Quiet Friday: Square Dots

It was six weeks ago that I began winding the warp for these towels. The thread for my next Glimåkra Standard project is due to arrive tomorrow. Just like I like it—revolving door weaving. I have no doubt that this set of towels will become family favorites. They are a feast for the eyes, and a tactile delight for the hands. Seeing the color on the reverse side takes my breath away. This whole experience has been the weaving satisfaction that I’ve come to cherish!

"Square Dot" towels. Satin dräll. Karen Isenhower

Square Dot towels. Ten shafts, ten treadles. Two block five-shaft satin dräll. 8/2 cotton warp. Weft is 8/2 cotton and 22/2 cottolin, and 16/2 linen for the white stripes on the red towel.

I did face difficulties near the end of the warp. The shed started deteriorating with some of the shafts, but I was determined to finish off the last towel to its full length. That meant coaxing the low profile shuttle through for a few inches. Consequently, I did have more errant floats to repair than usual. But, isn’t it wonderful that we can fix just about anything in this weaving adventure?

Fixing floats on a towel that was at the end of the warp.

End of warp. What I didn’t see at the loom is that one shaft in particular was not behaving. There were at least eight floats along that one warp end. After repairs and washing and pressing, the errors are barely noticeable.

I made a warp from thread on leftover quills to weave up some hanging tabs on my band loom for three of the towels. And I found a linen piece in my “band stash” that is perfect for the red and white towel.

Enjoy the slideshow that I made for you with details of the process.

May you weave some family favorites.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Oh, these are lovely! Both sides!

  • Karen, these are beautiful! Your color choices are wonderful.

    Does your pattern have a balanced tie-up? I’m ready to try a ten shaft pattern on my ten shaft counterbalance loom, but it would have to be a balanced tie-up in order for me to use the dräll pulleys. Is the pattern readily available? Where would I look?

    I enjoy reading your blog posts.
    Jenny B

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, Thank you! Managing color choices is one of the things I enjoy most in my weaving space, so I really appreciate your compliment.

      You can find this draft in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p.172 (mine is “Sample 8”).

      Joanne Hall tells me that it is possible to tie up the two block satin with a counterbalance tie-up. The tie-up on countermarch is a little easier than a counterbalance tie-up, but she has seen weavers able to weave this very fast on a counterbalance loom.

      I’ll be interested in hearing if you try it.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • I have the book. I’m excited to give this pattern a try. It has so many possibilities. My loom has been empty for over a month due to lack of inspiration and other life problems getting in the way. Hopefully I can get something on Julie in a few days.

        Hopefully you won’t mind if some of mine end up similar to yours. I think it was the colors that attracted me to the weave first, and then seeing the reverse side made me love them even more.

        Thanks for steering me to the pattern.

        Jenny B

        • Karen says:

          Hi Jenny, I would be thrilled to pieces and honored if you chose to weave something similar to mine! Oh I do hope your inspiration at the loom returns quickly, and that some of the weight you carry is lifted.

          The reverse side is amazing!

          In case it helps, here are the colors I used: (All Bockens)

          Warp – 8/2 cotton #471 lt red (it’s coral to me)
          Weft –
          1. 8/2 cotton #557 slate with band of 22/2 cottolin #2003 silver
          2. 8/2 cotton #470 beige with band of 22/2 cottolin #2004 gray
          3. cottolin #2080 red with band of 16/2 linen #0005 golden bleached
          4. cottolin #2017 rust with band of 8/2 cotton #470 beige (This one has the least contrast, and it is also my favorite.)

          Very happy weaving to you,
          Karen

  • Kay Larson says:

    They are just lovely! I look forward to seeing your next project.
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, It won’t be long before you see my next project! I’m pretty excited about it…as always. 🙂
      Thanks so much for your kind words!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    That was a great slide show. And yes, the two block satin is such a beautiful weave. And your colors are so nice. Thanks for taking the time to share what you are weaving.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I appreciate your thoughtful words. That means so much to me! I’m accumulating a long list of things that I want to do more of, and this two block satin weave is one of them.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Oh Karen, I love these, my favorite color! Thanks for the slide show, it’s fun to see your whole process!!

  • Ruth says:

    Such beautiful work AGAIN! You are an inspiration and offer such an open and positive approach to fixing weaving issues. I recently finished an M’s and O’s table cloth with many floats over the last couple of inches of weaving due to a decreasing shed. Like you I was determined to have the whole length of that cloth. I thought I’d fixed all the floats but keep finding them as I use the cloth. Enjoy your new favorites.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Oh I have floats in cloth that I use, too. They do like to hide when we have that needle out. Haha! But really, it’s a mark of distinction because it proves our fabric is handmade.

      Your kind words are a sweet encouragement to me. Thank you so much!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Angela W says:

    I’m new to weaving and discovered your blog. It has been very helpful. Thank you for all the good information especially your glossary. But what I have found most wonderful are the words of hope and encouragement to trust in our Lord. I really needed that right now. Blessings to you, Karen.

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Bold Color and Weave

Remember the placemats I started on my Texas hill country loom in Colors on Trial? The pattern in the fabric looks nice and pretty. But it doesn’t display the striking color-and-weave effect that I expected. The problem is not the threading, nor the colors.

Color and weave using single weft instead of doubled weft.

Nice and pretty, but lacking the boldness of the planned color-and-weave effect.

Aha! I overlooked an important detail on the treadling draft—the weft is supposed to be doubled. That changes everything! Since there is very little excess warp for this project I need to back up and start over.

Backing up the weaving. Clipping through weft threads. Yikes!

Backing up. After loosening warp tension, I carefully clip the weft threads down the center of the warp. I go at a snail’s pace to avoid accidentally snipping any warp ends.

Backing up. Weft removal, one pick at a time.

Removal, one pick at a time. I press the treadles in reverse order to pull out each row of weft threads.

Weft has been removed. Now ready to start over!

Back to the start. Sufficient weft has been removed. Now I am ready to start over.

I am losing the nice and pretty fabric. But it is being replaced with something better—fabric with a bold color-and-weave effect.

Two double-bobbin shuttles with color and weave.

This is the color-and-weave effect I was looking for! Two double-bobbin shuttles carry the weft threads.

Color and weave for placemats.

First placemat is a “Joseph’s coat” combination of colors. Bold color-and-weave effect has a striking pattern.

I would like my life to be nice and pretty, easy and comfortable. But if I get closer to the Grand Weaver’s intentions, I see something different—a bold strength of purpose. Not necessarily easy. God’s will is better than mine. When we aim to understand his will, we see details that we’ve overlooked. It affects how we walk through life. We take his doubled weft threads to replace our well-meaning attempts. The result is a beautiful display of striking life-changing effects.

May you be mindful of the important details.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Annie says:

    I love your analogy and courage to cut out all that work. It did look nice before but wow! Such a great difference with such a small change. An encouragement to make small changes in life as they may lead to great overall improvements.

    Have a great day, Karen!

  • Cynthia says:

    Hi Karen, I used to work for your husband in Tulsa. Love your work. My cousin weaves and I have shared your blog with her, she sure enjoys.

  • Ruth says:

    Good Morning Karen,
    Thanks for sharing your technique for unweaving. To correct mistakes I’ve literally thrown the shuttle across my warp threads to take back many inches of weaving. This seems a much gentler way to save a warp. I like your calm approach to correcting an error and enjoying the outcome. Blessings to you and yours, Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I do think removing the weft this way is less damaging to the warp. Even if I don’t clip through the center, I usually cut the weft and pull it out rather than send it back with the shuttle if it’s more than one or two picks. This is especially important if the warp is linen, which is much more susceptible to breakage from abrasion than this cotton warp I have here.

      One thing I enjoy about weaving is that just about anything can be corrected!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    These are, as all your projects are, beautiful! Is this a little like doubleweave? You see the back on the front and the front on the back?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, I appreciate your sweet compliment!

      This is much simpler than double weave. This is actually plain weave with two treadles. It’s the arrangement of stripes in warp and weft that give it visual complexity. This fabric is the same on front and back. It’s amazing what can happen with color and weave!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Valentine Towel

“That red would make a very cheerful towel.” She was right! It is very cheerful. When someone whose weaving expertise I admire mentions a color, I want to use that color instead of the one I originally planned. This towel, with its red-and-white cheerfulness, is a testament to the positive influence of another person. The towel also makes me think of valentines. Perfect timing for this week. Do you remember giving innocent sentiments of love to classmates in elementary school on Valentine’s Day?

Cotton 10-shaft satin dräll towels.

Beginning of towel with red 8/2 cotton weft. Golden bleached 16/2 linen is used for a decorative band on the towel.

Colorful and cheerful square dot towels.

White linen border near the end of the red towel. Ten shafts and ten treadles for five-shaft satin dräll.

Square Dot towels. Red and white on coral!

Predominant red on the reverse side of the towel is cheerful indeed! One “Square Dot” towel remains on this warp.

Give. Now, we offer each other genuine expressions of love, not limited to one day of the year. When you give love you are giving something of great value—a part of yourself. God loved all of us by giving his dearly loved son. That’s the love that holds us and keeps us. His love influences us for the better. He so loved us, and so we love.

May the day of love come every day for you.

Love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth says:

    These are lovely! I can’t wait to see them completed.

  • maggie leiterman says:

    The weaving is lovely! Thanks for sharing! Your comment about classmates in elementary school reminded me of a box of mementos that I have tucked away in a drawer.The box and the content of the box belonged to my mama (1915-2005,) the content of the box is a collection of valentines that she cherished that were from her classmates and others. I cherish them and I hope someone in my family will take care of them after I go to the great beyond.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, How special to be the keeper of your mother’s treasures! It’s always fascinating to think of the childhood of a previous generation. Thanks for telling about it!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Karen that towel is just lovely, the pink and red compliment each other perfectly. Yummy!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Those thoughts of valentines bring us back to a most delightful time in our lives of giving and sharing. And thank you Karen for continuing to share with us.
    Joanne

  • Elisabeth says:

    A beatiful color combination! And what a wonderful idea to pull out a special towel to celebrate those special days. These beautiful towels could even double as tabletoppers. And the red towel would make a statement for Christmas, too 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, It’s one of the joys of weaving that we can set aside particular towels or fabric for special occasions! And yes, I will probably use these as lovely table runners, too. I like to keep a handwoven topper – towel or square or runner – on my kitchen table to set the atmosphere in the room.

      Great input, as always! Thanks,
      Karen

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Weft Auditions for Square Dots

I found sixteen weft colors to audition. And I am eliminating all but six—one main color for each of four towels, plus two border colors. This is five-shaft satin dräll hand towels with an 8/2 cotton warp. Good weft options on my shelves include 8/2 cotton, 22/2 cottolin, and 16/2 linen in various colors. And this time, we have square dots!

Weft auditions for 5-shaft satin dräll hand towels.

The warp is tied on and the lamms and treadles are tied up. All ten sheds (one for each of ten treadles) are checked and small adjustments made in the treadle tie-ups. Weft auditions commence!

Trying different weft options. Cotton, cottolin, linen.

Similar colors in different fibers. Teal in cotton, cottolin, and linen. Coral warp as weft would be an interesting monochrome option.

There is one qualification. The colors must fit the color palette of our Texas hill country home. A sample piece of thread doesn’t tell me enough; neither does a whole tube of thread. Twisting two colored threads together gives a decent clue, but even that is not enough. When the warp and the weft threads interweave on the loom the true colors are seen. And that’s when I can tell you which colors I will keep.

Weft auditions! Colorful hand towels.

Sample includes sixteen weft colors (two or three rows for some). Four are chosen for the main colors for a set of hand towels. Two extra colors are selected to use for border designs.

Square Dots cotton hand towels in 5-shaft satin dräll.

First towel has Slate 8/2 cotton weft, with an accent of Silver 22/2 cottolin for a border stripe.

Isn’t that the way it goes with truth? Hearing words isn’t enough; even extensive hearing isn’t enough. Paying attention to what you hear is good, but it mustn’t stop there. We need to understand. Hear and understand. The meaning of the words intersect with thoughtful reflection. Truth enters through understanding. And that’s when we can see which threads to keep.

May truth be woven into your life.

With you,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Love your message, Linda! Thanks for your spiritual insights shared with us.

    Question: What is the white thread that looks almost like a basted thread, across the groups that are tied on for this warp? I can see that you were able to go right into weaving without a heading. Is that a technique or just good warping?
    Thanks for any suggestions you can offer! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It’s a lifelong journey to hear and understand, isn’t it?

      You are seeing the leveling cord. I use a length of seine twine (12/6 cotton rug warp) to go over and under each tied-on section of threads. The threads must be tied on with half of the bundle going over the tie-on bar and half going under the tie-on bar. The leveling cord is pulled tight, and the ends of the cord are tied through the hole at each end of the tie-on bar. This simple technique flattens out (levels) the warp, and enables weaving from the very start. No scrap weft necessary.

      It’s that simple. 🙂
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Joyce, I should have pointed you to this post I wrote about the leveling string – Tools Day: Leveling String.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Love the stripe!!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    I like the white. And that red would make a very cheerful towel.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, The white practically pops off the fabric. It does look good. And the canary red is spectacular on the coral warp, which surprised me. Now I’m tempted to use the red, even though it didn’t make the final four, just because you said so.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I must say that I like the sample with all the colors! At least for one trowel. I never heard of a leveling string. Perhaps because it wouldn’t work on a Rigid Heddle loom.

    I was so focused on the different colors of square that my brain did not compute the stripes. The comments about listening and understanding definitely apply to someone like me because I tend to get lost in the details. This was a very needed reminder.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I like the multi-colored sample, too! It may end up being a short towel, or something… You may be able to use a leveling string on your rigid heddle loom. I haven’t done that, but it might be worth some experimentation.

      Taking listening to the level of understanding is a constant challenge, and worth the effort it takes.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Colors on Trial

This color and weave is decorated plain weave. I have nine weft colors to put on trial. Which ones will pass the test? The winners will be used to weave colorful placemats for our Texas hill country home.

Nine colors on trial for cotton placemats.

All 8/2 cotton, with a small quill of each color waiting to be sampled. The two end tubes on the left are the same coral and camel as the stripes of the warp.

Eager to begin, I start weaving, despite knowing that evening is approaching. Even with good lighting at the loom, it is hard to judge the colors. I need daylight!

Weaving at dusk fails to show true impact of the colors.

Weaving at dusk does not give me a true indication of how the colors work, even though I have a good light at my loom.

The morning light does not disappoint. I find that the colors that are the most similar to the coral and camel in the warp showcase the color-and-weave pattern. The slate and apple green win, too, because they add welcome color contrast. The abundance of natural light in the room makes it easy to see the impact of each of these colors.

Color-and-weave effects with plain weave and 2 shuttles.

Natural light of the morning gives a true perspective of the colors. Even the subtle differences of weft colors can be seen. Keeping the camel color in one of the two shuttles helps bring out the color-and-weave effects. Which colors win? All nine of them!

We have been given a well-lit path. When we choose to go our own way, with our own artificial light, our perceptions can be off. There is a kingdom of light where Jesus is on the throne. To be one of his subjects is to be in a place where his light reveals true colors. He exchanges our colors with his own to make color-and-weave fabric that is heavenly!

May you be invigorated with color.

Happy weaving,
Karen

3 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen.

    I like your analogy of artificial light guiding our way. I think the artificial light being shown by so many groups has been blinding to so many people. We think we are enlightened because it’s easier than sticking to Heavenly Father’s guide book.

    Being a woman who likes colors and patterns, I think all those colors are winners too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s easy to fool ourselves, isn’t it?

      I was surprised how well some of the colors work. The red and orange, for example, could clash with the coral warp, but here, those two colors look exceptional!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • […] the placemats I started on my Texas hill country loom in Colors on Trial? The pattern in the fabric looks nice and pretty. But it doesn’t display the striking […]

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