Linen Is Never Boring

Simplicity, purity, new. It’s invigorating to start something fresh. Weaving this delicate cloth in neutral colors is calming, but not boring. The linen sheen makes it spectacular. This is the delightful texture of M’s and O’s on a cotton warp, with linen weft. Peer across the cloth at a lower angle and you will see the linen’s pearlescent glory embedded in the woven texture.

Weaving M's and O's with linen weft.

Structure of M’s and O’s puts interesting texture in the fabric. The texture will be intensified after the fabric is cut from the loom and wet finished.

Even though weaving seems like magic at this stage, it has been preceded by a lot of planning, precision, and patient work. This new creation is refreshing because it’s everything I had imagined it would be. And the linen is doing as expected–making the fabric “glow.”

Handwoven towel in M's and O's with linen weft.

One-shuttle weaving for most of the towel makes this a relaxing weave. You can see that the treadling pattern alternates between two blocks. (The camera doesn’t catch the linen’s sheen like the human eye does. Wish you were here to see it!)

Handwoven towel in M's and O's.

Towel has reached the midway point.

The best creation is what happens inside of you. There is hope for all those who long for a fresh start. The dusty and worn threads are replaced with a new warp. Cut my selfish ways off the loom, Lord. All the preparations have been done by the Grand Weaver that enable weaving to begin. Create a clean heart in me, Lord. Let my life glow with the linen of your Spirit woven through my soul.

May you be refreshed.

Love,
Karen

~They’re back~ Towel Kits ~

By request, I have put the towel kits back in my shop! The River Stripe Towel Set, Pre-Wound Warp and Instructional Kit, for $150 per kit, is now listed again in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop. Happy weaving!

10 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful, Karen! I’ve never worked with linen. When used as weft, does it have to be kept damp? Seems that I once read this was necessary when linen is used as warp but, I could be dreaming.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I like to keep linen weft a little damp because it behaves better for me that way. It doesn’t take a lot of moisture. Just holding a damp cloth around the wound quill for a few seconds is enough. The moisture makes the linen relax, and it lays more straight and flat in the shed. Without some moisture, the linen has a tendency to get little kinks and curls when you beat it in.

      When used as warp, some moisture can be helpful. Houston is pretty humid, but in drier climates some people run a humidifier when warping with linen.

      Linen is wonderful to work with. You should try it. Using it as weft is a good way to start.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Beautiful work as always!

    • Karen says:

      That means a lot to me, Martha! Thank you so much. I feel like the threads are really the stars, I just got to put them on the loom. 🙂

      Karen

  • Bev says:

    Beautiful weaving! I have a special place in my heart for linen, since it is what I learned to spin first. And I having linsey/woolsey on my future to-do list!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, I admire anyone who can spin! Spinning linen seems like such an interesting process. Is linsey/woolsey linen and wool combined?

      Karen

  • Gorgeous Karen,
    Thank you for your time and wisdom, as well as weaving knowledge. You’ve encourage me to have a go with linen. There is so much brouhaha in much of the weaving talk here in Australia about using linen. How difficult it is, how fickle, how tetchy (all unfounded, no doubt). So most of us have backed away from such a ‘difficult’ fibre. Your example here shows us the very opposite. With careful planning and consideration for linen’s ‘needs’ why should we miss such weaving pleasure.

    I really admire the way you have crafted the Christian message into your daily work and passion. And, I must admit, after reading your blog posts I have really thought how I can apply the same ‘message’ into the writing work that I do for children. I write children’s books for my ‘day’ job (when not weaving!) and I endeavour to give a ‘heart’ message in all my books. One where my readers are touched by a subtle message from more than what I am. So, thank you for sharing with us.
    Regards,
    Alison

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, If I’ve encouraged you to try linen, I’m happy! I don’t think linen is anything to be afraid of. Yes, it has its own special characteristics, but with some knowledge and careful planning you’ll have success. Like I mentioned to Beth, starting with linen weft is a great way to get your toes in the water…

      And if I’ve encouraged you to live out your faith with a little more intention, then you are an answer to prayer.

      It doesn’t surprise me that you are a writer, as I see how beautifully you’ve chosen your words.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    I’m a new weaver and really enjoy your blog. I was wondering if you worry at all about different shrinkage rates for the cotton and the linen? I keep hearing people say that different fibres react differently. Or do cotton and linen both shrink the same?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, Great question! You raise a valid point. Yes, different shrinkage rates are an issue, and it can make a difference in the outcome of a fabric after wet finishing. Cotton and linen won’t necessarily shrink at the same rate. Cotton usually shrinks a little more than linen. In this instance, I’m hopeful that some differential shrinkage will work to my advantage in making a beautifully, softly puckered M’s and O’s textured fabric. But until I wash and dry the fabric, it’s only a guess. 🙂

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

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Linen Butterflies

This project has been on my mind for a long time. But I purposely waited to begin until I could weave it on my new sweet little loom with a view. Four Decorative Sample Strips, it’s called in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. It includes four-shaft tapestry, as well as weft inlay techniques. Each of the four strips will be a sampling of 8-12 different patterns or techniques. The weft is all linen, in various colors and sizes. Several strands are bundled together and made into butterflies. I have the sections mapped out, but the actual designing is happening at the loom.

Box of colorful linen for a tapestry project!

Box of linen! A variety of 16/2 line linen, 6/1 tow linen, and 8/1 tow linen.

Weft inlay with linen butterflies.

First sample strip starts with some weft inlay.

The box of vibrant shades of linen that sits by the loom makes me think of the wonderful colors in creation. The Grand Weaver puts an assortment of strands together, making something as only He can. The world belongs to its Maker. We are His. Sometimes we forget that it is not that He is in our universe, it is that we are in His. I love the way He puts an assortment of us together to put a splash of color on His tapestry.

May you enjoy the colors around you.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Melissa Myers says:

    God must love color, there is so much of it!!! I am reminded of the verse:

    New American Standard Bible
    Job 26;14
    “Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; And how faint a word we hear of Him! But His mighty thunder, who can understand?”

    Can’t wait to see the tapestry He weaves!!

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Karen,
    Beautiful colors, can’t wait to see what comes from them. I love you loom with a view!
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Liberty, Colors always seem more alive to me in linen. I’m glad I get to take my time with them and enjoy the scenery, too!

      Karen

  • Marjorie says:

    I’m a new follower, with an unwarped, recently acquired, Glimakra Ideal. I love your site, and aspire to become a weaver, with the help of ALL my new weaving acquaintances. I have the Lundell book, although it may be water-marked by drooling before I’m able to weave anything from it. Watching with eagerness,

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marjorie, Welcome to the wide wonderful world of weaving! And welcome here in this corner of the weaving world. That Lundell book will step you through everything you need to know to dress your loom and make something beautiful. I’m excited for you! Let me know if there is any way I can help you along the way.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Sweet Little Loom with a View!

Steve thought I should have another loom, so he used his carpentry skills to build a 27-inch Swedish-style four-shaft countermarch loom! It’s beautiful. It’s incredible! In preparation for retirement in a few years, we found a place in beautiful Texas hill country to call (our future) home. For now, it’s a place to gather with children and grandchildren on occasional weekends. And a place to put a sweet little loom.

Making weaving loom parts.

Making weaving loom parts.

Making weaving loom parts. Treadles.

Six treadles ready.

Putting the new little handbuilt loom together!

Final Touch. Tightening the cradles for the top of the hanging beater.

Maiden warp for a new sweet little loom.

Putting on the maiden warp of 12/9 cotton seine twine.

Ready to take the loom apart to move it.

Loom is ready to be disassembled. Warp is wrapped up on the warp beam. Blue duffel bags will hold all the loom parts except for the side frames and the beater, to be transported to the new location.

And it only gets better. We situated the petite loom by the corner windows in the living room. At the loom, I have the best seat in the house, with an amazing view of God’s creation. The loom tells me my husband knows me very well. And the view tells me the Lord knows me, too.

Loom with a view! Texas hill country.

Threading heddles while enjoying the hill country view!

Grandchildren, loom, view... heaven on earth!

Can there be a better setting? Grandchildren playing, loom, view…

Sweet little loom with a view!

Sweet little loom with a view! Heavenly!

None of us can come to God on our own terms. Not by our wisdom. Not by our strength. Only through humility do we find God. Humility opens our heart to God. That’s when we see how much He has done to get our attention to tell us He knows us and loves us. My special loom with a view is an example of what it’s like to be known and deeply loved.

May you know you are loved.

Blessings,
Karen

26 Comments

  • Beautiful Karen. An inspiring blog to exemplify how necessary it is for us to be grateful for the ‘simple’ things in life. My loom with a view has a delightful panorama of the Pacific Ocean on the east coast of Australia, south of Sydney. And today I picked up (another!) little sweet loom, a Louet Jane – for small delicate treasures.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, It sounds like you enjoy a gorgeous setting! Yes, gratitude is essential, isn’t it?
      We have a way of finding space for those sweet little looms…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Meg bush says:

    What a lovely post!

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Oh, my goodness! It is beautiful! Not only does your husband know you well, he obviously loves you very much. What a treasure. I look forward to seeing the first project from this lovely loom.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It is treasure indeed!
      I have a project on the loom that’s been on my weaving “bucket list” for a while – a four-shaft tapestry sampler. Pictures coming soon.

      Karen

  • Martha says:

    What a loving present your husband made for you! Enjoy your new petite loom with the beautiful view.

  • Cindie says:

    Oh my gosh, what a beautiful little loom, what woodworking talent your husband has. And yes, what a beautiful view!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindie, Yes, my husband is very meticulous and an excellent woodworker. This was not an easy project–it certainly was a labor of love!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    This is SO cool! (I couldn’t help but think of the loom plans I found in my husband’s bookcase several years after his death…..and of all the weaving tools he could have made for me had he survived cancer.) I love your setting, too….thanks for sharing this post!

    • Karen says:

      Dear Marcia, I see you know what it is like to be loved. How sweet to find those plans… I’m sorry for your loss. I’m glad that this triggered fond memories – those memories are a blessing.

      Love to you,
      Karen

  • Carol says:

    A real dream come true for a weaver! I am also very grateful for a studio that I enjoy and a husband who has given up his garage to allow me a place to enjoy the talents and use the gifts God has given me. The view is not as wonderful as yours, but I am most grateful for it and now to be able to teach my granddaughter to weave, another to paint, and a grandson to crochet my heart is full.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carol, The loving surroundings are every bit as important as the view. It sounds like you have a perfect space for using your gifts and pouring into the next generation! That’s wonderful!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Margaret Scheirman says:

    What a beautiful team you two make and this loom exemplifies this! And how beautiful of you to share the story like this!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Margaret! It’s great to hear from you. Yes, we are a team–companions for life. Nick W, back in college days, was the one who told Steve to aim for companionship in marriage. Best advice ever!

      Thanks for stopping in!
      Karen

  • limor Johnson says:

    Karen,
    Your Journey as a weaver is impressive and your willing to share in great detail is very much appreciated.I’m a new weaver and I’m learning a lot from your posts and videos.
    Are you going to use a book with patterns for your new a 4 shafts loom? Can you share your favorite book on weaving?
    Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Limor, It makes me very happy to know you are learning from things you find here! You ask a great question. In fact, I am using a project from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell to start the journey on this little loom. The project is called, “Four Decorative Sample Strips.” That also happens to be my favorite book on weaving. 🙂

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Melissa says:

    Hello Karen, I learned to weave at age 16. Then due to kids, job, life, i wasn’t able to weave for about 20. I am now able to weave again. YEA! It just makes me happy. I have looked a weaver’s blogs, all very talented weavers!!!, but like your the best and keep coming back to it. i admire the quality and creativity in your weaving and the fact you are a Christian. I am looking to use my weaving to augment my spiritual gift of encouragement. Thank you for the beautiful site and beautiful words.

    • Karen says:

      Melissa, I’m touched! It’s a pleasure to have you joining me here. Our world needs your gift of encouragement. I hope you soar with that!!
      I know you have encouraged me today. Thanks!

      Happy Weaving (and don’t worry about little typos. I only noticed your kind sentiments.) 🙂
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Ops, I see I didn’t proof read my comment. 🙁

  • Marcia says:

    It’s awesome Karen! I just came back from Lawrence, Kansas, and the yarn shop there is filled with weaving supplies. The tiny yarn shop in Grand Rapids has them too. Whenever I see the supplies, I think of you!

    • Karen says:

      Marcia, I know that shop in Kansas! I used to wander in the Yarn Barn just to browse the yarn when I was a student at KU. That was way before I had any notion about weaving. That is so sweet that you think of me when you see weaving supplies. I think of you when I see amazing knitted items – “I know somebody who makes things like that!”

      Thanks for dropping in here!
      Karen

  • Shearling says:

    Very cute loom! Looks like a wee Glimakra School loom. Be sure to mark it with date and maker!

    BTW, the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont has a very old chest of drawers with the names of all the owners over the generations carved into its top. We should all do that to our looms, maybe!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shearling, It is much like one of those Glimakra School looms. If we could have found one of those, I don’t think we (Steve) would have needed to make one. Thanks for the thought about marking it with the date and name of the maker! We hadn’t thought of that. Will do!

      It would be great to have a piece of the history on the loom, wouldn’t it? Oh, the stories the old looms could tell.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • […] been on my mind for a long time. But I purposely waited to begin until I could weave it on my new sweet little loom with a view. Four Decorative Sample Strips, it’s called in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila […]

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Skeleton Tie-Up on a Countermarch?

I’ve been told that you cannot do a skeleton tie-up on a countermarch loom. That would require pressing two treadles at the same time, which is not feasible on a countermarch. Guess what? I have a skeleton tie-up, and I’m pressing two treadles at a time for the pattern blocks in this kuvikas structure. On my countermarch!

Kukivas (summer and winter) on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Trying to establish a consistent beat so that the squares are all the same size. Making the squares a little taller than they are wide will, hopefully, produce actual squares in the end. The fabric is expected to shrink more in length than in width when it is cut from the loom, and washed and dried.

It works because the tie-up is carefully planned to avoid conflicting treadle movements. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the square-within-a-square results. Isn’t it fascinating that a design such as this can be fashioned by hand, using a simple wooden loom and a bunch of strings, with a few simple tools? And a non-standard tie-up?

Skeleton tie-up on a countermarch loom for kukivas.

Pressing two treadles at the same time is surprisingly less cumbersome than I had imagined it would be. The whole series of motions feels like a slow majestic dance.

Have you seen the sky on a moonless night? Who made that starlit fabric? Who wove the pattern of the heavens? Who put the sun in place, and set the earth on its axis? How grand and glorious are these constant features of our existence! Our human hands can create no such thing. The heavens reveal the glorious nature of God. They shout the unmistakable truth that God is our Creator. Surely, the fabric we make with our hands serves to confirm that we belong in the hands of our Maker.

May the work of your hands be a reflection of you.

In awe,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Betsy Greene says:

    Hi Karen
    This square pattern is really nice. Am I correct in thinking that kuvikas is similar to summer and winter? I have a countermarch loom also and would love to hear more details about your skeleton tie up.
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, You are correct, kuvikas is a Finnish term for what we commonly call summer and winter.
      The double treadling is possible because of the tie-up. The pattern threads are on shafts 1 – 4, and the tie-down threads are on shafts 5 – 8. The trick is where to NOT tie up the treadles. You need two free-standing groups of shafts, so only the pattern shafts and only the tie-down shafts are tied to the treadles, besides the tabby shafts.
      And then, the first 2 treadles produce the tabby for the background. Treadles 3 & 4 bind the pattern floats. Treadles 5 – 8 control the pattern’s various blocks.

      I’m afraid I did a poor job of explaining. You can find the draft in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 164. She does a better job of describing how it works.:)

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    That is gorgeous, Karen! Thanks for sharing the source of the draft, too!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marcia, I’m glad you like it. I like it a lot, too! I’m already thinking of using this draft to make some upholstery fabric for some chairs I want to cover.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • So us how you tied up your loom please, with a diagram or photos.
    Jenny

    • Karen says:

      Great idea, Jenny, Here’s a picture taken from the back of the loom.

      Skeleton tie-up on countermarch

      From left to right, 2 treadles for tabby, 2 treadles for tie-down threads, 4 treadles for pattern. You can see that the tie-down and pattern shafts are independent of each other, which make double treadling possible.

      Does that help?

      Karen

  • Carol says:

    Hi Karen,
    I really enjoy your blog. Thank you.
    I also have a countermarch loom and am wondering how you get away with not tying up all eight shafts on every treadle. Do you know of a book that really explains countermarch ti-ups. I think I am missing something here. I must confess I am a new countermarch loom owner.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carol, You ask some good questions!
      How do I get away with not tying up all 8 shafts on every treadle? I don’t know. I’m learning as I go. Honestly, I have not found a lot of information about weaving with this type of tie-up on a countermarch loom. I have seen it mentioned a few places, but not explained. I tell myself that it is like weaving on two four-shaft looms that work together. 🙂 That may be way off!

      The thing to remember is that this is NOT a typical tie-up for a countermarch loom. I’ll have to say, it was a little finicky to get clean sheds, so I wouldn’t recommend this for someone until they have some serious weaving on eight shafts (with a “normal” tie-up) under their belt.

      One helpful book that explains everything about a countermarch tie-up is Tying Up the Countermarch Loom, by Joanne Hall. But it doesn’t mention skeleton tie-ups. I guess I like to try things outside the norm…

      I hope you enjoy your countermarch loom as much as I enjoy mine!
      Karen

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With or Without a Cartoon?

Weaving a transparency could become one of my favorite things to do. I had no idea that drawing a cartoon for this project would make such a difference. Now, I can see vast possibilities with this weaving technique.

Drawing a cartoon on buckram for weaving a transparency.

Buckram, a stiff cotton cloth, is in my sewing supplies, specifically for making bills on caps. It is being used here to make a cartoon for the transparency weaving. The center line will be lined up with the center warp end.

I started the transparency without a cartoon. I wanted to weave a few zigzags back and forth. How hard could that be? I counted warp ends, “under 12 to the right, and then, under 13 to the left.” When I tried to change the angle of the slant, though, it was confusing. I started getting jagged zigs and zags. This cartoon has made a world of difference.

Cartoon in pinned into place under the transparency weaving.

Cartoon is aligned and pinned into place.

Transparency weaving in progress. Cotton chenille over linen.

For each row of the pattern, the cotton chenille weft butterflies go under the raised warp ends that coincide with the lines drawn on the cartoon underneath. One pick of linen background weft follows each pattern row.

How often do we think it will be easier to go our own way? We want to make it up as we go. Wait. There’s a better way. The head designer has drawn out a path. It makes sense to follow those lines. It’s a picture that’s bigger than we are. God created. He did it in such a way that shows his loving attention to those he created. And we get to follow his design. No more striving. No more trying to find our way. His way makes perfect sense. It’s satisfying to place the weft in a thought-out design.

May you see the possibilities.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Hi Karen, What a wonderful comparison to our walk with God! Yes, it is very satisfying to me also to weave transparencies. The design emerges one row at a time, and when it’s time to stop and do something else, I say “just one more row”… Glad you are having the enjoyment of following a cartoon. The fabric you print yours on is a neat idea. I have also used stiff Pellon for mine, sometimes it is also thin enough that I can trace a design through it.
    All the best,
    Lynette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette,
      “Just one more row…” Yes, that’s exactly what I’ve been saying!
      Your behind-the-scenes encouragement and details have inspired me. I can’t thank you enough!
      When I need to trace a picture I will get some thinner pellon, like you do. Since I had some buckram on my shelf I thought I’d try it, and it’s working out great.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Phyllis says:

    Just found your blog! I am thankful, inspired and blessed! Newer weaver here.

  • Pam says:

    Hi, Karen,
    I am a student at a University. In the course of studying weaving, trying to place a cartoon under the warp has been a challenge to all who want to make a tapestry. We’ve tried various ideas and none too successful. I’ve used buckram to repair books, but never considered using it in weaving. Thanks for the great suggestion. I’m going to share this with my fellow class mates. Pam

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam,
      How exciting to get to study weaving in a university setting! I am delighted that my serendipitous discovery gives you and your classmates something to try. Let me know how the buckram works for you!

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

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