectangle. Block 3 has a wide, horizontal contrasting rectangle. The warp threading determines the width of the rectangles. But the height of the rectangles is determined by the treadling pattern. I decided to use a Fibonacci sequence of numbers in random order to guide my treadling options as I weave.

Double weave blanket.
Rectangles vary in size.

Low-Tech Random Fibonacci Sequence

1 Determine the desired range of the Fibonacci sequence. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

2 Determine the number of repeat options for each block (one repeat is 4 picks per double-weave layer).

  • Block 1, solid color – 2 repeats every time
  • Block 2, narrow rectangle – 2, 3, 5, 8, or 13 repeats
  • Block 3, wide rectangle – 1, 2, 3, or 5 repeats

3 Write each number of the sequence on individual squares of paper. Make three sets of these numbers. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

4 Fold each paper square in half and place in a container at the loom. Mix thoroughly.

Designing with random Fibonacci numbers. Low tech!
Fibonacci numbers are ready for eyes-closed random selection.

5 Randomly select a paper square to reveal the number of repeats for the next narrow or wide rectangle block.

Fibonacci numbers as design tool.
Assignment for the next rectangle block – three repeats. The lines indicate that this number can be used for Block 2 (narrow, vertical) or Block 3 (wide, horizontal).

For this blanket I have a woven hem and border, and then two repeats of Block 1 (solid color) between alternating Block 2 (narrow) and Block 3 (wide) rectangles of varying heights.

Double weave wool blanket.
Back side has reverse colors.
Double weave Tuna wool blanket.
Block 1 (solid blue across) stays a consistent size between the white rectangles.

Surprise is built in which makes it hard to leave the loom. “Just one more block,” I tell myself…

Double weave blanket. Fibonacci for design.
View of the cloth beam reveals the variety of sizes of rectangles. Eager to see it off the loom!

May you be greeted by random (happy) surprises.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

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Cutting Off a Failure

I made an embarrassing blunder. No wonder this Tuna wool resists all my efforts. It’s the wrong yarn! Tuna is 6/2 wool—twice as thick as the 6/1 wool I should be using. Cowboy Magic won’t solve this sticky problem. (I thought it would, as I expressed in this post: Tame the Wool.)

The yarn is gorgeous, but my frustration level is pushing me to throw in the towel. I tried hard to make this work. I was so convinced I had the right yarn that I missed it even when reader Joan left a gentle comment asking if 6/1 Fårö yarn would work (I’m sorry for not listening, Joan). There is nothing left but to cut off this failure.

Cutting off out of frustration.
Every shed is a struggle. It seems impossible to get a clean shed with this “sticky” yarn. (It’s not the yarn’s fault, though.)
Cutting off a failure. Ouch!
Failed piece is cut off. There are unwanted floats everywhere, and the fabric is like cardboard because of the tight sett.
Cutting off a failed double weave project. Ugh.
Bottom of the double weave has even more unwanted floats than the top layer.

In this lowest moment a thought occurs to me. Re-sley the reed. An ounce of hope rises.

Re-sleying to a coarser sett. Hoping for success.
Reed is changed from 50/10 metric to 40/10 metric. This spreads the warp an additional 19.9 cm (7 3/4″).
Wool for a double weave blanket. Second try.
Sleying is complete and the new reed is placed in the beater.
Wool warp for a double weave blanket.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is tightened. On your mark, get ready, get set…

I re-sley to a coarser reed and tie back on. I hold my breath and step on the treadles. It works. And it’s gorgeous!

Double weave wool blanket on 12 shafts. Glimakra Standard.
Go! Night and day difference in being able to clear each shed.
Double weave at its finest. Wool blanket.
Double weave at its finest.
Weaving into the sunset!
Weaving into the sunset.
Double weave Tuna wool blanket on Glimakra Standard. Success!
Clean lines of double weave, with a (very) few unwanted floats that will be easy to fix later.
Double weave wool blanket. Success after starting over!
This is now a pleasure to weave!

Have you experienced great disappointment and loss of hope? Sometimes our own failure brings us to that point. The Lord makes things new. We come to Jesus with our failed attempts, and he exchanges our used rags of effort with his clean cloth of righteousness. In his forgiveness, the failure is cut off and removed. Our threads are re-sleyed and re-tied to make us gloriously new.

May you know when to cut off and start over.

Love,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Where there’s a will, there’s a way! The “failure” would make lovely bolster pillows. We all make mistakes and move forward. The resleyed weaving is beautiful. I’m holding my breath about the project I’m about to start.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I thought about making a handbag out of the failed piece, but bolster pillows is another good idea!

      I came perilously close to pulling all the yarn off the loom and calling it a total loss. What stopped me was the beauty of the yarn itself. I just had to find a way to make it work.

      I’ll be looking for your brave project on IG.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    I’m glad you figured out what the problem was and got it fixed. The colors are so pretty!

    Looking forward to seeing you next week!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Fortunately, most weaving problems are fixable…when we calm down enough to think it through.

      I’m looking forward to seeing you, too, at the CHT conference next week!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Hi Karen,
    Very pretty lemonade.
    Thank you for explaining how to make a correction when plans need a little help.

    Kind regards,
    Nannette

  • Karen Reff says:

    It’s not fun when it’s happening, but oh, how good it feels to get everything straightened out! Good for you for sticking with it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Thanks! I came awfully close to giving up altogether. You’re right, it feels terrific to get everything straightened out. At loom everything (or almost everything) is fixable.

      Karen

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Tame the Wool

I am in Germany this week, but before I left home I started the blue wool blanket. Twelve shafts and twelve treadles is challenge enough. Double weave with a sett of 5 EPC (12 EPI) per layer in 6/2 Tuna wool adds to the challenge. This wool stubbornly clings to itself in this sett. I don’t care to fight defiant wool to get a clean shed on every treadle! I could re-sley to a coarser sett. But I want to keep the sett as is, as written for this project in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. Cowboy Magic to the rescue! I discovered this horse mane detangler when I wove a mohair throw a few years ago. It rinses out nicely in the wet finishing. It worked magic for me at that time. Now, with a small amount of slick detangler on my fingers I can tame these blue wool fibers. Voila! No more fighting to get a clean shed.

Cowboy Magic to the rescue to tame wool yarn double weave.
Twelve treadles means clearing and adjusting the shed twelve times just to get started. Before Cowboy Magic, I had to run my hands through the shed to clear it each time. That’s asking for trouble–and skipped threads all over the bottom layer.

Now I have something to look forward to when I get home.

Blue wool double weave blanket on 12 shafts.
Twelve shafts gives me three blocks in this double weave small blanket. I think it will be a very pretty addition to use in our little Casita Travel Trailer on cool evenings.

May you eliminate unnecessary fighting.

Weave Happy,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Beautiful! Cowboy Magic is a great solution. Hope you’re having a grand time on your trip!

  • ellen says:

    it is a great idea, but i don’t understand how you use it. you put it on your hands and wipe it on the warp? while you are warping or after? do you have to wait a while before you can use it? ellen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, So far, I have been putting it on my hands and wiping it on the warp behind the reed and in front of the heddles. I re-apply each time I advance the warp. I’m not very far yet, so as I progress, I may try applying it to the warp at the back of the loom and see if that works just as well. I haven’t been waiting. I just apply it and weave.

      I’ll let you know if I change my methods as I go.

      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Wishing you a wonderful journey in Germany. Who would have thought the detangler I use on Reno, RD and Sitka would work at the loom? Love these cross overs from one aspect of my life to another weaving it all together. My one sure common thread is Christ!

  • Nannette says:

    Hope you had a wonderful and safe Easter.

    Just curious… Would any of the hair conditioners work?

    Love the color combination

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I have wondered the same thing–whether other hair conditioners or detanglers would work. I think they would, but I went with something I had heard from other weavers. I thought about trying a detangler for children’s hair, as it would probably be mild.

      Karen

  • Joan says:

    Do you think that there would be less stickiness if one used 6/1 Fårö yarn rather than the 6/2 Tuna?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joan, I think the sett makes the most difference. At this sett, 6/1 Fårö would probably give no problems, but the fabric would be a looser weave. At a denser sett, I think the Fårö would have the same stickiness issues. But it would be worth an experiment… Maybe next time? I do love that Fårö wool!

      Karen

  • […] I made an embarrassing blunder. No wonder this Tuna wool resists all my efforts. It’s the wrong yarn! Tuna is 6/2 wool—twice as thick as the 6/1 wool I should be using. Cowboy Magic won’t solve this sticky problem. (I thought it would, as I expressed in this post: Tame the Wool.) […]

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All the Looms

The plan to keep every loom dressed is easy when there is only one loom. Now that I have four floor looms, it’s a tough plan to follow. The drawloomcheck. The Glimåkra Standard, dressed in Tuna wool—check. The two smaller looms are threaded, and just need tying on and tying up. So, I’m well on my way! The end of the first warp on the drawloom is in view, however. That means the drawloom will soon be back in the queue. And so it goes.

Winding a warp for rosepath rag rugs. 12/6 cotton. Spring colors.
Winding a warp for rosepath rag rugs. 12/6 cotton. Spring colors.
Warp for cottolin towels.
Warp for cottolin towels is threaded on the little hand-built loom.
Opphämta on the drawloom.
Opphämta on the drawloom. Pattern weft is 6/1 Fårö wool. The right side of the fabric is seen underneath, as it comes around the breast beam.
Threading heddles on the Glimåkra Ideal.
Threading heddles on the Glimåkra Ideal.
Blue and Almond Tuna wool warp.
Blue and Almond Tuna wool warp is tied on in 1″ sections.

I like to stay a step ahead of my looms. I’m ready to wind a new warp as soon as I finish cutting off. It’s the cycle of weaving. But I have trouble staying ahead.

Tying up treadles on the Glimakra countermarch.
Twelve shafts. Twelve upper lamms. Twelve lower lamms. Twelve treadles. This is an amazing system.
Warp is tied on. Ready for rag rugs!
Warp is tied on. Ready to add the leveling string.
Loom is dressed for small wool double weave blanket.
Loom is dressed. Treadle cords are adjusted. Ready for weaving!
End of warp on the drawloom.
End of warp comes near the pattern heddles. This is my first drawloom warp, so I’m waiting to see how far I can weave until I lose a good shed. So far, so good.
My first drawloom warp.
Closing chapter of my first drawloom warp. I’ll keep “turning pages” until the shed disappears.

We have good plans for our lives. But often, it’s tough to follow those plans. Too many things happen at once, and we don’t know how to stay ahead of it all. The thing to remember is that our plans stem from our inner commitments. When we commit our ways to the Lord, trusting him, he leads us through our days. Trust turns plans into achievements. And those are the plans worth pursuing.

May your best plans succeed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

15 Comments

  • Robin says:

    I love your posts. You are such an inspiration. And it is so evident you went to vavstuga, using the techniques she taught. Going there for the basics class was a little retirement gift to myself last year.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robin, Going to Vavstuga Basics was one of my best moves. I learned things from Becky Ashenden that I use every day. I’m glad you’ve had the Vavstuga experience, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    Robin is right, you are an inspiration! Your work is impeccable and motivating. I have only two looms and can’t seem to get them going at the same time.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, The truth about multiple looms is that you can only weave on one loom at a time.

      Now that all the looms are threaded I may focus on one loom at a time and weave it off. …unless I get distracted by another loom and decide to weave a little on it…

      Thank you for your kind words,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    About this time last year I warped up my homemade loom at the top of my skill set in rosepatth, then life got in the way. Last week I started a 6 week class at the Fiberwood studio near by. Chosen pattern is rosepath, to get my skills where they need to be (and girls night out with a friend).

    Such joy to know you have also chosen rosepath to show on your blog.

    God does provide to the ready student.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I’m happy to hear you are interested in rosepath. Rosepath rag rugs are at the top of my list of favorite things to weave. It’s been way too long since I’ve had them on the loom.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Maria says:

    I just finished my first “ throw” . It was 46 wide in the reed. I had a terrible time keeping the edges and the floater broke a few times. Not my best weaving to say the least. How wide do you do your blankets and do you have any tips for weaving wide pieces? I would love to try the Tuna wool- what epi do you use for it?
    Thanks Karen!
    Maria Navarra

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, I know what you mean about facing challenges with a wide weave. I don’t use floating selvedges, so I can’t answer to that. I do use a temple. I find the temple helps me get consistent selvedges with wider widths. The weaving width of my biggest loom is 47″, and I have woven nearly that full width. Getting just the right tension on the warp is necessary, so that it’s just tight enough. If it’s a bit too loose, my shuttle wants to fall through.

      Here’s a page from Vavstuga’s website with a “recipe” for a Tuna wool blanket. I would go with that for a first time Tuna wool throw. It makes a terrific throw. http://store.vavstuga.com/product/yarn-borg-woo-tuna.html

      The one I have on the loom right now is double weave, and the sett is pretty dense, so it takes some patience and practice to make the wool open up with a decent shed.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen says:

    The last time I got both of my looms warped at the same time I took a photo….so I could prove I did it and so I could remember it….ha. Thank you for your encouragemment and inspiration, including a journey of faith.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Don’t forget it has taken me about 3 months to finally get all the looms (almost) dressed. Haha. There’s never a chance to get bored around here.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen. Thank you for the inspiration regarding best laid plans.

    And the inspiration for weaving. I purchased a Megado recently and I am struggling with the follow through and putting it into use. Life does try to side track. However, I need to remember to hang onto the plan and trust in God.

    Hopefully, I will get to the Hill Country one day to visit.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, We would be delighted to have you come for a visit!

      There are many things in life more important than dressing looms. I’m sure those are the things you are attending to.

      I have found that I can make it a practice to go to the drawloom every morning after breakfast, even if for a short time. And, it surprises me how those minutes add up over time and now I’m almost at the end of the warp. I think, How did that happen?

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Liz says:

    I am so blown away with how prolific you are with weaving! It takes me all day to dress my little Schacht! I am inspired watching your work! Thank You!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liz, It’s all one step at a time, little by little, day after day. It adds up. I think you’re doing quite well to dress your loom in a day!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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