Weaving through The Big Book

It took me seven years of study, practice, and mistakes to complete this rigorous Swedish weaving curriculum! You have been with me through much of it right here. I’m talking about The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I made it through the book, sequentially, page by page, warp by warp. 43 warps in all! Remember the blue 12-shaft double-weave blanket I had on the loom in June? That is the final project in the book.

Handwoven double weave blanket. 12 shafts.
Double-weave wool fabric is ready for wet finishing, where it will be transformed into a soft, cozy blanket.

In the short video below, each completed project is presented in order in our Texas hill country home. Watch to the end to see the blue blanket in all its finished glory.

For nitty-gritty details, check out The Big Book of Weaving tab at the top of the page.

I. Secrets to success:

  • mindset of a student
  • determination
  • eyes on the goal
  • no option other than completion

One loom dedicated to the book.


II. Lessons learned:

  • technique
  • processes
  • planning
  • drafting
  • Swedish practices

Any mistake can be remedied.


III. Treasures gained:

  • patience
  • humility
  • endurance
  • focused attention
  • problem solving
  • creative freedom

Confidence.


IV. Prized perspectives:

  • new experiences
  • delight of dressing the loom
  • wonder of cloth-making
  • fresh ideas
  • joy of discovery
  • knowledge and understanding of the loom

Getting lost and absorbed in the whole process of weaving.

V. Favorite project: Old-Fashioned Weaving / Monksbelt (at 4:46 in the video)

Are we determined students of heavenly things? Oh, to know God’s will! Study what’s written, don’t lose heart, eyes on the prize, no option besides completion through Jesus Christ. One life dedicated to know him. Day by day, warp by warp, the Grand Weaver teaches us. We can know God’s will.

May you be a lifelong learner.

Happy Weaving to you,
Karen

36 Comments

  • Susie Redman says:

    Well done. It’s such a great book. I’m picking and choosing from the book – its a great way to learn.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Your work is so inspiring, Karen. I recall many of these projects, here and in Handwoven. Do you have a personal favorite? One that you’ll perhaps explore even further? Kudos!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much! My personal favorite is the monksbelt piece—the large multicolor runner on the dining room table. And yes, I have monksbelt ideas that I would like to explore. Another one I’d like to play around with and learn more about is the turned rosepath—the long narrow red band. There are so many possibilities!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    What a splendid presentation, Karen! You have accomplished so much, and each one is beautiful! Thanks for sharing, it was fun!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation. It was a lot of fun for me to put together, going back in time remembering all the projects.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Such a feast for the eyes!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Wow and Wow! Such an accomplishment! And your lovely home showcases all those projects beautifully. Thanks for making this video and thanks for your encouragement. I’m currently doing the Jane Stafford online guild lessons with a new video lesson and project every five weeks. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming but I’m determined to try each one. I’ve already learned so much!
    Thanks again for your encouragement and dedication, both to your weaving and for sharing your weaving and faith with others. It DOES make a big difference to many.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, I know how you feel. Many times I was overwhelmed and even discouraged about completing this mammoth dream. Keep pressing on with your lessons, it WILL be worth it–I promise! And between the hard parts, I really had a lot of fun! So enjoy it, too.

      I really appreciate your encouragement to me. It means more than you know.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Hi, Karen! I remember that you recommended this book to me last July was exploring what loom to purchase for my first multi shaft loom. I ended up purchasing a small table loom, a Louet Erica Loom so decided not to purchase the book since I would not have the capacity to work many of the projects.

    However, I recently purchased a larger loom and now, I believe that I will purchase this book. Thank you for sharing this and tweaking my memory of your recommendation.

    Everything you make is so beautiful! You are a wonderful inspiration to a beginning weaver.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The Big Book of Weaving has been my tutor. I started with it as a complete beginner. It was written as a curriculum, so it has everything I needed to gain skill and confidence. I hope you find it a great resource for learning.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    That video is amazing. As I hadn’t found you then, I didn’t know that you were following this book and studying your way through it. What a lovely compilation of work and color. Thank you

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Only a handful of people knew I was working my way through the book. I have mentioned The Big Book of Weaving here many times, but this is my first time to mention here on the blog that I was going through the book, step by step. I didn’t want too many people to “guess” what project I would do next… 🙂

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Congratulations, Karen! I remember when you started working through The Big Book of Weaving, but I didn’t remember it had been 7 years. What a great learning experience! Did you use all the same yarns as the projects called for?

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years, isn’t it? For most of the projects I used the yarns that were called for, but in colors of my choosing. I did change a few, though. For instance, two projects call for paper yarn. I didn’t know a good resource for that, so I substituted 8/2 cotton for one, and 16/1 linen for the other. So, for those I have beautiful scarves instead of room screens, which suits me better anyway.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Karen, I’m speechless. There are no words for my admiration of not only your artistic vision, but also the incredible amount of work clearly visible in the lovely video. Thank you for all the encouragement and advice you’ve given us you worked through the Big Book. MORE happy weaving to you. Joanna

    (My v. Favorite piece of your is also that fantastic monks belt. I think you captured all the lovely colors of the Texas Hill Country. It couldn’t be more perfect.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m fortunate to have a place where I can talk about things that I learn! Thanks for joining in!
      Every time I look at that monks belt piece, I get warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s so cheerful! I’m happy you like it, too!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kerimae says:

    You inspire me! As you know! 🙂

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    Truly inspirational. Thank you for your diligence and following the goal.
    What a lesson in perseverance. Warm glow…… -Carolyn Penny

  • Vida Clyne says:

    Congratulations on completing such an amazing and inspirational project. I love all the patterns and the lovely colours. I have not got the book but your lovely video makes me think I will buy it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vida, I am very happy to hear your thoughts about my adventure! This is one weaving book I wouldn’t do without. 🙂

      Thank you very much!
      Karen

  • Gail Goodrick says:

    What an inspiration this is! Your work is wonderful. I love your color choices. Love, love love…

  • Sue Blanding-Wilson says:

    So inspiring! I will look at my book with new eyes!

  • Maria Hanson says:

    Wow! I so enjoy following your work, but seeing everything in one video is just amazing! Congratulations on such a major accomplishment!

  • Penelope kept the suitors at bay for 10 years weaving one tapestry. What a remarkable legacy of a textile artist in 7 years!
    AND.. the hand wovens are not kept in a chest to pull out and admire. Basis the hems on the towels, they are being used. Beautiful!!
    Thank you for sharing. PS welcome back from your sabbatical.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Thank you for noticing. Yes, the articles were made to be used, and they are used and enjoyed.

      It’s good to be back.
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        One of the sweetest moments was when I saw one of my patched blankets worn to the point of being hand mended. Textiles will age one way or another. It fills my heart knowing the ones that pass through my hands are used daily.

        • Karen says:

          That is sweet to think of your handiwork being used to the point of needing hand mending. I agree that the best handwoven items are the ones being used.

          Karen

  • Cindy Buvala says:

    Wow! I am very impressed! A 10 minute video doesn’t do justice to the hours and hours of weaving work that precedes it. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your talent.

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Process Review: Comfy Throw With Fringe

This throw has fringe. It seems appropriate for a homestyle cotton wrap. Fringe says comfortable, casual, and playful. I do not mind the time it takes to twist the threads to make this tactile edging. It’s a satifying close to a worthwhile project. After all, who can resist running their fingers through soft twisted fringes?

Finished handwoven cotton throw.
Knots on the ends of the fringes are trimmed off after washing and drying the throw.

Reminisce with me through the start-to-finish process of making this eight-shaft undulating twill throw for my lovely daughter-in-law Lindsay.

Beaming the warp.
Dressing the Great Room loom.
Heddles are threaded.
Sleying the reed on Glimakra Standard.
Ready to tie on.
Eight shafts.
All tied on.
Testing, testing...
Eight-shaft undulating twill in 8/2 cotton.
Cloth beam is filling!
Weave to the end mark.
Hemstitching at the end of the cotton throw.
Playing with pattern. 8-shaft twill.
End of warp is near.
8-shaft twill. Fun with patterns.
Cutting off!
Getting ready to twist fringe.
Twisting fringe on cotton throw.
Before wet finishing.
After wet-finishing.
Trimming off the knots at the end of fringes.
Finished 8-shaft twill cotton throw. With fringe!

May you have plenty of fringe benefits.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Maria says:

    Really nice- what are the dimensions?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, Thanks! The hand and drape are just what I was hoping for.

      This had a lot of weft-wise shrinkage. On the loom, 109.3 cm width x 166 cm length (43″ x 65″), not including fringe. Finished piece after wet finishing is 86 cm x 149.5 cm (34″ x 59″). That’s about 21% shrinkage in width and 10% in length. The fringe length before twisting was 20 cm (8″), and finished is 12 cm (4.75″).

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Susan Gruen says:

    Love the colors looks so soft
    How did you wet finish?susan Gruen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan, The cotton does feel nice and soft, which I like.

      I washed it in cool water on the delicate cycle, and no spin. I used Eucalan wash and included a couple Color Catcher sheets (which both turned dark blue). I squeezed water out of it with a large beach towel and then put it in the dryer on a medium heat setting, along with the beach towel. I pulled it out of the dryer while it was still a little damp.

      I will tell my daughter-in-law that she can throw this in the washer and dryer without worry. It may shrink a little more, and it will be wise to use a Color Catcher for a couple more washes.

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Marjorie says:

    How big are your tie-on bundles? You are such an inspiration to me! Love your color choices!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marjorie, I am honored that you would consider anything from my hand an inspiration for you!

      I tie on in 1-inch bundles, and 1/2-inch bundles at the selvedges. These small bundles help evenly distribute the ends and make for an easy start to weaving.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nflood says:

    Thank you for your inspiration. Love to see the progress pictures.

  • Laura says:

    Like your threading hook, what brand is it?
    Your throw is beautiful! Thanks for all your inspiration. Where to you find the time?!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, I use the Vavstuga Reed Hook. It fits really well in my hand. You can get it at Vavstuga.com.

      I’m glad you like the throw. I tried wrapping up in it, and I like it, too! 🙂

      Where do I find the time? Haha, I never feel like I spend enough time at the loom. I always wish I had more time for this!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    This really beautiful. I love the colors. I noticed you had 2 knots in your twisted fringe. Could you tell me why?
    Maggie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, You asked a great question!

      I tie a preliminary knot on each group of fringe ends first. I do it for two reasons – 1. It’s easier for the alligator clip of the fringe twister to grasp a small knot than a group of threads. 2. After wet finishing I cut off the knot, which has all the fuzzy ends from going through the washer and dryer. And I’m left with clean-cut ends. I have a video about using the fringe twister that explains it a little more: How to Use a Fringe Twister. It’s part of this post – Quiet Friday: Cotton Scarves. And here’s another post about twisting fringe – Tools Day: Fringe Twister.

      And one happy coincidence – Today, I happen to be wearing the cotton scarf that’s in the video.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Alice says:

    This throw is gorgeous! I love the color and drape. Wow! It looks like the way you tie on to the loom allows you to get started weaving right away.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alice, You make me smile with your enthusiasm!

      Yes, two things make it easy to start weaving the warp right off. 1. Tie small bundles, as mentioned earlier. 2. Tie on a leveling string. This is really the magic. You can read about it in this post – Tools Day: Leveling String .

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Hemstitching Thread

Hemstitching gives a secure and pretty edge for the fringe on this cotton throw. At the beginning of the throw, I measure out a length of the weft thread for the stitching. And now, at the end, I roll off enough thread from the shuttle’s quill to use for the final hemstitching.

Finishing the cotton throw.
Wanting to finish, I weave the final few centimeters of the throw after dark.

Mark on tape shows I've woven to the end.
Mark on the measure tape shows I have woven to the end of the throw.

I’m always afraid of cutting the length of thread too short. So, I measure off four times the width of the warp, with a pinch extra just in case. That’s too long, and I know it. But I do it anyway. And then, I have a very long thread to pull through every stitch, with the tangles and knots that go with it.

Hemstitching is underway.
Hemstitching is underway.
Hemstitching a cotton throw.
Hemstitching thread is longer than needed. Three times the width of the warp should be plenty.

In trying to be perfect, I miss perfection by a long shot. If I measure out more than enough of my own goodness, surely I’ll have plenty to enter heaven, right? But the perfection of heaven requires perfection. It’s impossible for me to be good enough, smart enough, or successful enough to reach perfection. Heaven is for the imperfect. We, the imperfect, enter heaven’s perfection by trusting in the only perfect one, Jesus Christ. His goodness, measured out for us, is precisely enough.

May you know when enough is enough.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

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New Year of Weaving Progress

This year is different. I’m going to get organized, keep every loom dressed, and bake fruit pies for my husband! Alas, good intentions are not a reliable measure of what my progress will be. I always want to do more than what I manage to get done.

Finishing work for cotton placemats.

Before washing and drying the fabric I examine it. I look for errors and clip off any weft tails.

Luggage ribbons made from handwoven scraps.

I cut the placemats to a uniform size. Scraps that were cut off will be used as ribbons to mark luggage for my daughter’s family as they prepare to travel. I simply zigzagged the edges of the scraps.

I washed, pressed, hemmed, and pressed again the twelve placemats. Finishing is finished. It’s a nice way to end one year and start the next. Measurable progress.

Pressing handwoven placemats.

Pressing in the dining room.

Twelve handwoven cotton placemats.

Twelve handwoven placemats. No two alike. Basket weave, color and weave effects. 8/2 cotton warp and weft.

Thankfully, our value isn’t wrapped up in what we accomplish. Or what we don’t. We need the Lord’s grace. It’s strength that’s beyond our own strength. Grow in grace. Grow in strength. That’s my prayer this year for you and for me.

New handwoven cotton placemats.

Welcome. Grace spoken here.

May your value be wrapped up in grace.

Happy New Weaving Year,
Karen

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Process Review: Twelve Placemats

Twelve placemats just came off the loom! Now, for the finishing work. Measuring, examining, repairing, washing and drying, and hemming. Soon they will be ready to dress the table for a home-cooked meal. Mmmm… The focus is on food and fellowship. The placemats are there to catch the drips and crumbs. And then, washed and made ready for the next meal.

8/2 cotton for placemats.

Striped warp is beamed.

Tied on and ready to weave.

Color and Weave placemats.

Color and weave produces different patterns.

Weaving in the afternoon shadows.

Weaving placemats in a sunny corner.

Variety of stripes with color and weave placemats.

Sisters in the color family!

Color gradation and color and weave.

Interesting shadows at the loom.

Christmas. While our focus is on food and fellowship, a beautiful mystery plays out right in front of us. A baby named Jesus entered the world. Christmas celebrates this. Jesus came to take away our offenses, catching our drips and crumbs. The mystery of God is glorious. This is the mystery: Jesus takes our stains, and we who trust in him come out washed and made ready for glory. This is good news, for which a weary world rejoices!

Weaving at night by the fire, Christmas lights reflected.

Plain weave placemats in color and weave.

The End!

Cutting off! Twelve 8/2 cotton placemats.

May your table be dressed for good times.

Have a glorious Christmas,
Karen

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