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.

Leave a Reply


Quiet Friday: Linen Satin Dräll

This is one of those weaving projects that puts you on top of the world. Everything about it. Linen, ten shafts, five-shaft satin weave, ten treadles, gorgeous Moberg damask shuttle, single-shuttle rhythm, full-body weaving, magical fabric. I did have more than my share of knots in the warp, and a few skipped threads and selvedge loops. But you will see no evidence of those glitches now. All you will see is the natural beauty of linen, with its characteristic unevenness. And the reflective satin dräll weave, with its light-catching trickery.

The warp is Bockens unbleached 16/2 line linen. Two of the towels use 16/1 golden bleached linen for the weft. At my husband’s request, the remaining three towels have 16/2 linen weft, in ecru. The thicker weft helps make these into robust absorbent handtowels. A table square finishes off the set.

Enjoy the process with me as I reminisce over the start-to-finish pleasure of weaving these towels.

Winding a linen warp.

Linen warp chains.

Tying on the linen warp.

Tying up 10 treadles on a countermarch!

Sampling weft colors on a linen warp.

Sunlit linen damask weaving.

Hidden patterns in the 5-shaft satin.

Linen 5-shaft satin dräll!

Beautiful Moberg damask shuttle.

Spliced warp ends.

Linen satin dräll on the loom.

End of the warp is near. So many warp end repairs!

Cutting off! Linen 5-shaft satin dräll.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for towels.

Ready to sew handwoven hanging tabs on new linen towels.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin handtowels.

Handwoven linen towel with handwoven hanging tab.

Handwoven set of linen satin dräll towels. Karen Isenhower

May you find pleasure in what you do.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Exquisite, Karen!

  • JAN says:

    Nice finishing touch with hand woven hanging tab. Had you ever though of putting another one in the middle of the long edge so the towel can be hung on a hook above the sink?

    • Karen says:

      Hi JAN, I haven’t done that, but it’s a great idea. I would need to figure out how to attach it, since there is not a hem on the side. These tabs would be a little too thick to fold the ends under, but could certainly do that with tabs made with thinner threads. Have you done it?

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Janet says:

    Beautiful towels and beautifully woven!

  • Betsy says:

    Wonderful towels! And I’m so impressed that your husband knows enough about yarn to recommend 16/2 over 16/1.

    Your little bowl of pegs next to the treadles reminds me of my last project, huck placemats. I could remember the treadling, but not the 18 repeats. So I had a bowl like yours with 18 pegs, and after every repeat I moved one peg to another bowl. And every once in a while I’d crawl around the Julia counting the repeats in case I made a mistake, lol.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Haha, I may have given the wrong impression about my husband. He specified thicker, less dainty towels, and I chose the appropriate size of linen.

      What a great way to keep track of repeats. I’m going to remember that!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nancy Nordquist says:

    These are absolutely beautiful! Than you for sharing so many photos and details of the process.

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Yes, this weave is magical and so fun to weave. And thank you for the beauticul photos. Did you use your phone to take these photos?
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I feel so “at home” weaving something like this. It is satisfying and rewarding.

      I use my iPhone 7 for all my photos. Steve has a very nice digital SLR camera, but I do best with the simple little iPhone. And it’s always in my pocket or on the table beside me. I take way too many pictures, and then I whittle them down to my very favorites to share here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barb says:

    Beautiful design, beautifully woven. The joy & pleasure you have in weaving shows in every finished project. Each time you use these towels, you will be reminded of your enjoyment of the process of weaving. Thank you for sharing your talents and inspiring other weavers to find that joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Your thoughtful comments mean so much! If I can inspire another weaver to find a little more joy in this wonderful weaving process, that would be fantastic!
      Part of the pleasure of having towels like this in my home is getting to see others enjoy the results, too.

      Thanks so much,
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    Beautiful and inspirational!

  • Gretchen says:

    Love these Karen!! So simple and classic… and perfect! Beautiful.

Leave a Reply


What to Do about Weaving Errors

I’ve been waiting for a bright sunshiny day to thoroughly examine this tightly-woven linen satin dräll fabric. Today is perfect. Fixing errors must be done before the fabric is washed, when the weave will become even tighter. I am looking for unwanted floats where the shuttle skipped threads, and for loops at the selvedges.

In my examination I did find an errant float and a few small selvedge loops. Let’s get started.

Tools:

  • Blunt-tip needle. Sharp needle tip has been sanded to a rounded tip.

Blunt needle for fixing weaving errors.

  • Thread. Use the same weft or warp thread that is in the area needing repair.
  • Good lighting. If the fabric has a complex structure, good lighting is essential.
  • Magnification. I take a photo on my iPhone, and then zoom in to see the minute details.

Zoom in on iPhone photo to magnify details.

 

How to Mend Skipped Threads:

1 Locate the error. Here is a long weft float.

What to do with skipped threads. Tutorial.

2 Thread the blunt-tip needle with a length of the same thread as the float.

Tutorial on fixing weaving errors.

3 Following the exact under-over pattern of the weave, start one inch before the float and needle-weave toward the float. I lay my iPhone nearby, with the magnified iPhone photo clearly showing the weave pattern.

Needle weaving to mend a weaving error. How to.

4 Needle-weave the correct path of the thread through the float area. Continue needle-weaving along the same thread pathway, going one inch beyond the float.

How to fix skipped threads in weaving.

5 Check the front and back of the fabric to see if your stitches match the correct pattern of the weave.

Skipped threads in weaving. Fixed!

6 When you are certain that the float thread has been accurately replaced, clip the float and remove it (or, leave it and trim it after washing). Leave two-inch tails on the replacement thread, and trim after wet finishing. (I leave the replacement tails so I can find and check the repair after it is washed. This also allows for shrinkage before trimming.)

Clip off the float AFTER repair thread is in place.

 

How to Fix a Small Selvedge Loop

1 Locate the loop.

How to fix a loop in the selvedge.

2 Using the blunt-tip needle, gently ease the excess thread to spread over four or five stitches inside the selvedge.

Easing in a loop at the selvedge. Short how-to.

3 The thread that has been eased in (just above the needle) will completely smooth out in wet finishing.

Eliminate an errant loop at the selvedge.

What skipped threads and loops would be found if I were examined this closely? Would I leave them and hope no one notices? Or, would I allow re-weaving and cutting away? A negative attitude is replaced with a thread of thankfulness. A loop of complaining is eased back in. The result is joy. A thankful heart knows joy. When the fabric is washed, the errant floats and loops are gone. What remains is the woven fabric with lustrous threads of joy.

May you have a bright sunshiny day.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Re-weaving and cutting away in life – what a great analogy.

    I am fascinated by your snips (scissors). Are they surgical snips? Those curved blades! I’d love a pair of my own.

    Here’s to a day full of joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Finding those personal flaws can be a little painful for me, but putting in a better thread is worth it.

      These snips with curved tips work great! I found them at a vendor at the quilt festival in Houston a few years ago. I picked up another similar pair at a needlework shop a couple years ago.

      Joy to you!
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen! I loved your analogy! The lazy part of me would think no one might notice because change is difficult. But then the good Catholic guilt takes over and I must do something about myself!

    The same with corrections in my weaving. My first thought is will anyone really see that? But I can’t unsee it, so it must get fixed!

    One thing I never knew though, was that the loopy selvedges could be corrected. Thank you for sharing this technique, Karen. I am always eager to learn how to improve and correct, though I sometimes have to do a bit of self talk first!

    Enjoy the sun today.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The wonderful thing about grace is that someone greater than us does the fixing. He can see clearly what needs to be done.

      You are right about not being able to unsee a flaw. If there is something I can do about it, I will. If it can’t be fixed, then, I will chalk it up to the reality of being handmade.

      The loop I showed here would probably correct itself in the wash, but it wasn’t hard to ease in the thread, so I did.

      Happy to have another day with sunlight!
      Karen

  • Mary Still says:

    Beautiful piece and I like what you say at the end! Bless You!
    Mary

  • Linda Cornell says:

    You are a gifted writer as well as weaver. Thank you for sharing both!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, It feels like a privilege to me to be able to weave and write and have someone like you show interest. Thank you!

      All the best,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Beauty in Cutting Off

There is beauty in cut threads. They signify completion. Look what has become of these linen threads! Order and sequence, timing and continuity, perseverance and pursuit. Through a weaver’s hands it all adds up to fabric made for a purpose.

Cutting off! Linen threads flow through the reed like a waterfall.

Cutting off! Linen warp ends flow through the reed like a waterfall after the cloth is cut off.

Linen 5-shaft damask. Cutting off!

Cut threads appear as tidy fringe on the stately linen satin damask weave. The warp beam holds the cloth until it is ceremoniously unrolled.

Linen damask weaving, just cut from the loom.

Fabric and warping slats fall to the ground.

Linen fabric just off the loom, ready for finishing.

On the sewing room work table, the completed fabric awaits the finishing process. I will look for and repair errors, secure cut ends with serger stitching, and wet finish the fabric. Then, I will hem them so they can be used as the towels I envisioned from the start.

Father. With God as our Father, we are on the receiving end of the process. Grace and peace, granted from the Father’s hand, shape our lives. And, like a good weaver, our Father makes something beautiful from the threads we offer him. Imagine the day when it may be said of us, “Look what became of the linen threads in the Grand Weaver’s hands!”

May your threads turn into something beautiful.

With joy,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful tribute to Our Father who IS the Masterweaver! I just finished the second project on my Baby Wolf and it was a major learning experience, so it is a miracle that, as I cut it off, it really became the towels I intended to do! Lessons: (1) Make sure that the warp goes OVER the back beam (2) count the heddles more carefully to avoid need to make repair heddles…which sometimes come loose! (3) Use the right equipment, e.g. raddle that spreads the threads so they are straight. But, they will come off the loom this a.m. I intend to continue doing the back to front warping until I learn it better…and I will do something in plain cloth, with at least some stripes. Thanks to many resources, I have choices! Thank you, Karen, for this timely message! God Bless!

    • Karen says:

      Good Morning, Joyce, I think that you will find that every new warp on the loom is a new learning experience. Congratulations on finding solutions along the way! Neglecting to go over the back beam is a common one-time error. Call it “weaving initiation.” It’s the kind of error you only make one time. 😉
      I don’t use a raddle. Instead, I pre-sley the reed, which is another easy way to spread the warp.

      You are right, you have choices!

      Grace to you, and peace from God our Father.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Goodness! They’re going to be luxurious towels.

    • Karen says:

      Good Morning, Beth! Linen fabric captivates me because of the way it hides and reveals pattern depending on the light. I think that’s why linen works so well for satin damask, with it’s pattern of warp and weft floats. Yes, I guess handwoven linen satin damask is luxury. I feel very fortunate. :-j

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Shari says:

    Yourr weaving is lovely as are your words and writing!

  • Kay Larson says:

    Hi Karen!
    I love your blog. I am just getting back to weaving after a 20 year hiatus. Your words of wisdom have been a great help. Your talking about cutting off the cloth brought to mind a question. What do you do with your loom waste?

    Peaceful Weaving,
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, Welcome back to the world of weaving! I’m so glad you wandered over here. Great question!!

      Most of the time I discard the thrums (loom waste). However, I cannot get myself to throw away linen. So, I have several short chains of linen thrums hanging in my weaving studio. I have a few other chains of thrums of yarn that was too pretty or too long to justify throwing away. I have used cotton thrums as choke ties, using a few threads bundled together. But I have other choke ties that I prefer to use. There “should” be a good use of thrums, and I’ve heard of a few; but life (and space) is too short to keep everything that “could” be used someday. I did find a draft for linen washcloths that uses linen thrums in the weft. I have that on my list for this year’s weaving, so you’ll see with me how that works out. Who knows, that may open a whole new door for thrums!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    Hello Karen,

    These are so beautiful! Are they going to be dish towels?

    You have inspired me to try this type of weave on my new loom (loom number three and counting)! Do you have a resource for learning how to weave satin damask? Also, what is the weight of the linen you are using and the set?

    I hope you don’t mind me picking you brain:)
    Thank you so much,
    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn, These will be dish towels and/or hand towels.

      Thanks for asking questions! It’s a pleasure to correspond about weaving.

      The warp is 16/2 linen. The weft on two of the towels is 16/1 linen, which makes a nice elegant towel. My husband requested that I make some towels that are not as “sweet and sissy,” that are thicker and more hefty. So the remaining towels have 16/2 linen weft. I will know more after wet finishing, but I think these heftier towels will be very nice. If they end up being too stiff I may not cut them apart, and leave it as a long table runner.

      Weaving this satin damask has been so enjoyable that I have already wound a warp to do it again, with a slightly different pattern. And, I’m doing it in 8/2 cotton this time (with a 65/10 metric reed, 13 epc).

      You need ten shafts and ten treadles for this five-shaft satin in two blocks. I followed the draft and instructions for this from my favorite weaving book, “The Big Book of Weaving,” by Laila Lundell. I am using a 70/10 metric reed, and the sett is 14 ends per cm. With an Imperial reed, comparable would be an 18-dent reed, with 36 ends per inch.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Maggie ackerman says:

    Karen, I love these towels. You mentioned that one of the things you do post look is correct mistakes. How do you do this and which mistakes can be corrected off loom. I’m always dismayed upon finding a mistake but have learned that nothing is perfect. Thank you for your blog. I look forward to it.
    Maggie Ackerman

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, You ask a really good question. And you are so right that nothing is perfect. Thankfully, many weaving errors can be corrected off the loom. I think I shall do a blog post when I start fixing the errors on these towels. Thanks for the idea!

      The main kind of errors I’m looking for are skipped threads or floats. These can usually be corrected, but it must be done BEFORE the fabric is washed. I use a blunt needle and needle-weave the matching thread, warp or weft, in the correct path of the weave, starting about an inch before, and going about an inch beyond the errant float. On a tight weave like these towels, I may need to use a magnifier to see what I’m doing.

      The other kind of error that I want to take care of is a loop at the selvedge. Depending on the size of the loop, there are a couple ways I handle this. Either, cut the loop and sew it back into the fabric, or needle-weave in a new thread entirely. …or, just leave it and hope it will shrink in enough in the wash.

      I hope this helps! Look for a blog post on the subject in the next couple weeks.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Such lovely towels, I adore the colors and the draft.

Leave a Reply


Share the Joy of Weaving

What a delight to share the weaving experience with a friend! Two of these hot pads were woven by friends with no prior weaving experience. Miniature rag rugs make great hot pads, and provide a perfect learning experience for a guest weaver.

Rag rug hot pads.

Tenth hot pad, woven on 12/9 cotton warp. Fabric strips, previously cut for rag rugs, are used for the weft.

Ten rag rug hot pads are cut from the loom!

Ten hot pads are cut from the loom.

Ten hot pads ready for finishing.

Ten hot pads ready for finishing.

Finished handwoven rag rug hot pads.

Ends are tied in overhand knots and trimmed. Ready to be used!

I hope you are finding opportunities to share your joys with friends. The Christmas season reminds us that we have someone greater who shared His joy with us. He stays by our side, waiting for any call for help, but allows us to make the mistakes that teach us life lessons. As with weaving, every error can be forgiven. There is a remedy for any hopeless situation. Take courage, God is a rescuer. He sent Jesus on a mission to rescue us. And absolutely nothing can stop the mission of God. I am amazed at what he can do with the threads of a willing soul. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King.

May you share your joy.

Merry Christ – mas,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Merry Christmas, Karen! Thank you for sharing your beautiful work!

  • Lindy says:

    Hello, I love these hot pads but have a question (I’m new to weaving): what are the little white cloth strips on the corners of these pads and what did you do to them – they aren’t in the finished pictures?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lindy, Great question! The white you see is the scrap weft header. I weave two or three inches with throw-away fabric strips (mostly from old worn-out bedsheets) before and after every rag rug, or mini rag rag. The purpose of the scrap weft is to hold the weft of the rug in place. The scrap weft is removed a little at a time as I tie the warp ends into knots to make the weft completely secure.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Jill Kendall says:

    Beautiful & glorious words, Karen!
    Merry Christmas from North Carolina!

Leave a Reply