Tapestry Butterflies and Video Tutorial

Wool butterflies are my crayons. I use them to color the spaces of my color-by-number cartoon that’s under the warp. I am using Borgs 6/2 Tuna wool and Borgs 6/1 Fårö wool in this tapestry, combining strands of various colors to get just the right hue, value, and intensity. Getting that right is the hard part. Winding butterflies is the easy part. Especially if you learned it from Joanne Hall, as I did.

Pictorial tapestry beginning.
Start of new tapestry. Butterflies are composed of specific colors to achieve desired results for contrast, shading, and depth.

It is essential to know how to make a good butterfly when you want to weave a tapestry on a big floor loom like this. A good butterfly is compact enough to easily pass through warp ends. And secure enough to stay intact through all those passes. It also needs to have a tail that is simple to extend. A good butterfly never ends up in a knot or a jumble of threads, but instead, gives your hands pure delight as it flows through your fingers to color your tapestry.

Colorful tapestry butterflies.
Detail of colorful tapestry butterflies.
New butterfly is ready to fly in.
New butterfly is ready to find its place in the mix.

This video shows how I make my tapestry butterflies.

May your days be colored with delight.

From the crayon box,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful colors! 🙂 Nice, simple video. 🙂

  • Charlotte says:

    Good morning, dearest! What a lovely way to start my day…a fresh cup of coffee and your sweet video. I am so thankful that we were able to take Joanne’s workshop. I finally finished my sample and realize how much I like the movement in the cloth. There isn’t a cartoon in mind, for me. But, I hope one day to dream up something and put it on the floor loom.

    Thank you for blessing me with your faithful love and kindness…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, I, too, am grateful for that pictorial tapestry workshop! Movement in the cloth is a good way to describe it. It’s such a satisfying way to do tapestry.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Well, isn’t that slick?! Thanks to you and Joanne for sharing this trick!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It is slick! Before I learned this simple method, my butterflies were nothing but trouble, coming undone and ending up in knots. Something so simple can make a huge difference.

      Have a great day!
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Thank you for the video on butterflies, Karen! I have tried them from a book illustration and was thoroughly disappointed. They were loose and sloppy so I bought tapestry bobbins instead.
    I am saving this video for a future planned project.

    May you have a blessed day. I am looking forward to seeing what you create with with these butterflies.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s nice to have butterflies that hold together. I had trouble with mine, too, before learning this method.

      This tapestry will give me many hours of enjoyment! I’ll show it little by little.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Butterflies were used on a cardboard tapestry loom for a 1973 high school art project. The slick wrapping was not taught.

    It would appear there is more to learn, even I areas I was confident..

    Don’t know about West Texas, but after a humid, rainy and sunless Monday..Tuesday is dry and cloudless. Beautiful day! New skill! God is in the heavens today.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, You have a great memory. It’s sweet that you remember these details from a high school art project.

      In this part of Texas (not quite considered West Texas), sunshine and scattered clouds have been the norm. Every day is a good day!

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Allison Grove says:

    Thanks for this video. I’ve struggled with using butterflies, but now realize I haven’t been winding the tail end tight enough and too few times. Allison

Leave a Reply


Travel Weaving to Germany

I am turning right around to head out on another travel adventure. This time it’s Potsdam, Germany and Innsbruck, Austria with my sister Barbara. You know what that means—prepare my smallest tapestry frame for travel weaving. Besides the loom, I need necessary tools, warp thread, weft yarn, a cartoon, extra paper and pencil, book light and extra batteries, and a small bag in which to carry it all.

Fresno Canyon in Big Bend Ranch State Park is breathtaking. Steve captured the awe last week with his Canon Rebel T3i Digital SLR camera. My dream now is to capture the view in yarn. I am making a cartoon directly from a black-and-white print of the photograph.
Choosing Fårö wool yarn for a tapestry.
My Fårö yarn is housed in three baskets of an Elfa cart. I look at a photo image of Fresno Canyon on my iPhone to select colors to use for the tapestry.
Preparing for some travel tapestry weaving.
Selected colors of yarn are wrapped on labelled embroidery floss bobbins to put in the travel tapestry bag.
Preparing for some travel tapestry weaving.
Weft colors are sorted and placed in the plastic pockets of this craft holder I found at Hobby Lobby.
Travel tapestry supplies.
Everything needed for a little 3 1/2″ x 6″ desert vista tapestry is being tucked away in travel bags.

After that, I can pack my clothes, etc. First things first.

(By the time you read this Barbara and I will be in Germany enjoying the food, listening to fine music, and scouting out fiber-y treasures whenever we get a chance.)

May your adventures be memorable.

Glückliches Weben,
Karen

9 Comments

Leave a Reply


Process Review: First Drawloom Warp

There are two questions I hear most often. 1. How long did it take? 2. What is it going to be? These are hard questions to answer. I admit that I stumble around to find satisfying answers. 1. How long? Hours and hours. 2. Cloth. It is going to be cloth. What will the cloth be used for? I don’t know. But when I need a little something with a pretty design, I’ll know where to find it. There are two finished pieces, though, from this first drawloom warp: the Heart-Shaped Baskets table runner (adapted from a pattern in Damask and Opphämta, by Lillemor Johansson), and a small opphämta table topper that I designed on the loom. The rest are samplers, experiments, tests, and just plain fun making-of-cloth. Oh, and I wondered if I could take the thrums and make a square braid…just for the fun of it.

First warp on my drawloom. Success!
Opphämta piece on the left, with Fårö wool pattern weft. Heart-Shaped Baskets runner on the right, with red 16/2 cotton pattern weft. Ten pattern shafts.

I will let the pictures tell the story of this first drawloom warp.

May you have plenty of things to make just for fun.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

15 Comments

Leave a Reply


All the Looms

The plan to keep every loom dressed is easy when there is only one loom. Now that I have four floor looms, it’s a tough plan to follow. The drawloomcheck. The Glimåkra Standard, dressed in Tuna wool—check. The two smaller looms are threaded, and just need tying on and tying up. So, I’m well on my way! The end of the first warp on the drawloom is in view, however. That means the drawloom will soon be back in the queue. And so it goes.

Winding a warp for rosepath rag rugs. 12/6 cotton. Spring colors.
Winding a warp for rosepath rag rugs. 12/6 cotton. Spring colors.
Warp for cottolin towels.
Warp for cottolin towels is threaded on the little hand-built loom.
Opphämta on the drawloom.
Opphämta on the drawloom. Pattern weft is 6/1 Fårö wool. The right side of the fabric is seen underneath, as it comes around the breast beam.
Threading heddles on the Glimåkra Ideal.
Threading heddles on the Glimåkra Ideal.
Blue and Almond Tuna wool warp.
Blue and Almond Tuna wool warp is tied on in 1″ sections.

I like to stay a step ahead of my looms. I’m ready to wind a new warp as soon as I finish cutting off. It’s the cycle of weaving. But I have trouble staying ahead.

Tying up treadles on the Glimakra countermarch.
Twelve shafts. Twelve upper lamms. Twelve lower lamms. Twelve treadles. This is an amazing system.
Warp is tied on. Ready for rag rugs!
Warp is tied on. Ready to add the leveling string.
Loom is dressed for small wool double weave blanket.
Loom is dressed. Treadle cords are adjusted. Ready for weaving!
End of warp on the drawloom.
End of warp comes near the pattern heddles. This is my first drawloom warp, so I’m waiting to see how far I can weave until I lose a good shed. So far, so good.
My first drawloom warp.
Closing chapter of my first drawloom warp. I’ll keep “turning pages” until the shed disappears.

We have good plans for our lives. But often, it’s tough to follow those plans. Too many things happen at once, and we don’t know how to stay ahead of it all. The thing to remember is that our plans stem from our inner commitments. When we commit our ways to the Lord, trusting him, he leads us through our days. Trust turns plans into achievements. And those are the plans worth pursuing.

May your best plans succeed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

17 Comments

  • Robin says:

    I love your posts. You are such an inspiration. And it is so evident you went to vavstuga, using the techniques she taught. Going there for the basics class was a little retirement gift to myself last year.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robin, Going to Vavstuga Basics was one of my best moves. I learned things from Becky Ashenden that I use every day. I’m glad you’ve had the Vavstuga experience, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    Robin is right, you are an inspiration! Your work is impeccable and motivating. I have only two looms and can’t seem to get them going at the same time.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, The truth about multiple looms is that you can only weave on one loom at a time.

      Now that all the looms are threaded I may focus on one loom at a time and weave it off. …unless I get distracted by another loom and decide to weave a little on it…

      Thank you for your kind words,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    About this time last year I warped up my homemade loom at the top of my skill set in rosepatth, then life got in the way. Last week I started a 6 week class at the Fiberwood studio near by. Chosen pattern is rosepath, to get my skills where they need to be (and girls night out with a friend).

    Such joy to know you have also chosen rosepath to show on your blog.

    God does provide to the ready student.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I’m happy to hear you are interested in rosepath. Rosepath rag rugs are at the top of my list of favorite things to weave. It’s been way too long since I’ve had them on the loom.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Maria says:

    I just finished my first “ throw” . It was 46 wide in the reed. I had a terrible time keeping the edges and the floater broke a few times. Not my best weaving to say the least. How wide do you do your blankets and do you have any tips for weaving wide pieces? I would love to try the Tuna wool- what epi do you use for it?
    Thanks Karen!
    Maria Navarra

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, I know what you mean about facing challenges with a wide weave. I don’t use floating selvedges, so I can’t answer to that. I do use a temple. I find the temple helps me get consistent selvedges with wider widths. The weaving width of my biggest loom is 47″, and I have woven nearly that full width. Getting just the right tension on the warp is necessary, so that it’s just tight enough. If it’s a bit too loose, my shuttle wants to fall through.

      Here’s a page from Vavstuga’s website with a “recipe” for a Tuna wool blanket. I would go with that for a first time Tuna wool throw. It makes a terrific throw. http://store.vavstuga.com/product/yarn-borg-woo-tuna.html

      The one I have on the loom right now is double weave, and the sett is pretty dense, so it takes some patience and practice to make the wool open up with a decent shed.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen says:

    The last time I got both of my looms warped at the same time I took a photo….so I could prove I did it and so I could remember it….ha. Thank you for your encouragemment and inspiration, including a journey of faith.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Don’t forget it has taken me about 3 months to finally get all the looms (almost) dressed. Haha. There’s never a chance to get bored around here.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen. Thank you for the inspiration regarding best laid plans.

    And the inspiration for weaving. I purchased a Megado recently and I am struggling with the follow through and putting it into use. Life does try to side track. However, I need to remember to hang onto the plan and trust in God.

    Hopefully, I will get to the Hill Country one day to visit.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, We would be delighted to have you come for a visit!

      There are many things in life more important than dressing looms. I’m sure those are the things you are attending to.

      I have found that I can make it a practice to go to the drawloom every morning after breakfast, even if for a short time. And, it surprises me how those minutes add up over time and now I’m almost at the end of the warp. I think, How did that happen?

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Liz says:

    I am so blown away with how prolific you are with weaving! It takes me all day to dress my little Schacht! I am inspired watching your work! Thank You!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liz, It’s all one step at a time, little by little, day after day. It adds up. I think you’re doing quite well to dress your loom in a day!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Charlotte Reid says:

    Is it possible to do opphamta designs on a standard four harness loom (drawdown)? I’ve been trying to figure this out after being in Sweden and visiting some weavers. I have obtained what looks like two shed blades for my floor looms ( they came with the used looms). C. Reid

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, What an interesting visit to Sweden you must have had! It is most certainly possible to do opphamta designs on a regular four-shaft loom. One book with a good description, including pictures, of the process is “Damask and Opphämta,” by Lillemor Johansson. I was able to find a copy through a used book seller. You could also check with your local handweavers guild to see if they have a copy you could borrow.

      Besides a pick-up stick and weaving sword, you will need long-eye heddles. And for repeating patterns, some sticks with holes in the ends and some regular heddles to use as half-heddle sticks.

      I think you are going to have a wonderful time with this beautiful weaving technique!
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


My Four-Shaft Tapestry – Will it Work?

Is this going to work? Yes, I think so. I am testing things out. So far, so good. Can I follow the cartoon? Yes. Do I have a good way to hold the cartoon in place? Yes. And to put the color and value key where I can see it? Yes. Do I have enough yarn in each of the colors, values, and thicknesses that I need? No. I see some gaps, especially in the mid-to-dark value range. I am ordering more yarn today. Is four-shaft tapestry going to be as delightful an experience as I’ve long hoped? Most probably, yes! Word of the day: Yes!

Wool yarns for four-shaft tapestry.

Testing, testing. Blending of yarns, blending of colors, checking value contrasts.

Blending yarn colors and thicknesses for tapestry.

Blending yarn colors and thicknesses gives interesting results. This is practice for some of the background area of the tapestry.

Testing new approach to tapestry weaving.

Finding out if I can follow details on the cartoon. Experimenting with adding floats in places as texture to enhance the design.

Trying out four-shaft tapestry.

Will I be able to handle multiple yarn butterflies? I think so.

Practicing technique for a new tapestry on the Glimakra Ideal loom.

Testing some of the green hues for part of the main subject of the tapestry. Also keeping an eye on selvedges, so they don’t draw in.

Testing various elements before starting the *actual* tapestry.

Plenty of warp is available for practice. I want to test all the critical elements before I start the *actual* tapestry. This tapestry will be woven horizontally.

Words. I am affected by words—spoken by others, and spoken from my own mouth. Grace in our words can be an invitation of kindness and relief to someone who is testing our framework. When Christ’s words dwell in us, the richness of his words affect our being. And then, our words of yes and no are grace-filled bearers of hope.

May you see hope on your horizon.

With hope,
Karen

6 Comments

  • The practice weaving is lovely. Timeless….

    May the fourth be with you– 🙂

    Nannette

  • Joanne Hall says:

    You have a great start on this project. Keep sending us updates. Joanne

  • Michele Dixon says:

    I’m interested in how you attached your cartoon to the loom. I’ve never done it on a horizontal loom so I’m not sure what I’ll do when the time comes.

    Love your practice piece. I can’t wait to see what you actually weave.

Leave a Reply