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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Quiet Friday: Kuvikas to Taqueté and video

The color is rich, the drape is fluid, and the pattern in the lustrous cloth is eye-catching. “Kuvikas to taqueté” was not an easy project. Eight shafts, double treadling, and double-bobbin shuttles with slick 8/2 Tencel weft. But the fabric is incredible!

Warp chain of 8/2 cotton.

Warp chain of 8/2 cotton hanging from warping reel.

Thanks to a unusual tie-up, two treadles are pressed simultaneously, something I had not thought possible for a countermarch loom. I started with kuvikas (summer and winter), which has tabby picks between the pattern picks. The dark teal 8/2 cotton tabby weft and the bright teal Tencel pattern weft produce a tone-on-tone effect for the square and stripe patterns. These two pieces will become the front and back of a throw pillow.

Kuvikas on the loom. (Summer and Winter)

Kuvikas panel 1 complete. I always use red thread for a cutting line between pieces, so there is no accidental cutting in the wrong place.

I then changed the treadle tie-up to switch from kuvikas to taqueté. The taqueté has no tabby weft. The teal and cream Tencel weft threads lay back-to-back, producing a double-faced fabric. This piece is being used as a table runner.

Kuvikas to taqueté, change in treadle tie-up.

Stripes in kuvikas, and then square pattern in taqueté after changing the treadle tie-up.

Finished Tencel kuvikas (summer and winter) glistens!

Finished kuvikas glistens in the sunlight.

Enjoy the little slideshow video I made for you that follows the process from three lovely aquamarine warp chains to fabric glistening in the sun on a Texas hill country table.

May you finish something that is not easy.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Do you remember my Handwoven Thick and Thin Towels (that appeared on the cover of Handwoven), and my Black and White Towels (These Sensational Towels)? I will be teaching a workshop on that thick and thin technique at Shoppes at Fleece ‘N Flax in beautiful Eureka Springs, Arkansas August 24 – 26, 2017. You’re welcome to join us! I’d love to see you there! Contact the shop at the number below if you are interested.

Our weaving classes for May, June and July are filled ( but you can sign up on a waiting list!) and we still have a few…

Posted by Shoppes at Fleece 'N Flax on Wednesday, May 10, 2017

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Tools Day: Double-Bobbin Shuttle

The first time I wove fabric that required a doubled weft I did not use a double-bobbin shuttle. I didn’t own one. I used a regular boat shuttle and sent it across twice, going around the outer warp end. Those first thick and thin towels came out beautifully. So I know it can be done.

Weaving with a double-bobbin shuttle. Tips.

Square pattern peeks through from below. Double-bobbin shuttle carries the doubled tencel weft for this kuvikas fabric.

The first time I used a double-bobbin shuttle I wondered if it was worth it. It was awkward and clumsy in my hands. Since that rocky introduction a few years ago, I have woven many meters with my double-bobbin shuttles. They have become cherished tools and efficient accomplices to some of my favorite fabric-making endeavors!

Tips for Weaving with a Double-Bobbin Shuttle (and a short video demonstration)

  • Practice. Make sure you allow extra warp length for practicing. You will probably need it at first. Have fun and laugh, and refrain from throwing the shuttle across the room.
  • Winding Equal Bobbins. Wind the first quill. Lay it close to the bobbin winder where you can see it easily. As you wind the second quill, attempt to match it in size to the first one. (Winding two quills with equal amounts of thread is no small challenge.)

Winding equal quills for a double-bobbin shuttle.

Visibility of the first wound quill is key for judging how much thread to wind on the second quill.

Winding quills for double bobbin shuttles.

Knowing when to stop is the trick. The ideal is for both quills to become empty at the same time. This only happens in your dreams. But sometimes you can get pretty close.

  • Sending the Shuttle. Sending the double-bobbin shuttle through the shed is the same as sending a regular boat shuttle across. The best release is done with a flick of the forefinger so the shuttle speeds across. Then, the doubled weft naturally snugs the selvedge, and the two threads are neatly aligned across the shed. With a slower, more timid shuttle send-off, the quills unwind unequally.

Weaving with a double-bobbin shuttle.

Holding the shuttle palm up, the forefinger launches the shuttle to glide quickly through the shed.

Results of timid shuttle send-off.

Timid or sluggish shuttle send-off lays unequal lengths of threads in the shed.

How to tips for weaving with a double-bobbin shuttle.

Deliberate send-off of the shuttle helps the threads to lay across the shed in equal lengths.

  • Receiving the Shuttle. Receiving the shuttle can be the awkward and clumsy part at first. Especially if you are trying to practice a quicker send-off. I catch the shuttle as for any boat shuttle, palm up. And then, if needed, I fold my two bottom fingers around the threads, guiding them to fall equally across the shed.

Using a double-bobbin shuttle. Tips.

After catching the shuttle, I gently close my fingers around the two threads, as needed, to guide them to fall evenly across the warp.

  • Weave. Enjoy the process.

Shuttle shadows. Karen Isenhower

Shuttle shadows.

May your practice produce perfection. (Well, maybe not perfection, but at least improvement.)

Happy weaving,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    I have a stupid question. Why do you need to weave with two threads? Why not use one larger one?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, That’s a very smart question! It seems like it would make sense to weave with a larger thread instead of two thinner ones. Certainly easier. But two thinner threads have a way of laying better than one thicker thread, and fill the space better. Many drafts with a ground weave and pattern use a doubled weft for the pattern. Part of the difference is seen in wet finishing, too. The combined threads blossom out more than a single thread would.

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

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Pattern in the Kuvikas

Each time I remove the temple I step back to review the progress. What does it look like now? It still looks like stripes. Four picks complete one row. The stripes lengthen, pick by pick. I hadn’t originally planned stripes, but seeing the results makes me hopeful.

Kuvikas stripes.

Lengthwise stripes on a solid-color warp are possible with a block weave, such as this kuvikas (summer and winter).

Every fabric has a structure–the particular way that warp and weft threads crisscross each other. This eight-shaft kuvikas structure sets the stage for weaving block patterns, like the square-within-a-square pattern or these stripes. It’s how the loom is set up. This loom is set up to weave kuvikas.

Love my double-bobbin shuttle!

Tencel pattern weft is in the double-bobbin shuttle. The regular boat shuttle carries 8/2 cotton for the tabby weft.

Truth is a constant. It doesn’t change with the wind. It isn’t subject to our whims. It’s how things are. Truth is the structure of creation’s fabric through good times and bad. Imagine the despair of Jesus’ closest followers as they watch him, their friend and Teacher, die in agony on a cross. Where is truth in this despair?

Kuvikas - Weaving lengthwise stripes on a solid-color warp.

Each complete row of pattern is made with four picks–tabby, pattern, tabby, pattern.

And then the unimaginable happens. Jesus comes back to them alive! This is the truth of God’s redemptive love–He died for us. Truth awakens hope. Speak truth to your soul. Wait in hope, for glorious fabric is being woven on His loom.

May you never lose hope.

With joy,
Karen

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Kuvikas Squares Meet Stripes

After neglecting this Glimakra Standard loom for a few weeks, I lost my consistency in beating. The first panel, side one of a cushion, has a square-within-a-square pattern. And the squares are not all equal. If I tried to put the same pattern on the back panel, the cushion front and back would not match up at the seams.

Kuvikas (summer and winter).

Each block consists of twenty picks, so there are sixty picks for each row of the square-within-a-square pattern. Consistency in beating is crucial in order to have all the rows of squares equal in size.

Stripes to the rescue! The stripes use one of the four possible kuvikas blocks. I get a coordinating pattern without the fuss of trying to match up the sides. The stripes have a ribbed appearance–simpler than the squares, but still geometric. The patterns are different, but they work together and complement each other.

Kuvikas. Front and back cushion panels.

Two red picks separate the front and back panels of the cushion.

Kuvikas squares and stripes.

Repeating “block one” makes a simple stripe pattern. The square-within-a-square pattern is made by weaving two groups of blocks. Group 1: block two, block one, block two. Group 2: block three, block four, block three.

There are many different gifts in people; and the gifts all come from the same source. Each gift is like a pattern than can be used in a variety of ways, complementing the other patterns around it. Our Grand Weaver sees the whole project, and places the people with the gifts where they best fit in the overall fabric. You are made for a purpose. Your gifts are exactly what the rest of us need.

May your gifts bless those around you.

With purpose,
Karen

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