Looms in Transition

July was a roller coaster that took off before I had a chance to buckle my seatbelt! As you may recall, I had just disassembled my Glimåkra Standard loom at the end of June. Happily, that loom is now set up in our Texas hill country home, with a few heddles already threaded. Next, we sold our Houston house. I had prayed that the house would sell quickly. But I was as surprised as anyone when the house sold in one day! Now, a few short weeks later, the house stands empty, ready for a new family to call it home. And, Steve and I are enjoying apartment life in this transition season.

Swedish looms are basically portable.

After all the boxes are unloaded, the loom parts are put back in the trailer to take to the house.

Loom is placed where grand piano used to be.

Loom is reassembled and positioned in the area where previous home owners placed their grand piano.

Reassembling the Glimakra Standard loom.

Little by little, the loom is put back together. Warp beam has a cottolin warp on it, wrapped in a sheet for the move.

Twelve shafts for this double-weave project.

Twelve shafts for this double-weave project.

Threading 12 shafts. View from the back beam.

View from the back beam.

Threading 12 shafts for double weave.

Twelve shafts–much like threading three four-shaft looms right next to each other.

The Ideal loom with the Lizard tapestry had to be dismantled for moving… (more on that in future posts).

Getting ready to dismantle this loom...with the tapestry on it!

Ideal loom with the Lizard tapestry, before dismantling…

Pray. Abiding prayer is that ongoing conversation we have with God as we face the roller coasters that show up at our doorstep. He invites us to bring everything—big and little. Selling the house quickly is a little thing. Saving people is a big thing. Maybe sometimes God answers the little things to remind us that He is here for the big things, too.

May you pray big things.

In Christ,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Maggie says:

    You are so right. I pray all goes well for your new place.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, Thanks! We are looking forward to many good years at our new place after we move there in a few months. Our transition into an apartment is a fun adventure until then.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    What a whirlwind of a month! Love the placement of the Glimakra. Wonderful light! It’s good to have you back!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Whirlwind is exactly the word I’ve been using! The loom is in a perfect spot. Natural light and a view are highlights for me.

      It’s good to be back!
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    What a lovely spot for a loom! I’m jealous of all that light. 🙂

    Hill Country, eh? If you’re close enough, I hope you’ll visit the San Antonio guild one day – after you’re settled in, of course.

    I hope the rest of the move goes smoothly.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I agree, it is a great spot for the loom!

      I’d enjoy visiting the San Antonio guild after we’re settled in. If you’re in San Antonio, maybe we could meet up sometime! I won’t be far.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Nannette Piasini says:

    WELCOME BACK!!!
    Your post is so appropriate for this summer. Small problems and big problems. Give them all to God.
    Nannette

  • Linda says:

    Quite an adventure! Moving can be a challenge (we have moved many times) but as I recall this was a move you wanted to make. New weavers to teach & friends to make. I’m sure God will use you in many ways.

  • Annie says:

    It’s amazing what all you have accomplished in such a short time! Even warping!

    Congratulations on the sale of the house. Your Hill Country Home is beautiful.

    I am hoping the apartment is close enough for you to still come to some of the WOW meetings, Karen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m actually 10 minutes closer for the WOW meetings, so I plan to be there.

      I found out that I can accomplish what I’m pushed to accomplish! Moving was intense, but I did try to squeeze in bits of weaving activity here and there when I could.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Alice says:

    Happy all worked out so well for you.
    It reminds me of my own moving around with looms…
    I have an ARM loom, originally from Switzerland. It moved to the Netherlands and then it emigrated with us to Canada. Now 15 years later it is in the Yukon Territory (close to the Alaskan border) and I have no place for it any more and it is stored in a LogicShelter where it got some snow damage. I am trying to sell but for the people who like it it is too big as well. Now I am at the point that I give it away because I want it to have a good home and be enjoyed! But it is hard for something so specific to be in lonely corner of the world….In summer we see cars and motorhomes from down south and I wonder….
    Warmly,
    Alice

  • Janet Hageman says:

    Beautiful Glimakra is quite an improvement over a piano! Perfect. The dust will settle soon….

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, Well, I do have a piano, too (not a grand piano), but it was relegated to the dining room. 🙂 The loom may be my primary instrument now.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Cynthia says:

    Hi Karen , guess I should touch basis with Steve soon. I wondered what happen because I hadn’t seen a post in awhile. BTW Steve told me I can come visit (later, of course, must later) to your Texas Hills home. There is a quit shop I want to come see, I love it. I’ve always said I would rather take a beating than move! Best wishes and hope all works out for you. Cynthia

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cynthia, We’d love to have you come visit sometime! Moving has gone well for us. We’re looking forward to what’s ahead.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Wow, Karen! What a busy month you’ve had! Congratulations on selling your house so quickly. I agree that we accomplish what we are forced to accomplish. Will you keep a loom at the apartment until the final Move? I will miss you at WOW when you move, but I’ll look forward to you blog posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, We surprised ourselves when we accomplished 2 years of work in 2 weeks. We didn’t know it could be done until we had a real deadline.

      I have a loom in the apartment so I won’t go stir crazy. I’m enjoying this smaller, simplified space.

      See you at WOW,
      Karen

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Melody Towels

I am stepping out of the box with this combination, trusting that what is seen only in my mind’s eye will have an extraordinary impact. This warp will become towels for my daughter Melody. I chose cottolin threads in colors that remind me of the colorfully painted homes we saw on our visit to Chile a few years ago when Melody was living there. Aqua, light poppy, marigold, and orchid.

New warp on the warping reel.

Mix of colors that remind me of Chile.

Warping reel. Winding a new colorful warp!

First of three bouts on the warping reel.

Beaming the warp with a warping trapeze.

Beaming the warp with the help of the warping trapeze.

Cottolin towel warp being beamed.

Warp beam with new cottolin warp for towels.

We trust what we can see—a chair to hold us, and an airplane to fly us. But unseen things are also part of our trust—the chair maker’s glue, and the air that aerodynamic engineers depend on. Earth and heaven, seen and unseen. Jesus, seen on earth, made the unseen God visible. Trust the unseen.

May you step out of the box.

Trusting,
Karen

10 Comments

  • ellen b santana says:

    every week you remind me to trust God. and i can’t wait to see these towels. thank you. ellen

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful colors. They remind me of summer..

  • Lynette says:

    I look forward to seeing the woven cloth, with the pattern you have chosen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, It’s nice to hear from you. I think this will be very interesting to weave. I’m glad you are following along.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Oh my! What a beautiful color scheme you have chosen for these towels. What color(s) will you weave with? Are you using plain weave, twill, basket ….? Will there be bands of color or will the warp do the “talking”? Thank you taking me on your journey. Your work is always inspiring as are your words.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I’m glad you like this color scheme! I’m really fond of it, too. I will make decisions about about the weft when I do some sampling with different colors. I’d like to try out several options to see what I like the best. This will be another doubleweave with two plain weave layers, but this time I’m using 12 shafts–my first time to use 12 shafts.

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Wow! I like the color combination! I am also excited to be on this journey with you, Karen.

    And I frequently need to be reminded to trust in God. Your message is appreciated.

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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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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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Quiet Friday: Handwoven Handbags

Is there such a thing as too many handbags, pocketbooks, tote bags, and purses? Of course not. Naturally, my favorite handbags are made from handwoven fabric. Linings made from remnants, handwoven bands used for shoulder straps, hidden zippers, and, of course pockets–these are the details that other people will seldom notice. Yet these are the details that make me smile every time I use one of these bags.

Handwoven handbags - with 1 minute video.

Nineteen handwoven handbags. Various sizes, fibers, styles, and purposes. And colors. Lots of colors!

…You know that box of handwoven bits and pieces? Those weavings from the end of the warp, and the “scraps” from various projects? Hmm… looks like I might need to make another handbag or two.

Here is my collection of handwoven handbags, divided into a few categories. Plus, a short video just for the fun of it!

Rigid Heddle Loom

Handbags from fabric woven on a rigid heddle loom.

Wool, novelty chenille yarn, crochet cotton, and narrow fabric strips are used for weft in these bags. Buttons are from my grandma’s button jar. The small rag-weave pocketbook has a permanent home in my daily handbag. The fabric for these bags was woven on my Beka 32″ rigid heddle loom.

Handwoven fabric for handbags from the rigid heddle loom.

Linings are from remnants of other sewing projects. Bag handles were woven on my inkle loom.

Travel Finds

Handwoven handbags from international travels.

Trips to The Philippines yielded interesting woven goods by artisans there. The green stripe tote bag is woven from native plant material, and the teal and burgundy purse is a beautiful example of ikat weaving. The colorful weft-faced woven shoulder bag and the purple bag with lovely weft-float patterning came from travel to Chile.

Project Carriers

Handwoven project bags.

Large tote bag, woven with 1/4″ fabric strips for weft, carries my “show and tell” when I go to my weaving study group. It’s known as the “Mary Poppins Bag.” Rag-rug bag in the center has straps, woven on the band loom, that were woven into the bag. This bag carries my portable tapestry weaving. The rag rug bag on the right carries my one-and-only crochet project.

Special Use

Handwoven handbags.

Linen bag has beads woven into the fabric. It is lined with satin. Rag-weave purse is simply a flat piece folded in half, with lining and pockets added to the inside. The blue bag is wool, woven in a weft-cord technique. The fabric was partially fulled to produce the ribbed texture.

Handwoven lining in a handwoven purse.

Lining for this bag is made from extra fabric after weaving cotton/linen fabric for cushions, and the pocket is a remnant from a two-block twill tencel scarf.

Daily Use Favorites

Favorite handwoven handbags! Karen Isenhower

Representing some of my “firsts.” The brown and blue small shoulder bag is from one of my first cottolin towel projects. This is what I did when the last piece was too short to use for a towel. The green and turquoise clutch has remnants of my first ever handwoven towel, my first rosepath rag rug, and my first big rep weave project! The blue shoulder bag is the bag I use every day. It’s a remnant from the baby wrap I wove for my daughter’s first baby. It’s lined with a remnant from an Easter dress I made for her when she was a little girl.

May you carry your handiwork with you.

Happy weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Mary Kay Stahley says:

    I would love to know where to get patterns to make a bag. Have yardage and really want to turn it into a purse

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary Kay, I have found a few good commercial patterns for an assortment of bags.

      I used McCall’s 3894 to make the large tote bag. (I did break several sewing machine needles when sewing the very thick corners.)
      And I used Simplicity 2201 for the green and teal clutch. Other patterns that I have not used yet are Simplicity 9949 and Simplicity 2274. All of the patterns have multiples sizes and shapes of bags. There are probably some more good patterns out there now. I’ve had these for several years. I enjoy browsing the pattern books at the fabric store.

      For some of the bags, I folded and played with the fabric to make up a simple design.

      For the shoulder bag that I currently use all the time, made from the baby wrap remnant, I purchased a bag at the store that I thought would work well with handwoven fabric. I took it home and ripped out all the seams to deconstruct it. Then I had the basic shapes, which I reconfigured to exactly what I wanted. I made a practice bag first out of denim before using the handwoven cloth to make the final bag.

      I hope that gives you some ideas!
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    It was so much fun to see all your beautiful bags, Karen! Nineteen is certainly not enough!! Hope you keep making more and sharing them with us. You have a wonderful sense of color!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Hi, Karen,
    You had the icon to share to Facebook, so I shared this post with my Rigid Heddle Adventure group. They’ve been talking a lot lately about creating bags. Thanks for the post!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, That’s wonderful! The rigid heddle loom is perfect for making fabric for bags because it’s so easy to use a variety of fibers in the warp and in the weft. It’s a fun adventure!

      Thanks so much for sharing!
      Karen

  • Angela Roberts says:

    Truly an inspiration, as always
    Thank you Karen

  • Kantilal Doobal says:

    Please quote me a Magazine for which I wish to submit and an article dealing with woolen durrie weaving.
    thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kantilal, Thank you for asking.

      I don’t know a magazine that has an article about woolen durrie weaving. “Väv” magazine sometimes has articles about different types of rug weaving, and “Handwoven” magazine sometimes has articles about rag rug weaving. The March/April 2017 issue of “Handwoven” has instructions for a “Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug” that I designed.

      Karen

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