Quiet Friday: Threads of Love

Talk about thick and thirsty towels! Double weave makes these hand towels thick. And the linen in the cottolin threads makes them highly absorbent. The colors are fantastic together. When our daughter Melody moves with her little family to Chile, she can set up her new home with these made-for-her towels. My love is woven into every single pick.

I have included two short little videos just for the fun of it. Enjoy!

This project started in my weaving studio in our Houston home, where I beamed the warp.

Colors for Towels

Winding a warp for double weave towels.

Beaming the warp for towels.

And then we decided to move! We sold the house and moved into an apartment. The big loom was dismantled, with the towel warp on the back beam. Then, we moved all the pieces to our Texas hill country home.

Dismantled loom for moving.

Moving a Glimakra Standard loom.

Putting the Glimakra Standard loom back together.

Recently, I spent a week there to finish dressing the loom and weave all four towels. Whew! (Here’s what I did that week: Testing Color Surprises with My Little Helper and Weaving Deadline)

Threading 12 shafts. Double weave towels coming!

Lower lamms ready to go!

Starting the hem on double weave towels.

Double weave cottolin towels on 12 shafts. Karen Isenhower

From the back beam. Double weave on 12 shafts.

Double weave towels. Loom with a view!

Squares in a double weave towel.

Towels on the cloth beam. Karen Isenhower

Double weave towels on the loom.

Double weave cottolin towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Towels on the cloth beam.

Glimakra Standard loom in Texas hill country.

Cutting off!

Cutting off! Double weave towels.

Fresh double weave towels, ready for finishing.

I wove hanging tabs on my band loom. And I discovered that I could showcase both sides of the colorful towel if I stitch the hanging tab on the side of the towel, off center.

Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tabs for towels woven on Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tab stitched to side of towel.

The towels are hemmed and pressed, ready to brighten the day!

Double Weave cottolin towels. Side A.

Double weave cottolin towels. Side B.

Double weave cottolin towels! Karen Isenhower

Cottolin towels, hanging from the side. More pics on the blog.

May you put threads of love into everything you do.

Love,
Karen

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Band Loom Time!

Before I can hem these new towels, I need to make some hanging tabs. Band loom time! Making a warp for the band loom is one way to use up some of the weft on quills that didn’t quite get emptied when weaving the towels. Of the four colors in the towels, I am using aqua, poppy, and orchid for the hanging tabs. The bright marigold, my favorite of the four colors, may bring too much attention to itself, so I’m leaving it out. A hanging tab must be a stable and firm loop that becomes a pleasing part of the towel.

Planning to weave hanging tabs for handwoven towels. Karen Isenhower

Towels, before wet finishing, are spread out with the thread colors on top. I am trying to determine which colors will work together in woven hanging tabs for all four towels.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Eleven ends are just enough for weaving a narrow band. (The two ends in the center are doubled in the heddle and counted as one.)

Glimakra band loom, making hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Simple symmetrical design with aqua, poppy, and orchid colors. To use as hanging tabs for towels, the band is cut into short pieces, about ten centimeters (four inches) each. Each cut tab is then sewn into the hem of a towel.

Established. Stable (root word of e-stabl-ish) and firm. That’s how important our faith is as we walk through life. Everything hangs from it. So it must be woven carefully and stitched in securely, a pleasing part of who we are. Stable and firm in faith as we live for the Lord—that’s a beautiful way to live.

May your finishing details be pleasing.

With you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Laura says:

    Your towels are beautiful. Love the little bobbin you are using. Do you mind telling me where you got that from? Love all your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, Thank you! My husband carved the little band loom shuttle for me. You probably know that you can use a short cardboard quill for band weaving, but I will email the specs of the little shuttle to you in case you or someone you know wants to carve one.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Thank you for sharing the design and craft process for finishing the beautiful towels. So true is the need for a firm foundation in life. Nannette

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Weaving Deadline

I had a deadline for weaving these towels. Eight days. I finished dressing the loom at our Texas hill country home on Monday afternoon, and wove in long and short increments throughout the week. Mostly short increments. After all, I had little grandchildren to enjoy at the same time. And sweet interactions with my daughter and her husband. I finished weaving the four towels on Saturday evening, and cut them off on Sunday morning, just in time to bring them back with me to Houston to do the finishing work.

Cloth beam fills up with double weave towels.

Cloth beam fills up with double weave towels.

Four double weave towels. Time for cutting off!

Four towels woven. Time for cutting off!

Cloth puddle of double weave towels. Cutting off!

Cloth puddle.

Double weave towels just off the loom.

Aqua is the main color on the front of the towels. The reverse side has Poppy as the main color.

Freshly woven towels, ready for finishing work.

Ready for finishing. This week I will be mending errors, wet finishing, hemming, and sewing on labels.

I was highly motivated. I knew this may be my only chance to finish these towels for Melody before she and her precious family move to Chile in the near future. Now, she will be able to take a woven piece of my love with her. Know your roots. Where are you rooted? When your life takes root in good soil it will grow. Rooted in love, your life will blossom to bless others. And those are roots you can plant anywhere in the world.

May you bloom where you are planted.

With love,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Very Beautiful, the towels and your advice. At times, I wonder, “Why am I doing this project?”, especially when I have been challenged with warping or broken threads…but when it comes off the loom and you think of the person you will share it with, love IS the answer! The Greatest of These is Love!

  • Beth Mullins says:

    They’re so pretty and the colors perfect for Chile! Melody is very lucky. You are very kind. Can’t wait to see them finished.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I had Chile in mind when I selected these colors. One of the towels will stay with me, so I’ll have a Chile towel in my home that will remind me of Melody. I’m excited to see how they are after wet finishing.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Laine says:

    More information on mending errors please.
    As a beginner I have many 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laine, Thank you for asking! Beginners aren’t the only ones with errors. I make my fair share of errors, too. Haha! I have quite a few skipped threads and floats to take care of on these towels.

      Here’s a link to a previous post to get you started: What to Do About Weaving Errors

      I hope that helps!
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    The towels are beautiful. What technique are you using? Is it double weave? You weave so many beautiful projects and you have such nice messages.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angela, That’s very kind of you to say such sweet things.

      These cottolin towels are woven in double weave. After washing they should be soft and absorbent.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Quickly becoming a decade ago I set up my almost forgotten 4 harness loom on the 3 season porch to provide something to occupy my time during the never ending treatment of DCIS. The result was a stack of small rag rugs the size used in front of a kitchen sink. They were gifted to sibs and nieces and nephews Christmas 2010.

    Faded from use but with years of wear left. The rugs are used in bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, kitchens and the outside stoop of my daughters house. I am amazed at how the work of my hands is a part of the lives of so many people I love.

    May the people you love and those you do not know enjoy the work of your hands.

    Nannette

  • Lyna says:

    I was wondering…what do you do with your thrums/loom waste? The colors of this warp are so luscious it would be a shame to throw away any of it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lyna, You are asking someone who just had to downsize from a full-size house to a small transition apartment. After saving my thrums for a few years and not finding a use for most of the beautiful threads, I decided to discard them when the weaving is finished. With the exception of linen. I do have a project in mind for all my linen thrums.

      I use threads from the thrums to do my repair finishing work. I have used thrums for choke ties before, but I have enough re-usable choke ties that I prefer. I have used thrums tied into longer pieces to wrap gifts and packages.

      I don’t want to store things anymore. It doesn’t seem like a waste to me because I got the best part of all the beautiful threads in my handwoven towels.

      How would you use the thrums?

      All the best,
      Karen

      • Lyna says:

        I can see the point in tossing when finished, I come from an old German farmer background and must resist the “box of string too short to use,” black-hole-of-clutter tendency. I was wondering if thrums, sorted by fiber type, would make a good shaggy rug. What do you have planned for your linen?
        “What do you do with thrums?”could be a good question to ask your Facebook friends to discuss, collect and evaluate ideas for a future post. Just an idea for your oh-so-abundant (not!) free time!
        Thanks for posting even when life get busy! I especially appreciate your reflections on weaving as a metaphor for walking with God.
        Bless!

        • Karen says:

          Lyna, I’m a little too familiar with the old German farmer background. If you only knew… Haha! That’s in my heritage, which may be why I have to fight the tendency to think “someday I could use this for something…” Thrums could probably be used for some rya weaving. Until I have that planned I’m not keeping my thrums. (Don’t tell my mother.) 🙂

          I’d rather be weaving than checking FB, so I don’t do much of that.

          It’s so good to have you along on this journey!
          Karen

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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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