End of Warp Drama

At the final inches of weavable warp, my regular boat shuttle will not fit through the shed. I wove the first half of this final rug thinking I had more than enough warp left to complete a symmetrical design.

Spaced rep rag rug. Last rug on the warp!

Final rug on this warp. I planned a symmetrical design that reverses at the center of the rug.

This warp is almost finished! Rag rugs.

As the back tie-on bar comes over the back beam I am concerned about whether I have enough warp to finish the second half of the rug.

Drama at the end. I still need to weave the ending warp thread header. Time to pull out my secret weapon—a low-profile shuttle. No worries or fretting. The slim shuttle deftly (with a little prodding) weaves the eight picks of the warp thread header that concludes this final rug. Whew.

Low-profile boat shuttle fits through at end of warp.

Low-profile shuttle saves the day. I’m so near the end of the warp that there is not enough room in the shed for my regular boat shuttle to fit through.

End of warp drama! But I made it! Whew.

Very end of the warp is seen right behind the shafts. After the eight picks of warp thread header, I wove as many picks of scrap weft as I could…by hand.

When we face adversity, and our usual coping methods are not working, we feel the pressure and anxiety. It’s time to activate our secret weapon—a gentle and quiet spirit. Gentleness and quietness are beautiful embellishments to the hidden person of the heart. This humble spirit enables you to glide through the tightest situations. Best of all, those last picks you carefully weave will keep the lovely rag rug you’ve been working on from unraveling.

May your heart glow with gratitude.

Happy Giving of Thanks!
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beautifully said. Thank you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I just found you recently and I love reading your blog. Thank you again.

  • Annie says:

    Thanksgiving is always a time of reflection on all the wonderful blessings in my life. This year, your Christ centered blog has been added as they are always uplifting as well as informative. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and your work with us.

    May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving, Karen.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Annie, That means so much to me! It’s a great privilege for me to have friends like you that I can share with. I’m thankful for you.

      Happy Thanks-Giving,
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I so enjoy reading your blogs and I always learn or am reminded of something important. Sometimes, it’s even about weaving. 🙂
    Blessings to you,
    Cindy

  • Joanna says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family, Karen. This time of year seems to me to be a bit like your end of warp: winding down but with one last stretch needing a little extra thought and care.

    I’ve got a question for you. I know that you use new cloth for yor rag strips, but do you wash and press it before cutting the strips? Your rugs are sooo beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, Yes, these few remaining weeks of the year are a testing ground for our gentle and quiet spirits.

      I do wash and dry the fabric before cutting into strips for weaving. I want to pre-shrink it and rinse out excess dye, so I wash it in hot water and dry it in a hot dryer. I do not press the fabric unless it is too wrinkled to be able to fold it flat for cutting. In that case, just ironing the selvedges is usually enough.

      I appreciate your kind compliment about my rugs. Weaving rag rugs is one of my greatest pleasures.

      Happy Thanks-Giving to you and yours,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Wow, that was close to the warp end, wasn’t it, Karen! May all your warps end so well. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, Yes, too close for comfort. When will I learn not to overestimate what I have left? I’ve done this too many times. When you get that far, though, you’re determined to make it work.

      Happy Thanksgiving you and your family, too!
      Karen

  • Patti Hawryluk says:

    Thank you for your insights! I live in Canada, so we have celebrated Thanksgiving about 5 weeks ago. But a reminded to be grateful is always welcome. May yours be full of both Thanks and Giving.

    Patti

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patti from Canada, We do need reminders to be grateful. It’s more important than the celebration of a holiday. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    Beautiful post, Karen. Just received the two low profile Hockett shuttles I ordered after reading Handwoven’s article on Finnweave. Glad to have added them to my arsenal.
    Thank you for the beautiful words. I can always count on you for your words of wisdom.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, I’m sure your new shuttles are beautiful! Yes, it doesn’t hurt to have a low-profile shuttle or two just in case the end of the warp comes a little too soon. 🙂 Of course, these shuttles are also good for proper things like Finnweave and damask weaving.

      I appreciate your sweet sentiments.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you. Our family has been dealing with one adversity after another this year and I really needed to hear those words in particular today. I can’t tell you how many times standing at the loom has been what helps me make it through the next day.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lisa, It’s not easy to face continued difficulties. If I could be a small part of helping you through that, I’m glad. If only I could reach all the way through and give you a hug, I would. There’s always a new day. Hopefully, your trying times will transition to happier times soon. I’m glad you have your loom.

      Warmly,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Countermarch Loom Pros and Con

When my long-held dream of weaving on a floor loom became a possibility, I started my journey with questions. What are the pros and cons of the different types of looms? After considerable research, a winner emerged—the Swedish countermarch loom!

Pros and Con of Countermarch Looms
(My experience is with Glimåkra. Other countermarch looms may differ.)

Pros

  • Weave anything. Rag rugs to lace-weight fabric.
  • Hanging beater. Swinging beater has momentum that enables a firm beat. No strain to shoulders, arms, or wrists. Asset for weaving rag rugs, and superb control for cloth with an open weave. Beater placement is adjustable, making it possible to weave longer before advancing the warp.
  • Rear-hinged treadles. Pressing treadles is effortless, no matter how many shafts. No strain on back, legs, knees, or ankles, even with robust weaving. Because treadles are close to each other, I press correct treadles with sock- or bare-footed ease…without having to watch my feet. Ample foot rest makes it easy to trade feet when using many treadles.
  • Clean shed. Stepping on a treadle raises and lowers shafts at the same time, so a great shed is not only possible, but usual.
Horizontal countermarch. Info about CM looms.

Glimåkra Ideal with horizontal countermarch. The cords from the countermarch jacks at the top of the loom go straight down through the warp to the lower lamms. The lower lamms connected to treadles cause shafts to lift when a treadle is depressed.

  • Even warp tension. Because shafts are both raised and lowered, tension is equal on raised and lowered warp ends. Even warp tension is good for all types of weaving. This even tension makes a tight warp possible. Perfect for linen, and for rugs.
Vertical Countermarch Loom - info about CM

Gimåkra Standard loom with vertical countermarch. Cords from the countermarch jacks go over the side of the loom to the lower lamms below. The upper lamms (not pictured) attached to treadles cause shafts to sink when a treadle is depressed.

Threading ease of countermarch looms.

Bench sits in the loom for threading heddles. I call this my little playhouse.

  • Texsolv heddles. Heddles can be easily added or removed from shafts (shafts are also easily added or removed). Quiet. Easy to thread.
  • Perfect fit. A petite person like me can weave on a large loom (my Standard is 47”/120cm) as comfortably as someone with longer arms and legs. Able to sit in upright posture for weaving.
  • Wooden. The loom is primarily wood. Bonus if you appreciate natural beauty of wood. Held together with wooden wedges and a few bolts. No screws or wing nuts.
  • Scandinavian clarity. Because of the Swedish loom, I adopt Swedish weaving practices and have an interest in traditional Scandinavian textiles. The loom fits the style. Streamlined design, precision, systematic and logical processes, and beauty with function.

Con

  • Treadle tie-ups. Shafts are connected to upper lamms and lower lamms. Treadle cords with a bead at one end are hung in the lamms. Lamms are then attached to treadles. Treadle tie-ups normally fall under the Pros category, because this is what enables the loom to have the clean shed it’s known for. But since I just finished tying up ten shafts to ten treadles (that’s 100 treadle cords), this is my least favorite part right now. 😉 (The weaving pleasure more than makes up for it, though.)
Countermarch treadle cords. Pros and cons.

One hundred treadle cords hang from upper and lower lamms. The only thing left is to attach all the cords to treadles. 😉

Treadle cords for 10 shafts! 5-shaft satin coming up!

Treadle cords are attached. Little anchor pins lock each cord into position under the treadle. After a few adjustments, the shed on each treadle is good. The loom is dressed! Five-shaft satin dräll coming up!

Conclusion:
When I weave on my Glimåkra Standard countermarch loom, I am soaring like an eagle. I’m sailing with the spinnaker up. I am a pipe organ maestro. I am dreaming while fully awake. This is everything I imagined weaving could be, only better.

Countermarch looms - pros and con.

Testing weft options. Gorgeous handcrafted damask shuttle, Chechen wood, made by Moberg Tools. Five-shaft satin dräll–a weaver’s dream.

For more in-depth information about countermarch looms, comparisons of looms, and other fantastic resources, see articles written by Joanne Hall, found at Glimåkra USA.

May you live your dream.

Very Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Annie says:

    This article is exactly what I needed to read, Karen. I have been looking online at websites at the various looms, trying to decide which one I think would be best. I narrowed it down to countermarches for the versatility and sheds but was confused about brands, sizes, etc. This really helps. However,l I have a large learning curve before I jump into buying one unless a great used one suddenly appears.
    Many blessings, Karen.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It was your previous comment that prompted me to write this. So I thank you for that!

      Take your time with research and questions. As you narrow it down, you’ll gain confidence about making the right choice for your circumstances.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • JAN says:

    Great descriptions/instructions! Yes, sitting on the floor tying up the treadle cords for any contramarsch loom is tedious, but as you said, the results are well worth it. Sounds like you have written an ad for Glimåkra. The same, even somewhat better results can be obtained on an Öxabäck loom, a.k.a “Ulla Cyrus”?

    • Karen says:

      Hi, JAN, Yes, the tie-up can be demanding, but I can see that you enjoy what comes as a result, too.

      I’m afraid you’re right. It does sound like an ad for Glimåkra. I’m very happy with my Glimåkra looms, so I may be a little eager about my own experiences.

      Öxabäck has a wonderful reputation! I haven’t yet had the pleasure of weaving on one. I’m sure there are details about the Ulla Cyrus and other countermarch looms that I would really appreciate!

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Joan says:

    Check out Vavstuga Weaving Studio’s way of tying up the treadles. Becky has figured out how to ditch the legged pegs for knitting needles. So much easier!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joan, I think Becky’s ingenious method of using knitting needles for tying up treadles is fantastic! I learned it at Vavstuga Basics a few years ago. I use that method when weaving with two, four, or even six shafts.

      When weaving with eight shafts, however, I have found that I can get better sheds by tweaking the tie-up after weaving a few inches. And it’s easier to pop out and replace individual pegs than to pull out the knitting needle and redo the whole treadle. So, with eight or more shafts, I prefer the old-fashioned method of pinning each treadle cord.

      Thanks for your input!
      Karen

  • Esther Bauer says:

    I have a 4 shaft Glimåkra. I love it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Esther, I can spend hours on my 4-shaft Glimåkra. It’s such a weaver-friendly loom. It’s good to hear of your experience!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kayleen Andresen says:

    I have a Glimakra 4 shaft. I have found it to be great to use. I have had to dismantle it to move and it is very easy to assemble again. My least favorite job is changing the tie up.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kayleen, Thank you for bringing up how easy it is to dismantle and re-assemble. I didn’t think of including that in my list. That is definitely a big plus!
      Changing the tie-up is one of those things of which can be said: “I didn’t necessary like doing it, but I like having done it.” It does give me a good sense of accomplishment!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Gerda says:

    Thanks Karen, very clear and I love your conclusion. Such prose! It is exactly how I felt when I finally had my Toika countermarch up and running, after years on a counterbalance (which is still very useful, and I like it too). I have graduated to 8 shafts, 8 treadles, this week going to 10 treadles: more texsolv to cut, more crawling to do… 10 shafts comes in a year or so, lots of soaring and playing to do first. Living the journey and reading your blog faithfully!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gerda, There’s such satisfaction in weaving on a loom that functions so beautifully for the task. That’s great that you are graduating little-by-little adding treadles and shafts. There’s no hurry, because even 2 or 4 shafts is sufficient to have a grand time at the loom.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Wool Rag Rugs?

I have a generous selection of gorgeous wool yardage that was given to me a few years ago. I had said I would weave rag rugs with it. But I haven’t. …until now. What took me so long? Uncertainty. I haven’t seen wool rag rugs. What warp should I use? What sett? What problems await? I felt timid about walking into the unknown.

Cutting wool fabric for rag rugs.

Wool fabric has been washed and dried before cutting into strips for rag rug weaving.

Wool strips for a spaced rep rag rug.

Four different wool fabrics have been chosen for this spaced rep rag rug.

Last week I came across a recent Väv magazine. Lo and behold, here is a spaced rep rag rug with wool fabric weft! My loom is already dressed for spaced rep rag rugs. Here I go!

Spaced rep rag rug with wool fabric strips.

After a warp thread header, narrow fabric strips are woven for the hem of the rug. The wool selvedges are surprisingly soft.

Wool weft rag rugs.

Weaving in the morning. A pick of brown 12/6 cotton warp thread follows the pick of wool fabric, except when changing blocks. Weaving consecutive fabric strips changes the blocks.

Ten years ago a kind, elderly gentleman sat next to me on an airplane. He gave me sage advice I never want to forget,

Put your future in the hands of the one who holds the future.

We speak of past, present, and future. But for the Lord, the present has already been. The future has already happened. It’s as if the wool rug that I try to imagine and weave has already been positioned in the foyer of the Father’s house to comfort road-weary feet that enter. Amazing!

May your future be better than you imagine.

All the best,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Oh YES! A wool rag rug sings of warm toes in winter. Beautiful, beautiful.

  • Beth says:

    Lovely! I’ll bet the wool will be a bit more squishy to the foot than cotton.

  • Nanette says:

    After a similar gift I wove some wool rag rugs years ago, but I used wool warp (commercial New Zealand “rug wool” from R & M) and they seemed much appreciated as gifts. But I spaced the warp (probably 6 epi) and wove them bound weave in twill and plain weave patterns. Now, I have received another such gift and am planning to do the same. (And thanks for the reminder about pre-washing…can’t remember if I did or not!) Really like your blocks, tho….!

  • Karen says:

    I was lucky to take a Shaker rug workshop from Mary Elva Erf many years ago. We wove lovely runners with wool….and the book came out a couple of years ago….love those chevron patterns in the runner……
    This for after the rugs!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I’m glad to know about this book by Mary Elva Erf — I just ordered a copy! Looks very interesting. Thanks so much for the tip.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    Karen –
    This rug is gorgeous. Those tones are so lovely and calming. Love the texture. I know it will be cherished, wherever it ends up. Beautiful work.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, I am very pleased with how it is turning out so far. The proof is in the putting–how it looks and feels when I put it on the floor. 🙂

      Thank you so much for your kind compliments!
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    Hi Karen,

    I just love your blog:)

    This is a beautiful rug.

    This post came at a good time for me. Last year I bought an entire bolt of beautiful wool yardage with the intention of weaving a rag rug. However, I wanted to do something different versus my usual plain weave rag rug.

    As a relatively new weaver I have never done rep weave, nor have I ever heard of spaced rep weave. However, it looks like the perfect weave for rag rugs due to the fact that it compliments both the warp and weft.

    I’m going to give it a try, but can you point me in the direction of a resource where I might be able to find a pattern/draft for warping/weaving using spaced rep? Or, can you share with me the set you used? Also, it looks like you cut your wool rags at around 1″ — is that correct?

    Thanks so much for all the inspiration:)

    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn, It makes me happy that you enjoy what you find here.

      You’re right, spaced rep weave is a great choice for rag rugs because you can design with the warp and enjoy the colors and patterns of the fabric weft.

      For this rug I started with a draft in Favorite Rag Rugs by Tina Ignell, a rug called “A Night in June.” I don’t know if the book is still in print.
      My warp is 12/6 cotton, in three different colors. I changed the design somewhat from the book, but it’s the same general idea.

      I am using a metric 40/10 reed, which is equivalent to a 10-dent reed. 1 end per heddle, 2 ends per dent. So, the sett is 8 ends per cm, or 20 ends per inch. This is woven on 4 shafts with 2 treadles, threaded like rep weave.

      I am cutting the wool strips at 1.5 cm, which is about 5/8″. I normally cut rag rug fabric at 3/4″, but because this is a closer sett I am cutting the strips a little narrower. And for the hem, I am cutting the strips just a little more than 1/4″.

      These are great questions. Thanks for asking! I look forward to hearing how your wool rag rug is coming along!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    Thanks so much Karen for the thoughtful reply. Recently, I was lucky enough to locate a copy of Tina’s book from a used bookstore here in Oregon. It’s a great source of inspiration!

    Happy weaving:)

    • Karen says:

      Kathryn, I am so happy to know that you have a copy of the book! I know it can be hard to come by. Yay, you have some great projects there you can try.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Two Threads Are Better than One

Here’s a secret: Two threads are better than one. To measure a warp, I always, without exception, wind the warp with two or more threads together. A warp that is wound with a single thread is prone to tangle as threads twist around each other. A warp wound with pairs of threads won’t do that.

Winding a linen warp. Always 2 threads together.

Choke ties secure the warp bout around the starting pin on the warping reel.

Smooth warping tip: Always wind a warp with at least two threads at a time.

I hold two threads in my right hand, with my little finger separating them, to wind the warp. My left hand turns the warping reel. I purchase enough thread to be able to wind with two tubes at a time. Any thread that remains unused goes toward another project.

I am particular about this warp. It’s linen, so consistency matters. Tangles would disrupt the even tension the linen needs. I have dräll in five-shaft satin in mind as I take each careful step to dress the loom. I expanded the loom to ten shafts to be able to weave this! Expect happy weaving, to be sure, but imagine how pleasant it will be to hold this dreamed-of cloth in my hand. That future cloth gives meaning to my present efforts at the loom.

One of my weaving spaces.

Various stages of weaving. Winding 16/2 unbleached line linen to warp the Standard loom. The Baby Loom (Glimåkra Ideal) in the background is in the middle of rag-rug weaving.

Ten shafts for dräll in five-shaft satin.

Ten shafts in place on the Big Loom (Glimåkra Standard) to prepare the loom for weaving dräll in five-shaft satin.

There must be meaning beyond this life for us to find meaning in this life. The end of the weaving is the beginning of the life of the cloth. There is purposeful preparation by the Grand Weaver, with a precisely measured warp. The back-and-forth shuttle is like the ticking of a clock, or the passing of years. The end is the beginning. Can you imagine the splendid setting the Grand Weaver has in mind for his hand-woven cloth?

May you keep the end in mind.

Yours,
Karen

7 Comments

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Yes, praise God! And thank you for the tip about winding two or more threads at once. I had never heard that before. I’m going to try it on my next warp. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Let me know how it goes when you wind with two threads. I’m curious to see what kind of difference it makes for you.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    So I am wondering why ten shafts with a five shaft pattern? Will you be doing a double weave?
    As you know, I am a Rigid Heddle weaver, however, I am fascinated by floor looms and I am toying with the idea of learning how to weave on one. I have just ordered the draft book to learn how to read patterns and have started to research the different types of floor looms.
    I am curious to know why you chose the two looms that you mention here.
    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, You have some great questions!
      I can weave the satin with 5 shafts, but it would be the same all over. Ten shafts enable me to weave a pattern with two blocks. This gives the characteristic squares or rectangles in the fabric. It is still a single warp and weft, not a double weave structure.

      Your second question gives me an idea for another blog post – Why I weave on Swedish Looms. You can look for that in the near future. For now, I will say that I am fascinated with the simplicity, durability, and functionality of the Swedish countermarch looms. Everything about these looms work with anything I want to weave, from hearty rag rugs to fine linen lace, and make it a joy to dress the loom and weave.

      (Back when I was researching floor looms, like you are, a few well-meaning people told me the countermarch loom would be too complicated and/or too big. They were wrong. 🙂

      Thank you for asking!
      Karen

      • Annie says:

        Thank you for sharing that information, Karen. I have a clearer picture of your project now.

        And a better understanding of the Glimakra loom.

        Annie

  • Anonymous says:

    Your blog is very inspirational! Thank you.
    Linda

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Making this Autumn Rag Rug

I enjoy making it up as I go—changing blocks and switching colors. That’s what I did for the first quarter of this long rug. Then, I made notes of what I did so I could reverse the pattern to the middle of the rug. The entire sequence, then, is repeated for the second half. And now, there are only six more inches to weave on this autumn-toned rug.

Rag rug on the loom. Spaced rep.

First rug on this warp is almost complete.

Because of experience I gained by weaving towels with thick and thin threads, I am quite comfortable designing this rug on the loom. Fabric strips and rug warp = thick and thin. I understand it. On the other hand, for every weaving concept I understand, I realize how much more I don’t know at all. Who can be good at it all?

Cloth beam fills up with a long rag rug.

Cloth beam is wrapped with this long rag rug. Kumihimo braided cord that is attached to my Gingher snips hangs on the corner of the breast beam. I “wear” the snips when I sit down to weave.

Rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Thick and thin weft enables interesting patterns in the spaced rep rag rug.

I am pretty good at being “good.” But I’m far from perfect. We know that Jesus went about doing good and helping people. So, yes, we can follow his example. But there’s a problem. Being good is not good enough. Our good will never reach perfection. Fortunately, Jesus gave us more than a good example. He gave his life so that we could receive forgiveness for everything in us that is not good. And that is what we call good news!

May your cloth beam fill up with woven goods.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Joann says:

    Karen,
    I always look forward to your posts. Thank you for showing us your weaving and your love for the Savoir Jesus
    Joann

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joann, It’s a special pleasure for me to have someone like you with whom I can share my weaving progress and my thoughts.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Your words: “for every weaving concept I understand, I realize how much more I don’t know at all” remind me of the quotes my high school bible teacher had above the chalk board. This quote has stayed with me ever since,”The bigger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.”

    Your rug is lovely and will warm some feet soon.

  • Annie says:

    I love the way your mind works, Karen, and your hands. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. The brighten my day.

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