Weft Auditions for Square Dots

I found sixteen weft colors to audition. And I am eliminating all but six—one main color for each of four towels, plus two border colors. This is five-shaft satin dräll hand towels with an 8/2 cotton warp. Good weft options on my shelves include 8/2 cotton, 22/2 cottolin, and 16/2 linen in various colors. And this time, we have square dots!

Weft auditions for 5-shaft satin dräll hand towels.

The warp is tied on and the lamms and treadles are tied up. All ten sheds (one for each of ten treadles) are checked and small adjustments made in the treadle tie-ups. Weft auditions commence!

Trying different weft options. Cotton, cottolin, linen.

Similar colors in different fibers. Teal in cotton, cottolin, and linen. Coral warp as weft would be an interesting monochrome option.

There is one qualification. The colors must fit the color palette of our Texas hill country home. A sample piece of thread doesn’t tell me enough; neither does a whole tube of thread. Twisting two colored threads together gives a decent clue, but even that is not enough. When the warp and the weft threads interweave on the loom the true colors are seen. And that’s when I can tell you which colors I will keep.

Weft auditions! Colorful hand towels.

Sample includes sixteen weft colors (two or three rows for some). Four are chosen for the main colors for a set of hand towels. Two extra colors are selected to use for border designs.

Square Dots cotton hand towels in 5-shaft satin dräll.

First towel has Slate 8/2 cotton weft, with an accent of Silver 22/2 cottolin for a border stripe.

Isn’t that the way it goes with truth? Hearing words isn’t enough; even extensive hearing isn’t enough. Paying attention to what you hear is good, but it mustn’t stop there. We need to understand. Hear and understand. The meaning of the words intersect with thoughtful reflection. Truth enters through understanding. And that’s when we can see which threads to keep.

May truth be woven into your life.

With you,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Love your message, Linda! Thanks for your spiritual insights shared with us.

    Question: What is the white thread that looks almost like a basted thread, across the groups that are tied on for this warp? I can see that you were able to go right into weaving without a heading. Is that a technique or just good warping?
    Thanks for any suggestions you can offer! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It’s a lifelong journey to hear and understand, isn’t it?

      You are seeing the leveling cord. I use a length of seine twine (12/6 cotton rug warp) to go over and under each tied-on section of threads. The threads must be tied on with half of the bundle going over the tie-on bar and half going under the tie-on bar. The leveling cord is pulled tight, and the ends of the cord are tied through the hole at each end of the tie-on bar. This simple technique flattens out (levels) the warp, and enables weaving from the very start. No scrap weft necessary.

      It’s that simple. 🙂
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Joyce, I should have pointed you to this post I wrote about the leveling string – Tools Day: Leveling String.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Love the stripe!!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    I like the white. And that red would make a very cheerful towel.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, The white practically pops off the fabric. It does look good. And the canary red is spectacular on the coral warp, which surprised me. Now I’m tempted to use the red, even though it didn’t make the final four, just because you said so.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I must say that I like the sample with all the colors! At least for one trowel. I never heard of a leveling string. Perhaps because it wouldn’t work on a Rigid Heddle loom.

    I was so focused on the different colors of square that my brain did not compute the stripes. The comments about listening and understanding definitely apply to someone like me because I tend to get lost in the details. This was a very needed reminder.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I like the multi-colored sample, too! It may end up being a short towel, or something… You may be able to use a leveling string on your rigid heddle loom. I haven’t done that, but it might be worth some experimentation.

      Taking listening to the level of understanding is a constant challenge, and worth the effort it takes.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Simpler Warp Stripes

Narrow stripes on the warp beam are stunning. But to wind a warp like that means frequently cutting threads and tying knots. Right? …not necessarily! You don’t have to wind a warp with stripes in order to have a striped warp on the loom. I didn’t know that. I thought that tying knots is the price you pay to get warp stripes. Winding this warp was a breeze! The secret? A separate warp chain and set of lease sticks for each color. I combined the threads, keeping them in proper order, as I put them on the back tie-on bar. That part was a little tricky, but will only get easier with practice.

Stripes on the warp beam are so enticing! Linen.

Unbleached and golden bleached linen pair up for this striped warp.

Knowledge. Knowledge gives us freedom to do things in a new way. This is why prayer is effective. Not praying for so-and-so to change, but asking that they may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. And then, God takes it from there. Your prayer may be what it takes to initiate a new outlook on life for someone else. Much like finding a different way to put stripes on the loom.

May you find a new way to simplify.

Happy weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Karen says:

    Beautiful!
    Question: So…2 warps, one color on each set of lease sticks. You held them and spread the correct number of threads for each stripe? Sliding the remainder of the warp over til the next counted out stripe…and kept them on the 2 setts of lease sticks, but ended up with those lease sticks held together and tied on to the back rod together?

    Sounds like a lot of good possibility. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Yes, that’s close to what I did. Alice-Ann’s comment below mentions putting dowels the ends of the warp chains. I did that, except I used warping slats because they were handy.

      There is great possibility with this. I am certainly going to explore it more on future projects!

      Thanks for starting a conversation,
      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    I’ve avoided warp stripes like the plague, although I’ve wound them at Vavstuga. Still can’t wrap my brain around your method, though I’ve done it on the rigid heddle. Must ponder 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Marcia, I’ve done it twice, now, so I think I can do it again with more confidence. I will bring any new insights or procedures here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Alice-Ann Ferderber says:

    OK, I followed some of that and think I see it the way Karen does. But I think maybe the lease sticks are place in the usual positions, not wound on? Add x amount of one color off the end of the warp chain and slip them on the back bar, get the amount of color #2 from warp chain #2 and slip them off that end of warp and onto the back bar. Correct? I think I might place a dowel in the ends of each chain just to keep them straight instead of having to reach all the way to the lease sticks to get the correct ones. I can see that the stripes would have to be an even number if you don’t want to cut and tie. Very clever, we need a little video!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alice-Ann, I am still figuring out specific procedures for doing this, but your description is pretty close to what I did. I moved all the threads to a separate dowel first, 4 from chain #1, and 4 from chain #2, and so on. After that, I moved them to the tie-on bar. That made it a little easier to deal with separations between beam cords.

      The stripes do need to be even numbers (pass pairs), but the numbers in each warp chain can vary. On the first project, I had narrow stripes between wider stripes. You have to plan the spacing for spreading the warp, but it wasn’t a problem.

      Also, I’d like to attempt putting all the ends on a single set of lease sticks, but I was too chicken to try that this time around.

      A video is a great idea! Perhaps on my next stripes project. 🙂

      Thanks for your input!
      Karen

      • Alice-Ann Ferderber says:

        Thanks Karen. My brain did not want to cope with taking 4 threads off one warp, then 4 off another and at the same time putting them on the back bar. Doing the stripe size choice before putting it all on the back beam might be a bit more work, but makes perfect sense to me! One could even sit at a table with the two (or more) warps being supported. The balancing act was not working in my head. Not on the first try anyway. I would make a mess even with both sets of lease sticks tied to the loom. I am liking this more and more. I can hardly wait for the video!

  • SM says:

    Could you also just wind separate warps and pre-sley them into their stripes? Or am I misunderstanding what’s been said?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, Yes, you can wind separate warp chains and pre-sley them into the pre-sley reed in order. That is what I did, putting a stick through the end loops of each warp after it is pre-sleyed. The tricky part comes after that in getting all the end loops onto the tie-on bar. With one warp chain, you can flip the reed over the lease sticks to get all the end loops to pull out. With two sets of lease sticks, I had to do more “hand picking” and there are more sticks and things poking around to have to manage.

      It’s not easy to describe the process in words. I think a video is in order…as soon as I figure it out a little better myself. 😉

      Thanks for joining the conversation,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    Oh! I get it! Sorry about that. For some reason my brain wasn’t registering that you were all talking about the END loops…even though that’s what everyone said. . Yes, now I can see where that would be a factor. Thanks for walking me through this; I would love a video! I just wound a thin-striped warp and it was not fun with all the starting and stopping. Have a great day!

    • Karen says:

      SM, Don’t worry, it’s confusing to begin with.

      I have wound many, many striped warps, and I don’t really mind it that much. But still, this new method will probably be a game changer for me.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Colors on Trial

This color and weave is decorated plain weave. I have nine weft colors to put on trial. Which ones will pass the test? The winners will be used to weave colorful placemats for our Texas hill country home.

Nine colors on trial for cotton placemats.

All 8/2 cotton, with a small quill of each color waiting to be sampled. The two end tubes on the left are the same coral and camel as the stripes of the warp.

Eager to begin, I start weaving, despite knowing that evening is approaching. Even with good lighting at the loom, it is hard to judge the colors. I need daylight!

Weaving at dusk fails to show true impact of the colors.

Weaving at dusk does not give me a true indication of how the colors work, even though I have a good light at my loom.

The morning light does not disappoint. I find that the colors that are the most similar to the coral and camel in the warp showcase the color-and-weave pattern. The slate and apple green win, too, because they add welcome color contrast. The abundance of natural light in the room makes it easy to see the impact of each of these colors.

Color-and-weave effects with plain weave and 2 shuttles.

Natural light of the morning gives a true perspective of the colors. Even the subtle differences of weft colors can be seen. Keeping the camel color in one of the two shuttles helps bring out the color-and-weave effects. Which colors win? All nine of them!

We have been given a well-lit path. When we choose to go our own way, with our own artificial light, our perceptions can be off. There is a kingdom of light where Jesus is on the throne. To be one of his subjects is to be in a place where his light reveals true colors. He exchanges our colors with his own to make color-and-weave fabric that is heavenly!

May you be invigorated with color.

Happy weaving,
Karen

3 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen.

    I like your analogy of artificial light guiding our way. I think the artificial light being shown by so many groups has been blinding to so many people. We think we are enlightened because it’s easier than sticking to Heavenly Father’s guide book.

    Being a woman who likes colors and patterns, I think all those colors are winners too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s easy to fool ourselves, isn’t it?

      I was surprised how well some of the colors work. The red and orange, for example, could clash with the coral warp, but here, those two colors look exceptional!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • […] the placemats I started on my Texas hill country loom in Colors on Trial? The pattern in the fabric looks nice and pretty. But it doesn’t display the striking […]

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Quiet Friday: Linen Satin Dräll

This is one of those weaving projects that puts you on top of the world. Everything about it. Linen, ten shafts, five-shaft satin weave, ten treadles, gorgeous Moberg damask shuttle, single-shuttle rhythm, full-body weaving, magical fabric. I did have more than my share of knots in the warp, and a few skipped threads and selvedge loops. But you will see no evidence of those glitches now. All you will see is the natural beauty of linen, with its characteristic unevenness. And the reflective satin dräll weave, with its light-catching trickery.

The warp is Bockens unbleached 16/2 line linen. Two of the towels use 16/1 golden bleached linen for the weft. At my husband’s request, the remaining three towels have 16/2 linen weft, in ecru. The thicker weft helps make these into robust absorbent handtowels. A table square finishes off the set.

Enjoy the process with me as I reminisce over the start-to-finish pleasure of weaving these towels.

Winding a linen warp.

Linen warp chains.

Tying on the linen warp.

Tying up 10 treadles on a countermarch!

Sampling weft colors on a linen warp.

Sunlit linen damask weaving.

Hidden patterns in the 5-shaft satin.

Linen 5-shaft satin dräll!

Beautiful Moberg damask shuttle.

Spliced warp ends.

Linen satin dräll on the loom.

End of the warp is near. So many warp end repairs!

Cutting off! Linen 5-shaft satin dräll.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for towels.

Ready to sew handwoven hanging tabs on new linen towels.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin handtowels.

Handwoven linen towel with handwoven hanging tab.

Handwoven set of linen satin dräll towels. Karen Isenhower

May you find pleasure in what you do.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Exquisite, Karen!

  • JAN says:

    Nice finishing touch with hand woven hanging tab. Had you ever though of putting another one in the middle of the long edge so the towel can be hung on a hook above the sink?

    • Karen says:

      Hi JAN, I haven’t done that, but it’s a great idea. I would need to figure out how to attach it, since there is not a hem on the side. These tabs would be a little too thick to fold the ends under, but could certainly do that with tabs made with thinner threads. Have you done it?

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Janet says:

    Beautiful towels and beautifully woven!

  • Betsy says:

    Wonderful towels! And I’m so impressed that your husband knows enough about yarn to recommend 16/2 over 16/1.

    Your little bowl of pegs next to the treadles reminds me of my last project, huck placemats. I could remember the treadling, but not the 18 repeats. So I had a bowl like yours with 18 pegs, and after every repeat I moved one peg to another bowl. And every once in a while I’d crawl around the Julia counting the repeats in case I made a mistake, lol.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Haha, I may have given the wrong impression about my husband. He specified thicker, less dainty towels, and I chose the appropriate size of linen.

      What a great way to keep track of repeats. I’m going to remember that!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nancy Nordquist says:

    These are absolutely beautiful! Than you for sharing so many photos and details of the process.

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Yes, this weave is magical and so fun to weave. And thank you for the beauticul photos. Did you use your phone to take these photos?
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I feel so “at home” weaving something like this. It is satisfying and rewarding.

      I use my iPhone 7 for all my photos. Steve has a very nice digital SLR camera, but I do best with the simple little iPhone. And it’s always in my pocket or on the table beside me. I take way too many pictures, and then I whittle them down to my very favorites to share here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barb says:

    Beautiful design, beautifully woven. The joy & pleasure you have in weaving shows in every finished project. Each time you use these towels, you will be reminded of your enjoyment of the process of weaving. Thank you for sharing your talents and inspiring other weavers to find that joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Your thoughtful comments mean so much! If I can inspire another weaver to find a little more joy in this wonderful weaving process, that would be fantastic!
      Part of the pleasure of having towels like this in my home is getting to see others enjoy the results, too.

      Thanks so much,
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    Beautiful and inspirational!

  • Gretchen says:

    Love these Karen!! So simple and classic… and perfect! Beautiful.

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What to Do about Weaving Errors

I’ve been waiting for a bright sunshiny day to thoroughly examine this tightly-woven linen satin dräll fabric. Today is perfect. Fixing errors must be done before the fabric is washed, when the weave will become even tighter. I am looking for unwanted floats where the shuttle skipped threads, and for loops at the selvedges.

In my examination I did find an errant float and a few small selvedge loops. Let’s get started.

Tools:

  • Blunt-tip needle. Sharp needle tip has been sanded to a rounded tip.

Blunt needle for fixing weaving errors.

  • Thread. Use the same weft or warp thread that is in the area needing repair.
  • Good lighting. If the fabric has a complex structure, good lighting is essential.
  • Magnification. I take a photo on my iPhone, and then zoom in to see the minute details.

Zoom in on iPhone photo to magnify details.

 

How to Mend Skipped Threads:

1 Locate the error. Here is a long weft float.

What to do with skipped threads. Tutorial.

2 Thread the blunt-tip needle with a length of the same thread as the float.

Tutorial on fixing weaving errors.

3 Following the exact under-over pattern of the weave, start one inch before the float and needle-weave toward the float. I lay my iPhone nearby, with the magnified iPhone photo clearly showing the weave pattern.

Needle weaving to mend a weaving error. How to.

4 Needle-weave the correct path of the thread through the float area. Continue needle-weaving along the same thread pathway, going one inch beyond the float.

How to fix skipped threads in weaving.

5 Check the front and back of the fabric to see if your stitches match the correct pattern of the weave.

Skipped threads in weaving. Fixed!

6 When you are certain that the float thread has been accurately replaced, clip the float and remove it (or, leave it and trim it after washing). Leave two-inch tails on the replacement thread, and trim after wet finishing. (I leave the replacement tails so I can find and check the repair after it is washed. This also allows for shrinkage before trimming.)

Clip off the float AFTER repair thread is in place.

 

How to Fix a Small Selvedge Loop

1 Locate the loop.

How to fix a loop in the selvedge.

2 Using the blunt-tip needle, gently ease the excess thread to spread over four or five stitches inside the selvedge.

Easing in a loop at the selvedge. Short how-to.

3 The thread that has been eased in (just above the needle) will completely smooth out in wet finishing.

Eliminate an errant loop at the selvedge.

What skipped threads and loops would be found if I were examined this closely? Would I leave them and hope no one notices? Or, would I allow re-weaving and cutting away? A negative attitude is replaced with a thread of thankfulness. A loop of complaining is eased back in. The result is joy. A thankful heart knows joy. When the fabric is washed, the errant floats and loops are gone. What remains is the woven fabric with lustrous threads of joy.

May you have a bright sunshiny day.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Re-weaving and cutting away in life – what a great analogy.

    I am fascinated by your snips (scissors). Are they surgical snips? Those curved blades! I’d love a pair of my own.

    Here’s to a day full of joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Finding those personal flaws can be a little painful for me, but putting in a better thread is worth it.

      These snips with curved tips work great! I found them at a vendor at the quilt festival in Houston a few years ago. I picked up another similar pair at a needlework shop a couple years ago.

      Joy to you!
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen! I loved your analogy! The lazy part of me would think no one might notice because change is difficult. But then the good Catholic guilt takes over and I must do something about myself!

    The same with corrections in my weaving. My first thought is will anyone really see that? But I can’t unsee it, so it must get fixed!

    One thing I never knew though, was that the loopy selvedges could be corrected. Thank you for sharing this technique, Karen. I am always eager to learn how to improve and correct, though I sometimes have to do a bit of self talk first!

    Enjoy the sun today.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The wonderful thing about grace is that someone greater than us does the fixing. He can see clearly what needs to be done.

      You are right about not being able to unsee a flaw. If there is something I can do about it, I will. If it can’t be fixed, then, I will chalk it up to the reality of being handmade.

      The loop I showed here would probably correct itself in the wash, but it wasn’t hard to ease in the thread, so I did.

      Happy to have another day with sunlight!
      Karen

  • Mary Still says:

    Beautiful piece and I like what you say at the end! Bless You!
    Mary

  • Linda Cornell says:

    You are a gifted writer as well as weaver. Thank you for sharing both!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, It feels like a privilege to me to be able to weave and write and have someone like you show interest. Thank you!

      All the best,
      Karen

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