Startling Surprise at the Loom

A startling surprise greeted me when I sat down at the loom yesterday afternoon! The sun was shining through the window and sparkles of light were dancing on the loom. The surprise happened when some of the light made its way under the woven warp and shined up through the cloth, revealing a hidden pattern. Whoa! I discovered a secret passageway in an old majestic house…accidentally! That’s what it felt like.

Afternoon light at the loom. Linen 5-shaft satin towels.

Linen towel in five-shaft satin dräll. Sunlight dances on the woven and not-yet-woven warp.

Linen towels in 5-shaft satin dräll.

Block pattern on the towel changes, and is emphasized with the change of weft.

Light through the fabric reveals a hidden structure!

Light comes up through the fabric on the left side of the loom, revealing a hidden structure in the cloth.

This is five-shaft satin, not goose-eye twill. How fascinating to get a glimpse of the inner structure of the cloth. I didn’t expect it, but it does make sense that the treadling pattern is woven into the fabric. But you won’t see it unless light shines through just so.

The Lord knows us intimately. He knows what we do and why we do it. Where we go and what our plans and intentions are. He not only knows what we say, he knows the thoughts behind our words. God is not surprised. He knows it all. His light reveals our inner structure. May it be pleasing to Him.

May you be pleasantly surprised.

With you,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Alison says:

    Beautiful Karen. What a blessing.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Very cool! Now I’ll be shining light from the bottom of every weaving.

    Your work is so very beautiful, Karen.

    Lovely sentiment!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I know, right? The light from below makes me wonder what I could see on other projects.

      Your kind words mean so much to me.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    That is amazing! A reminder that cloth is not always as one dimensional as it may appear upon first glance and neither are any of God’s creations.
    Your comments about God knowing our inner thoughts, omnipotence, was often a frightening concept to me as a child, but it certainly helped me behave better! Now as an adult, it is more of a comfort, to know someone understands you completely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, So often there is more than meets the eye!

      I had similar misgivings as a child, thinking about God’s watchful eye. But now, it seems comforting and such an amazing thing to be known by the Creator of the universe.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
      Karen

  • Sara Jeanne says:

    Mother Nature is surely our inspiration!

  • Keleen says:

    Hi Karen! Remember when I had a senior moment on our walk this morning and forgot what I was about to say? Reading your thoughts, especially that his light reveals our inner structure, made me think of it. I was thinking of egg candling, when you hold an egg up to a light source to see what’s inside—hopefully a living and healthy embryo! That us another good analogy of how God’s light shows us our hearts. Sometimes we can see that an embryo has died there in the heart of the egg

    • Karen says:

      Hi Keleen, I am not very familiar with egg candling, but I have heard of it before. It’s interesting how a light source can show what’s inside! God’s light is certainly like that.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Teresa says:

    Wow, way cool! Thanks so much foe Sharing!

    T

    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa, It was mesmerizing to see that pattern in the fabric. I wanted to share it so others could see it, too. I’m delighted that you think it’s way cool like I do!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Such inspiring reflections both in nature and in your heart. Thank you!

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Making this Autumn Rag Rug

I enjoy making it up as I go—changing blocks and switching colors. That’s what I did for the first quarter of this long rug. Then, I made notes of what I did so I could reverse the pattern to the middle of the rug. The entire sequence, then, is repeated for the second half. And now, there are only six more inches to weave on this autumn-toned rug.

Rag rug on the loom. Spaced rep.

First rug on this warp is almost complete.

Because of experience I gained by weaving towels with thick and thin threads, I am quite comfortable designing this rug on the loom. Fabric strips and rug warp = thick and thin. I understand it. On the other hand, for every weaving concept I understand, I realize how much more I don’t know at all. Who can be good at it all?

Cloth beam fills up with a long rag rug.

Cloth beam is wrapped with this long rag rug. Kumihimo braided cord that is attached to my Gingher snips hangs on the corner of the breast beam. I “wear” the snips when I sit down to weave.

Rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Thick and thin weft enables interesting patterns in the spaced rep rag rug.

I am pretty good at being “good.” But I’m far from perfect. We know that Jesus went about doing good and helping people. So, yes, we can follow his example. But there’s a problem. Being good is not good enough. Our good will never reach perfection. Fortunately, Jesus gave us more than a good example. He gave his life so that we could receive forgiveness for everything in us that is not good. And that is what we call good news!

May your cloth beam fill up with woven goods.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Tighter-than-Tight Warp

This Glimåkra Ideal is a super sturdy little loom. I call it the “Baby Loom,” but it’s not a baby in strength. She can handle anything I put on her. The warp is so tight on this rag rug that I have to release the front ratchet and loosen the warp a bit before I can even budge the ratchet on the back beam to release it.

Rag rug reaches the cloth beam.

Spaced rep rag rug reaches the cloth beam.

I like having a super-tight warp for rag rugs. It means I can get firm selvedges. And, I can put the momentum of the hanging beater to its best advantage, thoroughly packing in the weft. Best of all, I know this tight warp gives me a foundation for good strong rugs.

Tight selvedges on this rag rug.

Tight warp makes it possible to keep tight selvedges. At the selvedge, fabric strip is turned twice, and then pulled to snugly wrap around the outer warp ends.

Spaced rep rag rugs. Designing on the loom is fun!

Designing on the loom is fun with the thick (fabric) and thin (warp thread) wefts. I make notes on paper so I can repeat the designs across the length of the rug.

I want my trust in the Lord to be so tight that nothing can move it out of place. To be that certain, that focused. The Lord looks for people who trust him completely. He searches high and low for those whose hearts are completely his. He gives them his strong support—unwavering strength of support. Ratchet up the warp. We can trust the Grand Weaver and his loom.

May your warp be tighter than tight.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Make Magical Fabric

Another magical experience at the loom! Double weave lets you weave two separate layers of fabric simultaneously. And then, the top and bottom layers can switch places in defined blocks. I don’t know who thought this up, but they were brilliant!

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Cotton baby blanket for a dear friend’s first grandchild. This friend is amazed at the weaving process, and says that this woven fabric looks calming. Careful arrangement of the two shuttles ensures that the double-weave selvedges are woven closed.

The hard part was tying up the treadles. For a countermarch, working with eight shafts requires a more delicate balance under the loom. For a while, I was concerned that I might not get more than two decent sheds on this. But after several adjustments, I finally got a great shed with every treadle! Someone who looks at the final cloth will never know the effort that took place behind the scenes. But they may wonder at the amazement of handwoven cloth. Or not. (You’ve probably met someone who is not duly impressed with handwoven goods.)

Double weave baby blanket on the loom.

Long stripes in the middle of the baby blanket. I added dashed lines at the ends of the stripes for added detail interest.

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Beginning sample reaches the cloth beam. Sample area at the beginning of the warp was used to test weft colors and to practice getting the appropriate weft density.

What do we see as ordinary that, truth be known, is full of wonder? One person may interpret an unusual event as an amazing sign from God. Another person experiences the same event and considers it nothing more than happenstance. If I say I won’t believe until I see evidence, I will never find evidence that satisfies me …even if I come face-to-face with a miracle. Keep the wonder. When you see handwoven cloth, let the work of the Maker’s hands bring wonder and awe. And know there are significant hidden details that are beyond our grasp.

May your fabrics be magical.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Betty A Van Horn says:

    WOW – it is absolutely gorgeous – two ‘sea colors!’ I definitely want to be on the look out for His amazing provision.

    Blessings!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, These are enjoyable colors to work with!
      If we keep our eyes open to look for His provision, we will certainly see it in our lives.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Gorgeous weaving, as always! Each day we all see miracles right before our eyes. Our very lives are a miracle.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, It’s fascinating to think of the intricacies of how we are made. It’s not hard to see the Creator’s handiwork if we are looking for it.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    What a lovely gift to be weaving. So interesting to be working on a double weave blanket for my son and his wife at the same time you are doing the baby blanket. Gifting to special people is part of the joy of weaving.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I agree, it’s a joyful thing to give handwoven treasures to special people. That’s cool that you have double weave on your loom, too.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’m dressing my loom right now for dish towels in the same way, I’m excited to try it! I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Hugs,
    Liberty

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Miles and Miles to Weave

I just reached the quarter-of-the-way mark. After completing a long border at the beginning of this runner, I have been weaving the same two blocks over and over. And over. Really? I’m only a fourth of the way there? This long table runner is a marathon, not a sprint.

M's and O's on the loom.

Unbleached cotton warp and half-bleached linen weft. The checkerboard appearance of this sålldräll (M’s and O’s) will become rounded when taken off the loom, and, even more so when wet-finished.

Reached the quarter-of-the-way mark!

Weaving reaches the “1/4” mark on the pre-measured tape. Only 3/4 of the way to go! 🙂

I am already thinking about the rag rug project that’s up next. The plans are written out. The rug warp is waiting on my shelf. And it has been too long since I’ve had rag rugs on the loom. As you know, rag rugs are my favorite. If I’m not careful, impatience creeps in.

M's and O's table runner on the loom.

Keep weaving, winding more quills, and making fabric.

M's and O's on the loom.

Beginning border of the table runner is going around the cloth beam.

Look up to heaven. When you pray, it’s a signal that you want the Lord of heaven to get involved. It’s a way of saying you don’t have everything you need on your own. Like patience. And gratitude. He brings you back to remember how much you enjoy the mechanics of weaving–throwing the shuttle back and forth, gliding your feet across the treadles, making threads turn into cloth. Living a dream come true. Miles and miles of Sålldräll (M’s and O’s)? Yes, please. I’m happy with that.

May you live your dream.

Gratefully,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Tiny Beunk says:

    This is SO unbeleavable! Just yesterday I made MY warp to weave this same weave! I use red for accent, just like VÄV showed it. Curious for your result.

  • Mary Lawver says:

    Beautiful Karen. So subtle and so striking. And your selvedges. I know, practice!
    Mary

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary, I do love vibrant colors, but I’m fond of the neutral colors, too, with their subtlety and elegance. Yes, practice -mindful practice- improves just about anything.

      Thanks for taking time to comment!
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thanks as always for sharing! I often fight impatience when I get a project on the loom, weave a foot or so, realize it’s going to work and see how it’s turning out. Then my mind begins my next project and I begin to lose interest in the one I’m doing.
    Our Lord uses weaving to teach us many things, doesn’t He?! I’m weaving and praying and I suddenly realize this is a habit of mine across many areas of my life, this “beginning to execute” then losing initial interest and wanting to move on to something new. I AM a finisher, but too wrapped up in that initial thrill…
    As a writer, this can be deadly to my work. Starting a book and losing interest half-way through… and our Lord begins to teach me while I’m weaving. Throw the shuttle, like you said; BE HERE in this moment; revel in the joy of creation itself rather than concentrating on anything else. And practice patience in all things. Thank you for reminding me of recent lessons learned! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Cindy, I love hearing what you’ve been learning. Life is rich with teachable moments. “Practice patience in all things.” – This would be a great motto to hang on the wall in the weaving studio. What better way to practice than weaving!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nanette says:

    I’m sort of there too, but haven’t lost patience YET. A 6 foot runner, with border. BUT mine is a multi-color 8 shaft overshot long repeat, so it isn’t too boring yet either, and rather challenging since it is on a table loom using a 5-lever lift plan instead of treadles. My mantra: ” the process, not the product” and the process includes concentration and hopefully perfection! Your ribbon-measuring technique has been a big help. Thanks for sharing. Nanette

  • Karen says:

    Sometimes the long repitition, instead of frustration, gives me a kind of peaceful or comforting feeling. Relaxing because I know that particular cycle. Peace of mind, heart.

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