When the Tapestry Gets Confusing

I work across the tapestry a row at a time, starting and stopping many wool butterflies. It gets confusing. It’s not always easy to see how the particular colors in my butterflies relate to the details of this lizard. I closely follow the cartoon and the pattern key by my loom. I have to trust the cartoon more than what I see at the moment.

Lizard tapestry on four shafts. Eye detail.

Lizard eye detail. There are many color changes in the rows that go right through the center of the eye.

Every now and then, I climb up on a step stool as far as I dare. The view from this distance gives me a realistic perspective of the weaving. And raises my hopes that the lizard in this tapestry will indeed resemble the green anole that had posed for my camera. I am unable to see that same progress when I’m sitting at the loom with the lizard’s face right in front of me.

Four-shaft Lizard tapestry. Karen Isenhower

Pattern key at the left of the loom provides constant direction for weaving the details in the tapestry. View from standing on the top step of the step stool.

Lizard tapestry in progress. Glimakra Ideal loom.

Enlarged photograph of the original green anole hangs on the cart next to the loom.

When life gets confusing, it’s time to step up. Treasures are hidden in plain sight. Wisdom and knowledge are hidden like that. The treasure storehouse is in Christ. In him we have a heavenly view that gives us a realistic perspective of what we see in front of us. Trust his pattern key, and proceed with confidence. It’s not so confusing, after all.

May you see hidden treasures.

With heart,
Karen

6 Comments

Leave a Reply


Guest Weavers

We finished another placemat over the weekend. We, meaning a few guest weavers – and me. I had a small tribe of eager weavers, aged eleven to seventeen. I didn’t give beginner work to these beginners. We did what was required for this color-and-weave project on the loom—double-bobbin shuttles, two (and sometimes three) shuttles at a time, two-pick stripes, advancing the warp, placing the temple, and more. Another placemat completed, with only one broken warp end along the way. I call that a win!

Guest weaver. First time, but not the last!

Quietly watching me, and taking in the details, this young weaver grasped the essentials, and began weaving in a graceful manner. After just a few minutes, Madison told me she could do this all day. That sounds like a budding weaver to me!

New weaver, with great attention to detail!

Sean is an attentive listener, closely following every instruction. He happily donned the weaving apron. And the Gingher snips on a woven band were hanging around his neck, ever ready to be used.

Young weavers at the loom.

Jenson joins in to lend his observation skills while his brother does the weaving.

New young weaver.

Ashley is someone who takes initiative. She enjoyed the challenge of learning something new, and quickly was weaving with very little assistance.

Cotton placemats on the loom.

Broken warp end repaired. Placemat complete. Eight more placemats to go!

Isn’t it delightful to share what you enjoy, and then see the spark of delight and accomplishment on a young person’s face? This is another good reason to make and keep family friends.

May you share your delights.

Love,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Julia says:

    It is always fun to see the eyes of new weavers light up when experiencing for the first time the magic of making cloth! I’m curious about the weaving apron – can you speak about it some more?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, Yes, It is fun to see the expressions when they see magic happen at their fingertips.

      The apron? You’ve given me a great idea! I will write about the weaving apron on my next Tools Day post. For now, suffice it to say that the apron protects my clothes and protects the cloth on the breast beam.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    You’re making such a positive impact in their young lives. I’m also curious about the weaving apron. Does it hold magic? 😉

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I like the idea of making a positive impact on the next generation. At the same time, I find that they are making a positive impact on me, as well.

      Thanks to you and Julia, I know what my next Tools Day post will be—the magical weaving apron. 😉

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    I volunteered to demonstrate moderately hands-on weaving on an antique rug loom at a local history museum to school classes a couple of years ago. We get kiddoes from kindergarten through fifth grade. Before the first group I had some doubts about how it was going to go. Wow! Fantastic! I think more budding weavers are on their way and I’m excited for school to start in the autumn.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, It’s always great to see young people become interested in handweaving and other handwork crafts. That sounds like a fun loom to weave on, too!

      Karen

Leave a Reply


Almost Like Weaving Outdoors

I am practically outdoors in the middle of trees when I’m weaving. It’s refreshing to weave between corner windows. That’s how it is with the little loom at our Texas hill country home. I have windows beside my other looms, too. But this is different. Here, I have windows beside me and in front of me.

Color and weave plain weave placemats on the loom.

Corner windows for weaving pleasure. Color-and-weave plain weave placemats on the little loom.

Nature is resplendent with ornamentation and flourishes that influence my weaving. Colors, patterns, shading, and playful surprises. They work their way into my thinking and planning. Aren’t the Creator’s designs amazing?! So, to be surrounded by all that inspiration while weaving raises the enjoyment at the loom all the more.

Indian Paintbrush in Texas hill country.

Colors.

Texas hill country Algerita.

Patterns.

Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom in Texas hill country.

Shading.

Barrel cactus in bloom in Texas hill country.

Playful surprises.

Color and weave plainweave placemats.

Color – variation, pattern – color and weave, shading – two-pick stripes, playful surprise – offset warp stripes.

It is refreshing to experience the enjoyment of nature. We need that. Our minds need refreshing, too. Our minds can be freshened up. When we grow in the knowledge of God—who he is, what he is like, and what he wants—our minds are refreshed and renewed. It’s a breath of fresh air for our thinking. Like weaving out in the middle of the trees.

May you be refreshed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    I am glad you see the wonders that Christ provides; they are reminders of His presence and you add to His creation when you weave with His inspirations! Thanks for sharing your faith from God! Happy weaving! Blessed weaving! 🙂

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Such beautiful inspiration! You are indeed fortunate.

  • Annie says:

    I enjoyed seeing the photos of nature through your eyes. It gave me a fresh perspective. As do your thoughts on our Heavenly Father. I always enjoy your posts and learn from them.

    Do you move your loom from place to place, Karen?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, This little loom stays in that spot by the corner windows. Steve built the loom for me specifically for our Texas hill country home, so I could have a loom to weave on when we go there. I have two other larger looms that stay in place in our Houston home.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Thank you for including photos of Texas Hill country. It is beautiful and inspirational.

    The triad of purple / orange / green blessed by God.

    Thank you and may God continue to bless.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, The purple / orange / green triad in nature always seems stunning to me! Texas hill country has many visual delights!

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Tools Day: Cartoon Support

Alignment, security, and visibility are the main things I think about in regard to attaching and supporting the cartoon. In order to weave a tapestry this size, or any size for that matter, you need a good way to manage the cartoon. My cartoon is drawn onto a thin Pellon product (Pellon 830 Easy Pattern, 45″ wide) that is meant for pattern making. This material is easy to pin, doesn’t tear, and only barely wrinkles.

Alignment
Align center of cartoon to center of warp.

A blue dashed line from top to bottom of the cartoon marks the center. I also have a pencil mark on the exact center of my beater. When the blue line on the cartoon is perfectly aligned with the center warp end, as seen from the mark on the beater, I know my cartoon is in the correct position.

Beginning a new tapestry.

Pencil mark on the beater is above the center warp end.

Security

  • Pin the cartoon in two places on each side of the woven tapestry.
    This warp is too wide for me to reach all the way to pin the cartoon in the center. So, on both sides of the weaving I place one flathead pin near the selvedge, and another one as far as I can comfortably reach toward the center. I move the pins forward each time I am ready to advance the warp.
Beginning a new four-shaft tapestry.

Two flat-head pins hold the cartoon under the tapestry weaving on the right-hand side.

  • Hang a support slat under the cartoon.
    I learned this from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 239, 2008 edition. I used this method previously for a rag rug that had a cartoon for a large inlay pattern. It also works well for holding the cartoon for a woven transparency.
Positioning a cartoon under the warp.

Seine twine loop with rubber band hangs from beater cradle. Slat holds cartoon up against the warp.

Supplies: 12/6 cotton seine twine, 2 rubber bands, long warping slat

1 Make a loop with the seine twine to hang from the beater cradle to just below the warp, with a rubber band on the loop.

2 Tie the ends of the loop with a bow knot or a weaver’s tie-up knot (this useful knot is described in How to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, p. 39).

Cartoon management for tapestry.

Top of loop tied in a bow knot.

Weaver's tie-up knot helps hold the tapestry cartoon.

Weaver’s tie-up knot is perfect for this application, since it is quick and easy to undo and re-tie if repositioning is needed.

3 Make another loop the same way, with rubber band, and hang it on the other beater cradle.

4 Place the warping slat in the hanging rubber bands, underneath the cartoon.

5 Adjust the length of the loops so that the slat lightly presses up on the cartoon and the warp.

One way to manage a tapestry cartoon.

Rubber band gives flexibility to the seine twine loop that is holding up the cartoon.

  • Pin the rolled-up cartoon underneath.
    I roll up the Pellon cartoon under the warp and pin it once on each side. As the warp and cartoon advance I can reposition the pin as needed.
Cartoon management for tapestry.

Under the warp, the cartoon is loosely rolled up and pinned.

  • Move the slat toward the breast beam, out of the way, to beat in the weft.
    Because of the rubber bands, the slat support has flexibility and does not impede the movement of the beater.

Visibility
Move the slat near to the fell line.

With the slat under or near the fell line, it presses the cartoon up to the warp. By doing this, I can easily see what comes next as the tapestry weaving develops row by row.

Managing a cartoon for tapestry weaving.

Placing the slat under the fell of the weaving raises the cartoon to visibility where it is needed most.

I wait for my ordered yarn to arrive. Meanwhile, I dream of this tapestry becoming a reality as cartoon meets wool.

May you have the alignment, security, and visibility you need.

All the best,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen. I learn so much from your posts! This one is very timely for me as I have enrolled in the workshop for transparency weaving. Now I feel a little better prepared.

    I never thought of applying the words alignment, security and visibility to life before but they are exactly what everyone needs. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m glad you will be in the transparency workshop. I know it will be great! Just remember, there are about as many different ways to handle the cartoon as there are tapestry and transparency weavers. 🙂 I’m sure you will learn even more at the workshop!

      Alignment, security, and visibility – for a balanced life.
      All the best,
      Karen

  • Rebecca Neef says:

    Wonderful system! In future perhaps I should do my tapestries on my Glimakra, instead of my Lillstina on which it now languishes. The Lillstina has no beater cradle! Just goes to show, as Roseann Rosannadanna said, “it’s always something.”

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rebecca, I’m sure there’s a way to manage a cartoon on your Lillstina! My experience is limited to my Glimakra. I do think the Glimakra is a sweet loom for this type of weaving, though. I hope your tapestry revives soon. Life’s too short for a loom to be tied up with something that’s not working.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Thanks for the idea of the rubber bands. I will do that next time and I can see it will work better. You inspire me to start weaving something. I’ve been busy moving. Just curious who is teaching the transparency workshop?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, The rubber bands do make a big difference. I hope you get a chance weave something soon! Your transparencies are inspiring!

      Laura Viada is teaching the transparency workshop in Houston. Her work is amazing. Laura is also going to teach the workshop in July at HGA Convergence in Reno.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


My Four-Shaft Tapestry – Will it Work?

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

Wool yarns for four-shaft tapestry.

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

Blending yarn colors and thicknesses for tapestry.

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

Testing new approach to tapestry weaving.

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

Trying out four-shaft tapestry.

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

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

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

Testing various elements before starting the *actual* tapestry.

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

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

May you see hope on your horizon.

With hope,
Karen

6 Comments

  • The practice weaving is lovely. Timeless….

    May the fourth be with you– 🙂

    Nannette

  • Joanne Hall says:

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

  • Michele Dixon says:

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

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

Leave a Reply