Wary Weaving

Sugar Pie has been waiting in the wings. Now, his nose wriggles up to the fell line. The day that Ari and Lucia went with me to visit my neighbor, their attention went to the cute furry thing in the rabbit hutch. At first, the bunny was wary, but before long, Sugar Pie was nibbling carrot slivers from Lucia’s hand.

Beginning the bunny in the large pictorial tapestry.
First pick of brown for the bunny’s nose.

Now, I’m the wary one. The rabbit will make or break this tapestry. I made notes when I wove the rabbit on a narrow sample warp several weeks ago. With careful review of my notes, I am inching forward, giving attention to value contrasts that shape and define the animal. The good news is that when I reach the end of Sugar Pie’s soft, furry back, I will be at the tapestry’s finish line.

Color changes are outlined on the tapestry cartoon.
Color changes are outlined on the cartoon with colored pencil.
Pictorial tapestry in progress. "Siblings"
Ari and Lucia, two of my grandchildren, in a moment of childhood wonder. This tapestry tries to capture that wonder.

In trying times, our senses are heightened. Will we flourish, or merely squeak by? In all the confusion, where is clarity? In the chaos, where do we find calm? The Lord extends an open hand. The open hand is an invitation. Come and taste. Trust. Find deep satisfaction that reaches the soul. Courageously inch up to the greatest challenge of your life.

May you step into a worthwhile challenge.

With you,
Karen

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Rosepath Unlimited

This seems unreal, like pulling an item right out of my imagination and touching it with my hands. It is exhilarating to watch a concept sketch develop into a tangible rag rug on the loom. Even though I enjoy designing at the loom, I relish the challenge of preparing a design in advance. In order to make a workable sketch I must study, think, and explore. It’s in this process that I realize the design options are limitless for rosepath rag rugs. This compels me to keep pressing in to learn and explore even more.

Beginning a new rag rug.
Hem, woven with narrow strips, follows the gold warp thread header. First wide border of the rug uses an assortment of green fabric strips.

The concept sketch is a scaled-down map of the rosepath rag rug. Each square on the gridded paper represents 6 centimeters. The sketch shows me which fabrics to use where, and specifies the placement of each design element—borders, plain weave, rosepath diamonds, dashes and dots of specific colors, etc. I add notes to the page as I weave, like specific treadling sequences and measurements, so that I can mirror them on the second half of the rug.

Concept sketch by the loom is my roadmap for weaving the details.
Concept sketch sits at the windowsill by my loom. I use it as a roadmap for weaving the details.
Weaving rag rugs with a temple. Always!!
Stretched-out temple is a necessity when I weave rag rugs. The wooden Glimåkra temple is my favorite because I can place it near the fell without risk of damaging the beater. This makes it possible to move the temple frequently, adding to weaving consistency.
Designing a rosepath rag rug.
Deep purple “dots” at the center of the rosepath diamonds serve as accents among these colors for a Texas hill country home.

Nothing can measure the greatness of the Lord. His greatness is truly limitless. Greatness is compelling. We step closer to search the unsearchable, and know the unknowable. God reveals himself, sketch after sketch, until we finally realize that we need all eternity to fully know him.

Rosepath rag rug - My favorite thing to weave!
Satisfaction of watching a concept sketch become a tangible rag rug.

May your concepts become tangible.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Charlotte says:

    Ooooooooh honey girl! I do adore your newest creation!!!! The red certainly “pops”!

  • Rachel Lohman says:

    Beautiful! Out of curiosity, how wide is your Glimakra? And how wide will your rug be when finished? And do you have two rugs on the loom and do you separate them with wooden slats? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rachel, Thank you!

      This loom is a 100cm (39″) Glimakra Ideal. The width of the warp in the reed is 90.3cm (35.5″). I expect to lose around 12% in width from take-up, so I’m planning for a finished width of about 79cm (31″). Yes, I do have two rugs on the loom right now, and will have at least one more before cutting off. And yes, I do separate them with warping slats. I put a minimum of 8″ between rugs so that I will have enough length to tie the ends into knots for finishing. Great questions!!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Yeah!! Ditto what Charlotte and Rachel said!!!

    You took the warp in a direction I did not realize. So much to learn.

    Thank you.
    Nannette

  • Linda Adamson says:

    Lovely rugs. What are the Blake bands keeping the cover on the loom bench in Place? More fabric strips or large elastic bands?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, The black bands are bungee cords, to my embarrassment. I put them on as a temporary “make-do” solution to see how I would like having this rug piece on my bench. And so they stay. I like the rug cover for my bench, but haven’t taken the time to make it more permanent.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Robin Chandler says:

    Do you have a weighted beater?
    I didn’t like the recommendation to drill holes and add weighted bars, so I put ankle weights on both ends of my beater for rugs, seems to help.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robin, I do not have a weighted beater. I tried adding some walking weights on both ends a few years ago, but I couldn’t tell that it made a difference for me. The overslung beater is such an advantage on these looms. I can lean back (like Jason Collingwood teaches) and let the momentum of the beater do a pretty good job. People in my house think I get a pretty powerful beat on my looms. 🙂

      Happy Rug Weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen says:

    It’s going to be AMAZING!

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Yarn Is My Paint

The best thing about weaving a pictorial tapestry? Having a cartoon to follow, with row-by-row definition. This Siblings tapestry has its joys and challenges. It is a joy to weave Ari’s hair, as if I get to comb his locks into place. At the same time, it’s a challenge to see up close what can only be recognized at a distance. Lucia’s shirt is a joy to weave because of the bright colors and distinct shading. But what a challenge to get the right value of turquoise for the leg of the rabbit hutch in relation to the value of orange in Lucia’s left shoulder.

Five different shades of butterflies for this hair.
Ari’s hair has butterflies in five different shades of brown. Sometimes while handling the yarn, it almost seems like real hair. And I reminisce about my sisters and I braiding each others’ hair way back when.
Color decisions in a pictorial tapestry.
Trying to find the right hue for the turquoise rabbit hutch. Choosing a darker hue helps make Lucia’s shoulder appear closer than the hutch leg.

The yarn is my paint. I make decisions and adjustments as I see how the colors interact. Under the warp, of course, is my cartoon with all the details—outline, hues, value changes. That cartoon is constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It’s the key to this whole process.

Under the warp is the detailed cartoon.
Right under the warp is the detailed cartoon. Hues are lightly colored in with color pencil, and value distinctions are penciled in.
Siblings tapestry in progress. Glimakra Standard loom.
Right at halfway on the Siblings tapestry.

In the joys and challenges we face, we make decisions based on what we see. Take a look below the surface. Look through the warp to see the cartoon. True love is in the details. Jesus instructs and guides through his love. Constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It makes perfect sense to follow the Maker’s cartoon.

Cartoon under the tapestry.
Cartoon held in place with a suspended warping slat and some plastic quilter’s clips.

May you grow in love.

With joy,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Beth says:

    I admire your patience…and very much so, your talent.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much for your thoughtful insights. You’re making me reflect on patience and talent. Patience doesn’t seem hard for me most of the time—at the loom, at least. I like the whole slow process, so I’m not in a hurry about it. Talent, on the other hand, seems elusive. I think patience and talent may be related. The more patient I am to practice what I know, the more talented I get. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    You are an artist nose to toes. To do the weaving that you do requires a working skill of the craft. No matter how much I tried, the skill to make music from the viola was not possible because the craft was beyond my physical ability. As much as the mind desires, without the craftsmanship foundation to describe creativity, nothing happens. Mathematics, so necessary with science and engineering and business. Color theory with the visual. Mechanical understanding of the instrument, viola or loom or CNC or human body.
    You are constantly sharing as you explore the craft of weaving. Your craftsmanship is honed to the best it can be. With that, the blessing of being an artist occurred. It is like running barefoot in a field as a child with no cares… Just the freedom of no boundaries.
    God has blessed you with being a textile artist and you have extended that to the world with your blog.
    Praise God. Thank you Karen.
    Nannette

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Biggest Challenge of Weaving a Pictorial Tapestry

Lucia grasps Ari’s plump wrist as they bravely inch a step closer to the rabbit hutch. For them, it’s a step of faith. Sugar Pie, the bunny, is wide-eyed at their approach. You’ll see the bunny later in the weaving of this pictorial tapestry.

Detail of a pictorial tapestry in progress.
Lucia’s tiny thumbnail is on top of Ari’s hand. Contrast in skin color is exaggerated to make the two arms distinct from each other.
Color gradation in a new large tapestry.
Five shades of orange/red butterflies are used to make the fabric of Lucia’s orange shirt.

It is a huge challenge to work on one element, like the hands, while not being able to see it in the context of the whole picture. The row-by-row weaving is an act of faith. I peer through the wrong end of the binoculars, and stand on a chair to take pictures. And I’m reassured about the outcome. It’s not blind faith. It’s a series of carefully reasoned and thought-out steps.

Gaining a higher perspective.
Gaining a higher perspective by standing on a chair.

We see only a small slice of life at a time. Where do my day-to-day threads fit in the context of the big picture of a lifetime? Grace is amazing! Grace is unearned good favor. Grace is a final tapestry that makes sense of all the wanderings. Grace is good favor extended by God to all who trust Jesus. So, with God’s grace we walk by faith, with carefully reasoned and thought-out steps. And we extend grace at every opportunity, holding the wrist of our fellow adventurer to walk by faith together.

"Siblings" tapestry.
Siblings tapestry, work in progress.

Grace is amazing.

May your life make a difference.

Grace,
Karen

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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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