Tapestry Butterflies and Video Tutorial

Wool butterflies are my crayons. I use them to color the spaces of my color-by-number cartoon that’s under the warp. I am using Borgs 6/2 Tuna wool and Borgs 6/1 Fårö wool in this tapestry, combining strands of various colors to get just the right hue, value, and intensity. Getting that right is the hard part. Winding butterflies is the easy part. Especially if you learned it from Joanne Hall, as I did.

Pictorial tapestry beginning.
Start of new tapestry. Butterflies are composed of specific colors to achieve desired results for contrast, shading, and depth.

It is essential to know how to make a good butterfly when you want to weave a tapestry on a big floor loom like this. A good butterfly is compact enough to easily pass through warp ends. And secure enough to stay intact through all those passes. It also needs to have a tail that is simple to extend. A good butterfly never ends up in a knot or a jumble of threads, but instead, gives your hands pure delight as it flows through your fingers to color your tapestry.

Colorful tapestry butterflies.
Detail of colorful tapestry butterflies.
New butterfly is ready to fly in.
New butterfly is ready to find its place in the mix.

This video shows how I make my tapestry butterflies.

May your days be colored with delight.

From the crayon box,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful colors! 🙂 Nice, simple video. 🙂

  • Charlotte says:

    Good morning, dearest! What a lovely way to start my day…a fresh cup of coffee and your sweet video. I am so thankful that we were able to take Joanne’s workshop. I finally finished my sample and realize how much I like the movement in the cloth. There isn’t a cartoon in mind, for me. But, I hope one day to dream up something and put it on the floor loom.

    Thank you for blessing me with your faithful love and kindness…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, I, too, am grateful for that pictorial tapestry workshop! Movement in the cloth is a good way to describe it. It’s such a satisfying way to do tapestry.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Well, isn’t that slick?! Thanks to you and Joanne for sharing this trick!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It is slick! Before I learned this simple method, my butterflies were nothing but trouble, coming undone and ending up in knots. Something so simple can make a huge difference.

      Have a great day!
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Thank you for the video on butterflies, Karen! I have tried them from a book illustration and was thoroughly disappointed. They were loose and sloppy so I bought tapestry bobbins instead.
    I am saving this video for a future planned project.

    May you have a blessed day. I am looking forward to seeing what you create with with these butterflies.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s nice to have butterflies that hold together. I had trouble with mine, too, before learning this method.

      This tapestry will give me many hours of enjoyment! I’ll show it little by little.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Butterflies were used on a cardboard tapestry loom for a 1973 high school art project. The slick wrapping was not taught.

    It would appear there is more to learn, even I areas I was confident..

    Don’t know about West Texas, but after a humid, rainy and sunless Monday..Tuesday is dry and cloudless. Beautiful day! New skill! God is in the heavens today.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, You have a great memory. It’s sweet that you remember these details from a high school art project.

      In this part of Texas (not quite considered West Texas), sunshine and scattered clouds have been the norm. Every day is a good day!

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Allison Grove says:

    Thanks for this video. I’ve struggled with using butterflies, but now realize I haven’t been winding the tail end tight enough and too few times. Allison

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Process Review: Twelve Placemats

Twelve placemats just came off the loom! Now, for the finishing work. Measuring, examining, repairing, washing and drying, and hemming. Soon they will be ready to dress the table for a home-cooked meal. Mmmm… The focus is on food and fellowship. The placemats are there to catch the drips and crumbs. And then, washed and made ready for the next meal.

8/2 cotton for placemats.

Striped warp is beamed.

Tied on and ready to weave.

Color and Weave placemats.

Color and weave produces different patterns.

Weaving in the afternoon shadows.

Weaving placemats in a sunny corner.

Variety of stripes with color and weave placemats.

Sisters in the color family!

Color gradation and color and weave.

Interesting shadows at the loom.

Christmas. While our focus is on food and fellowship, a beautiful mystery plays out right in front of us. A baby named Jesus entered the world. Christmas celebrates this. Jesus came to take away our offenses, catching our drips and crumbs. The mystery of God is glorious. This is the mystery: Jesus takes our stains, and we who trust in him come out washed and made ready for glory. This is good news, for which a weary world rejoices!

Weaving at night by the fire, Christmas lights reflected.

Plain weave placemats in color and weave.

The End!

Cutting off! Twelve 8/2 cotton placemats.

May your table be dressed for good times.

Have a glorious Christmas,
Karen

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Tried and True: Color Gradation

When I decided to use up some of the quills that have collected, I stumbled on one of my favorite techniques—color gradation. The weft colors change gradually instead of making distinct weft stripes. Remember the placemats on the little countermarch loom? I am weaving the last few.

Color gradation on plain weave with color and weave effects.

Using up thread left on quills for some color gradation play.

Doubled weft gives opportunity for easy color gradation.

Color and weave effects on plain weave. 8/2 cotton weft is doubled.

The quills on a double-bobbin shuttle don’t always empty at exactly the same time. The quill that has thread remaining on it goes in a box for later use. Those quills in the box are what I’m using here. For this placemat I’m letting gradient color changes happen in varying increments, according to the amount of thread left on the quill. I have five shades of 8/2 cotton, ranging from coral pink to pumpkin.

Colors for gradient weaving.

Color “sisters” play well together.

This is the perfect setup for some subtle color gradation: Five closely-related hues, a double-bobbin shuttle, and a supply of leftover quills. For best effect, I arrange the colors in order, from light to dark, or dark to light.

Color Gradation

  • Weave a section with two quills of color A (the lightest color)
  • Weave the next section with one quill of color A and one quill of color B (one shade darker than color A)
  • Weave the next section with two quills of color B
  • Weave the next section with one quill of color B and one quill of color C (one shade darker than color B)

And so on…

What could be simpler?

Color gradation.

Pumpkin color adds a pleasing subtle accent to the corals and reds in the cloth.

May you make something beautiful with the little bits that you have.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Ruth Terry says:

    Such a lovely way to play with color. I often transition from one color to another without a hard line by weaving 1 pick with new color, 4 picks with old color, 2 picks with new color, 3 picks with old color, 3 picks with new color, 2 picks with old color, 4 picks with new color, 1 pick with old color and transition complete. Will try your double bobbin change next time I am ready to play with colors. Blessings during this advent season, Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Thanks for sharing another way to transition the colors. That’s a great way to achieve a lovely gradient.

      It would be fun to do a sample piece with various ways to do color gradations. Or, that would be an interesting study group project.

      Advent blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    We turned on the Spurs game the other night and I took one look at the other team’s uniform and said “gradient!” Not something you often see in a basketball uniform, lol.

    Love the placemat!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, That’s too funny! Who else is even going to notice such things? …unless we call it the popular name-“ombré,” meaning shaded in French.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Vivian says:

    I realized on a recent project the subtle transition between two light colours, in different tones added depth. I decided to shake up the mix and make the transitions much narrower in the next project and didn’t have as near an interesting effect. It needed large areas each for contrast.
    I love your pattern too

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Heart of a Tiny Tapestry

Though small, this pocket-sized tapestry took a few months to complete. A car ride here, a coffee shop there, a move across town, and an imminent move across the state—this tiny tapestry has been in the background through it all.

Car-ride weaving.

Car-ride weaving.

Coffee-shop weaving.

Coffee-shop weaving.

The weft tails are neatly trimmed, but the back is completely exposed. I’m not weaving the tails in this time, nor covering them with a fabric backing. Just hold the tiny tapestry in your hand and feel it. Remember that all the pleasant color distinctions and pick-and-pick samples on the front side have a back side, too. True, the back doesn’t make as much sense. However, I want my friend who is receiving this to see and touch the heart of the weaving.

Finishing ends of small tapestry.

Using a needle to pull the warp ends back through the warp thread header. After pulling through, the warp ends are trimmed close to the surface. The weft tails are also trimmed to about 1/2″.

Steaming the tiny tapestry. 12/6 cotton warp pulls together nicely as the back of the tapestry is steamed.

Exposed back of the tiny tapestry weaving reveals trimmed weft tails.

Exposed back of the tapestry reveals trimmed weft tails.

Tiny tapestry. Visual and tactile satisfaction.

Visual and tactile satisfaction.

This is a picture of grace. Look at the heart of the matter. We so often rely on the rules. Break a rule, and you’re condemned. But Jesus is interested in the heart. A pure heart doesn’t stand condemned. This is why the gift of his forgiveness is so wonderful. God knows the exposed messy side of our tapestry. Yet, his grace sees us as perfectly covered by Christ Jesus himself.

May your hands keep making.

Simply yours,
Karen

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Forty-Four New Butterflies

The tapestry is now at forty centimeters, and the lizard is slowly crawling his way around the breast beam. I treat every ten centimeters as a milestone. It’s a good time to examine the work and make additional butterflies. I see that I need forty-four new butterflies to make it through the next ten centimeters! No two butterflies are identical. I vary the combination of yarns for each color set. These subtle color and textural variations add interest and depth to the piece.

Making butterflies for tapestry.

Various wool yarns, light green and white. I combine strands to make a bundle that is approximately equivalent in size to four strands of 6/2 Tuna wool.

Wool butterflies for tapestry of a lizard.

Green and white wool butterflies are each a little bit different.

Butterflies for weaving a tapestry.

Butterflies hang in order on a length of seine twine within easy reach of weaving.

Lizard tapestry in progress.

Color blending and color gradation is possible through the careful selection of prepared butterflies for each section.

Me. It’s all about me. That’s exactly what the tempter wants me to think. Everything should revolve around me. Wait a minute. There’s a tapestry being woven that is much bigger than me. I may be a single wool butterfly. I’m unique. And my colors and textures contribute to the tapestry in important ways. But I mustn’t forget the Grand Weaver. He carefully and deliberately wound these strands of yarn over his loving fingers to create the color he wanted to see in his tapestry. It’s not about me. It’s about the One who holds me in his hands.

May your unique colors contribute to the tapestry.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

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