Now This Year

New year 2017 is beginning! It’s time again to take account of where we stand in our life’s dreams and goals. What can we check off the list? And, what is still in progress? And, maybe there’s something new to add. But first, let me count my blessings. I’m filled with gratitude, thankful for you! What a JOY it is to have friends like you to walk through this weaving journey with me.

Here’s what you’ll find on my looms right now:

Striped cottolin warp for towels.

Glimåkra Ideal loom: Striped warp for the sample kit is all set! Winding quills is next. Then, weaving! If all goes well, a few pre-warped plattväv towel kits will show up in my Etsy shop.

Transparency with linen warp and background weft. Cotton chenille weft inlay.

Glimåkra Standard loom: Weaving a transparency. 16/2 linen warp and background weft. The weft pattern inlay is cotton chenille.

Practice piece on little Hokett loom.

Hokett loom has the start of a simple stripes tapestry practice piece. 12/6 cotton warp, 6/1 Fåro wool weft.

Thank you for joining me through 2016!

May you have joy in the journey.

Happy Weaving New Year,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Beth says:

    I love the “Year in Review” and see so many favorites. Your work is simply beautiful and inspiring. You are brimming with talent!

    Happy New Year, Karen!

  • Jennifer says:

    A lovely and inspiring post! I enjoyed the video of your weaving year.

  • Truly Blessed, thanks for all you share.

  • Loyanne says:

    Thanks for sharing. Seeing the Faro piece bring to mind a question. I am working on a Whig Rose scarf. Trying to weave according to tradition and the warp is 8/2, weft is Faro and 16/2 for tabby. Just wondered if you had used cotton and wool and how you wet fingers she’d it ? Thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Loyanne, I’m sure your scarf is beautiful! The monksbelt does use 16/2 cotton for tabby, and Faro wool for pattern weft. I’m not sure of your question… I have a feeling that spellcheck gremlins took over. Could you try asking again?

      Karen

      • Loyanne says:

        Boy did the gremlins take over. I wondered how you wet finish a piece out of cotton and wool?
        Thanks.

        • Karen says:

          Ok, now that question makes sense. 🙂 That’s a great question! I did not wet finish my piece because I am going to use it for a hanging, so I wanted it to soften up or get distorted through washing. I did steam press it, though, which helped to tighten everything up and straighten it out.

          I think if I were going to wet finish this cotton and wool combination I would gently hand wash in cool water with mild soap, like Eucalan, with as little agitation as possible. And then hang or lay flat to dry. If I had a sample piece, I would try washing that first, before submerging the main article.

          I wish I could give you a better answer…

          Thanks for asking,
          Karen

  • Fran says:

    A year of accomplishing lots! You do black and white especially well. I enjoy your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Fran, The black and white was a new experience for me. It was a surprise to me to find out how much I enjoyed working with it! Thanks for stopping by!

      Happy New Year,
      Karen

  • Cindy says:

    I just joined in on your posts! It’s part of my goals for 2017 to surround myself with others who love weaving, and to be inspired and motivated to continue learning from them. Thanks for having this blog!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, A big welcome to you! I do love weaving, and you will find many who comment here are the same way. I love it that we can all learn from each other.

      Happy weaving new year!
      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Hi Karen,
    I enjoyed seeing your transparency, because I have used the same 16/2 linen to weave pictorial transparencies for the last 10 years or so. Is your sett 12 epi? How many selvedge warps are doubled on each side? I have never tried using chenille for the inlay, but this gives me a new idea to try!
    Happy New Year, and God bless you and your family!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, I’m excited to hear that you weave pictorial transparencies! This is my first attempt, and I’m enjoying it very much. I would love to see some of your work. Can you send me pictures?

      I am using a metric 50/10 reed, which is just a little more dense than 12 epi, but pretty close. I doubled 4 selvedge warps on each side, as instructed in The Big Book of Weaving.

      Happy weaving new year!
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen, Happy New Year! Thank you so much for all the work you do for us, your posts are always beautiful and informative. I have been sick for a bit but I can’t wait to get back to my loom soon.
    Happy weaving,
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, It’s no fun to be under the weather. I hope you’re all better very soon!

      I always appreciate your sweet encouragement.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Tom Z says:

    The year in review is so Inspiring Karen!

    Sometimes we don’t look back to view where we’ve come from. We just keep plowing forward. The past gives us a much needed perspective on where we’re going. Your video reminded me of that simple face. And the music was perfect for that reflection.

    Thank you Karen. Keep up the ‘good’ work.
    Happy weaving new year!
    Tom Z in IL

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tom,
      I completely agree! Perspective can make a world of difference.
      I appreciate your thoughtful words so much!

      Happy weaving new year to you!
      Karen

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Tools Day: Warping Slat Spacers

Rag rugs are not finished when you cut them from the loom. In fact, they can fall apart if you are not careful. A rag rug is not secure until warp ends are tied into knots. You need to leave space on the warp between rag rugs to make room for the eventual knots.

One way to leave space on the warp is by using warping slats as spacers. Simply weave about two inches of scrap header after the end of a rug. Then, insert warping slats in alternating plain weave sheds. And then, weave another scrap header. Now, you’re ready to start the next rug.

Warping slats as spacers between rag rugs.

Weaving is finished. It is time to cut these rugs from the loom. Four warping slats are seen between two rag rugs as the rugs are being pulled off the loom.

I leave about eight inches (20 cm) of warp between rugs. This gives me enough length for tying the needed square knots. If you are leaving fringe, add enough to include the desired fringe length. When you insert the warping slats, keep them centered so that they can go around the breast beam and cloth beam without catching on the sides of the loom.

Warping slats are used as spacers between rag rugs.

Full-width warping slats are placed carefully so that they do not extend beyond the weaving width on the right or on the left. This view is looking down on the end of the breast beam.

It is easy to separate the rugs after they are off the loom. Cut between slats using a rotary cutter, with a cutting mat underneath.

Warping slats are used as spacers between two rag rugs on the loom.

Double binding rag rugs are ready to be removed from the loom. The two rugs will be cut apart by slicing the warp between the middle two warping slats.

May you make the best use of your time and tools.

All the best,
Karen

2 Comments

  • n says:

    Why do you tie square knots if you are going to hem the rug? N.

    • Karen says:

      N., The knots stabilize the weaving. Without something to hold the weft in, even turning the edge to make a hem would loosen the weaving. And, if the hem comes undone in the life of the rug, the knots will still be there holding the rug together.

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

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Odds and Ends Rag Rug

What can you do with odds and ends? Plenty. I do use new cotton fabric for my rag rugs. But I refrain from buying new fabric until I absolutely have to. It’s a good challenge to combine available colors from previous rag rug projects to make a new design. There are two piles of color for this double binding rag rug. The blue pile and the brown/black pile. The color blocks switch places in the rug about every seventeen centimeters, with a three-pick white chain pattern in between.

Double binding rag rug. Red warp shows up as little red spots.

Collection of blue fabric, and a collection of brown and black fabric form the basis of this double binding rag rug.

I enjoy combining multiple shades of a color, such as the blue in this rug, to add character. Every odd fabric strip finds a place to belong. It ends up looking cozy and friendly. All the mismatched pieces somehow fit together.

Double binding rag rug.

Chain motif draws a line where the colors switch. Three picks form the chain. Print, white, print (the center section shows the reverse.)

We belong to somebody. We belong to the one who made us–the Creator of everything. He weaves the fabric strips together to make his beautiful design. Scraps become useful, and colors are mixed and rearranged in interesting ways. Together, the woven mixture has a purpose. A rag rug, made from odds and ends like us, puts the creativity of our Maker on display.

May you know where you belong.

Love,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Fran says:

    Very nice rug it will be. I used to make scrap quilts with many odds and ends; it was a challenge to get good balances , but I found it needed one or two dissonant shades to be special. A double binding rug is on the list for me if I ever get this honeycomb warp off. I just buy cotton sheets from the thrift store, and prefer prints mostly for rugs.

    • Karen says:

      Fran, yes, getting a good balance in the colors is always a challenge. I like your point about including one or two dissonant shades to make it special! That’s a great tip!

      Karen

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What Rag Rugs Should Be

My goal for every rag rug I weave is to make a pleasant footpath that lasts through many, many seasons of wear. What makes an exceptional rag rug? Quality of workmanship and design. Tightly-packed weft, snug selvedges, and high quality materials produce a strong rug. And, great design includes an interplay of weave structure, color, detail elements, and functionality.

Tightly-packed weft in a double binding rag rug.

Tightly-packed weft in a double binding rag rug gives no hint of the opposite colors that show on the reverse side.

Double binding rag rug on the loom.

Double binding uses a two-block threading that determines where color changes can occur in the weft pattern.

Double binding rag rug being woven with two ski shuttles.

Two ski shuttles are used for weaving the two layers of a double binding rag rug. Consistent tight selvedges contribute to a long-lasting rug.

Strength is like a quality handcrafted rug that handles daily foot traffic. And joy is like the artist’s design, the colorful pattern, that is woven into the rug. Strength and joy go hand in hand. We see this in creation. And in our Creator, who gives of himself to those who come near. Be refreshed with strength and joy.

May you be refreshed.

With you,
Karen

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Second Half of the Rug

I have five yards of the blue fabric, and no more. I’m in a pickle if the blue runs out. The pile of blue is dwindling fast. No worries. Two simple habits resolve the issue. I don’t have to wonder if I will have enough blue to finish the rug.

Double binding rag rug on Glimakra Standard loom.

Almost out of blue fabric for the first half of the rug.

My secret?
1. Mark the halfway point on the measuring ribbon. This gives a point of reference.
2. When cutting fabric strips, divide the strips into two piles. Put one pile aside, reserving it for the second half of the rug.

Fabric strips ready for second half of rag rug.

Bottom drawer of the Elfa cart next to the loom holds the fabric strips that have been set aside.

This practice enables me to adjust the rug design, if needed, before it’s too late. On the current rug, the wide stripe across the middle just became a little wider.

Double binding rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Two shuttles carry the same fabric. This puts continuous weft color across the width of the warp.

Double binding rag rug in the making.

Marked measuring ribbon shows I have passed the halfway point of the weaving. The rest is all downhill!

What point of reference is there for leading a fulfilling life? Can we know if we have what’s needed to finish well? Our hearts search for truth. We know we need a reliable point of reference. Search for the Lord; seek him. He is the reference point of truth that brings coherence to our existence. We can trust our Grand Weaver to put aside for us everything we need to live a fulfilled life, all the way to the end.

May you have what you need when you need it.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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