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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Weaving History Carries Memories – Year in Review Video

Transition. Changes. Adventure into the unknown. That describes 2018 for Steve and me. When I review my weaving history for the year, everything on the loom is attached to a memory. Like an old song that awakens our thoughts to past experiences, the Lizard tapestry certainly sparks in me revived memories of our transition season and the moving of looms. See Quiet Friday: Tapestry in Transition.

Removing the warp beam. Relocating the loom.

Steve unscrews a bolster that holds one side of the warp beam so I can remove the warp beam.

I began 2018 with a plan to weave coordinated fabrics for our Texas hill country home—towels, upholstery for bar stools, and placemats, explained in this post: Harmonized Weaving for the New Year. Accomplished! I also committed to weaving a gift for each of my three daughters (daughter and two son’s wives), as described in this post: Weaving a Gift. Accomplished two out of three! The final gift is nearing halfway on the loom right now.

Hemstitching at the beginning of the cotton throw.

Cotton throw has hemstitching at the beginning. The ends will be twisted for fringe when it’s taken from the loom.

Eight-shaft twill in an undulating pattern. Lightweight cotton throw.

Eight-shaft twill in an undulating pattern. Single-shuttle weaving gets me off to a fast start for 2019.

2019 is a continuation of transition, changes, and adventure, as we tiptoe into this retirement chapter. A drawloom is in the forecast, as well as some travel tapestry weaving, and more rag rugs, towels, scarves, and throws. And anything else we can think up. It’s going to be a good year! Thank you for coming along. I’m grateful to have you as a friend.

May you have much to look forward to.

Blessings to you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    You’ve had an exciting and productive year. Wishing you all the best in 2019 and beyond.

  • Diane Leblanc says:

    I look forward to each post. I have had my loom for 38 years and it is retirement that finally gave me the time to weave and learn as I have always wished for. I am learning so many things I am inspired by weavers in my guild into their 80’s who are still weaving and learning. I wish us both a good weaving year in 2019

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane, It is wonderful to have fellow weavers like you on this journey with me. Learning new things is one thing I look forward to in 2019!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • ellen santana says:

    well i’m real happy to have you too. i did that undulating twill in wool a couple of times and it shrank like crazy. do you find that in cotton also? happy new year to you and your husband. ellen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, It’s good to hear from you!

      I haven’t done undulating twill in cotton before, so we shall see about the shrinkage. I’ll be sure to mention it when I take measurements after washing.

      Blessed new year to you,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Remarkable year!!

    Please continue sharing.

    Kind regards,

    Nannette

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Stained Glass Scarf Surprise!

A pleasant surprise arrived in the mail this week—the November/December 2018 issue of Handwoven magazine. Guess what?! My Stained Glass Scarf made it to the front cover!

Stained Glass scarf warp - brilliant blue!

Four shades of blue are carefully arranged to make a brilliant blue 8/2 cotton warp.

Stained Glass scarf - on the cover of Handwoven Nov/Dec 2018.

Two scarves. I wove one to keep, and one to send to the Handwoven editorial team.

Stained Glass scarf/wrap in Handwoven Nov/Dec 2018

Swedish lace adapted from a draft by Else Regensteiner in The Art of Weaving. Her draft was for a tablecloth. I made it into a scarf/wrap instead.

Stained Glass scarf from Handwoven Nov/Dec 2018

Twisting the fringe. This cotton scarf/wrap calls for fringe that is a little bit chunky. I feel like I’m dressed and ready for fun when I wear it!

Handwoven Nov/Dec 2018 - Stained Glass scarf on the cover!

Credit: Cover Photograph by George Boe from Handwoven November/December 2018 magazine. Copyright © F+W Media 2018. Photograph of magazine by Eddie Fernandez.

May your day be filled with pleasant surprises.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

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Stay Ahead of Empty Quills

What a delight to weave with just one shuttle for a change! It is relaxing to weave this Swedish lace wrap. Even moving the temple and getting up to advance the warp becomes part of the natural rhythm of weaving.

Exchanging empty quill for a filled one.

Empty quill is replaced with a filled quill from the loom bench basket. Smooth operation. My foot needn’t even leave the treadle.

There is one thing that breaks my stride. An empty quill. If I have to stop in the middle of a sequence to wind more quills, I lose momentum and sometimes I even lose my place. Solution? Stop ahead of time at a sensible place in the sequence and wind quills to put in my loom basket. Then, while weaving, it’s a seamless motion to change quills and keep going. It’s a pause instead of a dead stop.

Hemstitching at the end of this wrap.

Hemstitching at the end brings the weaving stage of this piece to a close.

We need to prepare for those times when people seem harder to love. It helps to think ahead, and fill our heart basket with the thoughts of kindness and humility that are essential to keep going. We have a good reason to love each other. We have been loved first. God so loved us that he gave his son. This is the Christmas news. God sent his son to be born here on this earth to be with us hard-to-love people and to save us. That’s good news worth celebrating!

May your heart basket be filled with love.

Christmas Blessings,
Karen

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Counting at the Cross

I am winding a lovely all-blue warp on my warping reel. When I pause, as I do regularly to count the ends, it is easy to put the winding on hold. I tuck the pair of warp ends under a section of wound warp at one of the vertical posts of the reel. That holds it, and keeps threads under tension until I’m ready to continue where I left off.

Winding a warp on a warping reel.

Pair of warp ends are held secure while I stop to count another section of ends.

I stop after winding each section. I do the counting at the cross, always counting twice. A long twisted cord (one of my choke ties) marks my place, section by section. The count needs to be an exact match, of course, with the number of ends in the pattern draft.

Counting warp ends as I wind a warp on the warping reel.

Long twisted cord helps keep track of how many ends have been counted.

Cotton warp just beamed.

After the warp is beamed, each section is counted again to prepare for threading the loom.

The Christmas season reminds us that Jesus brought grace to earth. From manger to cross. The grace of the Lord Jesus is perfectly complete. Like a planned warp, there is nothing more to add. All the threads have been counted. And they match the divine plan. Any threads of my own effort would be threads that don’t belong. The grace of forgiveness comes purely as a gift.

May your counted ends match the pattern.

Christmas blessings,
Karen

7 Comments

  • Martha says:

    Beautiful blue warp! Love your warping reel, how many yards does it hold?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, This is a Glimakra warping reel, 8′ in diameter. I’m not positive how many yards it will hold, but I’m guessing probably 14-15 yards. So far, my longest warps have been about 10-12 yards. The reel works great, and I really enjoy winding warps on it.

      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    What a lovely warp! Can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it!

  • S says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog and appreciate the time you take to write it. I have a question, too: I’ve read where you mention “counting the sections” several times for threading. What do you mean by that? What sections are you counting? Are they sections of the threading draft, and if so, how do I know what a section is on the draft?

    • Karen says:

      Hi S, That is a good clarifying question. Thanks for asking!

      What I mean by “section” is a pre-determined number of warp ends. In the case of this warp, there are regular color changes with a certain number of threads in each color, so I am counting sections of color. Many projects have all one color warp, or colors distributed in various ways. In those cases, I decide how many threads to count at a time–maybe 40, or 50–and that number of warp ends will make a “section” for counting purposes. The number of threads in a “section” doesn’t necessarily relate to the threading draft, except, of course, that the total number of warp ends must match up.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • S says:

    Thank you! That makes sense and I’m going to incorporate that into my warping process. Cheers!

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