Guest Weavers

We finished another placemat over the weekend. We, meaning a few guest weavers – and me. I had a small tribe of eager weavers, aged eleven to seventeen. I didn’t give beginner work to these beginners. We did what was required for this color-and-weave project on the loom—double-bobbin shuttles, two (and sometimes three) shuttles at a time, two-pick stripes, advancing the warp, placing the temple, and more. Another placemat completed, with only one broken warp end along the way. I call that a win!

Guest weaver. First time, but not the last!

Quietly watching me, and taking in the details, this young weaver grasped the essentials, and began weaving in a graceful manner. After just a few minutes, Madison told me she could do this all day. That sounds like a budding weaver to me!

New weaver, with great attention to detail!

Sean is an attentive listener, closely following every instruction. He happily donned the weaving apron. And the Gingher snips on a woven band were hanging around his neck, ever ready to be used.

Young weavers at the loom.

Jenson joins in to lend his observation skills while his brother does the weaving.

New young weaver.

Ashley is someone who takes initiative. She enjoyed the challenge of learning something new, and quickly was weaving with very little assistance.

Cotton placemats on the loom.

Broken warp end repaired. Placemat complete. Eight more placemats to go!

Isn’t it delightful to share what you enjoy, and then see the spark of delight and accomplishment on a young person’s face? This is another good reason to make and keep family friends.

May you share your delights.

Love,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Julia says:

    It is always fun to see the eyes of new weavers light up when experiencing for the first time the magic of making cloth! I’m curious about the weaving apron – can you speak about it some more?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, Yes, It is fun to see the expressions when they see magic happen at their fingertips.

      The apron? You’ve given me a great idea! I will write about the weaving apron on my next Tools Day post. For now, suffice it to say that the apron protects my clothes and protects the cloth on the breast beam.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    You’re making such a positive impact in their young lives. I’m also curious about the weaving apron. Does it hold magic? 😉

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I like the idea of making a positive impact on the next generation. At the same time, I find that they are making a positive impact on me, as well.

      Thanks to you and Julia, I know what my next Tools Day post will be—the magical weaving apron. 😉

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    I volunteered to demonstrate moderately hands-on weaving on an antique rug loom at a local history museum to school classes a couple of years ago. We get kiddoes from kindergarten through fifth grade. Before the first group I had some doubts about how it was going to go. Wow! Fantastic! I think more budding weavers are on their way and I’m excited for school to start in the autumn.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, It’s always great to see young people become interested in handweaving and other handwork crafts. That sounds like a fun loom to weave on, too!

      Karen

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Transferring Warp Ends Takes Courage

There are four pairs of overlapping warp chains, with stripes to line up. I created a mess. A few options to consider: 1. Give up. 2. Weave it as is, destroying the design. 3. Use two sets of lease sticks, and expect problems with threading (2,064 ends). 4. Transfer all ends to a single set of lease sticks, arranging threads in order for each stripe.

Eight warp chains...to correct a huge winding error.

Each of four warp chains were duplicated when I realized I had wound only half the correct number of ends in each chain.

Option 4 seems the riskiest. If I lose the cross while transferring threads, I have an even bigger mess. It’s all or nothing. Go for it! Fortunately, my apprentice, Juliana, arrives in the nick of time to give me a hand.

Transferring color stripes to one set of lease sticks.

Lease cross is tied separately for each color “partial” stripe.

Transferring two warp chains to a single set of lease sticks.

Stripes from the two warp chains are transferred to a single set of lease sticks. Now the stripe colors are at their full correct width.

Preparing to transfer warp ends.

For the four center warp chains, each section of color is separated and tied at the cross. It takes an extra set of hands to transfer them in order to the primary set of lease sticks.

Delicate transfer of warp ends accomplished!

All warp ends are now successfully transferred to a single set of lease sticks. Let the loom dressing begin!

It worked! All the threads are successfully transferred to one pair of lease sticks. What a relief! I can beam the warp knowing that all is well. A beautiful double weave throw is imminent.

Pre-sleying the reed at the loom.

Warp is pre-sleyed at the loom. So far, so good.

Double weave warp ready to beam!

Ready to beam! Looking forward to this dressing and weaving experience.

We all have made a mess of our lives, and we know it. We hear of options to fix things, but one seems the riskiest: Transfer everything to God. But what if I mess that up, too? There’s good news. God transfers us. When we place our trust in Jesus Christ, God transfers us from our messy state to his good order. And the result is a weaving that showcases his workmanship—a beautiful you.

May you take a worthy risk.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Glad this worked! Even more happy that God works messes out for us! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It is a relief when we see things begin to work out! And what a relief it is to trust our great Lord with the most important things in life.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I like this thought.

    And so glad the mess worked out. But I knew quitting was never an option for you, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Annie, You are right. Quitting was a thought that flickered for a moment, but I never really considered it an option. You may know me a little to well. 😉

      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    I know that was frustrating, Karen. Been there, done that, although with a smaller warp. Perseverance pays offf!

    • Karen says:

      D’Anne, That is so true! Perseverance does pay off! I think that is something that has been a part of me since childhood – quiet perseverance. Thanks for making me stop and reflect on that for a moment.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Linda says:

    God does fix our messes in unexpected ways. …. when we ask. And I thought 398 ends of only two colors were a challenge! Perspective and perseverance are helpful tools.

    Thank you for sharing your faith!

    Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, It is crucial for us to have the humility to ask God for help out of our messes. Perspective and perseverance are indispensable!

      Thanks!
      Karen

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Weaving a Gift

For Christmas, I gave my daughter and two daughters-in-law a piece of paper with options for a custom handwoven article from me. This new project is the start of fulfilling those promises. Marie, my youngest son’s wife, chose a throw in vivid colors.

Christmas gifts to family members this year.

Each recipient gets to customize her gift. As maker, I retain design decisions and final color selections.

Opening a package with new tubes of thread is like Christmas all over again! This shipment brings the 8/2 cotton thread for Marie’s double weave throw, adding to what I already have on hand. From promise to conception of an idea, to collecting threads and dressing the loom, to weaving a gift—it goes from intangible to tangible. Threads turn into cloth!

New yarn shipment excitement!

My apprentice happens to be here when the package arrives! She shares the excitement with me of opening the package to see the new thread colors.

Vibrant colors for a new project on the loom!

Vibrant colors for Marie’s throw.

Love holds us together. Threads of love create a sustainable cloth of connected people. Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving, as an imitator of God. Not an imposter, who pretends to be god. But an imitator, like a loved child becomes an imitator of their dad. Consciously and subconsciously. Let the character of God become your character. And let the threads of love that he has woven in your life reach into lives he’s given you to touch. Let his promise to you become tangible cloth to others.

May you be wrapped in love today.

With love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Lise says:

    I love your ideas for Xmas gifts. Can you share what the choices were and what you wove for the ladies?
    I make tote bags with groceries bags, it is one of my contributions to help save the planet.
    Baglady, Lise

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lise, I’m glad you asked! This current project is the first one of the gifts. I haven’t completed any of them yet. I will be sharing about each gift as I come to it through the course of this year.

      For this first one, the request is a throw, large, in vibrant colors. I’m excited to get it on the loom!

      I’m glad you have a meaningful way to use your weaving skills!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    What a wonderful idea!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angela, Thanks! It’s something I had been thinking about for a couple years. And now, it helps with the question, “what shall I weave next?”

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I love this idea of letting the recipient choose what they’d like. Ok if I borrow your form idea?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, I think it makes it fun for the gift giver and the recipient. You are very welcome to use any part of this that serves your needs. Have at it!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Cherie Kessler says:

    Just want to say how very much I enjoy your blog, and how often I’ve used your “helps”….like the red thread between towels, the suggestions for ways to repair weavings that aren’t perfect. And the newest, unfortunately, a shorter way to remove weaving down to the fault by cutting…rather than unweaving! These, plus all your inspiration…I’m so happy when I open my emails and see an update! Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Oh Cherie, I wish I could give you a great big hug right now! Of all the reasons I have for writing in this space, one of my biggest hopes is that I can share something that will be of value to someone else. You have really touched me with your kind encouragement. Bless you!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • I may borrow your idea. I make dish towels every year for my girls, and one year i did something similar. I chose a darker teal warp and had each of them choose three of my yarn colors they each liked that would look nice with the warp. I did a monks belt threading and each towel turned out so different. It was a fun project. If you are interested, you can see the final photo of them in my blog here:
    http://jennybellairs.blogspot.com/2013/12/annual-christmas-towels.html

    I enjoy your blog posts and am glad I subscribe so I don’t miss any. Keep them coming!
    Jenny B

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, I like your idea, too, to let them choose the weft colors. Your monksbelt towels are stunning! It’s amazing what a range of effects are possible on one threading!

      Your word of encouragement means so much to me. Thank you, thank you!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Attractive New Rag Rugs

Don’t be surprised to find one, or even two, of these attractive rugs gracing my home. Five new rugs are now finished and ready to be enjoyed! I designed one of these spaced rep rugs specifically for our Texas hill country home. One was woven by my young apprentice, Juliana. Her rug is already on the floor in her room. And at least two of the rugs are destined for my Etsy Shop. Soon, my looms will be active with new things. There is always something just finished to look back on with fondness, and something ahead to look forward to. Weaving is like that.

Spaced rep rag rugs.

Spaced rep rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Spaced rep rag rug

Spaced rep rag rug

Wool rag rug

Spaced rep rag rug

Spaced rep rag rugs! Karen Isenhower

May your Christmas be calm and bright.

Good Christmas to you and yours, my friends,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Ann says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your weaving activities with us – I look forward every week to see what you are doing as I am in France, and there are not so many weavers around here, so I depend on the worldwide web for inspiration and encouragement.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ann, It’s a pleasure to meet you! It’s a blessing for me to get to share what’s on my looms with like-minded people like you.

      Happy Christmas to you and yours!
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Merry Christmas, Karen!
    I found your blog earlier this year and I just want to thank you for all your postings and inspirational messages. Thank you for sharing your weaving life with us!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, It makes me happy to know you are joining me in this weaving adventure! It means a lot to have friends with common interests and values.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    The rugs are beautiful, Karen, as is everything you weave. Are they for the hill country house? Wherever they live, they will add so much warmth to the room. Can’t wait to see what you create next!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, At least one of the rugs will stay at the hill country house. The rest will go on Etsy. Your encouraging words go a long way with me. You always brighten my day.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for all you do for us. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!!

  • JANET PELL says:

    Thank you for spending time sharing with us, your tips, help and your beautiful work. I so look forward to it every week.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family from Italy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, Isn’t it wonderful that we can meet here, as if there’s no distance between us? Thank you for your encouraging words! That means so much to me.

      Happy Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I never knew there was an actual name for rep weave that was not so tightly sleighed. I just thought it was me being lazy with the loom warping, but I love how the weft pattern shows and adds to the design. I’ve done a number of these and love them.

    Merry Christmas to you and thanks for your blog.

    Maggie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, I agree, the beauty of spacing the warps further apart is that the weft pattern shows and adds to the design. Maybe we should call it “Enhanced Rep Weave.”

      Happy weaving! And Merry Christmas to you,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    It is so grand to see your work and know the joy you find in weaving. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and creativity.
    Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas and God’s richest blessings in 2018.

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Quiet Friday: My Young Apprentice

Any handweaver who finds willing and able help is indeed fortunate. If you find an apprentice you love to have at your side, that’s even better. I consider myself especially blessed to have such an apprentice—a young lady who frequents my weaving studio and shares my delight in the wonder of turning threads into cloth.

Young apprentice. First time at the loom.

First time at the big loom.

Cotton and linen tubes of thread sorted and arranged by color.

Cotton and linen tubes of thread are all sorted by type and arranged by color. Thanks to my young apprentice.

Juliana assisted on this spaced rep rag rug project from start to finish. She helped me beam the warp and thread the heddles. I wove four of the rugs, and she wove one complete rug herself. It is only fitting for her to help with the cutting off! And, oh, what a joy it is to see freshly woven rugs roll off the cloth beam!

Finishing the rugs is still ahead. When we have them hemmed, I will bring you an update with pictures of our completed treasures.

Five rag rugs rolled up, ready for finishing.

Five rag rugs rolled up. Next step is to tie warp ends and hand-stitch hems.

Enjoy the slideshow video below that shows our process. And enjoy our cutting off celebration as shown in the following detail shots. (Photo credit: Christie Lacy)

Cutting off!

Cutting off!

Cutting off!

Cutting off - A few ends at a time.

Rag rug cutting off!

Untying the warp. Rag rugs just off the loom.

Releasing new rag rugs from the loom.

Taking new rag rugs off the loom.

May you keep your youthful delight.

Thankful,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Julia says:

    What a joy and delight for you BOTH! Juliana is beautiful and a wise one indeed to choose a true master at the loom for her mentor. It is always best, when possible, to learn from the most skilled, talented, and wise teachers.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, It’s when we teach others that we learn the most. I’m still learning, so it’s great to have someone to share in the process!

      Thanks for your kind and generous thoughts!
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    Juliana is as fortunate to have you as a teacher as you are to have her as an apprentice. She seems very captivated by the process. Looking forward to seeing your next joint effort.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It is invigorating for me to witness this sweet young lady’s fascination with weaving. Her expressions of delight so often match how I feel about the process.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Marjorie says:

    If I move to Texas, could I be your *old* apprentice??

  • D’Anne says:

    Lucky Juliana to have you for. a teacher!

  • Jane Milner says:

    I am a returning weaver (had a 4 shaft table loom in the ’70’s…and now have a Glimakra Ideal. I’m wondering about storing my cones and tubes of fiber…how do you deal with dust and fading if they are stored on open shelves?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane, Welcome back to the world of weaving! I’m sure you’ll enjoy getting back in the swing of things.

      My wool and other yarns are stored in a closed closet. The tubes of cotton and linen are on the open shelves, partly because I derive such pleasure having them in full view in my weaving studio, and partly because I like to see at a glance what I have available. The shelves are not in direct sunlight, so I’m not too concerned about fading, at least I haven’t seen that to be a problem. As far as dust goes, I don’t think too much dust settles on them because I’m moving them pretty often. I try not to keep a huge stash. I like to use as much of what I have on the shelves, and then add to that as needed for specific projects. I may not be the best one to ask about dust. It’s something I only see in other people’s houses. 😉

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • What a wonderful opportunity for you both! She can learn the joy of learning and of weaving at the hand of a mentor and you can share your love and knowledge with her thus learning more as well! I agree that teaching others is always the best way to learn more ourselves and the gift of sharing that knowledge is priceless! Bless you both!
    Charlynn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlynn, I couldn’t agree more. It’s a wonderful opportunity for both of us. This is a win – win arrangement!

      I appreciate your thoughtful words!
      Karen

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