Weave Past the Mid Mark

“Mid” marks the halfway point on every pre-measured tape I make. I like to know when I’m starting the second half of something. It’s a target before I reach it, and a passing milestone after I cross that line.

Middle line marks the halfway point in the weaving.

Pre-measured twill tape has a line at the halfway point, marked “Mid.” Tail from a spliced warp end will be trimmed in the finishing process.

As I’m weaving this throw, my thoughts jump ahead. I will have a few skipped threads to fix, and spliced warp ends to clip. I think about how I will hem the piece, and wash and dry it. In what special manner shall I present the finished throw to my beloved daughter-in-law? And, my mind goes to the twelve-shaft double weave towels for my daughter that are up next, with the flowery threads beckoning me from the shelves.

Cotton double weave on the loom.

Double weave with eight shafts. 8/2 cotton.

Shelves of weaving thread!

Do you see the aqua, poppy, marigold, and orchid cottolin threads that are ready to jump off the shelves and be woven into hand towels?

I’d like to know where I am in the span of my life. There is no “Mid” mark, though, is there? I’m not in charge of that measured tape. Faith in Christ, love, and perseverance—these form a foundation. A solid foundation is security for life. In this security, I think about what I need to repair and resolve and finish. And how to leave intangible gifts that outlive me. And I think about the glory that awaits. Imagine fabric of unbridled creativity in colors only heaven knows!

May your second half be better than your first.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Meg says:

    What a awesome, beautiful, fantastic piece. And congrats to midway.

  • Written like the creative soul God created you as.

    Midway is hard to place with life on Earth. It is not as ‘tangible’ as your weaving. I often wonder why some people have a very short midpoint and others…. much longer… What have they left behind to continue on through others?

    Even so, having been gifted hand woven fabric from another generation, I cannot help but look at your sparkling colors and see the colors they will fade to be with time. Is the softness that time brings to dyes also a softness God gives to our memories left behind.

    Blessings,

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, The items I have of my grandmother’s handwork is faded, as you say. Her memory lives on in me, and is softly faded to the point I only remember the good things about her.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen. At my age, I have no doubt that I have long since passed my mid point although I didn’t really wake up to that fact until I hit fifty. The first half of my life, I believed the tangible was so important; but in the second half, I believe that it is the intangible we leave behind that will be the longest lasting.
    After seeing so many beautiful handcrafted items in second hand stores, I realized that what I valued as family heirlooms to be handed down through the generations with stories may not be valued as such by the recipient of my work.
    So I just try to concentrate on the enjoyment of creating whatever I make, make what I like and hope that someone else might value it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I agree with you that the intangible seems more important now. The values we pass on will outlast the things we hand down.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Thank you all for your reflections, uncannily, similar to my own recently… the Holy Spirit weaving through our lives. Can you recommend 4 shaft double weave patterns for baby blankets? Though the blankets will probably not last, hopefully the love that weaves them will cover those new little lives.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, The only 4-shaft double weave I’ve done was a double-width throw. The double weave baby blankets I’ve woven were on 8-shafts. Both the double-width and the 8-shaft double weave projects were from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell.

      Your love will definitely have the longest-lasting impact.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Lucia Portrait Tapestry

A little here, a little there, and eventually I finish another small tapestry. This little woven portrait of my granddaughter Lucia was a huge challenge. I knew that from the beginning. In fact, I had about three beginnings with this intimidating project. My aim is not to make a masterpiece, but to keep making. And making, and making. Every time I go beyond what I think I can do, I learn more.

This Lucia Portrait Tapestry is best viewed from a distance. Up close, the details seem abrupt and harsh. But when I look at her from across the room, I see the picture of a child’s face.

I trimmed the weft tails on the back, steamed the piece, and made a half Damascus edging. The edging and the weft tails near the sides are stitched down. The hems are turned under and stitched. I plan to mount this on a linen-covered square, and hang the finished piece where it can be easily viewed from a few steps back.

Ending a small frame loom tapestry.

Small tapestry ends with a short hem, warp thread header, and a scrap header. I overestimated how far I could comfortably weave. This is a less-than-optimal distance from the end of the warp for weaving.

Trimming weft tails on the back of the little tapestry.

Most of my tapestry weaving is done in the evenings as part of my winding-down routine. In this session the back of the tapestry gets a haircut.

Finishing a small tapestry. Cute slideshow video.

Straggler weft tails are reigned in with a little sewing thread.

Small tapestry portrait. Slideshow video of the process!

Finished Lucia Portrait Tapestry is 4 1/4″ x 4 7/8″.

Enjoy this slideshow video. The ending is sure to make you smile!

May you keep making.

Love,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    This tapestry is AWESOME, Karen! A forever keepsake, but also a reminder of a special little one who holds a special place in your heart. With all you do and share, you still found time to do this artwork. God bless you, your granddaughter and your family! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Joyce, The time comes in snippets, but those snippets add up. Children grow up fast, so it will be nice to have a tapestry snapshot of this young age.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Well said, Joyce!
    Karen, This is just lovely! Such a special piece. Yes, the ending made me smile.

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Beth, Thank you for your sweet encouragement. I’m glad you enjoyed the little clip at the end!

      Have a great day!
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    So sweet! Such a small piece, but the amount of work amazing..I hope you might do maybe a trilogy? As she is growing…beautiful memento for her to keep.
    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I like the idea of a trilogy. That gives me another thought – maybe I should start on a small portrait of one of my other six grandchildren…

      Thank you for recognizing the amount of work that went into this small piece.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • This slide show was just what I needed on a dreary rainy morning! Such a lovely small piece. I am so impressed with your color gradation/detail. May I ask what yarns you use for these small weavings? Many thanks! And yes the ending is so sweet!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pamela, I’m happy the slide show had an uplifting effect for you!

      I’m able to get some of the color gradation because I use three strands of Fårö wool. Using three strands enables me to make subtle changes in the color. The sett is 10 epi.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Little Lucia in tapestry is a wonderful moment in time, Karen. You did a fantastic job!

  • Libertyquilts@yahoo.com says:

    Oh Karen, she is so beautiful! You were so brave to take on such a difficult piece!! Love it and her
    Libby

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Great interpretation of the photo. It looks like she is watching you from every angle!
    And yes, I believe you should do a tapestry of each of the other grandchildren. Otherwise, what will they think?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, Yes, surprisingly, her eyes do follow you across the room. I will give that some serious thought – each of the grandchildren…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • The precision of decision needed with each color choice when weaving tapestry explains how Penolope was able to ward off suitors while Odysseus was away. What non weaving person would voice an opinion deciding if one or two strands of a pink was needed for the ear lobe’s center, more than once?

    It is a beautiful jewel with Mona Lisa eyes.

    Nannette

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Quiet Friday: Linen Upholstery Fabric

Do you dream of making upholstery fabric? I do. There are four chair seats at our Texas hill country home that I want to re-cover. Now I have custom upholstery fabric!

Linen on the cloth beam.

Linen upholstery fabric on the loom.

Cutting off never loses its excitement! I have one long piece of yardage, with no separations or divisions.

Cutting off! Linen upholstery fabric.

Cutting off! Linen.

New linen fabric.

Light through the linen fabric. Cutting off!

Tie-on bar as linen fabric is unrolled.

Just off the loom, the hefty linen fabric (8/2 linen, warp and weft) is stiff and unyielding. Will this window-screen material make suitable upholstery that’s soft enough to sit on? Yet, even in this state, the linen beckons and intrigues.

Unwashed new linen fabric.

First, the edges are serged. I check for weaving errors, finding none. There are spliced warp ends in five places, which are trimmed.

Unwashed new linen fabric.

I make a large tube by basting the two ends of the yardage together, to reduce twisting in the wash. The washing machine (top loader) works as a soaking tub first. The linen slowly soaks up water in the tub, relaxing there for an hour or two. Then it’s time to wash and dry. The first time, I omit the spin cycle and remove it from the dryer while still damp, to prevent permanent creasing.

New handwoven linen fabric just washed.

New handwoven linen fabric just washed.

And then, I wash and dry the yardage again.

New handwoven fabric after second wash.

Custom handwoven linen upholstery fabric!

Talk about softening up! Oh, I wish you could be here to handle it with me! This is dreamy linen fabric, perfect for sitting.

Just woven custom linen upholstery fabric.

May your fabric dreams come true.

Happy weaving,
Karen

24 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    What a great project! What sett did you use and how much shrinkage did you get with washing and drying. I have some dining room chairs that I want to recover. Your project may be the “kick” that I need to go from dreaming to doing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, So I’m not the only one who thinks of weaving fabric to recover chairs…
      The sett is 15 epi. I haven’t done the final measuring yet. I’ll report back later today with the shrinkage after I’ve done that.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Betsy, I have the shrinkage figures for you.

      I had 12% shrinkage in width and about 15% shrinkage in length. The fabric was washed in warm water and dried on a medium setting.

      Karen

      • Betsy says:

        Karen
        Thank you for the info. That will help in my planning. I was just looking at a book by Ann Sutton called Color and Weave Design that has handreds of designs. They are all in black and white yarn and the book is arranged like pages of gamps.

        Betsy

        • Karen says:

          Betsy, Sounds like a fascinating book. I’ll have to look that up.

          Send me a picture (Karen @ warpedforgood . com) when you get something going. I’d enjoy seeing what you come up with.

          Karen

          • Betsy says:

            Karen
            My current project is to make a jacket to through on on summer evenings. I’ve just wound a warp with 3/2 cotton for sampling. I’ll move on to upholstery fabric after I finish the jacket.
            Betsy

  • Shari says:

    Absolutely lovely! It looks like two colors. What colors did you use. Looks like grey or brown. What’s the weave structure? 4 or 8? Absolutely lovely!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shari, This is 8/2 line linen, unbleached and golden bleached. The look of natural linen is pleasing! Four shaft plain weave, with color and weave effect. Only two treadles! This was relatively fast and easy weaving.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Bev says:

    Love linen (having learned to spin on it decades ago) I really need to get my looms going. Thanks to your examples and encouragement.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, I admire anyone who can spin, especially linen! I’m happy to hear that you’re feeling prompted to get weaving looms going. That makes me smile!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    This is so beautiful Karen! I have a padded piano bench that was my mothers that I have been wanting to recover and this is the inspiration that I needed to get going.

    I’ll take any opportunity to work with linen and I just love the combination of unbleached and golden. I’m wondering if a shadow and weave pattern would also work with this color combination of linen. The pattern might be more subtle, but could be interesting!

    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Kathryn, How lovely to weave fabric for your piano bench! I think this weight linen will work well for seat and piano bench covers.
      The unbleached and golden linen give only a subtle pattern, so if you want the pattern to be more noticeable, you’d want higher contrast in the colors. I don’t have experience with shadow weave, so I’m probably not the best one to ask about that.

      I’d love to see what you come up with!

      And, yay!, another weaving upholstery dreamer…

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Janet H says:

    Karen,
    Your fabric came out beautifully (LOVE it)–I do so want to touch it! Do you have to do any special handling while weaving with linen (I have no experience with linen)? And how do you handle the fabric from the washer without using the spin cycle? Isn’t it heavy and dripping with water?

    • Karen says:

      Janet, Linen works best with a little extra care, but I find it a special pleasure to weave with linen. I have a sidebar with tips for linen in my Dice Weave Pillows project in Jan/Feb 2016 Handwoven.

      Generally, you want good, even tension across the warp as you beam the warp. Avoid abrasion as much as possible, for which a temple is helpful. And, sometimes a little moisture will help if you have warp ends breaking.

      Near the end of the rinse cycle I stand at the washing machine and listen for the water to drain out. When it sounds like the last little bit has drained and the spin has started, I stop the machine. If there is still too much water in the fabric at that point, I even out the yardage, untwisting and unfolding it as much as possible and then turn it on and let it just barely spin. That gets enough water out so it’s not dripping wet, and I can to move it to the dryer.

      For smaller pieces, like towels, I don’t mind if they are wet and dripping. I roll them in dry towels to remove moisture before putting them in the dryer, or laying them flat to dry.

      By the way, this piece of linen yardage is heavy even when dry. When I first pulled it out of the washer it was really heavy!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Libby says:

    Hi Karen,
    This is just beautiful! What a good idea to cover your chairs, I’ve done that many times over the years, but yours will be so nice. I can’t wait to see them done!!
    Libby

  • Hi Karen,
    In 1991 my mother-in-law was going through her attic and handed me some yardage that her mother wove on a loom made by her father. It was of pearl cotton with one in a birds eye weave of red and cream. I put them away because the fabrics had no purpose in my house hold with young children

    When we put together a weekend home I used one of the pieces to cover second hand dining room chairs. The result proves the rule to use beautiful things.

    Your beautiful newly covered chairs will give you years of enjoyment.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Oh how wonderful! Thanks for sharing your experience. That’s great that you were able to put that special fabric to good use.

      I look forward to putting these chair seats together and sharing my enjoyment of them with my family and friends. It’s a great way to be able to see and feel the handwoven fabric in daily living.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

  • Doris says:

    Hi Karen
    You have woven a very wonderful fabric, that certainly gives great chairs
    Kind regards
    Doris

  • Elisabeth says:

    This fabric is gorgeous! Such a pleasant weight linen and the beautiful suble texture and pattern really adds to its beauty!
    I strongly believe that surrounding ourselves with things made with passion and love, and out of quality materials do something to us. I am convinced that the qualities put into it by the maker follow the item and is sensed by the user. It is so satisfying to touch, use, and take care of things like these. And they age so beautifully 🙂
    Thank you for so generously sharing your passion!

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, You have a way with words. I enjoy hearing your thoughts—so rich and insightful. I agree, it is immensely satisfying to surround ourselves with beautiful things that are made by hand, with love mixed in.

      Happy weaving, friend,
      Karen

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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.

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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.

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