Tame the Wool

I am in Germany this week, but before I left home I started the blue wool blanket. Twelve shafts and twelve treadles is challenge enough. Double weave with a sett of 5 EPC (12 EPI) per layer in 6/2 Tuna wool adds to the challenge. This wool stubbornly clings to itself in this sett. I don’t care to fight defiant wool to get a clean shed on every treadle! I could re-sley to a coarser sett. But I want to keep the sett as is, as written for this project in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. Cowboy Magic to the rescue! I discovered this horse mane detangler when I wove a mohair throw a few years ago. It rinses out nicely in the wet finishing. It worked magic for me at that time. Now, with a small amount of slick detangler on my fingers I can tame these blue wool fibers. Voila! No more fighting to get a clean shed.

Cowboy Magic to the rescue to tame wool yarn double weave.
Twelve treadles means clearing and adjusting the shed twelve times just to get started. Before Cowboy Magic, I had to run my hands through the shed to clear it each time. That’s asking for trouble–and skipped threads all over the bottom layer.

Now I have something to look forward to when I get home.

Blue wool double weave blanket on 12 shafts.
Twelve shafts gives me three blocks in this double weave small blanket. I think it will be a very pretty addition to use in our little Casita Travel Trailer on cool evenings.

May you eliminate unnecessary fighting.

Weave Happy,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Beautiful! Cowboy Magic is a great solution. Hope you’re having a grand time on your trip!

  • ellen says:

    it is a great idea, but i don’t understand how you use it. you put it on your hands and wipe it on the warp? while you are warping or after? do you have to wait a while before you can use it? ellen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, So far, I have been putting it on my hands and wiping it on the warp behind the reed and in front of the heddles. I re-apply each time I advance the warp. I’m not very far yet, so as I progress, I may try applying it to the warp at the back of the loom and see if that works just as well. I haven’t been waiting. I just apply it and weave.

      I’ll let you know if I change my methods as I go.

      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Wishing you a wonderful journey in Germany. Who would have thought the detangler I use on Reno, RD and Sitka would work at the loom? Love these cross overs from one aspect of my life to another weaving it all together. My one sure common thread is Christ!

  • Nannette says:

    Hope you had a wonderful and safe Easter.

    Just curious… Would any of the hair conditioners work?

    Love the color combination

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I have wondered the same thing–whether other hair conditioners or detanglers would work. I think they would, but I went with something I had heard from other weavers. I thought about trying a detangler for children’s hair, as it would probably be mild.

      Karen

  • Joan says:

    Do you think that there would be less stickiness if one used 6/1 Fårö yarn rather than the 6/2 Tuna?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joan, I think the sett makes the most difference. At this sett, 6/1 Fårö would probably give no problems, but the fabric would be a looser weave. At a denser sett, I think the Fårö would have the same stickiness issues. But it would be worth an experiment… Maybe next time? I do love that Fårö wool!

      Karen

  • […] I made an embarrassing blunder. No wonder this Tuna wool resists all my efforts. It’s the wrong yarn! Tuna is 6/2 wool—twice as thick as the 6/1 wool I should be using. Cowboy Magic won’t solve this sticky problem. (I thought it would, as I expressed in this post: Tame the Wool.) […]

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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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Thankfully No Cartoon

My small tapestry isn’t following a cartoon. This time, I am making it up as I go. It’s an exercise in spontaneity, which is good for someone who is most comfortable when she knows exactly what comes next.

I know enough of the fundamentals of tapestry weaving that I can “wing it.” It also helps that I have enough past mistakes in my experience to have learned a few things. Think of this improvisation as another dimension of practice. A challenge that turns into a learning experience. I have much to learn, so I’m thankful for the experience.

Small frame-loom tapestry. Travel weaving!

Small frame-loom tapestry. Fåro wool weft, 12/6 cotton warp.

Sometimes life’s turns give us some weaving to do without a comfortable cartoon to follow. We make it up as we go. An exercise in spontaneity? Yes. Even in this, though, we see the improvised design emerge. Give thanks. The Grand Weaver who taught you how to get this far has your learning experience in mind when He brings you to another challenge. Knowing we have much to learn, let’s give Him thanks!

May you learn enough to enjoy “winging it.”

Happy Thanks-Giving,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Woven Radiance

The first of my Christmas promise gifts is now complete. This large throw in vivid colors fills the request from my daughter-in-law Marie. How fitting for a mother of three exuberant little boys to wrap up on the couch in her own fabric hug of exuberant color! This colorful cotton double weave throw is Woven Radiance.

Radiance. Large cotton doubleweave throw. Karen Isenhower

Radiance. Large cotton throw with radiant blocks of color. The warp for the next Christmas promise gift is wound and waiting on the warp beam.

Double weave, with eight shafts and eight treadles, and 2,064 ends, is a challenge. But results like this make all the effort worthwhile. My heart sings as I see these brilliant threads intersect to make sensational cloth! I am filled with amazement and gratitude that I’ve been given the opportunity to play with colorful threads on a weaving loom.

I hope you enjoy the process photos in this little slideshow video I created for you.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

26 Comments

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Quiet Friday: Lucia Portrait Tapestry

A little here, a little there, and eventually I finish another small tapestry. This little woven portrait of my granddaughter Lucia was a huge challenge. I knew that from the beginning. In fact, I had about three beginnings with this intimidating project. My aim is not to make a masterpiece, but to keep making. And making, and making. Every time I go beyond what I think I can do, I learn more.

This Lucia Portrait Tapestry is best viewed from a distance. Up close, the details seem abrupt and harsh. But when I look at her from across the room, I see the picture of a child’s face.

I trimmed the weft tails on the back, steamed the piece, and made a half Damascus edging. The edging and the weft tails near the sides are stitched down. The hems are turned under and stitched. I plan to mount this on a linen-covered square, and hang the finished piece where it can be easily viewed from a few steps back.

Ending a small frame loom tapestry.

Small tapestry ends with a short hem, warp thread header, and a scrap header. I overestimated how far I could comfortably weave. This is a less-than-optimal distance from the end of the warp for weaving.

Trimming weft tails on the back of the little tapestry.

Most of my tapestry weaving is done in the evenings as part of my winding-down routine. In this session the back of the tapestry gets a haircut.

Finishing a small tapestry. Cute slideshow video.

Straggler weft tails are reigned in with a little sewing thread.

Small tapestry portrait. Slideshow video of the process!

Finished Lucia Portrait Tapestry is 4 1/4″ x 4 7/8″.

Enjoy this slideshow video. The ending is sure to make you smile!

May you keep making.

Love,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    This tapestry is AWESOME, Karen! A forever keepsake, but also a reminder of a special little one who holds a special place in your heart. With all you do and share, you still found time to do this artwork. God bless you, your granddaughter and your family! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Joyce, The time comes in snippets, but those snippets add up. Children grow up fast, so it will be nice to have a tapestry snapshot of this young age.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Well said, Joyce!
    Karen, This is just lovely! Such a special piece. Yes, the ending made me smile.

  • Karen Simpson says:

    So sweet! Such a small piece, but the amount of work amazing..I hope you might do maybe a trilogy? As she is growing…beautiful memento for her to keep.
    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I like the idea of a trilogy. That gives me another thought – maybe I should start on a small portrait of one of my other six grandchildren…

      Thank you for recognizing the amount of work that went into this small piece.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • This slide show was just what I needed on a dreary rainy morning! Such a lovely small piece. I am so impressed with your color gradation/detail. May I ask what yarns you use for these small weavings? Many thanks! And yes the ending is so sweet!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pamela, I’m happy the slide show had an uplifting effect for you!

      I’m able to get some of the color gradation because I use three strands of Fårö wool. Using three strands enables me to make subtle changes in the color. The sett is 10 epi.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Little Lucia in tapestry is a wonderful moment in time, Karen. You did a fantastic job!

  • Libertyquilts@yahoo.com says:

    Oh Karen, she is so beautiful! You were so brave to take on such a difficult piece!! Love it and her
    Libby

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Great interpretation of the photo. It looks like she is watching you from every angle!
    And yes, I believe you should do a tapestry of each of the other grandchildren. Otherwise, what will they think?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, Yes, surprisingly, her eyes do follow you across the room. I will give that some serious thought – each of the grandchildren…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • The precision of decision needed with each color choice when weaving tapestry explains how Penolope was able to ward off suitors while Odysseus was away. What non weaving person would voice an opinion deciding if one or two strands of a pink was needed for the ear lobe’s center, more than once?

    It is a beautiful jewel with Mona Lisa eyes.

    Nannette

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