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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Vävstuga Autumn II

Five days of weaving, learning many new things. It’s a wonderland of sights and sounds, colors, textures, fabric, looms, tools. The people I get to enjoy this with are as much a treasure as the skills I develop. Becky Ashenden’s cheerful teaching style makes the experience fun, and she stretches us to our limits so that we leave knowing more than when we came.

Here is a small sampling of my week. I’ll show you more after I get home.

Autumn at Vavstuga, view from student quarters

 

Swedish curtains on the loom at Vavstuga

 

Rep rug on the loom at Vavstuga

 

Weaving 3-Shaft Ticking at Vavstuga. On the porch.

 

Jämtlands Drall (Crackle in the US) at Vavstuga, 133cm wide.

 

Autumn in Shelburne Falls, MA, Bridge of Flowers at dawn

May your stretching be enjoyable.

Vävglädje (Happy Weaving),
Karen

14 Comments

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Quiet Friday: Finally Finished

Finish the finishing, please. I always have a pile of handwovens that need finishing. Don’t you? The finishing smorgasbord includes repairing skipped threads (unintentional floats), securing ends, fringe treatments, hemming, wet finishing, pressing, adding hanging tabs, embellishments, and more. You know you are finally finished when your handiwork is being used and enjoyed.

1. Twisted fringe on bamboo huck lace small tablecloth. This cloth covered an heirloom table, becoming the altar, at Melody’s wedding. (This short piece was at the end of the warp after weaving two shawls.) You can see the shawls HERE, and twisting the fringe HERE.

Bamboo huck lace small tablecloth.

Twisted fringe gives an elegant finishing touch to this small huck lace table covering.

2. Added hanging tabs to handtowels. Installed Ikea rod with basket and hooks to hang handwoven handtowels in the powder room. (When you need tabs for towels, it helps to have a collection of inkle and band loom bands.) You can see the most recent towels HERE – I kept one of the eight for myself; the rest became gifts.

Ikea basket and hooks hold handwoven towels for guests.

Ikea basket and hooks hold assortment of handwoven towels for guests to use in the powder room.

3. Untangled the fringe of alpaca/tencel throw. (A wet finishing nightmare I don’t care to repeat.) You can see what it looked like before washing HERE.

Alpaca Tencel handwoven throw with lattice fringe

Each strand of fringe was carefully separated one-by-one after leaving the alpaca/tencel throw in the washing machine a few minutes too long. Untangling took longer than tying the lattice fringe. Hours and hours.

4. Hand-stitched rolled hem on Swedish lace tablecloth. (I may use this as a curtain for my weaving studio window, hung on rings with clips, on a rod.) HERE are the long curtain panels that hang on windows in my home.

Hand-stitched rolled hem on handwoven Swedish lace cloth.

Swedish lace panel can be used as a tablecloth, or a curtain, or even a light, summery shawl. The hand-stitched rolled hem gives a delicate touch to this elegant piece.

Swedish lace, handwoven cloth. Karen Isenhower

Swedish lace is shown to its best advantage when light is allowed to shine through the cloth. The pressed rolled hem adds a classy touch.

5. Hemmed small sample piece to carry around with me when I have a cup of coffee. (I grab this re-usable “scrap” instead of a paper napkin or paper towel. It also doubles as a coaster wherever I happen to sit down.) The original M’s and O’s towels are HERE; and HERE you can see what I mean about carrying my coffee cup around with me.

Handwoven scrap is used as a napkin/coaster for cup of coffee.

Scrap of handwoven fabric, from a cottolin warp of handtowels, follows my favorite coffee cup around.

6. Replaced nylon cord on handwoven Roman shades with a cord I wove on my band loom. (The “temporary” nylon cord stayed more than a year. We now enjoy seeing this on our kitchen door every day, finally fully finished.) The only place I have a picture of the original nylon cord, and of the fabric on the loom for the Roman shades is in my Projects on Weavolution HERE. (I’m not sure if you can see it without logging in to the site.)

Handwoven on Glimakra band loom - pull cord for Roman shades.

Linen and cotton threads that match the handwoven Roman shades were used to weave the pull cord. Cord woven on Glimakra two-treadle band loom.

Handwoven Roman shades in two-block twill. Karen Isenhower

Handwoven Roman shades finally have a matching pull cord. When the shades are lowered at night, the two-block twill structure is seen covering the whole kitchen door window. Woven on 8-shaft Glimakra Standard loom.

Opening the handwoven Roman shades. Please come on in!

Opening the shades to start the day and welcome you. Please come in!

May you reduce your finishing pile (I know you have one).

Forever finishing,
Karen

4 Comments

  • analia says:

    Gracias por compartir tus conocimiento. Es muy enriquecedor ver tus trabajos..
    Hace pocos meses que he comenzado con un telar de peine Maria. de 90 cm y me da un poco de miedo invertir en un telar de 4 peines porque no se si podre dominarlo.
    Cariños desde Argentina.

    • Karen says:

      Muchas gracias!

      I am happy that you enjoy weaving! I have a 36-inch rigid heddle loom similar to yours that I used for many years. Weaving on your Maria loom is very good practice for weaving on a floor loom with 4 shafts. I hope you get to try weaving on 4 shafts. I know you can do it!

      Thank you for your kind compliments!

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • What a lovely set of inspirational works! I particularly love the swedish lace tablecloth. It would be so perfect as curtains in the kitchen! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jessica,

      I’m thrilled to hear you love the Swedish lace! You are absolutely right – the Swedish lace is perfect for curtains. The tablecoth is an extra piece; I wove curtains first, at my husband’s request. We enjoy looking through the Swedish lace every day.

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My Near Mishap with the Curtains

Finally! The Swedish lace curtains are hung…Yippee! However,…I came really, really close to cutting the finished material in the wrong place, about eight inches too short. Gasp! I had sewn the top casing and ruffle, and had carefully measured for the placement of the hem. But in my enthusiasm to finish, I got confused when it came to the final cut. Fortunately, I decided to put my scissors down and measure one. more. time. Catastrophe avoided!

Handwoven Swedish Lace curtains by Karen Isenhower

Swedish lace curtains, at their best when sunlight shines through.

Decisions come every day, big and small. How do you make decisions? Luck, make a guess, have a feeling? Luck isn’t dependable, guessing is risky, and feelings change with the weather. Like my near mishap with the curtain fabric, we could be one decision away from a huge mistake.

If we pay attention, Lady Wisdom’s invitation is heard at every decision point. We face decisions that are far more important than where to cut the fabric. There are plans for the future, and crossroads in life, as well as daily choices. Wisdom creates building blocks for future decisions. One wise decision leads to another, and then another. And before you know it, you have sunlight streaming through the fabric you’ve created.

If you are interested in how the fabric was made for these curtains, you may enjoy this post, and other posts in the category, yardage: curtains.

May your decisions be secured through wisdom.

Decidedly,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Barbara says:

    So true! And I’m so thankful for God’s grace when I mess up. The curtains are beautiful. Where did you hang them?

    • Karen says:

      The curtains are hanging in the two long, narrow windows at each end of the front of our house. Both are “personal” spaces that we use every day – the window in our bedroom closet, and the window in the laundry room.

      God’s grace is essential, because we all make serious mistakes. Yes, I’m thankful for grace, too.

  • Wende says:

    What a beautiful, tangible reminder to take time to listen before I plow ahead with what I think seems right….

  • Grethe says:

    I’m so glad, that you lay down your scissors. Your curtains are beautiful.

  • Leigh Ellis says:

    Oh, Karen the curtains are absolutely gorgeous! I really enjoyed the post about almost making a huge mistake with the scissors. I can really relate, having done things like this many times. Years ago, a really wise person taught me to think aboout these kinds of occurances not as mistakes, but as an oppurtunity to thank our minds for doing the right thing.

    • Karen says:

      I’m glad you like the curtains, Leigh. It’s a learning experience either way. If I had made that wrong cut, who knows… the curtain may have ended up with a ruffle at the bottom to make up the length. 🙂
      We should never pick up scissors when we’re tired, excited, or in a hurry…

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    Gorgeous curtains! The subtle pattern is just beautiful. Don’t you think the process of making beautiful things better prepares us to pause and listen to to “Lady Wisdom”?

    As you know, I recently experienced how important it is to stop for a moment and listen in order to make the right decision. Your post just reinforced this message. And I am already experiencing that one wise decision leads to another.

  • Iréne says:

    Your curtains are fabulous. And I like your reflection om decisions… I usually make decisions very fast, am focused on problem solving. But with age I’ve come to reflect more often. Stop, before I make up my mind, listen, see what happens. It’s a new experience that includes learning. I think that’s one of the reasons why weaving is so good to me, I cannot rush. That is so good 🙂 Enjoy your wonderful curtains.

    • Karen says:

      I appreciate your kind comments so much, Iréne. It’s fun to end up with something useful and lovely to look at.

      You and Elizabeth make a great point, that weaving (or knitting, quilting, wood carving…, making beautiful things) does give us a wonderful opportunity to be comfortable with going slow. A lot of thinking is required. It is a constant learning environment where we are actively paying attention to what our hands are doing.

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The Windows Are Opening Now!

Windows fascinate me. I even have a Pinterest board, Houses and Windows, because I enjoy images of windows. The windows in this cloth capture me! The fun part was seeing it happen. When I cut the cloth from the loom, I could immediately see the windows begin to form as the threads started relaxing. After letting the cloth rest a few days, the windows appeared even more. But the WOW happened when I gently kneaded the fabric in warm water, and hung it to dry. Seeing these handwoven lace windows made me silly with childish excitement!

Swedish Lace, also known as Mosquito Lace, or kneaded lace blocks

Handwoven Swedish lace, also known as mosquito lace or kneaded block lace. The spaces have opened up dramatically in the “windows” after having been gently washed and dried. Ready now for pressing.

(Compare these open windows with this before picture, while the fabric was still on the loom.)

What if we are little houses, and our soul has windows? Shall I keep the curtains closed, so no one can see in? But then, I can’t see out, either.

When I think of our grand weaver, and how he is so close by, I imagine him looking out those windows with me. He is not distant, but near. He stays involved, pointing out things he sees. Making the common and ordinary into articles of wonder and beauty. Stiff pieces of thread with a vague shape become wide open windows where the refreshing breeze blows through.

May the view from your windows be delightful.

Enjoying the breeze,
Karen

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