Tools Day: Paper and Yarn

A folded piece of paper and a seven-inch tail from a yarn butterfly become an answer to a small technical problem. When using a cartoon, like I am for this transparency, it’s imperative to identify the center warp end so I can align the dotted-line center of the cartoon with that one end. Finding the center warp end is my technical problem. The paper and yarn work together as the tool that helps remove the guesswork.

Weaving a transparency. Bluebonnets.

I check the alignment of the cartoon about every inch, and move up the pins that hold the cartoon in place.

With these bluebonnets, if the cartoon slides to the right or left by even one warp end it distorts the picture. It’s not enough to eyeball it. I need a way to make sure I am finding, and marking, the exact center end every time.

How to Find and Mark the Center Warp End

Supplies:

  • Pencil
  • Subscription card from a magazine, folded in half lengthwise
  • Seven-inch tail from a yarn butterfly, or a strand of yarn
  1. Measure the width of the beater and use a pencil to mark the exact center with a vertical line.
  2. Hold the folded edge of the card against the vertical pencil line on the beater, with the bottom edge of the card almost touching the warp.

Finding and marking the center warp end to align with cartoon.

3. Slip the yarn tail under the center warp end, as identified by the bottom corner of the card.

Aligning center warp end with cartoon. Tutorial.

4. Check the alignment of the center line of the cartoon with the center warp end.

How to mark the center warp end.

5. Slide the yarn from the reed to the fell line to check the entire length of the alignment. Reposition the cartoon, if needed.

Aligning cartoon with center warp end. How to.

Bluebonnet woven transparency almost finished!

Ready for one last alignment!

May you find a solution that eliminates guesswork.

All the best,
Karen

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Bluebonnets Are Growing on My Loom

I promised a baby blanket to a dear friend whose first grandchild is coming soon. That’s why I am working on this transparency with extra focus. I need the loom. After being away from home longer than expected, I am now trying to make up for lost time.

Weaving a transparency. Flower stems so far.

Flower stems rise out of the “ground.”

Woven transparency in progress.

Weaving from the back. All weft turns are on the back, leaving little bumps and ridges, while the underneath front side stays smooth.

Some sections take an hour or more to weave an inch. But I am finding transparency weaving to be pure enjoyment. I don’t mind lingering. And, if it weren’t for that baby blanket I would slow down even more. This is handweaving at its best. This is good. All I do is select the threads and put them in place, and the woven image magically appears.

Woven transparency in progress. Mora wool pattern weft.

Four strands of 20/2 Mora wool for each butterfly, giving ample opportunity for color blending.

Weaving Texas bluebonnets in a transparency.

Even a simple design like this requires many little butterflies to complete the image (sixteen for this row).

Texas bluebonnets in a woven transparency...in progress!

Cartoon is held in place with three pins. The dotted line on the cartoon is aligned with the center warp end. I love the small spaces of linen between some of the flower petals.

In reality, good things don’t appear by magic, do they? Even with the loom, a plan is made, warp ends are lined up, and the handweaver puts many skills into action. When we experience good in life, it isn’t happenstance or magic. The Lord is good. He is the source of goodness. And it’s by His grace that we are able to see his goodness. Thank you, Lord.

May you be touched by goodness today.

Love,
Karen

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Now I Am Weaving Bluebonnets!

Bluebonnets! Another Texas hill country subject for a transparency. I am weaving a simplified imitation of this celebrated wildflower. It starts with a photograph I took of bluebonnets in our hill country backyard this spring.

Texas hill country bluebonnets

Cropped and enlarged photograph of our Texas hill country backyard bluebonnets.

After enlarging the photo to poster size, I outlined the basic shapes that I wanted to include in the transparency. Next, I turned the poster over and transferred the outlines to the back. I traced the lines onto a piece of buckram to use for the cartoon. Everything is ready (the warp has already been tied back on). Let’s get started!

Selecting Mora wool colors for a woven transparency.

Planning colors for the bluebonnet transparency. Photo on the iPad is used for reference in selecting Mora wool colors.

Cartoon for a new transparency weaving.

Pattern is traced onto a piece of buckram to use as the cartoon. Dashed line down the center of the cartoon will be lined up with the center warp end when the cartoon is pinned to the back of the weaving.

Starting a woven transparency. Texas bluebonnets!

Nineteen bundles of Mora wool colors are introduced on the first row of pattern weaving. About three hours of weaving is pictured. After the intricate leaves at the bottom of the picture, it will be smooth sailing! 🙂

We have been given a true picture of love. God shows it to us in Jesus Christ. Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. With child-like fascination, I want to imitate the heart of that kind of love. To walk in love like Christ means to give yourself away for the sake of others. Linen and wool threads are not sufficient to show the living beauty of a bluebonnet. Nor are my efforts to love going to be perfect. But by keeping the picture in front of me as I weave, I hope to convey the delight of springtime Texas bluebonnets. And present a transparent picture of love that’s out of this world.

May you imitate only the best.

With love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Beautiful! Your enlarged photo looks like a watercolor. It and your weaving remind me of the paint by numbers we did as kids – a much more grownup version.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia,

      I often think of transparency weaving as paint-by-number with yarn. The bluebonnets in nature are better than anything I could think up or draw.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    You do have the patience of a saint. This is going to be beautiful!

  • Maria says:

    I am intrigued- I have done a bit of tapestry but know nothing about transparencies. It is quite a process! Your patience and focus is amazing. Can’t wait to see this grow!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, This feels a lot like tapestry to me. For some reason, though, this seems less complicated. I’d like to play around with this technique and maybe do something that is more like tapestry, but with the plain weave pick in between each pattern row. I have a friend who has done some of that, and it is lovely!

      I’m excited to see this grow, too.

      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Bluebonnets, oh how lovely!

  • maggie says:

    how do you keep the cartoon in place during the weaving process?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, The cartoon is pinned under the weaving with three flat-head straight pins. Every few inches, before I advance the warp, I move the pins forward while checking to make sure the center line on the cartoon lines up with the center warp end. Good question!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

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Woven Transparency Cactus Revealed!

It started with a prickly pear cactus in the front yard of our Texas hill country place, and then a photograph. Now, I have a woven representation of this interesting specimen of our Texas landscape! I am hoping that Steve will whittle a rustic rod from which this cactus banner will hang in our home.

Finishing woven transparency of a cactus.

Weaving the casing for the top of the transparency. Linen warp and weft make an appealing mesh that holds and surrounds the pictorial weaving.

Woven transparency of a prickly pear cactus. Just off the loom!

After cutting off, the complete front side of the transparency is seen for the first time.

Eager to hang this transparency, I didn’t want to waste any time. I finished the ends of the piece with a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine. And I sewed casings at the top and bottom. Now, in full view, a little back lighting reveals the complete picture of the woven threads.

Woven transparency. Prickly Pear Cactus. Karen Isenhower

Cactus spines in the woven image seem to reach outward and almost appear three-dimensional.

Detail view of woven transparency cactus.

Detail view of some of the shading in the cactus.

We weave thoughts and ideas in our heart. And when we speak, we bring those thoughts out into the open. Words reveal the treasures of the heart. When we speak words of value, we bring our choicest treasures out in the open. And what a welcome picture that is.

May your words be received as treasures.

Love,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Barbara Crockett says:

    Wow! Looking back at your June 30 post of the photo and how you started this project is fun. The details in the shading create an amazing effect. Great job!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, I’m thinking about framing the cactus photograph to hang near the transparency. The light plays off the yarn and gives it a feel of realism that surprises even me.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Deborah Pudliner says:

    Thank you Karen! I am not a weaver, but my daughter is. Each time I read your blog I have been blessed not only in seeing what you are weaving/teaching/learning, but the words you use to share bring it all to life and encourage not only the weavers but those who are blessed in seeing the work of the weaver unfold. May He bless you, encourage you and fill you with wisdom and much joy to continue the work He has to do in you and through you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deborah, Thank you for sharing the treasures of your heart with me! Your words have ministered to me today more than you know.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Betsy G says:

    Karen
    Well done! The cactus is so realistic with your use of shading. I want to keep clear of those prickers.

  • Maria says:

    Karen- it is absolutely fantastic. I have never done a transparency but I now would love to try . What an inspiration! The stickers on the cactus are so realistic.
    Just fabulous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, I hope you do try it! This project has been great fun. Transparency weaving is quickly becoming one of my very favorite things to do. It makes me happy that you like the finished piece. That means a lot!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Cindie says:

    Your piece turned out incredible.

  • Beautiful! Weaving transparencies is rather fun! Did you use something other than wool for the spines? Just curious, because sometimes when I weave white wool into a transparency it doesn’t show up very well. One other question – what brand and type of wool did you use for the greens?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, I have to agree – weaving transparencies is fun indeed!

      I did use wool for the cactus spines. All of the wool in this piece is 20/2 Mora. I used 4 strands of yarn in each bundle, which gave me a lot of opportunity to blend colors. Most of the white is white and off-white blended together. By blending 4 strands together, it greatly multiplied my palette of greens. As much as possible, I tried to combine colors that are close in value, so they would really blend together well.

      Thanks for sharing your transparencies with me. Your work has been a huge inspiration!
      Karen

  • D'Anne says:

    The spines definitely look 3D! Great job!! Hope you will bring it to WOW sometime so we can see it in person.

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thank you for showing us the finished piece. It is lovely! I find your whole process of transparency weaving to be fascinating.

  • Emily says:

    Hi, I came across this post while searching for information about using linen weft for tapestry. I had never heard of transparency weaving before and it has spurred a huge interest for me! I bought a book– I forget the author but I believe it’s the only one in English– and have been learning a ton. I can’t wait to try this out. I weave on a Mirrix, and don’t have a floor loom, but I am fairly confident I can make that work. It will be strange for me not to really pack my weft, and to put two wefts in the same shed. Can’t wait!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emily, How exciting! The book I’m familiar with is “Sheer Delight: Handwoven Transparencies,” by Doramay Keasbey. It’s an excellent book, and very inspiring.

      I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t weave a transparency on your Mirrix loom. I hope you enjoy this type of weaving as much as I do!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Cactus Transparency Preview

Here is a glimpse of the front-side of the transparency weaving. The cactus is beginning to come around the breast beam. I can’t see the cactus clearly yet, but so far, it looks good! I only have a couple inches of cactus left to weave. Soon, the whole picture will be visible!

Beginning of woven transparency around the front beam.

Smooth surface of the woven pattern area is in contrast to the textured density that is seen on the back.

The back of the weaving that faces me as I weave, with all its weft turns, weft splices, and woven-in tails, is an accurate picture of what I am weaving. But it is incomplete. It doesn’t tell the whole story. I get used to this bumpy side sometimes and forget that there is something better on the other side.

Transparency weaving from the back. Prickly pear cactus.

Transparency woven from the back means that all the weft turns are seen on the back. The front side of the weaving will have an appearance that is truer to the clean lines of the picture drawn on the cartoon.

Almost finished woven transparency of prickly pear cactus!

With the end in sight, anticipation of seeing the whole picture from the front grows!

Getting a glimpse of the true cactus picture made me want to see more. Looking for, and eagerly waiting to see the finished front-side of the transparency is like seeking truth. The lines in the design are obscured from the back, so we are compelled to keep going, keep advancing the warp, and actively look for the truth to appear. Love truth. The beginning of the cactus coming into view is a welcome sight that reminds me why I’m at the loom.

May you love what is true.

Welcoming a new grandson into the world!

We welcomed a new grandson into the world a few days ago!

Big brother loving his new baby brother. Awww... so sweet.

Big brother loving his new baby brother. Truth matters because of these precious little guys.

Yours truly,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Joanna says:

    Many congratulations! May he live a long, safe, and faithful life. Babies are miracles made visible, entrusted to our care, and I know this little one will be cherished.

  • Deb says:

    Prayers for your new grandson and his family.de

  • Beth says:

    Congratulations on your new grandson! The cactus is looking amazing!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, New grandchildren are always fun to meet! I’m glad you like the cactus. I am so eager to turn the whole thing over! It won’t be long…

      Karen

  • Bev Romans says:

    Congrats on this precious and beautiful new grandchild, Karen! What a blessing to your whole family!

  • Maria says:

    Congratulations! Grand children are the best!! Can’t wait to see the finished work – your transparency that is!

  • Martha says:

    Lovely new baby and wonderful big brother – Grands are just the best. Enjoy every minute you get to spend with them. Looking forward to seeing the finish transparency

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    Congratulations on the sweet new grand baby, Karen! He’s precious!
    I look forward to seeing your finished cactus soon.

    • Karen says:

      D’Anne, Thank you! There’s nothing like holding a newborn. It’s always surprising how short that newborn stage is. This cactus is just about ready to be cut off!

      Karen

  • Congratulations on he the grandson! Interesting journey with your cactus. What size Glimakra are you weaving on and why?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, Thanks so much!

      This is a 47″ (120cm) Glimakra Standard. I love your question! This is the size Glimakra I like best. I like that it is large enough to get “in” the loom for threading and tying up. This also provides a very comfortable weaving experience for my 5’2″ frame. I sit high on the bench and everything fits me. My 39″ (100cm) Ideal isn’t as easy to dress, and is a little more awkward to find a comfortable position for weaving. The times I have woven on a wider loom I found that my arms just don’t have the “wingspan” to make it a comfortable weaving experience with throwing and catching the shuttle. But overall, I enjoy weaving on any Glimakra.

      I guess I could call this my Goldilocks loom – not too big, not too small, but juuuuust right!

      Karen

  • Emily Lefler :) says:

    Congrats on your new sweet grandbaby!!

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