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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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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Linen Air Scarves

This linen scarf is for embellishment, not for warmth. Wear it as a summer shawl, and it will make you feel pretty without adding any weight to your shoulders. Making this scarf was like weaving air, and wearing it is like wearing air.

Linen lace weave scarves just off the loom.

Lace weave scarves, woven with 16/1 linen, just off the loom.

Twisting fringe on linen scarves.

Fringe is trimmed, knotted, twisted, and knotted again. Then, after washing by hand in hot water with mild soap, the scarves are hung to dry.

The wrinkly nature of linen gives character to this netting-like lace weave. In The Big Book of Weaving, this draft is written for a project using paper yarn to make room dividers. I didn’t know if it would work to substitute linen for paper yarn… Or, if the fabric off the loom would work as scarves… Result? Two fabulously light linen scarves, wearable even in Houston.

Linen lace weave scarves. Karen Isenhower

Long and lightweight, the airy fabric is suitable to serve as a scarf, shawl, or even a long sash. Being linen, it embellishes a nice dress, or adds style to comfortable blue jeans.

Fringe detail on linen scarves.

Long fringe, twisted in small sections, accentuates the linen character of the scarves.

Concerns that turn into burdens are like scarves that are too heavy for the present season. We keep wearing the scarf, even though it makes us miserable. Our Heavenly Father is a burden lifter who knows our concerns. He bears our burdens. Though he is great and glorious, he lifts the burdens that are on our shoulders and carries them for us. In place of the burdens, we get to wear peace instead. Light and airy, and wearable with everything… peace.

May your burdens become light as air.

With grace,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Liberty says:

    Hi Karen,
    Wow, they came out beautiful!! Wish I could touch them!
    I’ll have to add linen to my list of thing to try soon!
    Thank you,
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Liberty, if you’re ever near Houston, stop by and you can touch the scarves all you want! Lol
      Linen can be finicky, but the results make it worth learning how to manage it. My suggestion is to start with a short and narrow warp, and try a two-ply, like Bockens 16/2 linen, for a first time out. Let me know how it goes when you decide to give it a whirl!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Dee Dee Woodbury says:

    Hi Karen,

    I just finished winding a singles linen warp for summer scarves. I hope mine weave up as lovely as yours.

  • Charline says:

    Can you give me any hints about how to weave these, such as how do you get the spacing? (I would understand the spacing of a warp, but the weft is what I need help with) thanks!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charline,

      Yes, I’ll tell you what worked for me. The warp spacing actually helped weave the loosely-placed weft. The warp was “crammed and spaced,” and I could feel a point of slight resistance as I placed the weft. I really had to pay attention and “feel” the weft going into place, and try to be consistent. I wove a sample first, and tried weaving it a couple different ways so I could compare, and then I cut it off to see how it came out when it was washed. That helped me know how lightly to place the weft to get the look I wanted.

      Spacing the weft this loose certainly takes practice, so I recommend adding a little extra length to the warp to sample and play around with. And have fun!

      Thanks for the great question!
      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Johanna McDonald says:

    Hi Karen,
    These are lovely and look as though Australia where I live, would also be ideal for these in summer. Thank you for sharing.

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Hi, Karen! I saw your note about trying a sample, using a 2 ply linen, like Bockens. I was fascinated by your colors and if I may ask, what is the source of your linen? I saw that yarnbarn-ks has variegated, handprinted linen, but did not know if that would work. Thanks for your beautiful work and even more, your witnessing! God Bless! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, I get most of my linen from Vavstuga, but I’m sure there are several places that sell Bockens linen. Yarnbarn-ks has some great supplies, as well. I haven’t tried variegated linen, but I’m sure it would be beautiful. I do like the Swedish yarns – Bockens and Borgs, because I know they are high quality I can depend on. I’m not always sure if I can trust that quality from other companies.

      Thanks!
      Karen

      • Joyce Lowder says:

        Thanks so much, Karen!
        An aside: I was on the phone trying to return an item and I said to the agent, “Have a nice day.” She replied, “I am looking up and He’s looking down, so it is a
        blessed day!” It’s amazing, how God speaks to us, yes? Every day! Peace and joy to you, Karen, for how you speak His message to others! 🙂

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Textiles from The Philippines

Steve and I returned this week from travels to The Philippines. We had a wonderful time celebrating Thanksgiving there with our son’s family in Makati. During our eleven-day visit, I encountered many examples of beautiful handwoven articles and other fascinating textile goods. It probably won’t surprise you that I tucked a few textile treasures in my suitcase to bring home with me. (Remember last year? Quiet Friday: Philippine Textiles)

Handwoven cotton towels from Sunday market in Makati, Philippines

Lovely cotton hand towels from Beth’s Loomweaving at the Makati Sunday Market.

Cotton towel detail shows green weft for stripes.

Detail of cotton towel shows that the darker stripes are created with green weft.

Variety of scarves and wraps from markets in The Philippines.

With an over-abundance of scarves and wraps to choose from (in bargain prices), I escaped with only these few. Some are for gifts; and some are for personal use. All are sources of design and color inspiration.

Example of backstrap weaving from Mindanao, Philippines.

Lightweight table runner or scarf was made by a weaver in Mindanao, the southernmost island of The Philippines. This exquisite example of backstrap weaving is made from very fine cotton, and is completely reversible.

Detail of backstrap weaving from Mindanao, Philippines.

Backstrap weaving detail reveals the intricacy of the tapestry-like design.

Traditional Filipino weave structure showcases pattern and color.

Pillow cover is well-planned and executed, showing striking color combinations in a traditional Filipino weave structure.

Detail of handwoven pillow cover from The Philippines.

Detail of pillow cover shows the pointillistic appearance of this weave.

Filipino bag woven from piña fibre.

Made from the leaves of a pineapple plant, piña fibre was used to weave this sturdy little open plain weave bag.

Detail of bag made from piña fibre.

Piña fibre has a natural luster.

Handwoven Elegant Filipino Table Runner

Not the expected mix of bright colors, this elegant table runner has black weft floats on a white warp of fine cotton. The traditional Filipino weave uses a multi-stranded black cotton (or cotton/poly blend) for the pattern, alternating with the fine white cotton threads for the tabby. This one-sided cloth, similar to overshot, has weft floats only on the top side.

Detail of weft pattern floats in traditional Filipino weave.

Detail of black and white table runner. The patterned black floats almost give the cloth the look and feel of cut velvet.

My very favorite treasures from our visit to The Philippines.

My very favorite treasures from our visit to The Philippines.

May you find textile treasures in your travels.

PS Two more new rag rugs from my latest run of rugs are now in the Etsy shop, if you are interested. These two may be my favorite yet!

A little jet lagged,
Karen

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