Biggest Challenge of Weaving a Pictorial Tapestry

Lucia grasps Ari’s plump wrist as they bravely inch a step closer to the rabbit hutch. For them, it’s a step of faith. Sugar Pie, the bunny, is wide-eyed at their approach. You’ll see the bunny later in the weaving of this pictorial tapestry.

Detail of a pictorial tapestry in progress.
Lucia’s tiny thumbnail is on top of Ari’s hand. Contrast in skin color is exaggerated to make the two arms distinct from each other.
Color gradation in a new large tapestry.
Five shades of orange/red butterflies are used to make the fabric of Lucia’s orange shirt.

It is a huge challenge to work on one element, like the hands, while not being able to see it in the context of the whole picture. The row-by-row weaving is an act of faith. I peer through the wrong end of the binoculars, and stand on a chair to take pictures. And I’m reassured about the outcome. It’s not blind faith. It’s a series of carefully reasoned and thought-out steps.

Gaining a higher perspective.
Gaining a higher perspective by standing on a chair.

We see only a small slice of life at a time. Where do my day-to-day threads fit in the context of the big picture of a lifetime? Grace is amazing! Grace is unearned good favor. Grace is a final tapestry that makes sense of all the wanderings. Grace is good favor extended by God to all who trust Jesus. So, with God’s grace we walk by faith, with carefully reasoned and thought-out steps. And we extend grace at every opportunity, holding the wrist of our fellow adventurer to walk by faith together.

"Siblings" tapestry.
Siblings tapestry, work in progress.

Grace is amazing.

May your life make a difference.

Grace,
Karen

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Getting Dressed to Weave

I want to wrap up in this cozy throw already. But I need to weave it first. This is an undulating twill throw that I am making for sweet Lindsay, one of my daughters-in-law. Of course, I am including enough warp to make a small throw of my own.

Getting ready to beam the warp. Back to front warping.

Four chained bouts. The 8/2 cotton warp is pre-sleyed, and the back tie-on bar has been placed through the loops at the end of the warp.

Every step of dressing the loom is fascinating. I easily get immersed in the enjoyment of the process. All the while, I’m dreaming of the finished work.

Read to beam the warp, using warping trapeze.

Warping trapeze is in place at the front of the loom. Ready to beam these soothing colors onto the warp beam.

Warp is beamed. Ready for threading.

Warp is beamed. Warp ends are counted into groups of 32 ends each, for efficiency and accuracy in threading. This will be threaded for undulating twill on eight shafts.

Dressing the loom leads to the making of cloth. Dressing our lives leads to the making of good character. Prayer is of utmost importance in dressing our lives. Prayer is not a single step in the process, but a posture of faith throughout the process. Earnest prayer reaches God. The power of prayer is not in our words, in the threads we express, but in the Grand Weaver. He receives our humble threads and weaves them into his will to bring about his beautiful cloth. Fascinating, isn’t it?

May you dream as you dress the loom.

Prayerfully,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    There is something soothing about dressing a loom. I can’t wait to see the weaving begin.

  • I agree- I enjoy the entire process. I think you have to or you wouldn’t continue to weave year after year!! “ you must be warped to weave” .

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, Yes, maybe that’s the appeal for those of us who are drawn to handweaving – the enjoyment of process, of being part of making something from beginning to end. Your weaving is so beautiful. It’s good to know you enjoy the whole process, too.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Emonieiesha says:

    Good Morning Karen,
    I just came across your blog and what a joy. I am a beginner with a RHL and a 4 Shaft Table loom! There is nothing like creating while keeping our hearts and minds on the Creator. Happy Weaving with the one who created it all.

  • Susan Hommel says:

    Hi Karen, I love reading you warm and knowledgeable advice and have followed your weaving adventure these last few years. You even inspired my first rug attempt when you submitted your lovely rosepath pattern to Handwoven. Now I’m at a crossroad. I’ve been using my Schact standard but the draw to a Swedish loom has bitten me…. I await delivery of my Glimakra Julia countermarch next week. Here’s my question. Is there value in passing up the Glimakra set up direction in favor of Vavstugas Dress your loom the Vävstuga Way ? Thanks for any advice you can offer! Best regards, Sue

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sue, I’m excited for you! You will really enjoy your new Julia.

      The Glimakra set up and Vavstuga’s guide are completely compatible, as far as I know. I use Joanne Hall’s books and Vavstuga’s and get a great compilation of instructions. You can’t go wrong either way, or both! Don’t forget “The Big Book of Weaving.” It also has great set up (and weaving) instructions. The more, the merrier. 🙂

      Very happy weaving,
      Karen

  • How pretty the colors are.
    My skills are not there yet. Dressing the loom requires a lot of detail that my creative brain wants to ignore.

    Warping All By Yourself was my guide for dressing a loom. Front to back. I am glad you provided visual details. I will reference the next time I dress a loom and see if it speeds things up.

    About a month ago I went to the high school craft fair in Crivitz, Wi. There a woman selling the most beautifully crafted rag rugs I’ve ever seen. Nothing fancy, but even edges and beautifully chosen colors.

    She lives back in the woods in the home she shared with her late husband, south east of Green Bay and weaves. No business cards.

    I mentioned your website. She is the last hold out not on line. Her world is edged by north eastern Wisconsin. Next year I will look for her again at the Crivitz high school autumn craft fair. But earlier. The bake sale was sold out.

    I will miss your twice weekly posting. Enjoy the ride.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I understand what you mean about your creative brain. My brain has trouble holding details, too.
      Having a system with specific steps helps me. I don’t try to remember the steps. I have written down the steps and keep that step-by-step list in front of me every time I warp the loom.

      Those old time rag rugs are wonderful. I have two that a friend of my grandmother made in a small country town in Missouri back in the ‘50’s.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      Karen

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No Hurry at the Little Loom

I hope you haven’t forgotten about this sweet little loom at our Texas hill country home. It is refreshing to be able to start right back up and weave another placemat. This is a breeze, even with two double-bobbin shuttles. Color and weave brings plenty of design play. Over the weekend I was able to squeeze in enough weaving time to finish one more placemat.

Color and weave cotton placemats.

New placemat begins. Two red picks will become the cutting line that separates placemats.

Peaceful setting for unhurried weaving.

Peaceful setting for unhurried weaving.

There is no hurry or urgency with this project. Other events, transitions, and necessities have taken precedence the last few months. It’s nice to have a ready loom that doesn’t hold a deadline. Simple two-treadle plain weave during a transitional season is a welcome respite.

Color and weave cotton placemats on the loom.

Two doubled-weft picks of dark coral make a line of contrast in the color-and-weave cotton placemat.

Faith is trust. It’s the simple framework we long for when life gets complicated. Trusting the Lord is like knowing what to expect when you throw the shuttles, yet still being pleasantly surprised as you see the fabric form in front of you. His grace removes the hurry and the worry. We find his grace through faith. And isn’t that exactly the respite we need?

May you have a break from hurry and worry.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Weave Beyond Your Momentum

Do you remember that I said the background is less interesting to weave? I take that back! Blending these colors and forming the shapes is no less interesting than weaving the lizard. The green anole is the featured subject, filled with detail and many minute color changes. Weaving that lizard was a skill stretcher! But as I continue, I am weaving details of a different kind. The background is a log, not easily recognizable. It’s like looking at wood grain patterns through a magnifying glass. I’m hopeful everything in the final image will fit together when we see it from a distance.

Four-shaft tapestry. Shading and texture.

Color, shading, and texture work together to make the surface appear uneven. Some areas look as if they are raised, and others, especially the dark places, look like they are indented.

Detail of lizard tapestry.

After about three more warp advancements, the lizard and his green toes will be nowhere to be seen.

Four-shaft tapestry. Glimakra Ideal.

Little by little…

View of the tapestry in the direction it will hang.

Standing on a chair, I get a view of the tapestry in the direction it will hang. This is only one slice of the tapestry image, but it helps me imagine what the finished piece will be like.

Continue. I don’t want to lose momentum just because I finally made it through the hardest part. Keep going, being faithful to what you know to do. Faithful to what you know is true. Don’t be fooled by compelling, convincing, and subtle messages that divert from the truth. Continue walking by faith, trusting the outline, the cartoon, that the Grand Weaver prepared for us. It will all fit together when we see it from heaven’s eternity. That’s real hope.

May you keep your momentum.

In faith,
Karen

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Tapestry at Full Snail Speed

I am determined to have this off the loom before it’s time to move again. I know exactly how many “weaving days” I have left in this apartment. Steve’s retirement is just around the corner. His last day at work will be our last day here. And I know exactly how many centimeters I have left to weave on this piece. We already moved the loom once in the middle of this tapestry. Once is enough! I intend to make significant weaving progress every single day.

Measure tape shows progress on the tapestry weaving.

My measure tape shows that I have woven 80 centimeters. I will cross the finish line when I reach 125 centimeters.

Now that the image of the lizard is finished all the way to his toes, no more pretty green, blue, or red butterflies. I am removing anything that clutters my focus. Full (snail) speed ahead!

Weaving a lizard in four-shaft tapestry.

Lizard’s foot tries to grip the breast beam. There is no longer a need for butterflies in the lizard’s colors. Only the background log remains.

Weaving four-shaft tapestry on a Glimakra Ideal loom.

All the green, blue, and red butterflies have been removed. A simple color palette remains–white, yellow, tan, gray, brown, and black.

Faith is that kind of determination. Faith is more than thinking you believe something or someone. It’s pouring yourself into pure-hearted focus to trust fully in God. Faith is being so convinced that Jesus is the answer that you will stop at nothing to reach him. Where there’s that kind of will, there’s a way.

May you reach your most-pressing goal.

Your speedy snail,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful description of faith! Our strength comes from God and He helps us to persevere as we move toward the goal. TRUST is the fuel that keeps us forging ahead. God bless you as you reach this goal…and others, ahead for you. 🙂

  • Good morning Karen,
    ~ 2/3rds of the way complete with most of the kinks worked out. Nice place to be in. A firm foundation established. Everything in place to complete your tapestry.

    Kind regards,

    Nannette

  • Annie says:

    I hope the determination to reach your goal will not rob you of the joys of weaving, Karen. I can’t believe how the time is flying and how fast the move is coming. I know you looking forward to it, though.

    Thank you for sharing your rag rug process at the WOW meeting. I learned a great deal. I have your handout with my notes to reference when make my next one.

    I have no doubt that you will reach your goal.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It will take a lot to make me lose my joy in weaving. This tapestry weaving is a true pleasure, and when I’m at the loom I lose track of time and everything else. Unless something totally unexpected happens, I’m sure to meet my goal.

      I’m happy to hear you benefitted from the rag rug demo. I hope I get to see your next rag rug!

      Thanks friend,
      Karen

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