Process Review: Fresno Canyon Small Tapestry

The Park ranger had told Steve and me that if we were willing to drive six more rugged miles we would witness a spectacular overview of the Fresno Canyon that few people get to see. This is an opportunity we wouldn’t dare miss. And the park ranger was right. Oh, what a view! From this high point above the valley the view is phenomenal! I welled up with emotion as I looked over the glorious beauty of God’s creation.

The memory of that scene is in this small tapestry. Most of my small-tapestry weaving happens when we travel, where we make even more memories, which I store up in my heart. I pull from these stored treasures to weave tapestries that reawaken the fond memories.

Landscape - woven small tapestry.
Fresno Canyon photo printed in black and white is used for the cartoon. Instead of an exact picture of the image, I aim for a representation of the memory, expressed with color.
Relaxing in the Casita travel trailer. Wood carving and tapestry weaving.
During a brief rainstorm while at Caprock Canyons State Park, Steve and I relax in the Casita with our handcrafts. Wood carving and tapestry weaving.
Small tapestry in progress.
Warp is blue 12/6 cotton. Weft is triple strands of 6/1 Fårö wool. I use the tapestry needle to weave.
Weaving in the sunshine on a camping trip.
Weaving in the sunshine at Davis Mountains State Park after returning from a hike.
Small tapestry of a Texas landscape.
Finished weaving one Texas landscape while enjoying another.
Small tapestry with finished and braided edges.
Warp ends are woven and braided.
Linen backing for mounting a small tapestry weaving.
Linen is cut to size and pressed. Narrow rod sleeves are sewn into place.
Backing a small tapestry for framing.
Linen backing is hand-stitched to the back of the small tapestry.
Simple frame for a small tapestry.
Steve designed a simple frame for the small tapestry.
Finished Fresno Canyon tapestry.
Finished Fresno Canyon tapestry. A treasured memory kept and framed.
Texas landscape small tapestry - framed.

May your memories become treasures.

Thankful for you! Happy Thanksgiving,
Karen

15 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    This is beautiful, Karen! Such a creative way to display.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Beth

  • Lynn says:

    Awesome,Karen! What a wonderful way to use the talents God has given you to display His glorious creation! And, I agree with how perfect this great way is to display it. Love your photos. How about one with your smiling face in it sometime? 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynn! It’s fun to weave scenes like this. I’m so thankful for Steve’s constant encouragement.

      Sure thing, I can put my smiling face on here. 🙂 Thanks, that’s a good request.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful!! Good design with the gift of color. I hope your heart sings with memory every time you look at it.

    Happy thanksgiving!

    Nannette

  • Annie says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karen to you and your family!

    What a blessing that you and Steve are able to meld your talents together to create such beauty.

  • Joanna says:

    Wow. What amazing textile shorthand, Karen. It’s all there, even for someone who hasn’t been there. I can almost smell the wonderful Texas blend of hot dust and baking evergreens perfuming the air and sense the vastness of the landscape. Just lovely.

    Am I correct in thinking Steve’s frames make it possible to change out your tapestries? Do you rotate them to prevent sun damage?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, You sure have a great description for someone who hasn’t been there!

      Steve’s frame is not made for changing it out. I’m not sure any two of my tapestries are exactly the same size. Not many been mounted or framed. This frame has a sawtooth picture hanger on the back, and just hangs on a nail on the wall. This one is hanging on a wall that doesn’t get direct sun.

      Happy Thanksgiving,
      Karen

      • Joanna says:

        And a happy Thanksgiving to you and your family too. We have so much to be thankful for despite the crazy state the world is in.

  • D'Anne says:

    Very nice, Karen and Steve! You’re two very talented people. Hope you will enjoy a lovely Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Linda Landry says:

    Hi Karen,
    I don’t know if you noticed: In the picture of your tapestry on the cement patio in front of your Casita, your tapestry seems to have a moon landscape in a dark sky. I had to take a long second look to realize that what I thought was a moon was in fact the tire to the Casita!
    Great work! Your talent to recreate beautiful landscapes is definitely a blessing! You must take after our (heavenly) Father for your creative skills.
    Linda

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Beaming Double Weave

This is double weave on twelve shafts. One layer is the gorgeous lapis lazuli blue. The other layer is neutral almond for contrast. I am spreading and beaming this 6/2 Tuna wool warp with two sets of lease sticks—one set for each layer/color.

Big fat warp chains. Tuna wool for double weave.
Big fat warp chains. Double weave on twelve shafts, with 6/2 Tuna wool for warp and weft.

When you have two sets of lease sticks, though, it is a serious challenge to get the two colors to alternate correctly as you move the end loops to a separate stick. The ends on the stick are then transferred to the back tie-on bar. I did breathe a sigh of relief when everything was finally lined up and in order.

Double weave. Ready to beam the wool warp.
Two sets of lease sticks carries the challenge of having clear visibility of the lease cross in both warp layers. After one or two do-overs, all the yarn is successfully moved to the back tie-on bar. Moving from right to left, I separate and straighten each warp end on the tie-on bar. Only a few more left to straighten.
Ready to beam this wool double weave warp.
Back tie-on bar all in order. Now ready to move the pre-sley reed to the beater and begin beaming the warp.

And I’m reminded again how beautiful a beamed warp is. It’s worth the challenges.

Tuna wool warp on Glimakra Standard.
Warp beam and back beam show the beamed warp.
Wool warp separated into threading groups.
Separated into threading groups for the next phase of dressing the loom.

That beautifully ordered wool on the back tie-on bar, now hidden from view, is an essential element for quality handwoven cloth. Kindness is that way. It’s a core trait deep in one’s character that is revealed in interactions with others. Kindness makes you beautiful. It’s not something you try to be. It’s something we wear. It’s our inner being dressed in the character of Christ.

May you be dressed in kindness.

Affectionately yours,
Karen

4 Comments

  • So much more to learn.
    Thank you for showing the way.
    Nannette

    Off topic… My goal today is to post photos of the Wasaukee February 15, 2019 snow fall that the fuel truck had to deliver to. And my Yooper husband played in. Thank you for the the intense color of your post. White on white is nice in small doses.

  • Elaine says:

    Beautiful! What are you making? And, what is on the back beam? It looks white and the beam looks wider. Your posts are inspiring in so many way. Thank you

    • Karen says:

      H Elaine, Thank you!

      You may be referring to the aluminum beam cover I have on the back beam (I have one on the breast beam, too). It protects the wood from getting grooves in it from the beam cords that run over it while beaming the warp. It’s a normal-size back beam, but I can see how the aluminum cover makes it look wider.

      I’m making a small wool blanket.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Band Loom Time!

Before I can hem these new towels, I need to make some hanging tabs. Band loom time! Making a warp for the band loom is one way to use up some of the weft on quills that didn’t quite get emptied when weaving the towels. Of the four colors in the towels, I am using aqua, poppy, and orchid for the hanging tabs. The bright marigold, my favorite of the four colors, may bring too much attention to itself, so I’m leaving it out. A hanging tab must be a stable and firm loop that becomes a pleasing part of the towel.

Planning to weave hanging tabs for handwoven towels. Karen Isenhower

Towels, before wet finishing, are spread out with the thread colors on top. I am trying to determine which colors will work together in woven hanging tabs for all four towels.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Eleven ends are just enough for weaving a narrow band. (The two ends in the center are doubled in the heddle and counted as one.)

Glimakra band loom, making hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Simple symmetrical design with aqua, poppy, and orchid colors. To use as hanging tabs for towels, the band is cut into short pieces, about ten centimeters (four inches) each. Each cut tab is then sewn into the hem of a towel.

Established. Stable (root word of e-stabl-ish) and firm. That’s how important our faith is as we walk through life. Everything hangs from it. So it must be woven carefully and stitched in securely, a pleasing part of who we are. Stable and firm in faith as we live for the Lord—that’s a beautiful way to live.

May your finishing details be pleasing.

With you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Laura says:

    Your towels are beautiful. Love the little bobbin you are using. Do you mind telling me where you got that from? Love all your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, Thank you! My husband carved the little band loom shuttle for me. You probably know that you can use a short cardboard quill for band weaving, but I will email the specs of the little shuttle to you in case you or someone you know wants to carve one.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Thank you for sharing the design and craft process for finishing the beautiful towels. So true is the need for a firm foundation in life. Nannette

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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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Beauty in Cutting Off

There is beauty in cut threads. They signify completion. Look what has become of these linen threads! Order and sequence, timing and continuity, perseverance and pursuit. Through a weaver’s hands it all adds up to fabric made for a purpose.

Cutting off! Linen threads flow through the reed like a waterfall.

Cutting off! Linen warp ends flow through the reed like a waterfall after the cloth is cut off.

Linen 5-shaft damask. Cutting off!

Cut threads appear as tidy fringe on the stately linen satin damask weave. The warp beam holds the cloth until it is ceremoniously unrolled.

Linen damask weaving, just cut from the loom.

Fabric and warping slats fall to the ground.

Linen fabric just off the loom, ready for finishing.

On the sewing room work table, the completed fabric awaits the finishing process. I will look for and repair errors, secure cut ends with serger stitching, and wet finish the fabric. Then, I will hem them so they can be used as the towels I envisioned from the start.

Father. With God as our Father, we are on the receiving end of the process. Grace and peace, granted from the Father’s hand, shape our lives. And, like a good weaver, our Father makes something beautiful from the threads we offer him. Imagine the day when it may be said of us, “Look what became of the linen threads in the Grand Weaver’s hands!”

May your threads turn into something beautiful.

With joy,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful tribute to Our Father who IS the Masterweaver! I just finished the second project on my Baby Wolf and it was a major learning experience, so it is a miracle that, as I cut it off, it really became the towels I intended to do! Lessons: (1) Make sure that the warp goes OVER the back beam (2) count the heddles more carefully to avoid need to make repair heddles…which sometimes come loose! (3) Use the right equipment, e.g. raddle that spreads the threads so they are straight. But, they will come off the loom this a.m. I intend to continue doing the back to front warping until I learn it better…and I will do something in plain cloth, with at least some stripes. Thanks to many resources, I have choices! Thank you, Karen, for this timely message! God Bless!

    • Karen says:

      Good Morning, Joyce, I think that you will find that every new warp on the loom is a new learning experience. Congratulations on finding solutions along the way! Neglecting to go over the back beam is a common one-time error. Call it “weaving initiation.” It’s the kind of error you only make one time. 😉
      I don’t use a raddle. Instead, I pre-sley the reed, which is another easy way to spread the warp.

      You are right, you have choices!

      Grace to you, and peace from God our Father.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Goodness! They’re going to be luxurious towels.

    • Karen says:

      Good Morning, Beth! Linen fabric captivates me because of the way it hides and reveals pattern depending on the light. I think that’s why linen works so well for satin damask, with it’s pattern of warp and weft floats. Yes, I guess handwoven linen satin damask is luxury. I feel very fortunate. :-j

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Shari says:

    Yourr weaving is lovely as are your words and writing!

  • Kay Larson says:

    Hi Karen!
    I love your blog. I am just getting back to weaving after a 20 year hiatus. Your words of wisdom have been a great help. Your talking about cutting off the cloth brought to mind a question. What do you do with your loom waste?

    Peaceful Weaving,
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, Welcome back to the world of weaving! I’m so glad you wandered over here. Great question!!

      Most of the time I discard the thrums (loom waste). However, I cannot get myself to throw away linen. So, I have several short chains of linen thrums hanging in my weaving studio. I have a few other chains of thrums of yarn that was too pretty or too long to justify throwing away. I have used cotton thrums as choke ties, using a few threads bundled together. But I have other choke ties that I prefer to use. There “should” be a good use of thrums, and I’ve heard of a few; but life (and space) is too short to keep everything that “could” be used someday. I did find a draft for linen washcloths that uses linen thrums in the weft. I have that on my list for this year’s weaving, so you’ll see with me how that works out. Who knows, that may open a whole new door for thrums!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    Hello Karen,

    These are so beautiful! Are they going to be dish towels?

    You have inspired me to try this type of weave on my new loom (loom number three and counting)! Do you have a resource for learning how to weave satin damask? Also, what is the weight of the linen you are using and the set?

    I hope you don’t mind me picking you brain:)
    Thank you so much,
    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn, These will be dish towels and/or hand towels.

      Thanks for asking questions! It’s a pleasure to correspond about weaving.

      The warp is 16/2 linen. The weft on two of the towels is 16/1 linen, which makes a nice elegant towel. My husband requested that I make some towels that are not as “sweet and sissy,” that are thicker and more hefty. So the remaining towels have 16/2 linen weft. I will know more after wet finishing, but I think these heftier towels will be very nice. If they end up being too stiff I may not cut them apart, and leave it as a long table runner.

      Weaving this satin damask has been so enjoyable that I have already wound a warp to do it again, with a slightly different pattern. And, I’m doing it in 8/2 cotton this time (with a 65/10 metric reed, 13 epc).

      You need ten shafts and ten treadles for this five-shaft satin in two blocks. I followed the draft and instructions for this from my favorite weaving book, “The Big Book of Weaving,” by Laila Lundell. I am using a 70/10 metric reed, and the sett is 14 ends per cm. With an Imperial reed, comparable would be an 18-dent reed, with 36 ends per inch.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Maggie ackerman says:

    Karen, I love these towels. You mentioned that one of the things you do post look is correct mistakes. How do you do this and which mistakes can be corrected off loom. I’m always dismayed upon finding a mistake but have learned that nothing is perfect. Thank you for your blog. I look forward to it.
    Maggie Ackerman

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, You ask a really good question. And you are so right that nothing is perfect. Thankfully, many weaving errors can be corrected off the loom. I think I shall do a blog post when I start fixing the errors on these towels. Thanks for the idea!

      The main kind of errors I’m looking for are skipped threads or floats. These can usually be corrected, but it must be done BEFORE the fabric is washed. I use a blunt needle and needle-weave the matching thread, warp or weft, in the correct path of the weave, starting about an inch before, and going about an inch beyond the errant float. On a tight weave like these towels, I may need to use a magnifier to see what I’m doing.

      The other kind of error that I want to take care of is a loop at the selvedge. Depending on the size of the loop, there are a couple ways I handle this. Either, cut the loop and sew it back into the fabric, or needle-weave in a new thread entirely. …or, just leave it and hope it will shrink in enough in the wash.

      I hope this helps! Look for a blog post on the subject in the next couple weeks.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Such lovely towels, I adore the colors and the draft.

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