Woven Transparency Cactus

I found a subject for my next transparency. It’s a prickly pear cactus in Texas hill country. Weaving this cactus is a fantastic experience! I started with a photograph, from which I made a cartoon. And I have an outline that shows where to place each color. It’s all based on the timeless beauty of colors in nature. I’m hopeful that when light shines through the final woven transparency we will see a likeness of the original cactus.

Prickly Pear Cactus in Texas hill country.

Prickly Pear Cactus in the front yard of our Texas hill country home.

Make a Cartoon

  • Crop and enlarge the photo. (I use Acrobat Reader to enlarge and print in multiple pages, and then tape the pages together.)

Prickly Pear Cactus in Texas hill country.

  • Outline the main lines of the picture.
  • Turn the enlarged picture over and draw the traced lines on the back to have the reverse image. (This transparency is woven from the back.)

Photo to sketch to cartoon for woven transparency.

  • Trace the line drawing onto a piece of buckram to use as the cartoon.
  • Draw a vertical dashed line down the center of the buckram cartoon.
  • Pin the cartoon under the weaving, lining up the center line on the cartoon with the center warp end. Move the pins, one at a time, before advancing the warp each time.

Buckram used for transparency cartoon.

Color Selection

  • Use the photograph to select yarn colors for the transparency. (I used the iPad to view the photo, and selected sixteen shades of 20/2 Mora wool.)
  • Sort the yarn by hues. (I used my iPhone camera black-and-white setting to help in the sorting.) Sorting by hues helps me blend similar-hued colors, and shows me the contrasts that will help define the picture.

Color selection for woven transparency. Sorting by hues.

 

Sorting colors by hues for woven transparency.

  • Assign a number to each yarn color.
  • Make the enlarged outline into a color-by-number sheet by designating a color or blend of colors for each section. (I taped this sheet to the wall beside my loom, to use as a color guide. The iPad photo also serves as a reference.)

Butterflies of Mora wool for woven transparency.

Virtues are timeless. Virtues are like colors that blend together to weave a masterpiece. When we let the Grand Weaver lay in the weft, these are the colors that appear as light shines through His woven transparency: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. And when this occurs, it shows that we are made in His image.

Making a transparency cartoon. Tutorial.

 

Woven transparency from a photo. How to.

May the next leg of your journey be a fantastic experience.

I’ll meet you back here on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017.
In the meantime, I hope you investigate claims of Jesus. Take time with people. Keep weaving. And the same for me.

Head over to Instagram to stay in touch with my daily journey.

Love,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    This is going to be fabulous!

  • So exciting to see your transparency! That is my absolute favorite thing to weave, and yours is inspiring me to do another one too. What size linen and sett are you using?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, You are responsible for inspiring me! I couldn’t stop thinking about your beautiful transparencies, and knew I wanted to make another attempt. It’s not hard for me to understand why this is your very favorite thing to weave. I may be following you in that! I can’t thank you enough for answering my questions behind the scenes!

      This is 16/2 linen, 12 epi.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    You’ve put lots of planning time into this piece. Can’t wait to see the finished work!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, The planning for this has been a lot of fun. I was getting discouraged trying to find a good subject to weave, but when I found this pic that I took on our own property I got pretty excited about the whole thing! I can’t wait to show it to you when it’s finished!

      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    This is so exciting Karen, I can’t wait to see it!! Have a wonderful vacation, I will be looking forward to august and this finished piece!
    Liberty

  • Wende says:

    Love this!

  • Maria says:

    Karen,
    Where in the hill country do you live? I so enjoy your blog- I like how you “weave” your faith in your posts!! Gifted weaver and writer?

    • Karen says:

      Maria, We are a little north of Kerrville. We currently live in the Houston area, but this special place in Kerrville will become our permanent home when my husband retires. Your sweet thoughts are very touching. Let me know when you will be in Houston again, or in hill country. I’d love to meet up.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Carol Ashworth says:

    I am so glad I found your site! I love everything and have a lot to learn!
    I love how you try to do every so nice and neat!
    Carol

  • Patricia Tiemann says:

    Great blog! Thanks for posting so much info.

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Tools Day: Umbrella Swift

The umbrella swift earns the “Cool Tool” award! I have sixteen skeins of 20/2 Mora wool (as seen in Skeins of Colors). Before making them into little butterflies of color for a woven transparency, I am winding the skeins into balls. This means I get to use one of my favorite tools–the umbrella swift. My Glimåkra swift is simple to use and gives flawless results every time.

How to Use an Umbrella Swift

  • Attach the clamp of the umbrella swift to the side of the loom, or other secure structure, like a table. The swift functions vertically or horizontally. I prefer to position the swift horizontally so the yarn rolls off vertically. Also, I find it easier to hang the yarn on a horizontal swift than to place the yarn on a vertical swift, holding the yarn while expanding the umbrella.

How to use an umbrella swift. Tutorial.

  • Position the yarn ball winder so that it is in line with the umbrella swift, a short distance away. I clamp the yarn ball winder to my loom bench, and sit on a small stool behind the bench.

Yarn ball winder in use with umbrella swift.

  • Remove the yarn skein’s label and put it aside. Carefully unfold and untwist the skein of yarn and open it out to a big circle. Place both arms through the center of the circle of yarn and snap your arms outward. Repeat the snapping action one or two more times, with the yarn repositioned about a quarter turn each time. This helps straighten out the yarn for placing it on the swift.
  • Lower the “umbrella” of the swift by loosing the screw and pulling the bottom screw-piece toward the clamp. Place the opened and prepared skein of yarn around the swift.

Placing the skein on an umbrella swift. How to.

  • Push open the “umbrella.” Spread it open just far enough to hold the yarn taut. Tighten the screw to keep the swift in that position.

How to use an umbrella swift for weaving yarn.

  • Find the place(s) on the skein where the skein has been tied, and untie the knot(s). Identify the end of the yarn that is on the outer side of the skein and connect that end to the yarn ball winder. For consistency among multiple skeins of yarn, I have the umbrella swift turn in the same direction for each one, with the yarn unwinding from the top of the swift.

Putting skein of yarn on umbrella swift.

  • Turn the yarn ball winder until all the yarn has been unwound from the swift.

Set up for using umbrella swift. Tips.

Winding ball of yarn from umbrella swift.

Winding ball of yarn from umbrella swift.

  • Remove the yarn ball from the yarn ball winder and wrap the skein’s label on the new yarn ball.

New ball of yarn thanks to umbrella swift.

  • Collect the new balls of yarn and play with the colors in your imagination.

Mora wool. Getting ready for woven transparency!

May you take pleasure in your work of preparation.

All the best,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Dear Karen,
    Good morning, I just had the luck of stumbling onto your lovely blog and I see you have accomplished what I am struggling with. I too have a glimakra and I recently “upgraded” it to 8 shafts. Very long story short, I don’t have any documentation and I suspect the reason I’m getting terrible sheds is because of cord lengths. Is there any chance we could talk for a few minutes?
    On a pretty morning by the Bay,
    Astrig

  • Betsy says:

    Well, duh! I’ve never thought to use my swift horizontally! I’ll have to give it a try. It’s a little smaller than yours, but hopefully it will fit on the Standard upright.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I hope it works for you! Horizontal seems logical to me, but I suppose if you think of it as an actual umbrella, it naturally would go in the vertical direction. The good thing is, it works either way!

      Karen

  • Thank you Karen for the explanation of use and excellent photos to accompany. I’d be lost without my swift. As we all know, skeins can bite you if you don’t treat them with respect!
    Alison

  • Ruth says:

    Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU. Love the KU foot stool(?)!
    Wonderful horizontal use of your skein winder. Never looked at using mine horizontally – must remember to keep an open mind and look at all possibilities in life.
    Happy weekend.

    • Ruth says:

      Guess I’m tired this morning. I intended to refer to the swift as a swift. LOL

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, You took the bait. I was hoping to draw out any KU alumns with that little stool. 😉
      Good point about seeing possibilities. We can do surprising things if we are not set in our ways.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • tsw says:

    Karen, your photos and step by step instructions are clear and wonderful. As a former private investigator, I give you high marks for your ” evidentiary photography.” I am a wannabe weaver, awaiting retirement to spread my wings, attend Vavstuga, and weave away my retirement. In the meantime, I study, and gain inspiration and food for thought from your blog and the online weaving forums.
    If you only knew how much you nurture other people’s hearts and minds…
    You are a blessing to all of us!

    • Karen says:

      Dear tsw, I am touched by your thoughtful remarks. Your encouragement means so much to me!

      What a wonderful way to prepare for retirement! Keep dreaming, and seeing those dreams come to life. You have nurtured me today with your kindness.

      Happy weaving dreams,
      Karen

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Skeins of Colors

New yarn arrived this week! Seeing the skeins of colors makes me excited about starting the next project. I am preparing to weave another transparency. This time, the hanging will have a pictorial design. But there are several things to tend to before the weaving begins. First, I will wind the skeins into balls, and wind the linen warp. And then, I will finalize the cartoon. Stay tuned…

Collection of colors in Mora wool for a transparency.

Collection of colors in 20/2 Mora wool for a planned transparency. 16/2 linen for warp and background weft.

Meanwhile, this week I am at the Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Biennial Conference, learning new things and making connections with handweavers across the state.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

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Quiet Friday: Cartoon House Cartoon

The fascinating thing about weaving a transparency is that it feels like color-by-number with yarn. There are similarities to tapestry weaving, for sure. But this seems ten times faster. I found it to be engaging and fun! I echo what my transparency-weaving friend says when it’s time to stop and do something else, “Just one more row…”

Linen warp chain awaits beaming.

Warp chain of 16/2 golden bleached linen, before beaming the warp.

Threading heddles in the Glimakra Standard. Coffee and notes at hand.

Threading heddles in my little playhouse, with project notes by my side, and a cup of coffee on the side cart.

Adding the leveling string to a linen warp.

Leveling string is added with extra care so that abrasion of the linen warp is kept to a minimum.

Butterflies are made from the hefty cotton chenille yarn.

Butterflies are made from the hefty cotton chenille yarn.

Weaving a transparency. Glimakra Standard loom.

Weaving without a cartoon. I am counting warp ends to keep the pattern angle consistent.

Transparency weaving on the loom, with buckram cartoon.

Cartoon has been added. The pattern weft follows the lines drawn on the buckram cartoon, which is pinned in place.

Cartoon removed at the end of the transparency weaving.

Cartoon is removed.

Ending a woven transparency.

Now, for the end of the warp…

New transparency, ready for hanging!

After the main transparency with the zigzags, I had room to play on the remaining warp. I made another cartoon–a “cartoon” house. This gave me a chance to use a few more yarn butterflies, without it being overwhelming. Home. Sweet. Home.

Cartoon for playtime at the end of the warp. Transparency weaving.

“Cartoon” house cartoon. Ready for playtime at the end of the warp.

Weaving a small transparency. Cartoon House.

With several butterflies going at once, the transparency weaving gets even more interesting!

Transparency weaving. Linen warp and weft. Cotton chenille pattern weft.

Now, the actual end of the warp is here.

Cartoon house just off the loom!

Cartoon house just off the loom.

Welcome home! Transparency weaving. Karen Isenhower

Welcome home! Home. Sweet. Home.

May you enjoy the fascination of learning something new.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth says:

    I love these, Karen! You are truly one of the most inspiring weavers out there!

    • Karen says:

      Dear Beth, It fills me with joy to be able to share what I love to do with friends like you. I’m grateful that something I do can inspire others. Your work has certainly inspired me, as well!

      Best to you,
      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Thank you for sharing your new thing. My guild friends & I will be attending the Mid Atlantic Fiber Arts (MAFA) conference this summer, my friends are taking the workshop “Weaving aTransparency” with Bobbie Irwin. I’m so excited for them! I never heard of weaving transparencies before, you’ve given us a cool demonstration to build our anticipation of the MAFA workshops.
    Looking forward to learning something new in July at MAFA 2017

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, How exciting! I just looked at the MAFA workshop choices. Wow, you have some terrific options! It would be hard to choose. Bobbie Irwin’s class looks great. I think you and your friends are going to have a fabulous time!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Cindie says:

    I haven’t done a transparency in years – these are wonderful. I’ve so enjoyed seeing your work in progress. You’re making me want to think about a transparency in the not too distant future.

    And for Sandy who commented above, many years ago my guild brought Bobbie Irwin to teach the transparency workshop – it was the most fun. I went home and tried it using fishing line – a challenge but neat end result.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Cindie, I know I’ll be doing this again in the near future. I hope you do, too. We can compare notes!
      Fishing line!? Now, that’s very interesting! I’d like to see that.

      Karen

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Almost Ruined Transparency

The cotton chenille looks as if it is magically suspended in space. But it’s the linen that suspends it. 16/2 unbleached linen weft crosses 16/2 golden bleached linen warp. The two shades blend into one as they are woven for the transparency background.

Weaving a transparency. Linen warp and weft. Cotton chenille pattern weft.

Weaving a transparency from the back. The front side of the pattern can be seen after it comes around the breast beam.

Unfortunately, I had 16/1 golden bleached linen (16/1 is half as thin as 16/2) on my winding table, for the plattväv towels on the other loom. I wound a quill with the 16/1 and wove the transparency with it. It’s the wrong thread size and color. For 8 1/2 inches! Too far to undo without irreparably damaging the linen warp. This is disappointing. How did I let that happen? Take a deep breath… Move forward, and finish out the weaving with the correct 16/2 linen.

Linen weft change is a mistake. Oops!

Two densities of linen. The 16/2 unbleached linen weft adds depth to the 16/2 golden bleached warp. The 16/1 golden bleached weft gives a lighter look to the web.

Just off the loom! Handwoven transparency.

Just off the loom! First transparency attempt, and a great learning experience.

We all fall short. We do the wrong thing. That’s a weight to carry. Jesus breaks the yoke of our burden, and lifts the weight. We have been set free! When we finish the weaving, the chenille pattern will be the main attraction, not the error. By amazing grace, the error is overcome by the light shining through the transparency.

May your burdens be lifted.

With you,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Elisabeth says:

    What about embroidering a word like “love” or a symbol representing love on the darker weft? And use the teal color to reflect the pattern that is winding through the entire weave…like love is present in our lives. A simple handwritten word to contrast the strong and bold zigzag 🙂

  • Elisabeth says:

    And what about weaving in (rows of running stitches) a very fine gold thread into the darker section to give it a slight shimmer and emphasize the importance of it? And then place something important to you in this section…or maybe just the gold is as subtle as it should be…

    Love,
    Elisabeth

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    Lovely, Karen! 16/1 is often used as weft with 16/2 as warp in transparency weaving. It makes the transparency more lacy.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, That’s good to know that 16/1 is a good weft for this. I can see how the thinner thread makes it lighter in appearance. Maybe I should start with that next time, and use it all the way through.

      Thanks for letting me know!
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Karen the weft mistake was not a mistake it was a design element! Love the transparency.

  • Pam says:

    Hi, Karen, Your Blog is always inspiring.There are no mistakes, only designer enhancements. . . perfection-in-imperfection. I am told that the Navajo weavers intentionally weave a mistake into each rug.When we are weak HE is strong.
    From Pastor David Anderson -Finding Your Soul – “The Navajo say that is ‘“where the Spirit moves in and out of the rug.”’ God’s Spirit moves in and out of imperfection. . . a ‘“mistake?”’ We’ve spent our whole life trying to get rid of all imperfection. If we’re not there yet, surely God is! We may not have the spiritual courage to weave those mistakes deliberately, but at least we can accept them as a gift when the fabric of our lives is inevitably torn.”

  • Teresa says:

    Hi Karen
    I’m told the Amish also make a “mistake” in every quilt so as not to boast since perfection only belongs to a God. Good for you for making the best of what you had not planned.
    I got out of the habit of reading your blog for a while. I’m glad now for the reminder of what I’ve been missing. Your writings are beautiful and you are blessed with a wonderful mind and soul. Im sure you’ll never know how much you inspire people…..creatively and spiritually.
    Bless you,
    Teresa

    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa, Our mistakes do help keep us humble. That’s interesting that the Amish do that intentionally. Your kind words mean so much to me!

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Cheryl says:

    I would love to try something like this for a glass door panel. Do you have a reference for learning this technique? Looks like you sett the edges closer together and in a different post the casing as well. Would you recommend the 16/1 or 16/2 based on your design element?
    Thanks
    Cheryl

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cheryl, This would be perfect for a glass door panel.
      Resources I recommend: Sheer Delight – Handwoven Transparencies, by Doramay Keasbey; The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, pgs. 162-163; 166-167
      The Keasbey book is full of wonderful ideas and shows work of different artists, and has some good tips and procedures. The Lundell book has 2 transparency projects, and is a good place to get your feet wet with the technique.

      The selvedges for my transparency: 1 (heddle) – 2 (reed), 4 times each side. This is from The Big Book of Weaving. The other transparency in the book has 2 – 2, 3 times each side.

      I wanted to differentiate the start and end of the casing, to make is easier to sew, so I packed the weft in tighter in those areas.

      The warp is 16/2 linen, and I do prefer the 16/2 linen for background weft over the 16/1 that I used by accident. I think the 16/2 holds its place better in the woven mesh. The 16/1 is lacier, but it is also a little flimsier and wiggles around more than I want it to. But that could be my own inexperience.

      I hope that helps!
      Karen

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