Tried and True: Designing with Fibonacci

Before starting, I sketched out several versions of the finished blanket, showing different sizes and arrangements of the rectangle blocks. My favorite version is one with a random look. This twelve-shaft double weave has three blocks. Block 1 is a solid color across the warp. Block 2 has a narrow, vertical contrasting rectangle. Block 3 has a wide, horizontal contrasting rectangle. The warp threading determines the width of the rectangles. But the height of the rectangles is determined by the treadling pattern. I decided to use a Fibonacci sequence of numbers in random order to guide my treadling options as I weave.

Double weave blanket.
Rectangles vary in size.

Low-Tech Random Fibonacci Sequence

1 Determine the desired range of the Fibonacci sequence. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

2 Determine the number of repeat options for each block (one repeat is 4 picks per double-weave layer).

  • Block 1, solid color – 2 repeats every time
  • Block 2, narrow rectangle – 2, 3, 5, 8, or 13 repeats
  • Block 3, wide rectangle – 1, 2, 3, or 5 repeats

3 Write each number of the sequence on individual squares of paper. Make three sets of these numbers. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

4 Fold each paper square in half and place in a container at the loom. Mix thoroughly.

Designing with random Fibonacci numbers. Low tech!
Fibonacci numbers are ready for eyes-closed random selection.

5 Randomly select a paper square to reveal the number of repeats for the next narrow or wide rectangle block.

Fibonacci numbers as design tool.
Assignment for the next rectangle block – three repeats. The lines indicate that this number can be used for Block 2 (narrow, vertical) or Block 3 (wide, horizontal).

For this blanket I have a woven hem and border, and then two repeats of Block 1 (solid color) between alternating Block 2 (narrow) and Block 3 (wide) rectangles of varying heights.

Double weave wool blanket.
Back side has reverse colors.
Double weave Tuna wool blanket.
Block 1 (solid blue across) stays a consistent size between the white rectangles.

Surprise is built in which makes it hard to leave the loom. “Just one more block,” I tell myself…

Double weave blanket. Fibonacci for design.
View of the cloth beam reveals the variety of sizes of rectangles. Eager to see it off the loom!

May you be greeted by random (happy) surprises.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

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Weaving Deadline

I had a deadline for weaving these towels. Eight days. I finished dressing the loom at our Texas hill country home on Monday afternoon, and wove in long and short increments throughout the week. Mostly short increments. After all, I had little grandchildren to enjoy at the same time. And sweet interactions with my daughter and her husband. I finished weaving the four towels on Saturday evening, and cut them off on Sunday morning, just in time to bring them back with me to Houston to do the finishing work.

Cloth beam fills up with double weave towels.

Cloth beam fills up with double weave towels.

Four double weave towels. Time for cutting off!

Four towels woven. Time for cutting off!

Cloth puddle of double weave towels. Cutting off!

Cloth puddle.

Double weave towels just off the loom.

Aqua is the main color on the front of the towels. The reverse side has Poppy as the main color.

Freshly woven towels, ready for finishing work.

Ready for finishing. This week I will be mending errors, wet finishing, hemming, and sewing on labels.

I was highly motivated. I knew this may be my only chance to finish these towels for Melody before she and her precious family move to Chile in the near future. Now, she will be able to take a woven piece of my love with her. Know your roots. Where are you rooted? When your life takes root in good soil it will grow. Rooted in love, your life will blossom to bless others. And those are roots you can plant anywhere in the world.

May you bloom where you are planted.

With love,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Very Beautiful, the towels and your advice. At times, I wonder, “Why am I doing this project?”, especially when I have been challenged with warping or broken threads…but when it comes off the loom and you think of the person you will share it with, love IS the answer! The Greatest of These is Love!

  • Beth Mullins says:

    They’re so pretty and the colors perfect for Chile! Melody is very lucky. You are very kind. Can’t wait to see them finished.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I had Chile in mind when I selected these colors. One of the towels will stay with me, so I’ll have a Chile towel in my home that will remind me of Melody. I’m excited to see how they are after wet finishing.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Laine says:

    More information on mending errors please.
    As a beginner I have many 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laine, Thank you for asking! Beginners aren’t the only ones with errors. I make my fair share of errors, too. Haha! I have quite a few skipped threads and floats to take care of on these towels.

      Here’s a link to a previous post to get you started: What to Do About Weaving Errors

      I hope that helps!
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    The towels are beautiful. What technique are you using? Is it double weave? You weave so many beautiful projects and you have such nice messages.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angela, That’s very kind of you to say such sweet things.

      These cottolin towels are woven in double weave. After washing they should be soft and absorbent.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Quickly becoming a decade ago I set up my almost forgotten 4 harness loom on the 3 season porch to provide something to occupy my time during the never ending treatment of DCIS. The result was a stack of small rag rugs the size used in front of a kitchen sink. They were gifted to sibs and nieces and nephews Christmas 2010.

    Faded from use but with years of wear left. The rugs are used in bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, kitchens and the outside stoop of my daughters house. I am amazed at how the work of my hands is a part of the lives of so many people I love.

    May the people you love and those you do not know enjoy the work of your hands.

    Nannette

  • Lyna says:

    I was wondering…what do you do with your thrums/loom waste? The colors of this warp are so luscious it would be a shame to throw away any of it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lyna, You are asking someone who just had to downsize from a full-size house to a small transition apartment. After saving my thrums for a few years and not finding a use for most of the beautiful threads, I decided to discard them when the weaving is finished. With the exception of linen. I do have a project in mind for all my linen thrums.

      I use threads from the thrums to do my repair finishing work. I have used thrums for choke ties before, but I have enough re-usable choke ties that I prefer. I have used thrums tied into longer pieces to wrap gifts and packages.

      I don’t want to store things anymore. It doesn’t seem like a waste to me because I got the best part of all the beautiful threads in my handwoven towels.

      How would you use the thrums?

      All the best,
      Karen

      • Lyna says:

        I can see the point in tossing when finished, I come from an old German farmer background and must resist the “box of string too short to use,” black-hole-of-clutter tendency. I was wondering if thrums, sorted by fiber type, would make a good shaggy rug. What do you have planned for your linen?
        “What do you do with thrums?”could be a good question to ask your Facebook friends to discuss, collect and evaluate ideas for a future post. Just an idea for your oh-so-abundant (not!) free time!
        Thanks for posting even when life get busy! I especially appreciate your reflections on weaving as a metaphor for walking with God.
        Bless!

        • Karen says:

          Lyna, I’m a little too familiar with the old German farmer background. If you only knew… Haha! That’s in my heritage, which may be why I have to fight the tendency to think “someday I could use this for something…” Thrums could probably be used for some rya weaving. Until I have that planned I’m not keeping my thrums. (Don’t tell my mother.) 🙂

          I’d rather be weaving than checking FB, so I don’t do much of that.

          It’s so good to have you along on this journey!
          Karen

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Cloth Beam Matters

Does it matter what happens at the cloth beam? Why not let the woven fabric go around the beam as is and forget about it? You have worked diligently at every stage to ensure an even warp. Now, preparing the cloth beam for cloth will ensure the warp remains even.

Warping slats are placed on the cloth beam.

Warping slats cover the cords and knots on the cloth beam so the handwoven fabric has a flat surface to lay against.

Warping slat over the tie-on bar prevents the tie-on threads from putting bulges in the fabric. Bulges can distort the fabric and put uneven tension on warp ends.

Warping slats around the cloth beam for a smooth start.

When the warping slats have covered one full revolution of the cloth beam, no more slats are needed. The twill pre-measured tape on the floor gives a clue to the extended length of this table runner on the loom.

The cloth beam holds obstacles that threaten the evenness of your warp. Any raised surface on the beam, like beam cords and tie-on knots, will distort the warp tension as the woven fabric wraps around it. Warping slats solve the problem. I lay in the slats around the beam, one by one, as I advance the warp. This forms a flat surface around which my freshly-woven fabric can hug as the cloth beam turns.

M's and O's long table runner. Linen weft.

Long M’s and O’s table runner on the loom. The sample piece and towel that preceded the table runner have already reached the cloth beam.

Fear makes obstacles for our path that disturb our peace and threaten our well-being. Trust in the Lord. Trust pushes fear aside. The day you are afraid–the moment you are afraid–put your trust in God. Know that the Lord is for you. Your trust in Him forms a firm layer to build your life on. Like the warping slats that are in place for your handwoven cloth, your trust in God is a foundation on which to roll the fabric of your life.

May you walk without fear.

Peace,
Karen

6 Comments

  • ellen santana says:

    whoa, never thought of that. i have been using paper on the warp beam and when i tried the slats they fell out of place when i loosened the warp at the end of a session. do you keep it taut always?es

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, I do keep the warp under tension. I don’t see a need to completely loosen the warp at the end of a session. If I know I may not get back to it for a few days, I may loosen the warp a little, but there is always adequate tension on the warp for slats to stay in place. I have also left a warp under tight tension for days or weeks, and have never noticed an adverse effect.

      Also, when winding the warp, unless it is linen, I only put in slats every fourth round. So that means if some slats slip, it’s only a few on the outer layer.

      (I love my warping slats. I have found various uses for them, besides how they are “supposed” to be used.)

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Hi Karen,
    A couple of questions:
    Do you add slats on the cloth beam as your fabric is woven or just on the initial “round” to cover knots and such?
    Did your husband make your slats and what is the thickness of the slats you use?
    I love your sharing of knowledge! So many “little” things that make weaving more of a joy.
    Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Great questions!
      I add the slats just on the initial round. After that, the fabric just rolls onto itself.
      My husband did make some of my slats, but most of my slats were purchased from a Glimakra dealer. I think the slats are about 1/8″ thick.

      Yes, it is the little things that make a difference in the enjoyment and the quality of weaving.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda Sloan says:

    What a wonderful message. Love your website.

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Quiet Friday: Checkered Rug

I have another rag rug warp on my Baby loom (Glimåkra 100cm Ideal), playing with the magic of double binding again, this time with four shafts and four treadles. Ten yards / nine meters of warp. I planned an additional twelve inches / 30.5cm between rugs for cutting off and tying back on, so I can cut each rug off as it is finished. Here is the first rug.

Winding warp for another rag rug.

Small warping reel is used to measure the ten yards / nine meters of 12/6 cotton rug warp.

Beaming the warp under tension, using warping trapeze and weights.

Warp chains are undone and lengthened out over the warping trapeze. Several pounds of walking weights hold the bouts under constant even tension for beaming the warp.

Tying on.

All tied on. Ready to weave.

Designing a rag rug.

Design concept is created; and fabric colors are chosen.

Double binding rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Progress.

Using a temple for weaving rag rugs.

Temple is always in place when I am weaving a rug. I fitted two different temple parts together to get this warp width. Notice the lengthwise gaps between the temple parts…but not a problem.

Rag rug on the loom. Nearing completion.

Around the breast beam, and over the knee beam, to wrap around the cloth beam. Warping slats are placed between the cloth beam and the rug the first time around to make a smooth surface for the woven rug-cloth.

Rag rug on the loom. Woven hem.

Hem is completed with 12 picks of rug warp. Three inches of scrap fabric header comes next, and then the rug is ready to be cut from the loom.

Hand-hemming rag rug.

Warp ends have been knotted and trimmed; and hem folded under and pressed. Now, hemming with a needle and rug warp, the last step is almost complete. The only thing left is to sew on my label.

Checkered rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Notice the subtle changes in color and depth of color where the warp colors change–purposely not aligned with the block changes.

Home sweet home. That's what rag rugs are for.

Home sweet home. A patterned rag rug makes a house feel like home.

May you finish what you started.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Hi Karen. A beautiful rug! Do you have a suggestion for a good source for rag rug patterns and drafts? I really like your designs. Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Most of my favorite books with rag rug patterns and drafts are not in English. But weaving drafts work in any language, and the pictures can inspire many different ideas.
      Here are some of the rag rug books that I refer to often for design ideas:
      Alla Tidors Trasmattor
      Älskade Trasmattor
      Trasor och Tekniker: 35 nya mattor (I did find this one in English from a used book seller – pricey$$$ – Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs)

      I’m always on the lookout for Swedish weaving books, which sometimes have rag rug drafts in them.
      The books I mentioned happen to be carried by Vavstuga.com. (Not affiliated; just offering a source.)

      The Big Book of Weaving and Happy Weaving also have one or two good rag rug drafts for starters.

      Hope that helps!
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Ooh, pretty! It looks like blue skies and fresh green meadow grass, absolutely lovely.

  • linda says:

    note: any pattern can be used for a rag rug even colonial overshot, summer winter, ….as long as the floats are not too long. just plan on using a plain weave between shots of pattern and make the floats over 2 or 3 warp threads. Of course this means you’ll need a 4 harness loom if your using a floor loom. another note: If you weight the beater bar with a metal rod screwed to the beater bar not as much muscle is needed to beat the weft into place. So get out that draft paper and design. linda

  • linda says:

    I love this sight it keeps me on my toes. I couldn’t remember what bouble binding was; I know it as double weave. The double binding moniker must be Swedish…Beckey again. The last three fridays when I’ve been by the studio/school it’s been closed. when i do see her I’ll say hi for you. Love Peace and Joy (LPJ), linda

  • […] the way, the first rug from this warp (Quiet Friday: Checkered Rug) is now in my […]

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